Understanding Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Postbiotics
Biotics this, biotics that. You probably know a little bit about probiotics from caring for your own digestive health. But probiotics for dogs, along with prebiotics and postbiotics, might be a new concept. What the heck are pre, pro, and postbiotics for dogs, and what do they have to do with your pup’s health?
Let’s break it down one biotic at a time. We’ll start with a quick review of what probiotics do for dogs.
Probiotics — they make a healthy microbiome
We all have bacteria, both good and bad, in our bellies. The good guys are known as probiotics, and they play an important role in gastro-intestinal (GI) health.
Turns out that bad bacteria doesn't like to party with the good guys. Probiotics are cool because they actually help keep bad bacteria under control.
So, when it comes down to what probiotics do for your dog’s (or your own) belly, an optimal, healthy microbiome has levels of probiotics that:
Probiotics come from the fermentation processes of certain foods, like kefir milk, goat’s milk, or yogurt. They are also readily available in supplement form, which makes them easy to add to any diet, including your dog’s.
Next, we’ll look at prebiotics and postbiotics for dogs — the two other parts of the probiotic system.
Prebiotics — they feed the probiotics
Remember how we said probiotics come from the fermentation process of certain foods? Well, prebiotics are what feeds probiotic growth. These soluble, fermentable fibers are “a type of nondigestible carbohydrate, also called resistant starch” in foods like chicory root.
Keep in mind that prebiotics and probiotics for dogs work together. Too much prebiotic action without appropriate probiotics to process it can result in loose stools.
But assuming there is a solid pre- and probiotic balance for your dogs, consuming foods high in prebiotic fibers helps promote the survival of the probiotics, which paves the way to the natural production of postbiotics.
Postbiotics — they come from healthy probiotics
Postbiotics, also known as postbiotic metabolites, are actually the product of well-fed, healthy probiotics. The best way to get them is to put probiotics into the belly, and be sure to feed those probiotics with prebiotics.
When your dog digests food, all those beneficial probiotics transform food into “hundreds of thousands of metabolites,” that nurse the walls of the gastro-intestinal tract so it stays healthy.
These super little postbiotic powerhouses include amino acids, vitamins, and short-chain fatty acids, all of which aid in and promote healthy bodily growth and function in your dog.
How to get the right biotics into your dog’s belly
If you want to get more probiotics into your dog’s diet, first take a look at the main course you feed your dog every day. Then, you can add supplements or special treats chosen to help build a healthier microbiome in your dog’s belly.
1. Start with a healthy main course. One way to proceed is to feed your dog fresh, whole foods like A Pup Above. These recipes are rich in fiber to naturally aid your dog’s digestion.
2. Supplements just for your dog. If your dog’s belly needs a bit more help in the digestion department, talk to your vet first. Then, check your local independent pet supply retailers for their selection of probiotic supplements for dogs.
3. Feed your dog’s probiotics with prebiotics. Remember that prebiotics need probiotics or you might get loose stools. Here are foods you can give your dog that’ll pump up the prebiotics:
- Chicory root, which contains the fiber, inulin.
- Beet pulp
- Gums (like guar gum NOT CHEWING GUM, people)
- Wheat dextrin (Benefiber)
4. Probiotic treats you can make. Add goat’s milk or kefir milk into your pup’s daily routine for a natural probiotic kickstart. These milks are excellent supplemental probiotic foods for your dog, and they make fun frozen treats that can entertain your canine. Check out our popsicle recipes: