Key Takeaways You'll Get:
- Your pet’s gastrointestinal microbiome is a crucial ecosystem of microbes that governs how he or she responds to stress from changing environments and routines or exposure to disease-causing agents such as kennel cough and canine influenza at the dog park, feline upper respiratory infections at the shelter, or those introduced by fleas and ticks.
The bounty of microbes living in your pet’s digestive tract breaks down their food, extracting nutrients and releasing energy-containing fatty acids. If you don’t care for it properly, problems such as loss of appetite, excessive drooling, vomiting, bleeding, constipation, straining to defecate, soft stools, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating, and other digestive upset can occur.
But disruptions in your pet’s gut microbiome upend more than just the digestive tract; they can compromise immunity and create autoimmune issues, along with causing weight loss, skin problems, allergies, and even cancers or behavior problems.
- If you protect and keep the microbiome healthy, everything else falls in line. How you take care of your pet’s microbiome could be the most important choice you make in his care.
I keep hearing about my pet’s gut microbiome, but I have no idea what it means.
What is a microbiome, and why should I care about my dog’s or cat’s?
These days it’s nearly impossible to turn on our televisions, scroll Facebook or Instagram, walk through a grocery store, or even open our email without encountering a message about our gut microbiome and how important it is.
We know it has something to do with the “bugs,” or microbes, in our gut. And we might be familiar with the “good bugs” in our gut from talking with our physicians, how certain foods are helpful for those bugs and others aren’t, and how antibiotics can knock them all down.
But our understanding might be a little murkier when we’re talking about our pets, whose guts are a little shorter and work a little differently than ours. What exactly is our pet’s microbiome and why is it crucial to care for it?
A Crucial Ecosystem
The word microbiome need not be intimidating. Just think of it as an ecosystem of microorganisms living in a location on or in the body.
Your microbiomes—whether you’re talking about the one in your gut, your lungs, or on your skin surface, for instance—are going to be much more like your neighbor’s microbiome than your dog’s or cat’s. But even within one species there is considerable microbiome variation.
“We know that animals are different based on where they live, what they eat, what they do, and on how old they are, but there are a ton of similarities between them, up to about 90 percent across the board,” says Dr. Rob Franklin, a veterinary internal medicine specialist and co-founder of FullBucket, a veterinary-strength supplement business based in Weatherford, Texas.
Franklin and his co-founders Dr. Keith Latson and Robo Hendrickson, have a passion for educating the veterinarian and dog or cat owner on our pets’ microbiomes and how we can optimize them for health.
“The intestinal microbiome is really the broadest term that we can use to define all of the microbes and their genes (what they are programmed to do) in the intestinal tract,” says Franklin, who’s also FullBucket’s director of development and giving programs. He notes that the inhabitants are a veritable “who’s who” of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses.
“These things aren’t just in there inertly living, they’re doing stuff: They’re digesting food, they’re signaling different parts of the immune system, they’re dealing with pathogens,” which is a fancy word for disease-causing organisms.
Indeed, the sum of these bugs is making things happen and governing how our pets respond to situations such as stress from new environments (whether he’s just home from the shelter or you’ve just introduced another new pet to your home), changing routines (such as when you travel), exposure to infectious agents at the dog park, or time spent under general anesthesia—situations that can cause a variety of gastrointestinal issues.
This is a big shift in thinking for small animal internists and surgeons alike, says Latson, a veterinary surgeon and FullBucket’s director of operations. “To think that all of the situations that we’ve treated symptomatically over the years—whether it’s inflammation or infection, diarrhea, any of those things— could directly contribute or be contributed to by the microbiome is mind-blowing.”
What’s changed the veterinarian’s understanding of the microbiome’s importance? Scientists have mapped various species’ genomes over the past few decades and shown how factors in individuals’ lives “turn on” or “turn off” different genes in the body, in different situations, leading to variations in everything from what color eyes they have to how they respond to different environmental toxins or pathogens. “Well, the same thing is happening now with the microbiome,” says Franklin.
For example, when once vets might have merely speculated about a mysterious digestive upset’s cause—attributing it to a change in environment, companion, or food, for instance, says Latson—they now know such events do cause measurable stress on and shifts in the population of microorganisms in the gut, their overall balance, and how they interact with each other.
Essentially, these events turn genes on and off, and the gut responds with symptoms like inflammation, stasis (inactivity), and ulcers and other pathology.
While things can be easily upended, and you can try to avoid those situations for your pet best you can, the FullBucket team says you can be proactive about stabilizing and then maintaining the gut microbiome so it is ready for any such insults. “What we’re doing in the food bowl has tremendous effect for the overall health of the patient,” Franklin says.
“This is something that applies across all animals, across all cases, and I think the opportunity to really harness that as we go forward is exciting,” he adds.
Know Your Pet’s Gut
To wrap your head around how to channel the strength of a healthy microbiome, you must understand your pet’s GI tract.
