What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are normally found inside the gut. Believe it or not, but we humans, as well as our canine companions, have trillions of these good bacteria inside our bodies. They help our immune system with a lot of things, like keeping the digestive system in tip-top shape—something incredibly helpful for dogs with Parvo. They can be taken in the form of supplements or through fermented foods, like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Probiotics are especially helpful in the case of Parvo since the disease affects the gastrointestinal system of infected dogs and disrupts the balance of good and bad bacteria in their bodies. Restoring that balance will help prevent the symptoms from getting worse and help dogs recover faster.
Different Types of Probiotics
Lactobacillus is the most common type of probiotic. You’ll find it in yogurt and other fermented foods, like pickled vegetables and soy. It produces an enzyme known as lactase, which helps the body break down lactose—the sugar found in milk. It’s known to help with diarrhea and keep bad bacteria at bay.
Bifidobacteria are the ones that help the body digest complex carbs and fiber. They’re commonly found in the form of supplements and used in certain foods.
Saccharomyces boulardii is not bacteria, but a type of yeast. Similar to Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, it helps manage and prevent diarrhea and digestive problems.
Probiotics Help Dogs By..
1. Increasing levels of good bacteria
In sick animals, such as dogs infected with Parvo, the balance between good and bad bacteria is often disrupted, even more so if they’re taking antibiotics. Antibiotics don’t make the distinction between harmless and harmful bacteria—they destroy both, and that leads to a lower number of good bacteria in the body. By including probiotics in your dog’s diet, you can increase the number of good bacteria and restore the balance between the two.
2. Removing toxins
For the body to effectively remove toxins inside the body, it has to have a sufficient amount of gut bacteria. That’s because the liver, which is the main organ used for detoxification, relies on the gut bacteria to help it filter and remove the toxins from the body. Keeping the gut flora healthy through probiotics will make sure your sick pooch is toxin-free as they recover from Parvo.
3. Aiding indigestion
Since Parvo attacks the gastrointestinal system, infected dogs experience a lot of problems in the digestive tract. Without proper support, they’ll most likely have trouble digesting food properly. This can prevent them from absorbing the vitamins and nutrients that they need to recover. Feeding your dog probiotics can help normalize the process of digestion and maintain the pace of food breakdown.
4. Strengthening the gastrointestinal barrier
The gastrointestinal barrier, gut barrier for short, is simply the intestinal wall. It’s made up of a layer of cells that are made to keep toxins and harmful microorganisms from entering the bloodstream. In dogs with Parvo, bad bacteria can sometimes outnumber good bacteria and weaken the gut barrier. When that happens, bad bacteria can easily enter the blood circulation and cause septicemia, which is actually the main cause of death in dogs with Parvo.
Probiotics can prevent bad bacteria from crossing the barrier by making sure there are enough good bacteria and stimulates the production of a substance called mucin, which coats the lining of the intestinal wall and keeps it strong and impenetrable to foreign bodies.
5. Helping the body absorb vitamins and nutrients
Another way for probiotics to help the body absorb nutrients and vitamins is by “pre-digesting” the food. As odd as that sounds, probiotics actually have their own digestive systems that they use to break down food molecules. Without this “pre-digestion” process, the body won’t be able to absorb the vitamins and nutrients for itself.
6. Fending off harmful pathogens
The good bacteria found in probiotics are essentially meant to keep bad bacteria out. They produce acids that act as natural antibacterials and prevent disease-causing microbes, such as E.Coli and Salmonella, from growing in numbers. With that said, probiotics can help protect dogs with Parvo from secondary infections and diseases.
8. Boosting the immune system
Did you know that the gut comprises 70% of the immune system? That means, if the gut is healthy, the immune system is, too! In dogs with Parvo, replenishing the number of good bacteria through probiotics can stimulate the body’s defense system and regulate inflammatory responses.
Interested in adding probiotics to your dog’s current diet? Check out our top picks here!