Probiotics and prebiotics are both extremely important for your dog’s digestive health and their immune system as a whole. But what’s the difference and what exactly do they do?
These important ingredients help regulate the natural microorganisms in your dog's gut, which affects how healthy their stomach is, the nutrients they can absorb, and how well their immune system works. So fundamentally, they play a big role in keeping your pup's tummy happy and healthy.
What are Probiotics for Dogs?
Probiotics are the good bacteria that keep everything in balance. While dogs already have some of the good bacteria in their bodies, giving them extra through supplements, high-quality food, or natural sources like yogurt, sweet potato, or banana can be really beneficial.
Your dog's gut is an active place with lots of things happening, but what you can't see are the millions of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics focus on boosting the good bacteria—the ones that create a happy and healthy gut, aid digestion, fend off the bad bacteria, and give your dog's immune system a boost.
Even though dogs make their own good bacteria, sometimes things like antibiotics, a case of diarrhoea, or eating something unusual can throw off the balance. That's when giving your dog some extra probiotics, either from natural sources or through special supplements, can help restore the balance and get your dog feeling in tip top condition again.
What are Prebiotics for Dogs?
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are the fuel for the good bacteria in your dog's stomach. They are important for maintaining good digestion and the release of nutrients for growth, breeding and performance.
Unlike probiotics, your dogs don’t actually digest prebiotics—they're more like a tasty treat for the good bacteria that are already present within the stomach.
By giving prebiotics, you're helping your pooch grow stronger and push out the bad bacteria that can make your dog ill.
You can give your dog prebiotics in different ways, for example through supplements, good quality dog food, or by including foods that are rich in prebiotics in their diet. Ingredients like cinnamon, raw garlic, or nettle are all power foods for your dog's gut.
An example of prebiotics found in supplements are oligosaccharides, like those found in Digestive Aid for Dogs. These help to block harmful bacteria being absorbed through the gut wall into the bloodstream.
How do Pre- and Probiotics Work?
Right after your dog has tucked into a nutritious meal, prebiotics and probiotics get to work and begin doing the important work to keep your dog's stomach healthy.
Probiotics turn into helpful bacteria in your dog's gut after they're broken down. These bacteria join the other 'good' bacteria in your dog's digestive system, making it stronger.
However, prebiotics work a bit differently. They can't be digested by the body, so they travel through your dog's stomach and intestines untouched until they reach the colon. There, they change into something called short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which become an appetising food source for the 'friendly' bacteria. This helps those good bacteria get stronger and multiply.
When probiotics and prebiotics team up, they create a powerful combination for your pooch's gut health. That's why you might see them together or by themselves in dog supplements. When they are used together they are known as synbiotics, which means that they team up to help support your dog’s health.
When Should I Give my Dog Probiotics?
Probiotics can be helpful at certain times, for example when your dog is on antibiotics. Although medicines like these can be beneficial in addressing specific infections and illnesses, they may also lead to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics will help restore your dog’s gut microbiome and rebalance the gut.
Probiotics can also provide digestive support when your dog is stressed due to changes in routine, travel, or other disruptions.
Probiotics also help dogs experiencing digestive issues like irregularities in their stools or excess gas.
When Should I Give my Dog Prebiotics?
Consider giving your dog prebiotics regularly as part of their diet. Prebiotics create a favourable environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
When introducing a new type of food or transitioning to a different diet, prebiotics can help promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Supplements like Digestive Aid for Dogs can help to maintain good gut hygiene and support your dog’s natural defences. It includes four important prebiotics—galacto, fructo, mannan, and xylo oligosaccharides—along with 18 other active nutraceuticals.
These components are all crucial for maintaining healthy digestion and releasing nutrients for growth, breeding, and performance.
Digestive Aid also includes Verm-X, which is an award-winning, veterinary-approved blend of nutraceuticals, herbs, and microscopic components designed to assist with balancing the gut flora and address intestinal hygiene.
How Long Does it Take for Pre- and Probiotics to Work in Dogs?
The effects of pre- and probiotics should start to develop in your dog's body in around 4-6 weeks. However, this is dependent on each individual dog and their circumstances.
Remember, if you have any concerns about your dog’s health or wellbeing, including digestive upsets, you should always consult your vet.