Probiotics for Pets

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Probiotics for Pets

A Review by Steve Kazemi Founder Pure Cultures LLC

Probiotics are microorganisms that as claimed by some provide health benefits when consumed.[1] The term probiotic is currently used to name ingested microorganisms associated with beneficial effects to humans and animals.[2] Introduction of the concept is generally attributed to Nobel Prize recipient Eli Metchnikoff, who in 1907 suggested that “the dependence of the intestinal microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to modify the flora in our bodies and to replace the harmful microbes by useful microbes”.[3]

The trend is an acceptance to use probiotics in the human diet therefore it follows that this same growth and application to our pets. In the December 2013 issue of Food Product Design it states that the global probiotics market will reach $24 billion by 2017.  The benefits to probiotic supplementation are diverse ranging from reduction in allergy response to an increase in the beneficial bacteria in the gut which reduces the potential for pathogen competition. Probiotic supplementation balances the GI tract by reducing the overgrowth of harmful yeasts and other pathogenic organisms. The symptoms in your dog that indicate the need for probiotic supplementation include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath
  • Gas
  • Dandruff
  • Excessive scratching
  • Foul smelling stools

What to look for in a quality probiotic:

As the pet industry develops new probiotic products to meet the growing consumer demand products will come in many delivery methods.  The consumer is going to be overwhelmed with gels, pastes, food, supplements, treats, powders, roll-ons and sprays.  A high quality product should contain live bacteria counts in the range of 1 billion to 30 billion cfu*/gram.  In a recent evaluation in the Canadian Veterinary Journal labels of 23 veterinary products containing probioticswere reviewed for enumeration and organism identification4. Organisms were improperly identified in 8 out of the 23 labels.  Additional errors were committed on the labels to contain names of organisms that do not exist. *CFU=colony forming units.  This is the standard unit for counting bacteria organisms.  The Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus fermentum. A nice compliment of other strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus salivarius. Lactobacillus reuteri, Enterococcus faecium are helpful.

In addition, probiotics are affected by light, heat, pressure and moisture.  Most of the delivery systems contain large amounts of free water in the formulation.  This is most evident in gels and pastes.  Other products require high temperatures and pressures during the manufacturing process which kill or stress the live organisms and lead to poor shelf life of the viable organisms.  As result, it is best for the product to be produced in smaller batches with shorter “best buy” dates to ensure freshness of the probiotic cultures.

Pure Cultures utilizes a propriety manufacturing process to reduce the heat used during processing and overall formula moisture.  This allows our treats to contain live organisms in the range between 2 to 10 billion cfu/treat following the manufacturing process.  All finished products are tested at a third party laboratory as verification the treat contains high bacteria counts following the production processing.

Host Specific Cultures

Many probiotics targeted for animals are merely human products marketed for use in pets and animals. Research is emerging regarding the fact that “host specific” formulated probiotics, or probiotics made from the specific animal, will have a higher rate of colonization in the lower intestines.  A well respected DVM Martin Furr, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, a professor and Adelaide C. Riggs Chair in Equine Medicine at Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, described a preliminary study evaluating the effects of using Pediococcus acidilactici and Saccharomyces boulardii-based probiotics in horses.

Furr said some scientists have suggested that, to be as effective as possible, the organisms in probiotics should be host-specific so they have a greater chance at surviving in and colonizing the gastrointestinal tract.

Prebiotics and their role in a high quality probiotic

Prebiotics are fiber ingredients that are unable to be digested in the upper GI tract.  The bacteria in most products when in the absence of water they go into a near dormant state. When they are exposed to the moisture in the stomach they begin to activate.  The prebiotic is added to ensure a bio available fuel source is present to the awaking bacteria.

Examples of prebiotic ingredients are inulin, Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) also called oligofructose or oligofructan.

Pure Cultures fortifies its final formulation with inulin as a prebiotic to benefit the cultures.

Pure Cultures is committed to producing high quality animal health products through the use of technology and proprietary processes.  This produces a product with high live organism counts and better bio availability by your dog.

  1.  Rijkers GT, de Vos WM, Brummer RJ, Morelli L, Corthier G, Marteau P (2011). “Health benefits and health claims of probiotics: Bridging science and marketing”. British Journal of Nutrition 106 (9): 1291–6. doi:10.1017/S000711451100287X.PMID 21861940.
  2. Jump up to:a b and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria
  3. Jump up^ Metchnikoff, E. 1907. Essais optimistes. Paris. The prolongation of life. Optimistic studies. Translated and edited by P. Chalmers Mitchell. London: Heinemann, 1907
  4. J.Scott Wess,” Evaluation of deficiencies in labeling of commercial probiotics”. The Canadian Veterinary Journal V.44(12):DEC 2003 PMC340366


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