Probiotics Best Served in Dairy Products?

Probiotics are getting a lot of attention and it is for a good reason.

The first time a probiotic supplement was suggested to us for Jasmine's ongoing digestive issues was when Purina came out with FortiFlora and had vets run field trials.

We did try it and saw some improvement. We might have had better results if Jasmine's problem wasn't chronic and deep-rooted.

After her IBD was finally diagnosed, along with other measures we took, we continued to experiment with different types of probiotic supplements.

Given how sensitive her system was, experimenting with dairy products wouldn't have crossed my mind.

There are numerous probiotic supplements for dogs out there. The challenges with supplements are including the right culture(s) and keeping them viable. Manufacturers have various patents on dealing with these things and much of that is top secret.

Cookie enjoying her fermented goat's milk

Over time I've learned that prebiotics are at least as important and I started adding those with every meal, while still using one supplement or another.

Then I learned that Cookie really loves yogurt.

Yogurt smoothies with cranberries
For most part I have replaced the probiotic supplement with plain white yogurt. True, using yogurt as a source of probiotics has its challenges also, but it sits well with her and she enjoys it. Once raw goat's milk became available, I started giving her that too. The product that we can get here is also fermented and has turmeric and ginger added to it. Yummy.

Because Cookie's digestive system is doing well, I dropped the probiotic supplements and use the prebiotic (inulin) and yogurt or raw goat's milk alone.

We are not treating any health issue, I'm just adding these things for a good measure.

When the USDavis' study results got published, I found that quite interesting.

The question they asked themselves was how the products containing probiotics might influence their effectiveness.

Could it really be important whether you consume a probiotic in yogurt or other fermented foods and beverages rather than in a supplement? And is there something about dairy products that makes them particularly well suited for probiotics?

The results from two recent mouse-based studies suggest that yes, most definitely.

What would make dairy products ideal to deliver probiotics?

Is it the carbohydrates present in dairy or is it that dairy foods buffer the probiotics from exposure to stomach acids? Or is it simple the fact that dairy foods are stored refrigerated?

The scientists compared the difference between a probiotic strain (L. casei) incubated in refrigerated milk and milk that has not been chilled.

The probiotic incubated in refrigerated milk fared much better.

In the second study the scientist compared the effectiveness of the same strain delivered in milk and delivered in nonnutritive medium in treatment of symptoms of IBD in mice.

The mice that received the probiotic in milk had fewer IBD symptoms than those fed milk alone or the probiotic alone.

It sounds like dairy products as a delivery vehicle for probiotic (at least the particular strain used in the studies) wins hands down.

I'm sure that the question which strain(s) are most effective and whether all strains would do better this way still remains but these are interesting findings.

It looks like we're going to be making our way from yogurt, through various powders and tablets, back to yogurt.

Cookie is definitely down with that.

Do you give your dog probiotics? What kind?

Further reading:
Dairy products boost effectiveness of probiotics, new studies show

Related articles:
Probiotics, Prebiotics ... What Does It All Mean for Your Dog?