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The Pros of Probiotics

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Did you know that GI tract is the largest immune system in the body? That means that GI disturbances can impact the overall health status of both dogs and cats. If you also consider that GI problems were among the top ten health issues in 2013, it is clear that pet parents need effective GI health solutions.

Probiotics are mentioned everywhere, both in human and animal supplements, as well as foods. With all the new products out there, it’s important to know that not all probiotics are the same. First, the probiotic should be proven safe in a variety of standard tests. Next, the probiotic needs to grow rapidly in the gut – this rapid growth allows the probiotic to be effective in the microbially dense gut environment and produce benefi cial metabolites that inhibit the “bad” bacteria. Conversely, a good probiotic needs to have no negative impact on the “good” commensal bacteria that populate the gut. Next, stability is a key characteristic, both for storage/shipping integrity of the probiotic product, and after consumption as the probiotic travels through the harsh upper GI environment (acids, enzymes) to the intestinal tract. And last but not least, a probiotic must confer at least one beneficial effect to the animal, which supports intestinal balance.

Just as there are different breeds of dogs and cats, there are different probiotics that vary greatly from a safety, stability and efficacy standpoint. Probiotics are first defined by their species. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus is a different species than Lactobacillus casei. Next, they are defi ned further by their strain such as seen in the example of Lactobacillus casei 2311 versus Lactobacillus casei B18. Different strains may have very different activities. In our laboratories at Kemin Industries, we performed an experiment where we tested 14 different strains of a single probiotic species for the ability to inhibit ten different bacterial pathogens.

As shown in Figure 1, the results indicated a large difference of inhibitory activity among these 14 probiotics to various pathogens. Strain 14 inhibited all ten pathogens while strain 5 was unable to inhibit any of the pathogens. These results demonstrate the varying efficacy among different probiotics. The key finding is to understand what benefit the probiotic provides in order to support the GI imbalance and the animal.

A proven probiotic

Bacillus subtilis PB6 is a probiotic isolated and produced by Kemin. It has been used in livestock and poultry for over ten years, and now Kemin is providing it along with other ingredients to companion animal veterinarians. PB6 has been shown to be effective against a number of pathogens, and support the good bacteria in the gut. In addition, it does not interfere with many commonly-used antibiotics. The Kemin patented Bacillus subtilis PB6 is backed by several published studies showing it to be safe, stable and effective at managing stool quality and supporting normal GI health.

For a technical overview of Bacillus subtilis PB6, or references, please contact us at supplements@kemin.com.