Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine once said “ All diseases begin in the gut”. Do you know that the gut accounts for more than 75% of our immune system and that the same applies for our dogs? When we are born, the body begins to populate our gut flora and our immune system starts with an inventory of good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria is key to promoting a healthy gut environment and acts as “housekeepers” for the digestive tract. The biggest stress to a dog’s immune system is diet, antibiotics and corticosteroids. A weakness in a dog’s defense mechanism increases the potential for food allergy. If a dog’s digestive tract is working properly, he will be able to absorb more nutrients. It is therefore useful to add probiotics to your dog’s diet to promote gut health. Probiotics helps to eliminate toxins, prevents allergies, maintains a healthy flora, keeps away bad bacteria, and provides vital support to the immune system. There are many brands of probiotics being sold. A good probiotic should deliver live, viable, organisms and should have more than 10 strains of bacteria and more than 40 million beneficial bacteria per serving. However, do remember that no manufactured probiotic can ever replace the vast array of microorganisms found in a variety of whole food. Probiotics in commercial pet food may not survive processing or storage.
An excellent and natural source of probiotics is found in fermented milk products like yogurt and kefir. Our Chihuahuas get a daily spoonful of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt and blueberries for breakfast. We have recently discovered the amazing health benefits of kefir. Research has shown that kefir helps to regulate immune function, allergic response and inflammation. Kefir grains are a strain of complex structures of bacterial and yeast with proteins, lipids and sugars which contains countless bacteria. One tablespoon of kefir is said to contain 10 strains and 5 billion beneficial bacteria, 3 times more compared to yogurt! Kefir also contains several major strains of friendly bacteria that are not found in yogurt. The bacteria in kefir colonize the intestinal tract i.e. they stay in the stomach while the bacteria in yogurt are transient bacteria, i.e. they pass through the digestive tract. Best of all, kefir provides a premium source of probiotics which is inexpensive and renewable. We just need to store, feed and take care of the living kefir grains and they will multiply and last indefinitely. We now add 1 teaspoon of kefir to our dog’s breakfast to replace the yogurt and we drink milk kefir every day.
It is relatively fuss free to make milk kefir. Just add the kefir grains to a cup of milk (preferably organic cow or goat’s milk) and leave it for 24 hours between 20-29 degrees Celsius to ferment. Due to our hot weather, we place ours in a wine chiller where the temperature is about 18 degrees Celsius. Once done, strain the milk, add fresh milk to the grains and repeat the process. The taste of milk kefir – tangy and a tad sour , much like plain unsweetened Yakult. Our Chihuahuas have no problems lapping it all up!
Feed fresh and whole foods for optimum gut health for your dogs.
Paws Fur Life, canine massage & nutrition. A healthy dog is a happy dog