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Prebiotics vs Probiotics


January 28, 2019

What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? They are supposed to be good for your stomach, right? Yogurt…? Today we will delve into what they are, what they do, and how they can be beneficial for your pet.

 

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria naturally created during the fermentation process of foods like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut. Prebiotics are essentially food for probiotics. They consist of fiber that passes through the small intestine undigested and ferments in the large colon producing food and surface area for living bacteria and probiotics.

 

Many pet food manufacturers add prebiotics or probiotics to their formulas, but are they beneficial? FirstMate Pet Foods uses prebiotics in the form of brewer’s yeast in lieu of probiotics. The reasoning for this is essentially two-fold.

Photo Credit: @nikitabearthehusky

Probiotic supplements contain living bacteria, generally sourced from cows, goats or sheep in a dairy form.  When you give a probiotic supplement to your pet, you are introducing a foreign strain of bacteria into their system. Every animal has a microbiome as unique as a fingerprint and its own preferred strain of probiotics. The preferred strain is the one that will be at the highest level when the animal is healthy. So, while introducing foreign strains of probiotic is effective, it is not as beneficial as cultivating an animal’s natural flora.

 

The other issue with probiotics, in the scope of dry food, is that they are not very shelf stable and are sensitive to air and heat. It is a hotly contested matter as to whether or not probiotics added to kibble actually survive to make it to the animal’s stomach.

Photo Credit: @cashmoneyvizsla

Prebiotics are an ideal food source for your pet’s native, preferred strain of probiotics. Prebiotics cannot feed (penetrate the cell walls) unwanted bacteria. Prebiotics work to shift the balance of beneficial bacteria to a healthy, natural state. Some findings suggest that prebiotics can double your pet’s good bacteria every 20 minutes. In three hours, 1,000 bacteria could become over 5 million. This allows friendly bacteria to populate intestinal walls, while flushing out undesirable bacteria that have nothing to eat and cannot attach to the intestine.

 

Aside from the demonstrated gut health benefits, probiotics and prebiotics are also thought to have positive effects on stress levels and immune heath. In summary, probiotics and prebiotics are both thought to be positive additions to your pets’ food. FirstMate uses prebiotics for a more holistic approach.

Photo Credit: @smokey.thebandit

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