Most dog parents know that probiotics are good for their dog’s health. But what about prebiotics?
This simple, inexpensive supplement can not only aid intestinal health and digestion but also aid a balanced internal immune system.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are nothing more than water-soluble fiber. That’s right-fiber. There are two types of dietary fiber, water-soluble and water-insoluble (won’t dissolve in water). Soluble fiber mixes with water in the intestines to form a gel. This gel is the preferred food for beneficial or “good” gut bacteria. These bugs promote gut health by trapping the metabolic toxins of digestion, reducing the irritation of fat digestion, and block the growth of “bad” bacteria that cause gas production, produce toxins and decrease digestive health.
Think of prebiotics as fertilizer for bacteria that promote good gut health and balanced internal immunity. Psyllium husk is our favorite and is well tolerated by most dogs. Inulin, another good prebiotic, can cause gut pain if dosed too high. Oat bran in oatmeal and ground flaxseed are also good prebiotics. Consult your veterinarian for proper dosing of prebiotic as an excess can cause soft stool or diarrhea.
Insoluble fiber, or roughage, is the type of fiber found in bran, shredded wheat, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t break down and remains solid in the intestines. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and keeps things moving through the intestines but is not a prebiotic. This is the type of fiber used in commercial dog foods.
For quality stool, an ideal diet should contain no more than 5% total fiber, with a healthy dose of prebiotic soluble fiber. Less than 1% dietary fiber will promote poor gut health and balanced internal immunity.