Ruminations

Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guest writer:  Karen Rosenfeld - Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

Foods, Rich in Probiotics - Beneficial For Your Dog


Kefir and fresh sauerkraut are inexpensive, readily available and are two of the best sources of viable, high quality probiotics - in fact both of these foods contain more strains of bacteria and more probiotics than most supplements.
Sauerkraut typically contains 13 strains of bacteria and about 100 times more probiotics than most probiotoc supplements. Kefir typically contains about 10 strains and 5 billion beneficial bacteria. Only the best of Probiotic Supplements for dogs can match these two foods! Your dog gets all of the health benefits at a fraction of the cost of prepared supplements.

Kefir
Kefir is a creamy, dairy based food made from the milk of cows or goats, sheep, coconut milk, rice or 1soy. Kefir is one of the oldest forms of cultured milk. Although it is similar to yogurt, kefir provides even more health benefits than yogurt.  


History of Kefir
The use of Kefir dates back about 2000 years. It was developed by shepherds in the Caucasian Mountains. The shepherds carried fresh milk in leather pouches - on occasion the milk would ferment into grains and result in an effervescent beverage. The grains were considered precious. Upon discovery, the people of the mountain learned to culture kefir by talking the kefir grains and mixing them with fresh, raw, cow or goat milk which they left in goatskin leather bags to ferment. If you would like to learn more about the history of kefir you can check this site out.
Active Ingredients in Kefir
Fermented milk results in the formulation of ‘gains’ that look like small cauliflower florettes. The kefir grains are made up of casein and gelatinous colonies of friendly (beneficial) bacteria - predominantly Lactic Streptococci, Lactobacillus caucasicus, Leuconnostoc species, Saccharomyces kefir, Torula kefir. In addition the kernels include some yeast. Kefir is the only cultured milk product that has more than three types of beneficial mico-organisms, typically averaging about 10 strains of bacteria.

Lactobacilli (genus)
Streptococci/lactococci (genus)
Yeasts
Strains…
Lb. acidophilus
Lb. brevis
Lb. casei ssp.alactosus
Lb. casei ssp. rhamnosus 
Lb. casei
Lb. cellobiosus
Lb. delbrueckii ssp. lactis
Lb. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus
Lb. fructivorans
Lb. helveticus ssp. lactis
Lb. hilgardii
Lb. kefir
Lb. lactis
Lb. kefiranofaciens
Lb. kefirgranum sp. no
Lb parakefir sp. nov.

Strains…
Lc. lactis ssp. lactis
Lc. lactis var. diacetylactis
Lc. lactis ssp. cremoris
S.  lactis
S.  salivarius ssp. thermophilus
Enterococcus durans
Leuconostoc cremoris
L. mesenteroides
Candida kefir
C. pseudotropicalis
K. bulgaricus 
K. fragilis / marxianus Kluyveromyces lactis
Kluyveromyces marxianus var. marxianus
Saccharomyces ssp.
Torulopsis holmii
Benefits of Kefir
Typically one tablespoon of kefir contains 5 billion beneficial bacteria. As a rich and concentrated source of beneficial bacteria the probiotics found in Kefir contribute to health in a wide variety of ways:
Contains a substantial amount of B Complex vitamins, Calcium, vitamin A, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus;
Contains typtophan, and essential amino acid;
Helps prevents illness;
Is easily digestible;
Is excellent for the immune system;
Natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties;
Promotes anti-cancer and anti-tumour activity in the body;
Promotes the faster healing of wounds;
Caution
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are not good for dogs so make sure you purchase plain, natural kefir.
How to Introduce Kefir to Your Dog’s Diet
As with any new foodstuff that you introduce to your dog’s diet you should go slow. The probiotics in kefir are highly concentrated so give your dog’s system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week cut the recommended dosage in half. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a few days to a week or two. If your dog has a negative reaction to the new food stop providing the food to your dog. All of my dogs get kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt on a daily basis. None of my 10 dogs have ever had a negative reaction to any of these food stuffs.
Daily Dosage of Kefir

  • Small size dogs - 1 tsp
  • Medium size dogs - 1 tbs

  • Large dogs - 11/2 to 2 tbs

Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is made by: combining finely shredded fresh cabbage and salt (about 1.5% salt), then packing the resulting mixture into an airtight container and allowing it to ferment for three days at 23 degrees Celsius and then for an additional eight weeks at a cooler temperature. 

