• Belmont Avenue Veterinary Hospital
  • 304 Belmont Avenue,
  • Kewdale ,
  • Western Australia,
  • 6104
  • Phone: +61892774966
  • Website: http://belmontavevet.com.au/

Probiotics

digestive system of a dogWhat are probiotics?

Probiotics contain normal naturally occurring bacteria and yeast, and are used to re-colonise the gastrointestinal tract when the normal balance of microflora (bacteria) has become disturbed. Many products are available, containing a variety of species, including Lactobacillus, Acidophilus and Saccharomyces species etc.

Why recommend administration of probiotics to my pet?

Probiotics are given orally, either by adding to drinking water, to food, or given directly into the mouth. They are recommended for patients showing symptoms of intestinal disorders in order to maintain or re-establish the normal balance of bacterial flora in the intestinal tract, and to treat overgrowth of pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria. The normal intestinal balance may have been disrupted by drugs (antibiotics), a change in diet, post-operative recovery, infection or inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

The general goal of probiotics is to displace potentially disease-promoting bacteria with those recognised as having beneficial effects. For example, bacteria recognised as desirable synthesize organic compounds that support the normal growth and maturation of cells lining the intestine. Increased numbers of desirable bacteria results in less space for toxin-producing undesirable bacteria. The metabolic by-products of desirable bacteria may also alter the environment of the gastrointestinal tract making it uninhabitable for pathogenic bacteria.

"The general goal of probiotics is to displace potentially disease-promoting bacteria with those recognised as having beneficial effects."

Probiotic bacteria also appear to alter the inflammatory and immune response of the gastrointestinal tract, suggesting they may play a beneficial role in the management of inflammatory bowel disease. Different bacteria invoke a different response from the host’s immune system. Probiotic bacteria appear to trigger the immune system of the gastrointestinal tract resulting in a reduction of damage due to inflammation. Other probiotic bacteria enhance the production of certain antibodies which can then coat and protect the surface of the intestinal tract.

What species of animals are being treated regularly with probiotics?

Dogs, cats, and occasionally rabbits are the usual species treated with probiotics. In Europe, probiotics are frequently used in the treatment of horses and ruminants. Clinical experience in North America, Australia and Europe in the use of probiotics in pets is extensive.

How much research has been conducted on these supplements?

Substantial research has been conducted on the effects of probiotics in humans, although additional studies exploring their ability to treat disease are needed. The general mechanisms by which they act in people are beginning to be recognised. Relatively little research has been conducted on the use of probiotics in dogs, cats and farm animals. However, probiotics appear to be completely safe.

How can my pet benefit from probiotics?

Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of diarrhea, rotaviral diarrhoea and gastric ulceration (including heliobacter infections) due to infectious causes. They may also counter the deleterious effects of antibiotics on gut microflora. They also appear to help in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease due to their immune modulating effects. They might also assist animals with skin allergies due to food sensitivities.

Where do I get probiotics and do I need a prescription?

Discuss any of these issues with us and we will be happy to help. Although these products can be purchased without a prescription, selection of the best product for your pet can sometimes be difficult. Some animals could be sensitive to other substances in probiotic products, such as milk which is common in human over the counter products. Product reliability is also an issue as many bacteria don’t survive in heat; probiotic products that aren’t refrigerated are thought to lose much of their effectiveness. Veterinary probiotic products are far more complex than common human products.

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