Flicking through the fifty odd TV channels on the tv one night I came across a science programme that was discussing research into faeces and the bacteria found in the gut and in faeces..
The programme was outlining the fact that a lack of bacteria in the gut had been linked to a variety of illnesses from diabetes to stroke. It was explained that the next stage of the research was looking at treating a variety of illnesses with bacteria instead of drugs.
George my Australian Mist with a skin problem was curled up by my side purring away all snug and warm. He reached out with his paw and stroked my face making a loud contented purr as he did so. Looking down at him I thought it can’t be as simple as that can it?
George is now two years old and since he was 6 months old he has suffered with the most horrendous allergy that left him ripping gaping holes in his head and neck. He was constantly wrapped in a buster collar, neck protection and soft claws combined with a daily wound cure. Eventually he was referred to a specialist vet who dealt only in skin and allergy issues. A battery of tests and eventually the diagnosis was grim indeed. Food trials did nothing so the options were a battery of allergy tests which would continue on until something came up positive, or George was to go on to Atopica. The feline version of Atopica was mostly unavailable except in small bottles which would prove extremely expensive. So the decision to use the dog version of the drug was made.. It proved to be a wonder drug in itself as it stopped the itching but it was still an expensive route to a cure. Atopica is also an immunosuppressant which could leave George open to all sorts. Being on drugs long term was also something I didn’t want George to endure. Despite the positive effects of Atopica George still had his ups and downs and relapses on his road to recovery.
So once again I looked down and George and thought no it couldn’t be so simple could it? I just couldn’t get it out of my head so I gave it a go and boy am I glad I did so what was it I did you may ask? Simply put I started feeding George’s good bacteria.
I gave him prebiotics for two days then I removed his buster collar. Next I stopped the Atopica the day afterwards. Just 8 days later and his itching was almost gone. After another week and I saw no itching at all. Then the crunch came, I ran out of prebiotics and it seemed that nobody had any in stock, after just 4 days the itching was becoming intense and once more George was in danger of ripping holes in himself again, worried and wondering what to do i discovered a new product called PetproBio a pre and probiotic liquid, i obtained some and started feeding his good bacteria again,
Back on the prebiotics and now off the Atopica tablets for over 4 weeks and guess what? No buster collar, no neck protection, no soft claws and best of all no itching. So we aim to continue with the prebiotics daily for the time being and eventually see if we maintain the same effect by giving the prebiotics on alternative days.
You may by now be asking what prebiotics do and the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. Most people are aware of probiotics through the huge range available in the supermarkets for humans Probiotics are usually found in dairy products and are cultivated meaning they contain live bacteria. They are living organisms and need food themselves which is where prebiotics come in.
A prebiotic occurs naturally in some foods particularly in fruit and vegetables. They remain undigested until they reach the large intestine where they act as food for the good bacteria and encourage their good growth. The benefit of prebiotics have only been recognized in recent years but the beneficial effects of probiotics date back to the French scientist Louis Pasteur in the 19th century when he postulated the importance of microorganisms to human life. His work was enforced by the 1908 Nobel Prize Winner Elilie Metchinikoff. When Buster Lloyd Jones watched animals seeking out fruit and plant matter to cure themselves in 1921, Is this unknowingly what he was watching?, the collection of prebiotic material .He later went on to form the Denes herbal remedies which are still sold to this day, and his studies and observations still help many animals even now.
Whilst we need pre and probiotics it is the prebiotics that we are interested in here. The commonly available prebiotics oligosaccharides are carbohydrates composed of varying numbers of sugar molecules. The main ones are Fructo-oligosaccharides or FOS and Insulins, a group of naturally occurring fructose containing oligosaccharides. It is thought that prebiotics may play a role in improving mineral absorption and thus decreasing bone thinning in humans and a role in the health of the young in relation to skin allergies hence the interest in using prebiotics to treat animals with allergies.
Probiotics are not added to commercial pet food as they are too delicate and they would not survive the manufacturing process and unless you are feeding whole herbivores probiotics will also be missing from the diet. Dogs and cats in the wild would kill and eat whole animals but as this is undesirable in a domestic situation it is up to us to provide a balanced diet. There is much research into pre and probiotics with claims of beneficial action in cancer prevention, diarrhoea , allergy , IBS and others . Much research is still needed to confirm proof of these claims, but in the meantime all I know is that prebiotics seem to have cured my beautiful precious loving boy, my George.
I will be having discussions with Georges special vet so watch this space and in the meantime let’s ask should we be supplementing our cats and dogs modern diets and could pre and probiotics be used to treat other illnesses and conditions in our pets? There are many natural diet available on the market today and the use of fruit is also increasing in these diets, the use of premium pet foods is on the increase and more and more people are turning away from the sugar filled chemical laden animal derivatives that are available on supermarket shelves. Long may this continue.