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What are Prebiotics in dog food: 6 Things You Must Know

Last updated on: February 6th, 2020

If you care about the health of your dog, you’ve most likely gone to lengths to look for health foods and supplements to feed it. And, there are many of them. From foods dense in nutrients to those that help boost gut health. Most probably, you have heard about-or even used-probiotics. But prebiotics? Maybe not.

Although the two words are almost similar, they’re way different in their meanings. Probiotics is also a commonly used word, while prebiotics isn’t. So, what’s the difference?


Probiotics are essentially harmless living microorganisms, or friendly bacteria found in the gut, while Prebiotics is used to mean fiber in food that helps to nourish the friendly bacteria (the probiotics).

Probiotics, being live microorganisms, are difficult to include in food. A slight rise in temperature would cause some bacteria to die. Most of the foods supplements containing probiotics are, therefore, refrigerated. The benefits of these friendly bacteria are many. They help boost the immune system of your dog, prevent digestive system disorders such as diarrhea, and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses such as E-coli.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are pretty easy to add in dog food. They’re just fiber, and are, therefore, present in many pet foods. Fiber is not easily destroyed by temperature and storing prebiotic foods in a refrigerator not necessary. If you use an automatic dog feeder, prebiotics containing foods may not pose a problem to you since they do not need any special storage.

Prebiotics have always been included in dog food for years, and the food you’re giving your food right now is likely to contain them. Although they form a part of nearly every dog food, they’re usually less understood by pet owners. If you’re one of them, here are 6 things you must know about prebiotics for dogs.


1. Prebiotics are Present in Most Dog Foods

Yorkshire terrier eating treats in bedWhole grains, beet pulp, legumes as well as fruits and vegetables naturally contain a soluble form of fiber. If these food sources are included in dog food, the food will definitely be rich in prebiotics. It doesn’t matter if the food is given in the form of purchased pet food or as homemade dog food. Prebiotics for dogs also exist as supplements and can be purchased at pet stores.

When given in the right amounts, the prebiotics in dog food helps to prevent diarrhoea caused by the overpopulation of bad gut bacteria. According to research findings, prebiotics boost the immune system by promoting the growth of good gut bacteria. It leads to a healthier dog. And, if the dog is lactating, the puppies also get their immunity boosted.


2. Prebiotics Cannot be Digested

Being fiber, prebiotics pass through the digestive tract unaffected. Once in the colon, the fiber starts to ferment and turn to fatty acids, temporarily. The fatty acids help to promote the growth of friendly bacteria. More of the friendly bacteria in the gut hinders the growth of the harmful ones which helps prevent digestive system disorders. It also improves the immunity of your dog. Prebiotics also help maintain a balance of electrocutes and fluid in the gut, allowing your dog’s digestive system to function the right way.


3. Prebiotics Need Probiotics to Work

Prebiotics (fiber) is the food of probiotics (friendly bacteria). For optimal results, the two may need to work hand in hand. But it’s not always a must that it happens that way. Probiotics can still feed on other substances in the absence of prebiotics. Sometimes, it’s even recommended to use probiotics for dogs more and on their own, depending on the situation. You would need the advice of your vet for this, though.


4. Prebiotics Don’t Always Work With Probiotics

MmmmmSurprisingly, its not always that prebiotics for dogs will work when combined with the probiotics for dogs. There are many different types of friendly bacteria, or probiotics. Likewise, one dog’s gut environment is different from that of another. Still, the gut is fragile and delicately balanced to accommodate specific bacteria. It means finding the right probiotic for your dog’s gut isn’t always that easy.

More still, the heat and acid in the digestive tract may not allow the live bacteria in probiotics to survive for long. The result is prebiotics may lack bacteria to act as fertilizer to, and the health benefits of the probiotic-prebiotic combination would take longer to achieve. You can avoid this problem, though, by giving your dog probiotic supplementation for long. Otherwise, it would be advisable that you contact your vet for more advice.


5. Prebiotics Don’t Always Produce Beneficial Results

While studies show that prebiotics are beneficial to the health of your dog, there are situations when it isn’t so. Dogs with gastric intestinal problem, for example, should avoid prebiotics. Such pets would have a gut with more of bad bacteria than the good ones. Feeding them on prebiotics would increase the population of these bad bacteria and further worsen the situation.

Prebiotics, though indigestible, can be categorized as carbohydrates. That’s why they act as food to bacteria. Feeding them a dog with a gut already overpopulated with pathogenic bacteria would make conditions like a leaky gut, IBD, and IBS worse.


6. Prebiotics are Sturdier

Compared to the fragile probiotics, prebiotics survive better under extreme conditions and environments. It means you’re sure of the availability of the prebiotics contained in a dog’s food, unlike with probiotics which can die even before they reach the gut. It also means better survival of probiotics if they’re fed to a dog when combined with probiotics. On their own, probiotics stand a lesser chance of survival. It’s the reason why veterinarians will advise you give your dog a combination of the two.


Feeding Your Dog on Prebiotic – Rich Foods

Can I?Most foods rich in prebiotics are not liked by dogs for the high amounts of fiber they contain. In the case your dog seems to like the prebiotic food, it would take huge amounts to bring about satiation. It may not be a big problem, though, because fiber has no nutritional value. Prebiotic-rich foods are also hard to come by since not many pet-food stores stock them.

Combining prebiotics with probiotics in the food for your dog offers many health benefits. While it’s easy to include prebiotics in your homemade dog food, it becomes tricky with probiotics. To be sure you’re giving your pet dog the best regarding healthy diet, purchasing foods containing the two ingredients is better.

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