Fermentation and the Manufacturing of Dairy Products
The process of making yogurt and other dairy products is done by using fermentation. During fermentation the growth of bacteria is present (both good and bad) which includes probiotic bacteria. The type of probiotics present in yogurt are Lactobacillus strains or lactic acid based bacteria.
While it’s true that Yogurt does contain probiotics when bought in the store, yogurt is typically pasteurized. The process of pasteurization is performed in order to kill off the bacteria that can grow during the manufacturing process.
All About Pasteurization and Probiotics in Yogurt
The process of pasteurization is done either by flash pasteurization (quick pasteurization) or slow pasteurization. While each manufacturer does this slightly differently, the general rule of thumb that flash pasteurization involves is performed by heating up the yogurt in a large batch to a high temperature for a period of minutes or a slightly more moderate temperature for a longer period of time 10-30 minutes. The goal is to dial in the process in order to kill the bacteria but not significantly alter the nutrient profile.
Alternatively, in raw, unpasteurized dairy products the enzymes, microbes and nutrients remain intact. That means that in raw dairy, probiotics are alive and well and grow throughout the shelf life. It is unfortunately that the process of pasteurization, though it can help kill any bad or pathogenic bacteria, it also kills the probiotics, enzymes and lessens some of the nutrients present. This means that the probiotics in yogurt are not truly present and have to be added in later by using a “starter culture” in the form of a Lactobacillus culture so they are not a truly naturally occurring form of probiotics and can also die off over the time the product is sitting on the shelf.
The limited variety of probiotic strains found in store-bought yogurt is another factor to consider. While Lactobacillus Acidophilus is a beneficial strain, it's advantageous to provide your pets with a diverse range of probiotic strains, including lactic acid (Lactobacillus) and soil-based (Bacillus) forms. Different strains offer different benefits and can have a more comprehensive impact on your pet's gut health.
Where to Find Different Sources of Probiotics for Pets
To ensure your pets receive a broader spectrum of probiotics, it's worth exploring alternative sources.
One option is to look for raw, unpasteurized dairy products, such as raw milk or raw milk-based yogurts. These products contain live and active probiotics that are naturally present and can support your pet's gut health throughout the shelf life. However, it's important to note that raw dairy products come with their own considerations, including the potential risk of harmful bacteria, so it's crucial to source them from reputable and trusted suppliers.
Another option is to explore probiotic supplements specifically formulated for pets. These supplements often contain a variety of probiotic strains carefully selected to support their digestive and immune systems. Look for high-quality supplements (capsule form is best, rather than treats or powders) made specifically for dogs or cats, ensuring that they are formulated to meet their unique needs.
In a high quality probiotics supplement, the manufacturer will include multiple strains of probiotics. If they are truly a knowledgeable manufacturer they will have formulated overages into the product, so even though their product might show a few billion or more CFU (colony forming units) they will actually have put a higher number in at time of manufacturing so that by the end of shelf life, the product is still showing the number claimed in on the label. For example in our 3-in-1 dog and cat probiotic, prebiotic and digestive enzyme product, Restore M3® we include 5.8 Billion CFU/capsule at the time of manufacturing so that at the end of the 24 month shelf life, we can show at least 4 billion CFU per capsule. In our real time stability data, we were still showing 4.8 Billion CFU at the end of our 24 month shelf life. This shows the quality and strength of using a high end probiotic versus a treat or powder product.
While store-bought yogurt does offer some benefits, it's essential to be aware of its limitations. By exploring alternative sources of probiotics and considering a variety of strains, you can provide your pets with a more comprehensive and effective approach to supporting their gut health.
Remember, a healthy gut is crucial for your pet's overall well-being, immune function, and digestion. By incorporating a diverse range of probiotic strains into their diet, you can help ensure that they thrive and enjoy optimal health for years to come.
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