Prebiotics support your dog’s inner strength - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Prebiotics support your dog’s inner strength

Beyond supporting the immune system, prebiotics may also lead to other health benefits in your dog. © iStockphoto.com/Ivan Solis Beyond supporting the immune system, prebiotics may also lead to other health benefits in your dog. © iStockphoto.com/Ivan Solis
  • From The Dog DailyMore>>

  • The best way to clip your dog’s nails

    The best way to clip your dog’s nails

    Being a dog owner means sometimes taking on tasks that might not be that pleasant -- for either you or your dog. Nail clipping, in some cases, is one of the tasks. More >>
    Being a dog owner means sometimes taking on tasks that might not be that pleasant -- for either you or your dog. Nail clipping, in some cases, is one of the tasks. More >>
  • 5 fun ways to show your dog you love her

    5 fun ways to show your dog you love her

    There are many ways to show your dog that she is your best friend and an important member of your family.More >>
    There are many ways to show your dog that she is your best friend and an important member of your family. From doing activities together to creating a space just for her, these are some easy ways you can strengthen your bond with your four-legged friend.More >>
  • Prepare your dog for guests

    Prepare your dog for guests

    Inviting guests to your home when you have a new or energetic dog can prove to be challenging. Just a little training -- for both your dog and your guests -- will make visits more enjoyable for everyone.More >>
    Inviting guests to your home when you have a new or energetic dog can prove to be challenging. Just a little training -- for both your dog and your guests -- will make visits more enjoyable for everyone.More >>

By Jennifer Viegas
 

During any given week, your inquisitive dog has probably explored your house and neighborhood, which means it comes into regular contact with everything from dog park soil to favorite canine lampposts, all of which can harbor germs. Your dog's immune system works to combat these invaders, and dog food with ingredients called "prebiotics" can now strengthen that defense.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and activity of digestive-system bacteria that are beneficial to your dog's health. For the first time, they are now available in both wet and dry high-quality dog foods. Dr. Amy Dicke, an Ohio-based veterinarian, explains more about what prebiotics are and how they work.

Prebiotics in Dog Food

While certain dog foods now have the word "prebiotics" on the front label, check the product's ingredient list. Look for the long word "fructooligosaccharides," or FOS for short. Foods with this word have one of the best prebiotics now available. Although the name seems very scientific, it actually refers to a fiber, according to Dicke. "FOS is found naturally in certain fruits, vegetables and grains," she explains. "However, the concentration is typically very low and does not provide the desired health benefits."

How Prebiotics Work


Sixty-five percent of your dog's immune system is in its digestive tract. To infect your dog's body, germs and other invaders must break through a mucous membrane barrier of cells lining the gut. Like a wall, this barrier can prevent unwanted organisms from moving into the body.

When FOS is broken down, it produces short-chain fatty acids, which serve as food or energy for the cells of the mucosal barrier, promoting their health and integrity. An increasing population of beneficial bacteria help to crowd out bad bacteria through physical competition for space and nutrients, as well as producing substances detrimental to the undesirable bacteria.

Health Benefits of Prebiotics


Beyond supporting the immune system, prebiotics may also lead to other health benefits in your dog. Research on humans, who use prebiotics in a similar way, found that prebiotics appear to reduce inflammation. "Just as some foods can lead to poor health, it's no surprise that others can have positive effects," said Dr. Louis Montaner, editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, which recently published a study on prebiotics.

Prebiotics have also been shown to cut the development of skin allergies in human babies. A study in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood reported that prebiotics -- very similar to those found in breast milk -- ward off a dangerous form of dermatitis. Puppies receive comparable prebiotics from their mothers when they nurse, so it's possible that prebiotics in dog food help prevent skin and coat problems in adult dogs.

How to Begin Feeding a Dog Food Containing Prebiotics


If your dog is not currently eating a food that contains prebiotics and you'd like to make the switch, there should be a transition period of mixing the new food with your dog's current diet. Here's a sample feeding schedule over a week's time:

  • Day 1 and 2: Feed approximately one-fourth of new food mixed with three-fourths of current food.
  • Days 2 and 3: Mix half of old food with half of new food.
  • Days 4 to 6: Give your dog three-fourths of the new prebiotics-containing food and one-fourth of its former chow.
  • Day 7: Begin feeding your dog 100 percent of the new product.

Are Prebiotics Suitable for All Dogs?

According to Dicke, prebiotics can be beneficial to nearly all dogs. "There are times during your pet's life when dietary FOS may even have greater value," she added. Dogs that may especially need the immunity boost of prebiotics include:

  • Weaned puppies with developing immune systems
  • Dogs with certain chronic medical conditions
  • Pregnant females
  • Older dogs that may suffer from decreased immune system function

Consult with your veterinarian to see what he or she recommends. If your dog has a serious weight or medical condition, it might require a special veterinarian formula food to address its particular needs.


Copyright (c) 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Dog Daily. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animal, health and other science-related topics.

Powered by WorldNow

Fox 28

WSJV-TV FOX 28
58096 County Road 7, South
Elkhart, IN 46517

Switchboard: 574.679.9758
News Phone: 574.679.4545
Station Fax: 574.294.1267
Email: fox28news@fox28.com

All content ©Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSJV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Heather Stewart at (574) 343-5310. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.