Photo of Aussie Shepard Mix Holding a Fresh Skinny Orange Carrot in His Mouth

The Importance of Probiotics, Prebiotics & Exercise for Dogs

Dogs Need Daily Exercise

 

Dogs need exercise for both their mental and physical health. While some dogs and specific breeds of dogs are more active than others, dogs of all sizes, breeds and ages need to get their exercise in. Just like for us, movement is the key to life and dogs with more sedentary lifestyles are more likely to suffer from mental and physical ailments later in life.

It’s important to note the type of exercise your dog enjoys. For example: some dogs love to go on longer walks while some prefer a game of fetch, shorter interval exercises like park sprints or a run around the block. This comes down to genetics as well as dog personality. In addition, some dogs prefer both mental stimulation and physical stimulation simultaneously.

 If this is the case you can look into some sports or extracurricular activities with your dog, nose work for example, is a good activity for dogs who enjoy both mental and physical challenges whereas flyball is a popular sport with dogs who absolutely love to go nuts for their toys, especially tennis balls!

 

 

Helpful tip : If your pup tends to drag on their morning walks, change it up a bit and hop in the car with them and drive to another neighborhood a bit further away. It will change up the sights, smells and sounds and create more stimulation for your pet. This can be good for dogs who tend to be on the more cerebral side as they can get bored easily with repetition.

 

Home Cooked Unprocessed Food is King

 

The best quality food will be one you prepare yourself. While kibble, canned foods and other packaged foods are easy and convenient you may be sacrificing long term health for ease and time. Processed foods tend to lack the fiber content and essential micronutrients when compared to fresh food.


In addition to being more nutrient dense the food you prepare yourself for your pup is made without additives and preservatives. There is no replacement for whole foods in our own diet or our dog’s diet. This is a challenging concept in today’s world because we are always inundated with emails, calls, care taking of our family and ourselves and wherever we can cut corners we will do it - it’s human nature.

 

A good starting place is to plan ahead - setting aside some time to plan out meals for your pup can help. Here  are some other helpful strategies:

 

  • Decide on what you want to plan in advance so when you head to the grocery store or place your grocery order online, those items can be included


  • Set aside 1-2 hours a week where you can cook or prepare some meals for your dog


  • Write out the recipes and save them for later so you can re-use them. Once you learn the recipes and the different measurement of foods, you will become more proficient and the meal preparation time will be faster


  • If making meals for the week is hard, try making them for a few days a week versus the entire week


  • You can always store meals or batched ingredients in the freezer if you will be going out of town

Dogs Need Fiber Too

 


Dogs benefit from a high fiber intake in their diet. While we tend to think of fiber as a nutrient only applicable to our human diets, it’s actually very beneficial for dogs as well! Fiber assists with supporting the gut microbiome by feeding the good bacteria in the gut of your pawed pal. It also helps to nourish and strengthen your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.

Fiber functions exceptionally well when your dog is taking probiotics, as the fiber actually acts as food for the microorganisms in the probiotics to feed on and ferment. In addition, providing enough fiber in their meals can assist with issues such as indigestion, bloating and even irritable bowel syndrome as these issues are often the by-product of a lack of high fiber foods in the diet.

 

If your pet is taking a probiotic supplement and you are interested in improving the function of your pet’s gut probiotic supplement, be sure you are adding in fresh fiber in the form of organic fruits and vegetables or a gut health product which includes both prebiotics and probiotics.

Short Chain Fatty Acids and Prebiotics

 

Through this process, your pup’s body will produce SCFAs or Short Chain Fatty Acids. These SCFAs have great health benefits and help improve the environment of your dog’s gut, especially their colon health. In addition, the added SCFAs into your dog’s gut environment can also improve their quality of stool or even help assist with diarrhea episodes for dogs with chronic GI issues. 

 

If you want to do more of your own research, check into studies done on “prebiotics” with dogs. Fiber added to the diet of dogs is also commonly known as a “prebiotic” or “prebiotic fiber”. When these “prebiotic fibers” are combined with probiotics they become known as “synbiotics”.


Synbiotics

 

Lab image of microbes from plants

While the definition of the more commonly known word “symbiotic” means “characterized by or being a close, cooperative, or interdependent relationship”, the term “synbiotic” is defined as a “mixture of probiotics and prebiotics that beneficially affects the host by improving the survival and activity of beneficial microorganisms in the gut”.  You can create synbiotics for your dog by feeding them additional fiber in their diet and supplementing a good quality probiotic or you can take a supplement containing both prebiotic and probiotic fibers.


If you want to supercharge your pet’s health and take it to the next level, you can give them additional fiber from different whole foods on top of their prebiotic or probiotic supplement.


Benefits of Prebiotics, Probiotics and Synbiotics

 

Jack Russell Terrior holding a floret of broccoli

Some of the most important benefits of including prebiotics, probiotics and/or synbiotics in your pawed pal’s regular nutrition routine are as follows:


  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved digestion from the efficiency of the microbes in the gut being able to assimilate all the nutrients from your pet’s food
  • Decreased gut permeability, as probiotics and prebiotics protect the epithelial lining of the gut
  • Reduction of inflammation in the body as Short Chain Fatty Acids produce metabolic by products which reduce inflammation in your pet’s body
  • A slowed aging process and a longer life as anti-inflammatory markets, more efficient digestion allow your pet more energy for repair and maintenance

References:

 

[1] The Benefits of Walking your Dog


[2] Effects of a synbiotic on fecal quality, short-chain fatty acid concentrations, and the microbiome of healthy sled dogs


[3] Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definition of Symbiotic 


[4] The Combined Benefits of Synbiotics and Diet 


[5] Beneficial Effects of Probiotic Consumption on the Immune System


[6] Short Chain Fatty Acids and the Gut-Brain Axis Connection




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