Prebiotics for dogs indirectly boost intestinal health

Non-digestible but beneficial food ingredients

Prebiotic dog food

Some dog food has prebiotics already present as a nutraceutical ingredient. You can also supplement your dog's diet with prebiotics for dogs.

Prebiotics (also known as Fructo Oligo Sacharides or FOS) are non-digestible carbohydrates. Non-digestable? Yes, that's right, so prebiotics just pass through your doggie's body and nothing is done with them? No not exactly, they do not deliver nutrients or energy but they have another effect which is why these neosugars are now amongst the range of new dog food ingredients to benefit your pet.

FOS compounds are not digested and reach the colon in the same state as they were eaten. There a yeasting process starts that releases fatty acids. The result is a more acid environment (lower pH) and these fatty acids cover the colon surface providing nutrition to the intestinal cells for maintenance and proliferation.

Secondly, prebiotics are beneficial as they selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacterial species that are already present in your dog's colon. Sugar-hungry yeast, fungi and others can't utilize this form of sugar. Compared to probiotics, these carbohydrates in fact work indirectly towards the same end result as they help fight undesirable bacteria. As the "good guys" (Bifidobacteria) benefit and begin to thrive, the "bad guys" are just getting squeezed out.

Inulin and oligofructose

Non digestible oligosaccharides in general, and oligofructose in particular, are prebiotics. They do taste sweet but as these compounds cannot be digested, there is no corresponding peak in blood sugar nor do they contribute to your dog's calorie uptake. So also diabetic dogs and overweight dogs can benefit from these new dog food ingredients. As a matter of fact, FOS may even help stabilizing the blood sugar of your diabetic dog, though little is known about this hypoglycaemic effect.

Fructo-Oligo-Saccharides are produced by a fungus (Aspergillus nigricans) that enzymatically links together fructose units. FOS are found in many vegetables, such as leeks and asparagus. An often used natural source is the chicory root as dogs just happen to love its bitter taste. Most of the prebiotic supplements are chicory root based.

Benefits of FOS supplements for dogs

Dogs that have been fed oligofructose develop a more remedial colonic microbial population. They have fewer numbers of Enterobacteriaceae (including Salmonella and Escherichia coli) and Clostridium perfringens (bad guys) and greater numbers of Lactobacilli (the good guys). In addition, dogs that are supplemented with prebiotics have longer and heavier small intestines, with more mucosa and greater absorptive surface area. This results in them being more efficient in nutrient absorption from their dog food so the good stuff won't go to waste (literally).

Because colonisation with good bacteria prevents rapid proliferation of bad bacteria, your dog is less susceptible to infectious diarrhea.

Supplementing a lactating bitch with prebiotics increases IgM antibody levels in her secreted milk. As a result, immunity in the drinking puppies is enhanced.

Fecal odor and tumorigenesis

Anti tumor?

The anticarcinogenic activity of prebiotics is not well understood (yet). It appears to be related to the beneficial bacteria's ability to produce substances that arrest the growth of cancer cells.

Sure it would be nice when dog droppings wouldn't smell like dog droppings any more, but actually this is not really the issue here. It's just a nice side-effect of supplementing dog food with prebiotics.

As most of the bacteria in your dog's digestive tract are anaerobes (this means they can work without oxygen) a lot of smelly putrefactive by-products are formed during the fermentation of endogenous and undigested amino acids. Examples are ammonia, phenols, volatile sulphur-containing compounds (sulphur just smells like rotting eggs), indoles and aliphatic amines.

What's worse is that these fecal odor components have been implicated as causes of colorectal cancer. So this is yet another reason to try and manipulate the intestinal flora for the better. The fatty acids, one of which is butyrate, that are produced after ingestion of prebiotics are believed to induce growth arrest and cell differentiation. Via this mechanism butyrate can exhibit antitumor activity.

Any side effects of prebiotics for dogs?

FOS products may initially cause digestive upsets for sensitive dogs. Your dog may experience flatulence, bloating and diarrhea. This should pass and not persist for more than two weeks.

As soluble fibre may reduce effectiveness of medications you should not give these at the same time. Allow for at least 4 to 5 hours in between.

Though remember, that most dogs will handle these special carbs just fine. To be on the safe side you just GRADUALLY add these beneficial carbohydrates to Fido's diet.

Prebiotic dog food and supplements

How much?

Average consumption of 0.1 g of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin per day is considered to be effective.

You can eat chicory root yourself, for instance as a salad ingredient, so when preparing your meal it's perfectly ok to give your dog the rest of the root. Chicory root can also be bought as 100% pure roasted chicory in a bag.

Prebiotic dog food

Chicory root is used in several brands of commercial dog food, for example Nestlé Purina dog food. Eukanuba has added prebiotics to the majority of their dog food formulas. They added a natural prebiotic, FOS, to support your dog's defense system by nourishing the "good guy" bacteria in the intestines.

Prebiotics for dogs as supplements

My Akita Kensho

Liquid supplements can be purchased such as Viyo, a very palatable drink (well, at least that's my dog's opinion). You can add this to the dog food or water of your furry family member or let him enjoy it in the concentrated form.

My Akita dog prefers his Viyo pure, no water, no ice... neither shaken nor stirred. Straight from the bottle.


Buy probiotics for dogs online

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