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Probiotics usefull also for animals

Recent research has indicated that the addition of probiotics in animals food helps maintain good digestion, stimulate immunity, improve utilisation of feed, reduce intestinal upsets, improve health and prevent the proliferation of some potential disease causing pathogens.

Probiotics and friendly bacteria are commonly talked about. Many companies who produce dairy products for humans have taken to promoting the friendly bacteria in their yoghurts, and special drinks have been created to contain these probiotics. But are these just tools used to generate more sales or are friendly bacteria something to embrace for our pets and ourselves?

Not so new…
Probiotics are dietary supplements that contain beneficial live bacteria or yeast. They help assist the body's naturally acting flora in the digestive tract helping to restore balance and prevent problems. Probiotics are not new products, yoghurt is a probiotic and this has been around for at least 4500 years!

Helping Microflora
Probiotics help the Microflora. This is made up of billions of bacteria, protozoa and fungi. When these are balanced, the Microflora help digestion, promote absorption of various elements, stimulate immunity, improve utilisation of feed, reduce intestinal upsets, improve health and prevent the proliferation of some potential disease causing pathogens. The use of probiotics can help these functions.

Keeping the balance
The problem is, that it's all too easy to throw these Microflora out of balance. Environmental changes can influence the Microflora as can stress, antibiotics, alcohol, disease and exposure to toxic substances among other factors.

Pets need help too!
In the pet world, many scenarios that animals are exposed to can unbalance the Microflora. These include giving birth, travelling, kennels, trips to the vet, training, change in feed, change in environment and illness. Although many of these stress triggers cannot be prevented, most of them can be predicted so, in many cases a probiotic can be fed before the stressful situation arises.

In other cases where this might not be possible a probiotic can be issued after the problem (i.e. after antibiotics and illness) or at the time in the case of intestinal upsets. Probiotics are also regularly issued to newborn animals to help the Microflora become established and, as such, helps to prevent illness and disease by boosting immunity.

Do they work?
So, do they actually work? Protexin animal health produces probiotic supplements for animals and has conducted field trials to assess the results. When an equine stud farm in Hereford participated in a field trial for Protexin it was stated that: 'Excellent results were obtained following the use of Probiotics in brood mares and their foals at studs and when used in competitive animals.' It was reported that when this trial took place, scouring was drastically reduced in young foals and treatment of respiratory conditions through using antibiotics was more successful after a course of the product. Mares also experienced positive results.

by S. C.
17 february 2009, Food & Fun > Nature

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