Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Probiotics for Pets

Probitics foods and supplements appear to improve health the health of humans; there is good evidence to suggest that some animal may benefit in the same way.

In the 1960s, researchers coined the term probiotic, which means "for life" in Greek. Today, probiotics are defined as "live microorganisms that when given in adequate amounts, improve the microbial balance of the host's intestines."

The stomach and intestines of all mammals are lined with specialized tissues that together represent the largest immune organ in the body. Hundreds of types of bacteria normally occupy the digestive system and assist in maintaining the quality and function of its inner membranes, known as GALT (gut-associated lymphoid tissue). This lining provides protection from foreign
bacteria and viruses.

Good bacteria are essential to the health of the gut. These microbes are thought to exclude disease-causing bacteria by directly competing with them for nutrients and space in the intestinal system. When the gut is dysfunctional or out of balance, the immune system cannot do its job properly and illness can result.

A large study in Denmark using probiotics in children in day care centers revealed that probiotics reduced the incidence of diarrhea. But, more surprisingly, researchers found that the kids who received probiotics also had much lower rates of upper respiratory infections, such as colds and flu. This suggests that the probiotics not only boosted the health of the gastrointestinal system, but strengthened the entire immune system, protecting the children from getting other types of illnesses.

In addition, some debilitating conditions, including Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome, are alleviated with the use of probiotics in humans.

Pets suffering similar conditions are likely to benefit from using probiotics as well and products designed specifically for pets are available on the market. But keep in mind that the bacterial strains that are native to each species of animal differ, and one that is beneficial for dogs might not be safe for people and vice versa. Follow the advice of their veterinarian and make sure to use a product that is intended for the specific type of pet,
whether horse, rabbit, dog, cat, or other.

Although large-scale studies have yet to be conducted in animals to confirm the efficacy of probiotics, the Association for American Feed Control Officials and the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine have established basic classification and labeling requirements for pet animal probiotics. Consequently, probiotics that are designed and labeled for pets should be safe to use and may have a positive effect on their health.

Dr. Maureen McMichael, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Fermented Soybean Meal Boosts Pigs' Phosphorous

Fermented soybean meal helps pigs digest the phosphorous in the meal better than conventional soybean meal, University of Illinois researchers have discovered.

The fermented meal is considered a promising substitute for fish meal in weanling pig diets because of its protein content, lower cost, and lack of anti-nutritional factors.

"Most of the phosphorus in soybean meal is bound to phytate, so it's not available to pigs,” explained animal sciences professor Hans Stein. "Fermentation releases phosphorus from the phytate molecule."

Previous research by Stein’s group found that pigs digest the phosphorous in fermented corn more easily than that in non-fermented corn.

"If swine producers use fermented soybean meal without phytase, they can use a greater digestibility value for phosphorus than if they use conventional soybean meal. Therefore, they need less supplemental phosphorus from other  sources in the diets to meet the pig’s requirements.”

Hans Stein 217.333.0013

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