History of Sauerkraut
Although many people think of sauerkraut as a German invented foodstuff, its true origins are thought to be ancient China. The Chinese have been fermenting cabbage since 200 BC. Over 2,000 years ago, Chinese labourers responsible for building the Great Wall of China ate sauerkraut as part of their daily diet - that early version was made using rice-wine. It is assumed that sauerkraut made its way to Europe 1000 years later during the 13th century when Gengis Kahn plundered China. The Romans carried barrels of sauerkraut on long campaigns - feeding it to soldiers in order to prevent intestinal infections. The Dutch sea faring traders ate sauerkraut on a regular basis as it could be easily kept on board ship, do not require refrigeration and helped to prevent scurvy due to its high vitamin C content. Captain James Cooke followed the example of the Dutch sailors.
Active Ingredients in Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a dense source of a wide range of benefical lactic acid bacteria. The predominate bacteria in sauerkraut is Lactobacillus plantarum. While commercially produced sauerkraut does retain these valuable properties, fresh sauerkraut is higher in beneficial organisms. Sauerkraut typically contains 13 strains of bacteria and about 100 times more probiotics than most supplements while being a lot less expensive! If you are purchasing rather than making your own sauerkraut, make sure it is in the refrigerated section of the store to ensure that it contains live bacteria.
One of the best ways to ensure that you are providing your dog with fresh, probiotic sauerkraut is to make it yourself! If you would like to see some simple but very good sauerkraut recipes you can read this article. Sauerkraut is quick, easy and very inexpensive to make.
Benefits of Sauerkraut
Aids in the digestion process;
Boosts the immune system;
Helps prevent cancer (sauerkraut contains compounds called isothiocyanates which protect against cancer);
Fights E. Coli, salmonella and candida;
Has anti-inflammatory properties (inflammation can cause some cancers);
High in Vitamin A, B, C and E;
High in Minerals calcium and magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese;
High in phytonutirent antioxidants;
Helps alleviate anxiety and depression;
It helps generate omega-3 fatty acids;
It can help reduce allergy symptoms;
It is very low in fat and calories.
Each batch of fresh, raw sauerkraut contains different species of beneficial probiotics in different proportions. The table below provides a list of the bacteria species found in sauerkraut.

Main Species
Secondary Species

- Lactobacillus brevis 
- Lactobacillus plantarum 
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides, - Pediococcus pentosaceus

- Lactobacillus coryniformis 
- Lactobacillus curvatus 
- Lactobacillus sakei
- Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis  
- Lactobacillus paraplantarum  
- Leuconostoc argentinum
- Leuconostoc citreum
- Leuconostoc fallax
- Weissella species

In addition, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fresh sauerkraut contains…
Nutritional Information
Vitamins
Minerals
Calories
23
15 mg Vitamin C
48mg Calcium
Carbohydrates
4.3g
.21mg Vitamin B6
1.5mg Iron
Fat  
14g  
1.5mg Vitamin K
288mg Potassium
Protein
9mg

14mg Magnesium
Sodium
661mg


Water
92g


Caution
Alcohol is poisonous to dogs so do not purchase wine sauerkraut. Make sure you purchase or make water based sauerkraut rather than wine based sauerkraut.
How to Introduce Sauerkraut to Your Dog’s Diet
As with any new foodstuff that you introduce to your dog’s diet you should go slow. The probiotics in sauerkraut are highly concentrated so give your dog’s system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week cut the recommended dosage in half. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a few days to a week or two. If your dog has a negative reaction to the new food stop providing the food to your dog. All of my dogs get kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt on a daily basis. None of my 10 dogs have ever had a negative reaction to any of these food stuffs.
Daily Dosage of Sauerkraut
  • Small size dogs - ½ tsp to 1 tbs
  • Medium size dogs - 1 to 2 tbs
  • Large dogs - 2 tbs to 3tbs
Related Articles

Probiotics for Dogs, Essential for Optimal Health - What, Why, When and How

Notes
1 If you live in North America, do not purchase kefir made from soy. 99% of soy grown in North America is derived from genetically modified (GM) seeds. GM Round-up Ready Crops are a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds. The long-term health affects of ingesting GM foods is suspected of causing serious health problems. Numerous studies on animals suggest reproductive problems as a side effect of glyphosate exposure. In addition GM crops are seriously detrimental to soil health, and the health of important insects such as bees.

As well, large factory farms use a method to process soy that leaves it very high in photoestrogens. Photoestrogens have been proven to interfere with reproduction and thyroid function. Factory farming processing methods for soy also result in a product that is very high in phytates. Phytates prevent mineral absorption as well as substances that prevent the normal function of enzymes required to digest protein. And one last thumbs down for large factory farm produced soy - it has one of the highest concentrations of pesticides found in North American crops. Traditional methods of processing soy by fermentation (as employed in Japan and China) greatly reduces photoestrogens, and phytates, thus making consumption of the resulting soy, safe and nutritional.

