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We all know dog food is essential for the health of our dogs. But what's more important is what is in the dog food. A dog's digestive system, which is mainly responsible for breaking down food, absorbs the nutrients from the dog food and distributes it throughout the body and prevents toxins from entering the bloodstream. In fact, research indicates that 70% of a dog's immune system lies in the digestive tract. So then, what are some of these ingredients in dog food that can help maintain proper digestive health for your pet?
What are probiotics? They are the "good bacteria" that help improve the digestibility of ingredients and are an essential part of the immune system. By feeding your dog food with live probiotics after it has been cooked and cooled (to assure maximum survival) reinsures you are re-inoculating the digestive tract.
Prebiotics are similar to probiotics. However, according to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), "prebiotic targets the microbiota already present within the ecosystem, acting as a 'food' for the target microbes with beneficial consequences for host." Basically, the prebiotic serves as the nutrition for the health and performance of the "good bacteria" in your dog's digestive tract. Some examples of prebiotic ingredients to look for in your dog's food include beet pulp, soybeans, raw oats and inulin.
If you've ever had issues going to the bathroom than you probably know what fiber has to offer. Fiber promotes the digestive regularity by helping to move food waste from your dog's digestive tract through the colon at an optimal speed. While it may not be pretty, your dog will thank you. Common sources of natural fibers in healthy dog food include flaxseed and oatmeal. You can also find some sources of fiber that can serve as prebiotics too, such as beet pulp.
Your dog breaks down the food in much the same way you do — with digestive enzymes. Produced by organs such as the pancreas, digestive enzymes break down the food so that the intestinal tract can absorb all those great nutrients, which are then distributed throughout your dog's body. When digestive enzymes are added to dog food, it helps to increase digestibility and reduce the stress on your dog's bodily organs.
Phytonutrients are found in the skins of vegetables and fruits. They act as powerful antioxidants and are known to help neutralize free radicals in order to keep the cells of the body healthy. They are few other natural dog food ingredients that enhance the immune system and help protect a dog's body like phytonutrients.
So next time you're buying dog food remember this … Feeding your dog healthy food that contains probiotics and prebiotics, natural fiber, digestive enzymes and phytonutrients will help maintain a healthy digestive tract and a strong immune system.
Image: blanche / via Shutterstock
A gland that aids in both digestive and insulin functions
The term for plant life or animal life that is microscopic
The whole system involved in digestion from mouth to anus
How easily a substance can be turned into an appropriate digestible form