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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Dr. Michael Dym
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Promote Excellent Digestive Health in Your Pet

Excellent digestive health in pets is most easily achieved by selecting high-quality, meat-based pet foods that contain whole grains (or no grains for cats) and vegetables. The following ingredients should always be avoided to maximize digestive health:

  • Excess levels of carbohydrates which may cause gas and bloating
  • Unnecessary fillers which may cause excess stool production
  • Artificial preservatives and colors which may cause adverse allergic-type reactions

Including prebiotics and probiotics in your pet's food will also improve digestive function.

What are prebiotics? Specialized forms of fiber that, when eaten, stimulate the growth and function of healthy or "good" bacteria in the intestine and will inhibit the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Common prebiotics added to pet food include inulin or FOS (fructooligosaccharides). Prebiotics occur naturally in several foods (e.g. asparagus, chicory, artichokes, honey, etc.), however, it would take very large quantities of these foods to exert a useful prebiotic effect. Researchers have found ways to isolate the prebiotics from these natural foods so pets can more easily benefit from them.

What are probiotics? Live "good" bacteria that when ingested by pets help to restore bacterial balance within the intestine.Pet owners should look for species of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus to indicate the inclusion of probiotics in a pet food. Pets will benefit most when fed both a prebiotic and a probiotic together since prebiotics act as a food source for probiotics and thus enhance their positive actions.

The balance of a pet's digestive system can be upset by many things—such as taking antibiotics, stressful conditions (moving, new pet, etc.), diet changes (even to a good food), inflammation, age and disease. When the delicate balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria is disrupted, it is not uncommon for pets to exhibit signs of soft stool or diarrhea. Pets regularly fed prebiotics and probiotics have been proven to experience less digestive upset and have more regular and normal bowel movements. Although intestinal bacteria are confined to one area of the body, they exert powerful effects on whole-body health and making sure prebiotics and probiotics are in your pet's food or giving as a supplement is an easy way to help your pet achieve optimal health.