A natural way to everyday wellness
Increased focus on the health and wellness of pets has shifted to also focusing on doing it “the natural way”. Pet owners are increasingly focusing on natural ingredients, NO artificial colouring, flavours or additives when choosing food for their four-legged family members.
When it comes to natural preventive health care, there are many different ways to approach the subject. In the human sector sales of vitamins and other dietary supplements are exploding and because of and increased humanization of pets many of the trends seen in the human sector is transferred to our pets, especially when it comes to welfare. It seems that just feeding a high-quality natural diet is no longer enough – pet owners want something extra, preferably health benefits and everyday wellness for their pets. (et al. 2003, Wynn 2009, Veir et al. 2007 and Grajek et al. 2005).
Many pet owners and veterinarians are already using probiotics successfully to manage and prevent different conditions and diseases.
Probiotics are defined as: “a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance” (Fuller 1989). Probiotics are completely natural, since they are already present in the intestinal system of all animals and humans. They are necessary for the digestion of nutrients and the balance of the intestinal microflora. 70 % of the immune system originates in the digestive tract, which is why a balanced microbial ecosystem is crucial for optimal health (Suchodolski and Simpson 2013 and Vighi et al. 2008).
Some of the proven benefits of probiotics are as follows:
- Restoration of the normal balance of the intestinal microflora
- Improvement of digestion
- Maintenance of a normal and healthy function of the intestinal tract
- Stimulation of the immune response
- Improvement of resistance towards disease
- Prevention of colonization of pathogens
- Reduction of symptoms of stress
- Improvement of general health
Abovementioned effects are some of the reasons why pet owners and veterinarians are growing fond of using probiotics as a natural way of providing everyday wellness for pets. There are NO disadvantages of using probiotics, even more than 100 times the recommended dose does not cause any problems. Animals cannot develop resistance towards probiotic bacteria, only pathogenic bacteria can become overpopulated in the intestines. Other than that, probiotics are inert organisms and does not persist in the environment. Neither do they have any adverse effects on aquatic life, soil fauna or terrestrial plants.
Functional foods are defined as: “foods that contain some health-promoting components beyond traditional nutrients” (Shah 2007). Functional foods are consumed as part of a normal everyday diet and are not classified as supplements (Grajek et al. 2005). The market for functional pet foods providing natural health benefits is increasing and will probably continue to do so in the coming years.
By Therese G. Hosbjerg, DVM and Technical manager at Bacterfield GMBH
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