How to Choose a Good Probiotic Supplement for Your Dog

Not all probiotics sold for dogs are affective or safe for your dog. Probiotic supplements for dogs are not considered a drug - as such, in many countries, including Canada and the USA probiotics are not regulated. 
Manufacturers are free to do as they please and many do - cutting corners to increase profit leaving ethics far behind. Impurities can make their way into product and that the product may not even contain live, or enough species and strains of viable bacteria to have an beneficial efficacy. Attractive labels are not an indication of quality, nor is price. To protect your dog and spend your dollars wisely you need to know how to select a truly good product. So let’s take a look at what you should be clearly identified on the product label or available through inquiry with the manufacturer...
 
Species/Strains 
You need to know what probiotics are included in the product. Each species and strain should be noted. So you know what to look for here is an example - remember a good supplement should have at least 10 such strains.
For this example we will use Lactobacillus acidophilus. 

  • Lactobacillus is the genus;
  • acidphilus is the species, and; 
  • DDS-1 is the strain.

The product should include at least 10 of the above examples. The more strains the better as diversity will ensure that the good flora in your dog’s GI tract is varied enough to protect against all of the bad strains of bacteria. Research has shown that to achieve truly beneficial results the presence of at least 10 strains is required.
Here are a few examples of why diversity in strains is so important…
  • L. plantarum fights viral infections, cancer;
  • L. salivarius fights fungal infections such as candidia; helps the digestive system break down undigested protein and detoxifies the GI tract, may prevent colon cancer;
  • Lactic Streptococci protects against colitis and IBD (irritated bowl disease);
  • Lactobacillus caucasicus fights diarrhea;
  • Lactobacillus GG (L. rhamnosus), protects against respiratory illnesses, treats candida, colitis and diarrhea, reduces stress and anxiety.
 
CFU (Colony Forming Units)
The label should identify:
  • The number of CFUs (live microorganisms) per gram;
  • The number of CFU’s per serving;
What Are CFUs?
CFU is an acronym for colony-forming units, which are a scientific measurement of the viable microbes (bacteria) in a probiotic. .
Affective CFUs per Gram
Make sure that the supplement you purchase contains at least 20 million CFUs per gram - a product that contains billions of CFUs is however more desirable.
Probiotics (good bacteria) live and provide their beneficial function in the large intestine. In order to reach the large intestine the bacteria must pass through the very acidic environment of the stomach and small intestine. During this journey some of the bacteria die, but most do survive. In order to ensure that enough of the bacteria make it to the large intestine a dog needs to ingest billions of viable (intact and fully functioning) bacteria. The number of live bacteria is measured as the number of colony-forming units - commonly noted as CFU per gram of probiotic.
If the product labelling lists the CFU’s in scientific lingo you may see this:
One million CFUs/gram will be noted as 1 x 106 CFU;
One billion CFUs/gram will be noted as 1 x 109 CFU.
Suggested daily serving/dosage size
The label should clearly provide directions regarding daily serving/dosage of the product.
Health Benefits
An explanation of what the product can do for your dog
Best Before Date or Expiration Date
If the product label does not have an expiration date do not purchase it. Viable live bacteria do have a shelf life and you need to know when the product is no longer at maximum efficacy. If no expiration date is provided it is a pretty good indicator that the probiotics in the supplement are not really probiotic!
Required Storage Conditions
Where the product should be stored to ensure maximum survival of the probiotic
Corporate Contact Information
Who manufacturers the product;
Who to contact for additional information.
Does The Product Meet or Exceeds GMP Requirements
Just because a manufacturer says the product is probiotic does not mean that it is a probiotic. Some products labelled ‘probiotic’ do not include any clinically validated strains. Tests carried out on multiple products have revealed that many manufactures and retailers are selling probiotic supplements that do not include ingredients as noted on the product label and/or include dangerous contaminants. To make sure you are purchasing quality, look for products that meet or exceed the ‘Good Manufacturing Products’ (GMP) ISO Requirements. This may not be noted on the label, so you may have to contact the manufacturer or look on-line. 
Shown below is an example of a product that does meet all of the requirements explained above...
And One More Thing That You May Want To Consider... 
Avoid purchasing supplements from manufacturer’s that do invasive and harmful testing on dog’s and other animals. Many pet food and pet pharmaceutical companies carry out invasive and lethally harmful testing of their products on dogs and other animals. Do your research and purchase a quality product that has not been developed at the cost of dogs’ lives. As an example, Ralston-Purina, the manufacturer of Forti-Flora routinely do invasive and harmful testing on dogs after which they kill many of the dogs they test their products on. 
Related Articles
Probiotics for Dogs, Essential for Optimal Health - What, Why, When and How

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