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Tips on How to Keep Your Pet Healthy this Holiday Season

Pets have microbiomes too!  Did you know that—just like us—most of your pet’s immune system is in their gut? And like us their gut is the largest immune organ in their body too. During the cold winter months, when our immune system is lower than the rest of the year, maintaining gut health becomes even more important. 

This is easier said than done as the holiday season approaches and schedules are jam-packed with parties, traveling, and extra doses of food. Pets aren’t excluded from the chaos and may struggle even more than humans. Here are four useful tips to help keep your pets healthy this holiday season: 

1) Prevent pet illnesses with probiotics. 

Probiotics (supplements and foods) should be the first line of defense for your pet’s digestion and immunity during this holiday season (and even beyond). By acting as a surveillance system and detecting pathogenic microbes from establishing a foothold in your pet’s digestive tract and by coating their gut lining with a protective line up of microscopic warriors, probiotic supplements may help prevent illness and disease and increase lifespan too.  But to be super successful, a diversity of many different strains of microbes is the key. And man made supplements alone can’t always do this. 

In order to strengthen the immune system to create a balanced inner ecosystem, especially around the holidays, research shows how much our furry companions can benefit from probiotics like those in fermented milk kefir.

So, how can you get many different types of microbes into your pet? 

Well, cats and dogs both LOVE fermented milk kefir. Make some at home — quickly and easily — using our Body Ecology kefir starter

To create a critical diversity, strengthening their immune system and balancing their inner ecosystem, Body Ecology’s liquid probiotics (InnergyBiotic and Cocobiotic) can easily be mixed into your pet’s food or drink.

Unlike man made probiotics, Cocobiotic and InnergyBiotic are made by harvesting a variety of organic seeds and grains grown in the rich soil of Australia then fermenting them together. Each individual seed or grain has its own unique ecosystem growing upon it,  so imagine what happens when these ecosystems are fermented together. The microbes on them reproduce and multiply into trillions per CFU. This is what I call “the Wisdom of Nature” and there is no way we humans can create this extraordinary diversity. I’d go so far as to say that this diversity is unmatched. But I won’t because there is one more food that you can feed your pet that may provide even more diversity, so keep reading.  

2)  Complement, and be consistent with, your pet’s diet.

Pets need a personalized diet just like humans, but their diet should be consistent at each meal. Changing their food causes diarrhea. Finding and maintaining the right diet for your pet is optimal, but not always feasible. For an extra boost of beneficial microbes, antioxidants and bioactive molecules in the veggies, consider mixing in a dollop of fermented or “cultured” vegetables. They too have that “Wisdom of Nature” that you won’t find in probiotic supplements. Cultured vegetables are considered raw and are “raw diet” friendly.

If they don’t take to them right away, soak them first in a little bit of chicken or beef broth to change the smell. Dog’s don’t taste but they do have an exquisite sense of smell and, of course, they love the smell of meat. While they are soaking, add some fish or flax oil too. 

Body Ecology cultured vegetables are created by shredding a combination of veggies, like cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger, fennel, cucumbers and other vegetables, packing them tightly, then allowing to ferment at room temperature for 3 days (a week is best).  The microbes naturally present in the vegetables begin to break down the fiber – making it more digestible. Within a day, the pH drops, acidity rises and it’s this acidic environment that is necessary for the beneficial microbes to survive. 

When adding fermented liquids or CVs (as we call them around here) to your pet’s diet, go slow and do so a few days or a week ahead of traveling to allow your pet’s digestive tract to adjust to the new food.

3). Counteract giving your pet the extra table scraps.

It’s tough to prevent your pet from getting extra food during the holidays. Especially if your guests (and children) sneak in unnecessary snacks or offer table food during the visit.  But the fermented foods act like a prophylactic. Cats and dogs both also benefit from nutritious superfoods. Sprinkle a small amount of Vitality SuperGreen on their food, even dry kibble. 

Vitality SuperGreen is gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, vegan-friendly, and certified organic; non-GMO, kosher, and contains no artificial colorings, flavorings, or preservatives.

4). Plan for unexpected travel bugs while traveling with your pet.

When you’re kenneling or traveling, pets tend to get off their normal routine. They’re not getting out like they normally would, and they could end up with a bladder infection. This is usually a buildup of E.coli.

If you know you’re going to be traveling or have your pet crated longer than normal, Bacteriophages (Phages) could be used preventatively. For every bacterium that exists, there is a phage to destroy it. Phages target the bacteria they oversee and won’t touch anything else. 

They work by entering the bacterium, forcing it to produce an enormous number of new phages – causing the bacterium to burst. These new phages immediately enter and kill other (same type) pathogen in the bloodstream quelling that infection. As the dead bacteria explode, they release many nutrients that feed the beneficial surrounding bacteria. Phages are also a “prebiotic” as well.  

Phages are great options for pets to help prevent (or eliminate) pathogenic bacteria from forming. They can safely be paired with antibiotics and are not required to be taken long term. Body Ecology’s EcoPhage targets the E. coli pathogenic bacteria often found in food. E. coli is a commensal bacterium but can easily become pathogenic. Often it’s E.coli that are present in the small intestine with SIBO.  Yes, pets can have SIBO too. 

Final thoughts

Pets love routine and can become very stressed out from the holidays. Take time in your busy schedule to cuddle up with your pet at any opportunity to assure them that you still love them. Cuddling will be good for you too.

Prepare for this holiday season right now. 

  • Remember to start small and introduce fermented foods and liquids slowly.
  • Every pet responds differently. Smaller pets can’t tolerate what a larger pet can. 
  • Everything that we’ve suggested for your pet is great advice for you too! 

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. Always talk with your veterinarian before making changes to your pet’s diet and/or giving your pet supplements.

Resources:

  1. Dong-Hyeon, Kim, et al.  Modulation of the intestinal microbiota of dogs by kefir as a functional dairy product.  Journal of Dairy Science. Volume 102, Issue 5, May 2019, Pages 3903-3911.  
  2. Haiyan, Xu, et al. Metagenomic analysis revealed beneficial effects of probiotics in improving the composition and function of the gut microbiota in dogs with diarrhoea.  Food & Function. Issue 5, 2019.
  3. Jugan, Maria C., DVM, et al.  Use of probiotics in small animal veterinary medicineJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  March 1, 2017, Vol. 250, No. 5, Pages 519-528.
  4. Masuoka H, Shimada K, Kiyosue-Yasuda T, et al. Transition of the intestinal microbiota of dogs with age. Biosci Microbiota Food Health. 2017;36(1):27–31. doi:10.12938/bmfh.BMFH-2016-021.
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