A Holistic Approach to Probiotics for Pets: My Big Discovery
As with most successful men, it’s thanks to the help of my wife that I was introduced to something new and helpful.
Early in our marriage, she required systemic antibiotics on multiple occasions.
They were prescribed to help her get rid of bacterial infections, but she would always develop a severe yeast infection before finishing her antibiotics.
That was the “kick in the seat of the pants” I needed to try and solve this problem for her, as the prescribing physician's opinion was, “It’s not that bad. And besides, this happens all the time.”
This event was one of several that started me along the path of focusing on holistic medicine.
I did some research and decided we could potentially avoid these secondary yeast infections altogether by putting her on a probiotic whenever she needed to take antibiotics.
Spoiler alert: It worked!
(Thank you, thank you. You're too kind.)
After this, I decided that even though my veterinary patients weren't exhibiting the same symptoms as my wife after antibiotic treatments, that it would be a good idea to send home probiotics every time I prescribed antibiotics.
After all, there aren't any negatives to taking probiotics, so it was worth a shot.
And guess what?
After I started doing this, all my patients that were on antibiotics started doing much better!
Antibiotics don't just kill bad bacteria, they kill good bacteria too, whereas probiotics increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the body.
It’s ultimately something called the “bacterial microbiome” that keeps both us and our pets alive and healthy.
Anything that destroys our microbiome can end up hurting or even killing us.
The way this occurs, is bad bacteria and fungi will overgrow and cause a plethora of health problems due to the microbiome not being able to function properly.
This is where I'd like to ask you to pull up a chair and get comfortable, as I have a story to tell that will clarify the importance of this concept.
Several years ago, I saw a dog that had been in a dog fight.
He was dealing with something called cellulitis from several bite / puncture wounds.
(If you aren't familiar with cellulitis, it's a bacterial infection of the skin that causes painful redness and swelling. It can be life-threatening if left untreated.)
I told the dog's owner that I needed to prescribe antibiotics, and as per clinic policy, her dog would have to take probiotics as well.
Immediately, the owner started sobbing uncontrollably and I was completely flummoxed.
I had no idea what I’d done to trigger such a reaction!
She finally composed herself and told me that her daughter had previously been on antibiotics for over a year.
They’d been prescribed by her pediatrician.
Apparently, my client’s daughter had experienced multiple yeast and thrush infections that required antifungal treatment due to being on extended rounds of antibiotics and these secondary infections were extremely painful for her.
The mother had asked the doctor about 4 months in if she should put her daughter on a probiotic in addition to antibiotics and the doctor took major offense to it.
He firmly told her there was no way on God’s green Earth that he was going to do so.
Several months later, the mother told the doctor (after the umpteenth yeast infection) that she was going to go ahead and try adding probiotics to the mix, to attempt preventing these terrible secondary infections.
The doctor completely blew up on her!
He told her if she gave a probiotic, that he'd call DHS and have her children taken away for not following doctor's orders!
This is exactly why she got so emotional when I recommended probiotics for her pet.
Because she’d always felt this was the right thing to do for her daughter and she was now hearing it affirmed by her veterinarian.
Probiotics are a form of preventative care for both pets and humans.
It's now very common in both human and veterinary medicine to do fecal transplants as a way of establishing a healthier gut bacteria population.
This is typically due to the patient having lost all of their good bacteria due to antibiotic treatment.
I would much rather just take a probiotic as preventative care!
As an educated guess, with no studies to back it up, I've often wondered if that's why so many animals eat feces.
As disgusting as it is, it's a very effective way to get good bacteria into the gut.
I also think the importance of probiotics is illustrated by the sheer number of bacteria that exist in the human body.
The average person has 5 pounds of bacteria in their body.
And that 5 pounds represents billions and billions of bacteria.
Even with pets being much smaller, there's still a ridiculous amount in their bodies too!
In modern Western medicine, something called the "germ theory of disease" was a major breakthrough.
You see, in the middle ages, it was common knowledge that the death rate of hospitalized patients would go down significantly when physicians were gone during weekends and holidays.
Back then, blood and gore on a doctor's topcoat was viewed as the mark of a great physician.
Little did they know, that they were spreading death and destruction by not changing their coats and washing their hands.
The introduction of antibiotics during World War II was a hallmark for the progression of modern medicine.
Doctors could now help patients fight off nasty germs and ensure the germs were toast.
However, with this new mindset of sterility and avoiding germs, the idea of eating "rotten foods" that used to be so common became completely frowned upon.
(I'm not saying that you should eat rotten foods, but hear me out. This gets good.)
Ancient people didn't know what probiotics were, and even if they would have known, there was no health food store to go purchase them at.
They also didn't have refrigeration.
Amazingly though, many ancient cultures around the world (lacking knowledge of what probiotics were) developed or consumed a signature “rotten” food that was full of good bacteria.
Here are a few examples:
• Koreans have kimchi.
• Germans have sauerkraut.
• Inuits have fermented fish heads, seal flippers, and whale blubber.
Now, they probably didn't fully understand how important these foods were, as these signature dishes were all things based on their geographical location, culture, etc.
However, this is where they were getting a significant source of the good bacteria that was needed to keep them healthy.
Most of modern society has strayed away from eating much, if any, of these “rotten” foods.
We no longer consume those foods out of necessity, so most people just don't consume them at all.
So long story short, take your probiotics kids!
The importance of probiotics is starting to become more apparent in the current problem with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The MRSA superbug is a perfect example of this.
It takes years and years (as well as millions of dollars) to come up with a new antibiotic and just minutes for bacteria to develop resistance to it and pass that on to future generations.
I think there needs to be a paradigm shift in how we think of treating bacterial infections.
In my practice, I only use antibiotics that have been around for a very long time and don't carry any of the newer, ultra expensive, ultra dangerous antibiotics.
Treating infections this way works very well, since I combine high-quality probiotics to replace the good bacteria that are being killed off.
Much more effective.
These days, when I send home probiotics, many people comment that their doctor recommended they either eat live-culture yogurt or take a probiotic when they're on antibiotics.
So, it's becoming much more mainstream now than when I first started doing this about twenty years ago and I'm happy to see things starting to shift.
One last note about probiotics here: Getting good bacteria into the system is great, but live-culture yogurt is not a great way to do it.
Many pets are allergic to dairy products and about 95% of the bacteria in yogurt will be killed by stomach acid.
That's why I always use a probiotic that has lots of CFU’s (colony-forming units) and is "micronized".
This allows that same 95% of bacteria that wouldn't survive the stomach acid in a live culture yogurt to actually colonize the small and large intestines.
At the end of the day, it's a great idea to give a probiotic to your pets on a regular basis, even when they aren't on an antibiotic.
Probiotics are amazing for establishing a healthy digestive system and preventing health problems in general.
If you're looking for a high-quality probiotic for pets, feel free to pick one up from me if you're local to the Oklahoma City area or order one online here: Mercola Healthy Pets - Complete Probiotics for Pets
As Forrest Gump would say, "That’s all I have to say about that!".
I hope you enjoyed my post today!
As always, please share the link with a friend or family member so they can keep their pets healthy and happy along with you.
Until next time,
Dr. Terry R. Wood