What is a probiotic?

Probiotics are good bacteria that can help with digestion, while prebiotics are essentially a source of food for the probiotics.  Given together, they can help your dog maintain a healthy digestive system.  


My dog has diarrhoea - will probiotics help? 

The quick answer is yes, and as vets, we commonly use them to help with cases of diarrhoea.  Any upset tummy can benefit from a course of probiotics, and we recommend them regularly.  This is because when the guts are irritated (for any reason) the normal bacterial population of gut flora will be disrupted with it, and the environment will change.  Symptoms of upset tummies can include both increased passage (diarrhoea) or slower passage (constipation) of ingested food through the intestines, and in both situations, the natural gut flora that help with digestion will become unbalanced.  We can support the gut flora recover faster from these disruptive events by using probiotics, which restores the balance within the intestines.


Should I use probiotics for dogs on antibiotics?

There are other situations where probiotics can be helpful too - not just when we know there’s an upset tummy.  Antibiotics are another important treatment used for dogs with bacterial infection, however they don’t discriminate against the good or bad bacteria in the intestines, and will target any bacteria that can be susceptible to them.  This can result in diarrhoea or constipation.  Therefore it can be sensible to use probiotics routinely whenever you have to give your dog a course of antibiotics, to keep their gut flora in balance, and reduce and hopefully avoid any side effects on the guts.


What about probiotic supplements for immune compromised dogs?

Another time when probiotics are important is if your dog is immunosuppressed - due to medications that can the immune system (like steroids or chemotherapy).  Research has shown that around 70% of your dog’s immune system is within the gastrointestinal system, and maintaining that in good condition can help reduce the risk and potential impact of other infections. 


My dog scavenges on walks - will probiotics help? 

Some dogs benefit from probiotics long term, either because they are very sensitive to imbalances, or because they are not a very discriminate eater, and pick up all sorts of dreadful things on their walkies - from leftover food scraps to other animal’s faeces!  Long term probiotics can support the guts despite the additional ‘challenges’ that our furry friends decide to sample, and keep their poo in good condition.


What probiotic dog supplements are there?

At Omni, we have recognised how important supporting the good gut bacteria (biome) is, and created a delicious one-a-day chew, that tastes great and contains the pre- and probiotics needed to support your dog’s gut health, whenever it’s needed.  It’s an easier product to give as they don’t have to have it mixed with their food (which can be so hit and miss) and they don’t have to take it as a tablet (which can be an acquired taste).  If you are considering trying our yummy supplement to help with your dog’s tum but aren’t quite sure, please do remember that all subscribers are eligible for free video consults with our team of experienced vets, and we’ll do our best to help.

https://omni.pet/products/supplements-dog-stool-firming

 Sophie Kay BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS CertAVP

FAQs

But aren’t dog’s carnivores?

Dogs are in fact nutritional omnivores as demonstrated by a robust scientific study published in the reputable journal Nature (1,2) in which it was shown that they have 30 copies of the AMY2B gene responsible for digesting plant-based foods.

They have also evolved relatively long intestines (21) (almost as long as humans) and relatively flat surfaces on their molars (31, 22) which they use for digesting and chewing a whole range of foods.

The common misconception that dogs are carnivores probably arises from the fact that they are classified in the order Carnivora but so are plenty of other species like bears, skunks, racoons who are omnivores and even the giant panda who thrives on a plant-based diet (20).

Is plant protein digestible to dogs?

Absolutely yes, studies which have looked at how much protein dogs can absorb from plant-based and fungi-based foods like soya and yeast demonstrated over 75% digestibility which is on par with meat-based foods (23, 24, 34, 35 & 25).

Both these protein sources also contain all 10 essential amino acids (36, 37) that dogs need to thrive.

Isn't there too much fibre in plant-based food?

The average amount of fibre in a commercial dog food diet is between 2-4%. omni’s plant-powered recipe has a fibre content of 3% which is on par with meat- based diets.

In our survey with over 200 dog owners, 100% reported that their dog’s stool consistency was either ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ and there were no reports of any digestive upsets (data on file).

Can I mix omni with other meat-based diets?

We are proud that our recipes are nutritionally complete and so include everything your dog needs to thrive. This means omni can be fed as a sole ration. We also fully support a 'flexitarian approach' like meat free lunches or using omni as a mixer.

Every little helps to bring some of the health and environmental benefits of plant-power to meal times. Mixing omni with meat/fish will help to add variety into your dog’s diet whilst adding in healthy ingredients with a relatively low carbon footprint.

Can plant-based food provide the essential fatty acids dogs need?

All the essential fats and oils that dogs need, including omegas 3 and 6 are found in a variety of both meat and plant-based foods (31, 28).

omni’s recipe is rich in plant-based sources of these nutrients so your dog will get all the essentials they need.

I hear a lot about feeding raw meat, isn’t that better?

Feeding raw meat to dogs has become a very popular trend in recent years, but most vets will warn against this practise. This is because the cooking process is vital to help kill off dangerous bacteria like E coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter (9) that have necessitated several food recalls from the market and caused serious illness and even death in both dogs and their owners (40, 41, & 42).

There are also several worms and parasites that are only killed off when raw meat is cooked. Dogs are dogs, not wolves and thanks to their domestication over thousands of years, thankfully don’t need to hunt to get their grub nor do they need to eat raw meat, it's just not worth the risk.

References

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