As those of us with dogs will know, digestive upsets and loose stools are fairly common occurrences that can be triggered by lifestyle factors, amongst other things. A change in diet or a poor quality diet, emotional stress, vaccinations, antibiotics and/or steroids, or more serious GI disease can all cause digestive problems by upsetting the ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut.

This good bacteria is beneficial to all aspects of health and, when it becomes imbalanced, can result in poor food absorption and chronic bouts of diarrhoea. In fact, bowel health is one of the top 10 reasons for veterinary visits in the UK, with stress being the leading cause.

So, what are probiotics and how can they help my dog?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that reside in the gut and whose job it is to help regulate healthy intestinal function and balance microflora. The term probiotics actually originates from Greek, meaning ‘for life’ – perhaps a perfect summary of the role probiotics play!

When our dogs are stressed i.e. because of routine/dietary changes, or are on medication, the beneficial bacteria can quickly be outnumbered by bad. Stress causes a number of changes to take place in the body - the majority of which affect the digestive system by altering its motility, which negatively impacts mucosa and mucosal blood flow, compromises the health of tissue cells and upsets intestinal microflora.

This has wider implications for health and often leads to intermittent or chronic diarrhoea and general stomach discomfort. Chronic diarrhoea can be very dehydrating for dogs, so should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.

If your dog has a runny tummy, in the absence of other symptoms, you can probably assume stress has a part to play. Some forms of medication e.g. antibiotics, will usually necessitate probiotic therapy as well, as these drugs work by eradicating all types of bacteria from the body, good or bad, which can cause an unsettled stomach and loose stools. In this incidence, it is important to replace the good bacteria your dog has lost, which is where complementary pastes come in.

Supplementing your dog’s diet with probiotics can be hugely beneficial, whether your dog has an existing digestive problem or simply as a maintenance measure. New research indicates that supporting the gut’s microflora with probiotics can work wonders by helping to promote full GI function and health, as well as defending against the effect of emotional and physiological stressors. Thus, episodes of diarrhoea and/or vomiting are alleviated.

The benefits of probiotics may also extend to immune function as well, as the gut is often described as ‘the largest immune organ in the body,’ bearing the brunt of stress, dietary and medication-induced changes. This has positive implications for the whole body and can improve your dog’s overall quality of life.

DiaHalt is a specially formulated probiotic paste that is designed to support healthy digestion in dogs. The complementary paste is highly palatable and combines three core ingredients that work together to help maintain the intestinal balance.

The high level of probiotics in the form of Enterococcus faecium maintain a good level of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while Fructo-oligosaccharides (prebiotics) provide nourishment for the probiotics and other friendly bacteria. Bentonite clay is a natural binding agent that helps to firm up the faeces and support the intestinal lining.

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Written by: Hannah