When considering overall health, probiotics can benefit the body's immune system in multiple ways. Probiotic supplements will introduce new and healthy gut flora into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These bacteria have health-promoting metabolites that will boost the body's immune system, reduce digestive disorders and promote regular and ideal stool production. There is also evidence to support that probiotics will help with other weakened immune system issues like atopic dermatitis and allergies in dogs.
Veterinarians have seen an increase in the number of dogs that have environmental or food-related allergies over the last 30 years. While it has always been an issue in some pets, it has become much more common lately. It may be due to the increase in the number of people breeding dogs without much research and the lack of eliminating poor genetic lines, or perhaps we have weakened the canine immune system over the years with domestication.
What are allergies?
While most humans will react to allergens in the form of sneezing, coughing, congestion, and other nasal-related symptoms, dogs will manifest in the form of extreme itchiness and gastrointestinal issues. The dog’s skin is most affected due to a proportionally higher among of mast cells, which cause an increase of histamines. These histamines are what cause all the itching and redness that are most associated with allergies in dogs. The condition of atopic dermatitis, or atopy, and its symptoms will show in ways such as generalized itchiness, licking feet/other parts of the body, chewing excessively, and hot spots or staph infections.
The cause of allergies is usually one of three things:
- Environment: This includes several things like mold, dust/dander, grass/trees, and even in rare cases other dogs and cats. Yes, dogs can be allergic to other dogs. But usually, your pet’s allergies are going to be caused by whatever types of grass and weeds you have in your yard. Which, unfortunately, you really can’t do a lot about, other than move to a state that doesn’t have grass, like Arizona. Even then, your pet still may suffer from itching and rashes.
- Contact vs Inhalant: Symptoms are very similar. Dogs can still become itchy due to inhalant allergens, but more sneezing and runny eyes are seen with this. Contact indicates that the pet is in physical contact with the allergen like grass/weeds etc. and inhalant implies something that the pet sniffs into their nose or inhales directly into the mouth, like pollen/dander, etc.
- Food: Many pet owners jump to the idea of food being the leading cause of their dog’s itching and allergy symptoms. This is rarely the actual answer. Symptoms of food allergies do not manifest in the same ways. Typically a pet that is having a reaction to their diet will have sores around the mouth and most of their itching will be localized to their face, eyes, and ears. Switching around food or taking their pet off of grain will not render the result they are looking for.
- Fleas: This one may seem obvious since the little menace’s bites cause our pets and us to become itchy. But, some dogs will have a more severe reaction than others. The saliva in the fleas bite is what causes some pets to itch more than others, even pull out and chew their hair so that their back end appears almost bald. This allergic reaction is most commonly called “Flea Allergy Dermatitis”.
How do probiotics help my dog's allergies?
When a pet has atopic dermatitis, the immune system will attack allergens that are introduced into the body through the skin or the respiratory tract. When this happens, it creates an inflammatory response from the overproduction of histamines and this causes the itching and redness of the skin. Therefore, with allergies, the immune system can actually be harmful to the body. Unfortunately, our pets can’t resist the urge to scratch themselves, so the trauma caused by this only brings more problems. The tiny cuts in the skin created by the chewing and scratching introduces more bacteria and allergens into the body, making it much worse.
Prior to becoming over-bred house dogs who ate a controlled diet, they would find their sustenance either by ingesting grass and dirt as well as whatever protein they found or killed. This natural introduction of probiotics via the soil (called soil-based organisms or SBOs) is a great and organic way of boosting their immune system and ensuring a healthier gut.
Incorporating a probiotic such as Safe Guard into their daily regimen will help boost the immune system, making the response to the allergens, whether environmental or food-related, much less severe. When a probiotic is doing its job and the gut is healthy, ideally, the immune system and your pet’s skin should be happy and healthy as well. There is a large amount of science that indicates how much of our overall health is linked to the well-being of our stomach, and the same goes for our canine companions.
Soil-based probiotic SafeGuard and the use of Fulvic and Humic acid
SBO probiotic supplements, like the product Safe Guard, have robust bacteria called Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus coagulans. These are the two most common bacteria found in SBO probiotics and they do best when they work in tandem with another soil-based duo called Fulvic and Humic acid.
Fulvic acid is released into the soil as organic matter breaks down, is a natural source of pre and probiotics. It also has a marked inflammatory effect on the gastrointestinal tract and will aid in the absorption of food and its essential nutrients. Fulvic acid is also known for its anti-inflammatory effects where it will reduce the release of pro-inflammatory mediators or histamines. This will bring a noticeable change in the redness and irritation of the skin associated with atopy.
Humic acid is rich in minerals as well as rare trace minerals that are difficult to obtain through a traditional/commercial diet.
Soil-based probiotics, with the addition of Fulvic and Humic acid, have the benefit of working quickly. Showing improvement with gastrointestinal issues as well as less itching and allergy symptoms in only a few days. Most other traditional probiotics would take weeks to boost the immune system and GI integrity.
While a probiotic supplement will not treat and cure atopic dermatitis, it will certainly improve your dog’s ability to reduce the levels of histamine produced, therefore having a less angry and reactive immune response. Probiotics and their benefits go beyond just having healthy bowel movements, but are also geared towards having an overall better quality of life.