Dogs and cats, like humans, are primarily enzymatic digesters, which means enzymes in our GI tracts unlock the simple sugars, proteins, and fats in our diets and the small intestine absorbs them into the bloodstream to use as energy.
When our pets head to the feed dish to chow down, they pick up and begin chewing food, where enzymes in the saliva begin breaking it down in the mouth. They swallow the food, which travels down a relatively short esophagus to the stomach.
After some additional breakdown by acids and enzymes in the stomach, the ingesta moves on to the small intestine, where pancreatic enzymes and bile (released by the liver and stored in the gallbladder) digest sugar, starch, protein, fat, fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus, and it gets absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.
The cecum, large intestine (colon), and everything behind it is considered the hindgut. While in some species—think big plant eaters such as horses and rabbits—rely on the cecum for crucial fermentation of cellulose, this comma-shaped structure is much smaller and not as important a player in pets’ GI tracts.
Next up, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa (tiny multicellular organisms—these are more microbes that form the gut microbiome) in the large intestine break down the remaining ingesta, extract nutrients (including electrolytes), and release them through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. Also, the large intestine absorbs water and forms feces.
“Pets have this great bounty of microbes (in their guts), they can break it down,” Franklin explains.
Gut disturbances occur when that system and its microbiome are not operating properly.
What Can I Do?
Now that we know disease is a downstream effect of microbiome-related problems, it puts veterinarians, who often serve as “firefighters” in their daily practice, says Latson, in a better position to stave off issues altogether.
Here’s how: Researchers are building gut microbiome libraries using fecal samples from thousands of pets.
As the libraries build, population scientists and epidemiologists—who investigate the reasons why disease occurs within populations (in this case, dogs and cats)—and their computers can determine what specific variations in the microbiome create risk for certain health problems.
“Now we’re starting to talk about preventative medicine, not reactive medicine,” Latson says. That’s exciting.”
“The scientific community has realized they’re pioneers on the front end of a huge discovery and it’s ratcheting up the ladder of importance in the industry so fast,” says Hendrickson, who is also FullBucket’s director of marketing, noting that some studies even show that caring for the microbiome could remove the need for antibiotics in some cases.
Aiming for gut health and balance used to involve a whole lot of art along with science, but as microbiome research progresses, innovators in the animal health industry like the FullBucket team are equipping veterinarians with the correct prebiotic and probiotic supplements to effect real change in their patients.
“These aren’t just extra vitamins so we can feel good,” says Franklin. “No, we’re talking about big-picture health. We know that if we protect and keep the microbiome healthy, everything else falls in line to help protect our furry loved ones from the pathogens that surround them at all times.”
“Pet owners need to remember that what they’re putting into their dog or cat’s food bowl could be the most important choice they make today,” adds Hendrickson.
How to be proactive and protect the microbiome with FullBucket
With FullBucket's line of probiotics for dogs & cats, we can help stabilize the microbiome. With the importance of what goes in to your pet's bowl, our Daily Dog is the perfect probiotic supplement for gut and overall health.
This veterinary-strength GI supplement is to help protect your pet's digestive system with probiotic, prebiotic, and digestive enzymes. One scoop with each meal optimizes digestion, increases immunity, and boosts overall health.
Our Daily Cat is the first ever, highly-concentrated formula of probiotic, prebiotic and enzymes specifically for cats.
How will Daily Dog and Daily Cat help my pet
Fullbucket's Daily Dog probiotic supplement is the strongest concentration of Probiotic with Prebiotics, Enzymes & L-Glutamine strengthens the immune system, improves food conversion and overall health. The most important piece of the Daily dog are the ingredients....
Ingredient One: Probiotic (The National Guard)
Sacchromyces boulardii, is the most peer-reviewed, clinically researched probiotic in the world. This particular strain of probiotic combats bad microbes and pathogens.
Ingredient Two: Prebiotic (Feed The Troops!)
Ingredient Three: 4 Digestive Enzymes (The Long Lost Ingredients)Fullbucket's Daily Cat is the only product of it's kind. A unique formula, developed by veterinarians working with the top nutritionist at Texas A&M is a special combination of a very specific Yeast strain of Probiotic with Prebiotic, Enzymes & L-Glutamine.
Helps support the immune system, improve food conversion and strengthen a cat's natural microbiome.
An all-natural way to help support your furry friend's digestive system so it can solve the problem.
FullBucket's Daily Cat is being used by Veterinarians to combat GI disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, chronic constipation, diarrhea, stress gut, high-protein feeds and many more gut related issues commonly found in today’s house cats.
With S. boulardii, prebiotics and digestive enzymes as in the Daily Dog, this will help you be preventative in your approach to protecting your cat's digestive health.
What do I need to do next?
Try Daily Dog and Daily Cat for your daily maintenance, let us know what you think. We can’t wait to hear!
Learn more about how FullBucket's Daily Dog can help your pet in the video from our very own Dr. Rob Franklin. To learn more about our Daily Cat from Dr. Rob Franklin, please click here...