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For many years I have written about the benefit of probiotics on our health. In my early years, working in a Natural Health Clinic that offered total health solutions, I experienced first hand the great effects probiotics have on people. I worked one on one with many who were trying to reverse health conditions naturally or in conjunction with traditional medicine. In my own practice as well as throughout the clinic our goal was to assist people in detoxification of their bodies. These cleansing practices were found effective in prevention of disease, as well as in supporting the healing of many conditions that traditional medicine had not been able to solve.

In our Clinic this was accomplished with modalities like massage, sauna, herbs, colon hydrotherapy, juice fasting and nutrition. During this period of time probiotics were a vital part of my practice. My specialty was the digestive system (I’ll bet you might have guessed!) and I was performing colonics as well as suggesting herbal remedies and teaching good nutrition. So in this way very early on, through practical application, I observed over and over how probiotics could greatly improve people’s health.

Now let’s fast forward to today – many years later! We have entered the age of the study of the Human Microbiome (fancy name for gut population) and its effects on human health and disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported this so scientists can have the funding to study all aspects of bacteria, both in and on our bodies. Almost daily we can read more research studies touting the benefits of probiotics on everything from GI problems to anxiety and depression. As new studies have come forth, we have even offered many of them to you on this blog.

Since we have trillions of bacteria and over 180 different strains of bacteria in our guts, we now fully realize two important things – how critical it is to replenish our good bacteria if we want to be healthy, and also just what type of probiotic supplement our bodies need most – one that is high potency (meaning a high culture count) and that also contains many different good bacterial strains.

BUT – have we forgotten about the digestive systems of our babies? Those wonderful animals that keep us company, are always excited to see us and never criticize us for our shortcomings? Gosh I hope not.

Come to find out these guys (dogs and cats) need probiotics just like we do. In fact their digestive systems take a beating from antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and toxins just like ours do. Actually they are finding that the gut bacteria of the animals we live with actually mimic ours, having many of the same bacteria – even though there are certain strains that are specific to animals.

I interviewed Dr. Rob Knight who is a scientist studying the gut microbiome and founded The American Gut Project. These scientists actually analyze stool samples (for a fee) from anyone, and they will accept your animal’s sample as well. Dr. Knight explained to me that he can take samples from humans and match them to their dog by simply comparing their bacterial composition, without knowing anything else about them. He can literally match owners with their dogs through their similarities of bacteria!

Even though “official” research is beginning to demonstrate that dogs and cats derive many health benefits from probiotics, Stan and I and countless other dog owners and vets have already experienced that high dose, multi-strain probiotics can help pets with digestive upsets like vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, skin issues – the list goes on. For cats and dogs, a healthy population of gut bacteria is vital for gut health, and just like with their humans, plays a critical role in removing toxins, enhancing digestion and out-competing many strains of disease causing microorganisms.

In conclusion, I know I am going to make sure my animals have the benefit of quality probiotics – ones made especially for cats and dogs – with at least 20 billion cultures per capsule and 10 different probiotic strains.

In this simple way we can provide our animals a much better chance of keeping their health on the right track — so that we have them around longer to love!!! YEA!!!