However, because of a recent increase in awareness of the importance of probiotics in human food, dog owners are starting to pay attention to the incorporation of those live microorganisms in their pet’s food.
According to Chanda Leary-Coutu, senior manager, marketing communications for Wellness, “People have used probiotics for quite some time, whether by eating yogurt or supplementing their diets with probiotic capsules.”
So, what exactly are probiotics? Kirk Young, executive vice president of Precise Pet Foods explained.
“Probiotics use pH to create an unfavorable environment in the intestine for pathogenic bacteria,” said Young. “They also use soluble fiber, such as those found in beet pulp and citrus fiber, as a food source, creating an energy source for the intestinal cells in the process. By providing good bacteria at every meal, we are ensuring pets will have every opportunity to fight off disease and keep the digestive system in a healthy state. We can expect to see increased stamina, better digestion, and disease resistance during times of stress.”
Because of those benefits, probiotics are cropping up in dog food, treats and supplements. Leary-Coutu further explained their benefits.
“Probiotics are considered ‘good’ bacteria, and they work by helping to decrease the ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut, increasing digestibility and bringing balance to the digestive system,” said Leary-Coutu. “And since a large portion of the immune system is found in the gut, studies show that the use of probiotics can help maintain a strong immune system.”
At Wellness, both the dry dog and cat lines include guaranteed levels of lactic acid microorganisms, which is a combination of probiotics.
Different brands use different types of probiotics.
“There are a variety of species such as Lactobacillus, Enterococus and Bifodobacterium,” explained Bettie Hamilton, vice president of marketing and product development at Halo, Purely for Pets.
According to Hamilton, Halo has always included probiotics in the brand’s premium natural dry food formulas. Halo adds probiotics to cooled kibble at the end of the cooking process.
At Precise, Young explained that they use a very specific probiotic.
“The probiotic that we use in our Precise Holistic Complete formulas, GanedenBC30, is a remarkable supplement that can withstand the manufacturing process, has a long shelf life and is extremely tolerant to the acid and bile found in the digestive tract,” he said. “Its unique ability to survive gives the food a long shelf life so you can be sure that the good bacteria in Precise Holistic Complete are viable and ready to start working once they have made their way to the dog’s small intestine. Utilizing cutting edge and innovative supplements like GanedenBC30 probiotic differentiates our brand from many of our competitors and provides pets with everything they need to thrive.”
Both the Naturals and Holistic lines of pet foods from Precise contain probiotics.
“Let’s face it: Nobody wants to see their pet suffer from digestive upset,” Young said. “Precise Natural Chicken Meal & Rice Foundation Formula is our bestselling food in our Naturals line. It is a wholesome, balanced formula that is made with upscale ingredients like quality chicken meal, whole grains, purified chicken fat, chelated minerals and probiotics. It is highly palatable and exceptionally digestible, and that means less clean up for the pet owner.”
At Wellness, Leary-Coutu said that the Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal dry dog recipe is a customer favorite, along with the cat recipe.
“Both of these recipes have guaranteed levels of probiotics, as well as prebiotics, high-quality antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to help promote overall pet health,” she said. “We’re also finding that as small and toy breed dogs become more popular, pet parents are opting for our Small Breed
Complete Health or Toy Breed Complete Health recipes, which also contain our probiotic blend. All of these options provide a nutritious diet without the use of added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.”
For dog owners who are interested in trying probiotics but aren’t willing to switch their dog’s food, numerous supplements are available, which can be used as additives to a current feeding regime. Bestselling brands include Ark Naturals, Dr. Harvey’s and Healthy Essentials.
For customers who are looking for these types of products, retailers should be prepared with multiple suggestions that contain the live probiotics.