The functions of pre and probiotics can be confusing. Pre-biotics are the food for pro-biotics, the beneficial bacteria living in the digestive tract, which help keep the immune system supercharged. Simply stated: Prebiotics PREpare the probiotics, the PROfessionals.
In this day and age, conveniences abound. But with the simplicity of grab & go and scoop & serve products comes an unfortunate imbalance of important pre and probiotics. This can be a recipe for dysbiosis, or leaky gut, which exposes the body to disease. It can present itself in acute forms like dry, itchy skin, grimy ears, excessive paw licking or, when left untreated, chronic conditions like diabetes, pancreatitis or cancers.
Feeding a high starch diet (those with corn, wheat, rice, peas, potatoes, etc.) can result in a lack of prebiotics (and consequently probiotics) in the pet's system. Supplements will then be necessary to get gut bacteria into balance.
For prebiotics, one could add whole food ingredients like mushroom, chicory, burdock root, bananas, apples, or dandelion greens into a pet’s meal, but this may not be convenient. As a result, many reputable companies provide an all in one high quality, natural prebiotic mixes that work wonders for the digestive tract. A couple quality examples are In Clover's Optagest or Adored Beast's Love Bugs.
For probiotics, one option to consider is raw goats milk. Among the myriad benefits of raw unpasteurized goats milk, this "mother's milk" has over 200 strains of probiotics and can literally transform an ill feeling pet into a healthy one in a matter of days. Many independent pet stores carry raw goats milk for pets in powder or liquid form.
It is important to remember that probiotics need their prebiotics in order to thrive. No matter which forms you choose, the two together set the stage for a strong immune system and therefore a healthier pet!