Probiotics in Dogs
Canine FortiFlora by Purina
Many people are familiar with the concept of probiotics. Probiotics have been in the forefront of nutritional supplements in recent years. The most common form of probiotic for people is the common bacteria that is found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Acidophilus. Let's answer some common questions about probiotics:
What is a probiotic?
Probiotics are living organisms, oftentimes bacteria. This may seem odd, but a probiotics are a "good" form of bacteria that have health benefits within the body. The most common area that probiotics are used is to benefit gastrointestinal (digestive) health and to support a healthy immune system. These "friendly" bacteria occupy areas within the intestinal tract, aiding in the normal digestive process. They also help to balance out or prevent the establishment of "bad" (pathologic) bacteria, which oftentimes can cause disease symptoms. These symptoms include cramping, vomiting, diarrhea and a general feeling of being overly run down. Probiotics are labeled in units of CFUs, or colony forming units.
What is FortiFlora?
FortiFlora is the main form of probiotics that we recommend for use in dogs. FortiFlora comes in a convenient once a day packet containing a powder. It is very easy to just sprinkle over the food. Like many of Purina's products, FortiFlora has gone through many palatability studies, to see if dogs will prefer the taste. In addition to a guaranteed level of viable colony forming units, FortiFlora contains antioxidants. These antioxidants are beneficial to the body in other ways, providing another benefit in addition to the probiotic content. Many people recognize these antioxidants, which include Vitamin E, Vitamin C and beta carotene. Purina has also added in several trace minerals, such as selenium, Magnesium and Potassium.
Why should I use it?
There are many reasons to consider using probiotics in your dog's diet. These include:
- Young puppies
- Poor Fecal quality
- Excessive Flatulence (Gas)
- Use of Antibiotics
- To Promote a strong immune system
- Diet Changes (which often result in an upset stomach)
Can I just give my dog Yogurt, or Lactobacillus tablets, like I take?
As noted above, the main probiotic that is used in people is called Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This comes in many different forms and is also the main beneficial bacteria that is contained within yogurt. One simple reason to not give yogurt is that some dogs can actually have an allergy. Others have a hard time digesting the lactose that is in the yogurt. This can actually lead to, rather than prevent, many of the signs that FortiFlora benefits. The other, perhaps more important, reason to use FortiFlora is that dogs do not utilize Lactobacillus Acidophilus. Though this common probiotic will not hurt your dog, it will have no benefit. When we take our veterinary oath, we vow to "above all else, do no harm." This principle applies to the use of Lactobacillus in dogs. FortiFlora contains the beneficial canine bacteria, Enterococcus faecium.