A closer look at the relationship between probiotics and canine health
Microbiology was one of my most challenging and difficult subjects when I was going to vet school. I remember spending countless hours memorizing the differences between the species of bacteria. I studied their behavior, effects and their ability to help the body or make it sick.
I realize now that the world of bacteria and probiotics is fascinating, but the way the material was put together made the learning boring and difficult. Who wants to read lengthy, colorless and mechanical citations of bacteria characteristic? How can anyone memorize the dull monotone text with no color, texture or story?!
Over the years I became very curious, and one could even say obsessed, with learning about bacteria.
I see the world of bacteria as very similar to the macro world. Bacteria forms colonies - the equivalent of our villages and cities. There are the villains and the good guys in the bacteria world. Some of them are destructive and disease-causing agents and others are helpful and beneficial allies that are essential to life. Without bacteria life would cease to exist because we could grow no food and even if there was food, we would not be able to process and digest it properly.
What I find is that the deeper I dive into the world of bacteria, the more I want to learn.
Did you know that some probiotics are known to help with allergies and creating a positive mood? They can also assist with neutralizing kidney toxins, digesting food and eliminating unwanted substances from the body.
Today, I'd like to give you a closer introduction to Lactobacillus - a species of bacteria that has been an ally to humans and dogs for a very long time. The Lactobacillus genus has close to 200 species. To make it simpler, I can compare the lactobacillus family to the United States. The different lactobacilli are similar in many ways and also different depending on what they like and what their job is.
Like Americans, the Lactobacillus nation has very diverse talents. The names of the genus are reversed from how we arrange our names. For bacteria, the last name goes first, Lactobacillus, and the first name is in second place, for example, Acidophilus. So the name is Lactobacillus Acidophilus.
Here are some of the examples of the huge range of Lactobacillus effects or 'talents.'
It is scientifically proven that many Lactobacilli have the ability to significantly reduce the duration of diarrhea. Examples are L. Acidophilus and L. Rhamnosus, which are both included in GutSense, a dairy-free probiotic formula for dogs.
Lactobacillus Rhamnosus is, in my mind, the bacterial equivalent of a multi-talented, likeable guy that everyone wants to be friends with. It helps make your dogs No. 2 perfect and it has been scientifically proven to reduce the symptoms of dermatitis. L. Rhamnosus is also useful in dogs undergoing chemotherapy and antibiotic treatment.
Lactobacillus Reuteri could be seen as Rhamnosus’ cousin because it has the same effects! You can remember its name easily because Reuters is a well-known news agency and Lactobacillus Reuteri's effects are in my eyes definitely newsworthy!
L. Plantarum has shown to be helpful in dogs that often suffer from Clostridium-related diarrhea. Clostridium is an opportunistic pathogen readily present in soil and stagnant water. I see Clostridium as these lazy and heavy 'buggas' that cause fresh bloody diarrhea. They like to multiply when your dog’s digestive tract is out of balance. I see Lactobacillus Plantarum as a guard or a bouncer. They keep the Clostridium thugs in check.
I love the name Plantarum. In Latin, the word Planta stands for a plant, but also the foot. If L. Plantarum is a guard, he would be big, strong and have large feet.
Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in dogs. So here we are coming full circle back to L. Acidophilus, which has been known to reduce the symptoms of IBD. This is one of the main reasons why this bacteria strain is included in the GutSense formula.
As you can see, the world of probiotic bacteria does not need to be intimidating. There are many stories and much drama in the bacterial world, but similar to the 'macro world' and people, most bacteria is good for us.
Stay tuned for more healing news and thank you for sharing this article with those you care about.
P.S. - Remember one more thing. If you are choosing probiotics for your dog make sure they are dairy free, canine-species specific and made with organic ingredients.
© Dr. Peter Dobias