Your dog’s digestive tract is a mini-world full of biodiversity, with good bugs and not-so-good bugs constantly in a battle for balance. From puppyhood to the golden years, your dog’s gut microbiome has been uniquely influenced by the world around it – diet, environment, and experiences - and plays a huge role in their overall health. Approximately 70% of your dog’s immune system lives in their gut, which is one of the main reasons why it’s important for your dog’s microbiome to be balanced.

When the microbiome is off-balance, our dogs are more susceptible to immune dysfunction like diarrhea, allergies, and obesity. Not only do the microbiota work side-by-side with the immune system, but they’re key in digestion. That’s a lot of work for these tiny bacteria!

So how do we help balance the gut microbiome so that they can get their jobs done properly? With prebiotics and probiotics.

Prebiotics are the meal of choice for probiotics! Simply put, prebiotics are ‘eaten’ by probiotics in our intestines. They are carbohydrates or fibers that help regulate the digestive tract by both firming up loose stool or relieving constipation. Fiber can actively moderate water content in the digestive tract, absorbing the excess water from loose stool or adding water in the case of constipation. Fiber is fermented near the end of the digestive tract, creating nutrients called short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFAs have antibacterial properties that help restore probiotic balance and relieve diarrhea.

Our prebiotic of choice is pumpkin because it’s so readily available when unforeseen issues arise! Pumpkin is surely a powerhouse food, rich in soluble fiber to help regulate bowel movements and are packed with both Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which are antioxidants. Just make sure that when you’re purchasing pumpkin puree, that it’s pure pumpkin (no added sugar, salt or spices). Other sources of prebiotics include oats, beets, chicory root, flaxseed, sweet potatoes, and apples.

Probiotics are the good bacteria that help maintain a balanced digestive tract. These bacteria help reduce the population of the bad bacteria and increase the digestibility of micronutrients like calcium, zinc, and potassium. Another great benefit to probiotics is that they help to replenish the bacteria lost when antibiotics are taken. Antibiotics typically wipe out all of the bacteria (good and bad) in the gut and with the help of probiotics, the good are restored!

Where do you find probiotics?
The most common sources of probiotics are capsules or powder supplements as well as natural food sources, specifically fermented dairy products like fermented milk, buttermilk, soy milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, and more.

Whether you decide to incorporate just probiotics into their diet, or both prebiotics and probiotics is up to you. Stay tuned for more details on choosing the best probiotic supplement!

Tip: Whenever you decide to add something new to your dog’s diet, it’s always a good idea to monitor their stool for any changes. We recommend using the free DIG Labs Health Check app in the purrch app to log their stool photos during any food or supplement transition!
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