24 February 2011

The Miracle of Probiotics

We've all heard that probiotics can do wonders for an individual suffering from various intestinal difficulties as well as when placed on antibiotics. 

My wonderful redhead has reaped their benefits on more than one occasion- from the effects of an aggressive case of giardia to the complications from antibiotic therapy on his gut and teeth.  A good probiotic formula (with prebiotics) was a regular requirement for my then *kibble fed* dog. 

I got to my wits end on the processed food spectrum because there did not seem to be any grain-free food that Thane could in fact tolerate. Grain free is not only a good idea but a necessity for a dog who has had giardia- grains feed remnant spores which eventually can lead to leaky gut syndrome. If you are of the belief that the medications wipe out all the spores, you're sadly mistaken. Been there, Done that belief routine!

With the support of a wonderful friend at The Doghouse-Let the Fur Fly!, I turned to the prey model raw diet for Thane. I got lots of guidance and direction from her and some of the raw feeding forums on the net. Though these forums are awesome for a beginner in establishing a good varied diet, its easy to fall into a mode of accepting everything they say as gospel. I did just that when it came to giving extra supplements. At first, I continued to give Thane the cosequin, probiotics, and nupro (yeast free form) at a reduced dosage. Soon however I had eliminated the probiotics and Cosequin on bone days, placing a belief that the diet was superior enough to provide Thane with everything he needed. Frequent problems with bowels followed. I felt like I was back on kibble with all the issues he had until it donned on me that Thane had become the victim of my nievete. The return of once a week dosing of probiotics seemed to calm things down so I left things there.

Over the early winter however, Thane had numerous issues from low normal thyroid (symptomatic) to staph of the skin. Though things had stabilized on these issues, his skin remained itchy and plaque was building once more. I changed his bathing schedule in an effort to rid him of whatever allergens were making him so itchy never once considering that just as bad bacteria can congregate in the mouth and gut, so can it on the skin. I mean afterall isn't that just what had happened to him with his skin when he had staph?

Ironically, my quest to see if probiotics played a role in dental hygiene issues, led me to an article that discussed how probiotics can play a role in the *itchy dog* by replenishing good bacteria on the skin. Thane and I had little to lose and everything to gain by returning to daily probiotics for him. It took a few days for me to begin to see progress taking place, but here we are at day four since his last bath. By this time the last few weeks, I was correcting Thane frequently for chewing on himself and frankly beginning to lose patience with his newfound past time. Now, he might have one or two quick itches a day, if that. The difference in him is astounding! I know it will still take some time for Thane's skin to become the healthy skin it was pre-staph, but we appear to be off that roller-coaster ride of the last few months and are moving in the right direction.

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