Uses: Probiotics help repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria (and in some blends, beneficial yeast) to restore the balance of gut flora that plays a large role in proper digestion of nutrients. Different probiotics are available for all sorts of humans and animals.
Dosage: Refer to the individual package for dosage information. Keep in mind, you likely “get what you pay for” – good probiotics are not cheap.
- Human: I only take probiotics if my digestion is haywire, to assist or boost what’s already in my stomach. Probiotics come in all shapes and sizes. I prefer a single dose with the potency of 10-30 billion cfu per dose (Read the label – a label may say “50 billion cfu” but when you flip to the back label, it’s really 25 billion per dose, with a recommended 2 capsules per day – so you can split the dose over two times per day.). It’s better to take smaller doses spread throughout the day rather than one large dose.
- Probios is the most commonly found probiotic in feed stores. Comes in powder and gel form. Not very potent, but it’ll do in situations where you can’t wait around for the mail to arrive. I usually give a larger dose than Probios recommends, particularly if an animal is sick.
- Fastrack is also fairly common to find in feed stores and contains a higher dose of probiotics. I like Fastrack for adult animals.
- Some fancier brands offer higher potency doses, such as Mercola Pet Probiotics.
- If I have a seriously sick animal, I’ll give them a capsule of my own probiotics, which tend to be a lot higher quality than pet probiotics.
- Keep probiotics refrigerated, frozen, or in a very cool space (preferably under 70F). The warmer the storage area, the shorter the life span, meaning probiotics get less potent over time and at higher temps.
- Overuse of probiotics can cause acidosis. More is not always better. Find the amount that works to ease your symptoms and stick with that.
- For humans: I tend to find best results from taking a probiotic capsule with a meal – either breakfast (to start my day) or dinner (to end my day).
- For Animals: Add recommended package dosage to a bottle of milk before feeding or hand-feed just before feeding milk. For older animals, sprinkle probiotic powder over their food – for example, on top of cat food or on top of a handful of grain.
- Fresh, healthy raw milk (for nursing animals or bottle animals being fed fresh raw milk) should have sufficient enzymes for young animals to be able to digest milk, so those feeding healthy babies raw milk should not need to add probiotics.
- Those feeding processed milks and milk powders would benefit from the addition of probiotics on a regular basis – but check your milk replacer, it may already contain probiotics.
- Sick animals: Feed once a day or with every meal, depending on severity of symptoms.
- Sick humans: Take once or twice a day as needed for as long as needed. My doctor once recommended I stay on probiotics once a day for 6 months, then gradually wean off and see how my body handled itself without supplements. I did that, and now I take probiotics on an “as needed” basis. They are a great supplement to take to boost your immune and digestive system while you are dealing with health issues.
- Can be taken long-term safely.
Other info: Try to buy refrigerated probiotics with at least 10 billion cfu and multiple strains. Probiotics are often formulated (using different strains of probiotics) for certain conditions, such as colon care, yeast balance, etc. so look for one that best fits your needs. If using long term, rotate probiotics to change up the flora.
Our digestive systems are often attacked through use of antibiotics, over-processed foods, etc. Sometimes antibiotics are necessary, and probiotics can help speed the recovery period.
- For animals: Avoid antibiotics and drug use when possible. Feed proper minerals and salt (per specie). Focus on prevention to avoid disease.
- For Humans: Focus on healthy foods including fermented/cultured foods (raw fermented foods and cultured foods contain probiotics). Avoid antibiotics and drug use when possible.
Most of my positive reviews for probiotics come from my own use of them. I started taking probiotics after antibiotics made me severely ill. Probiotics, along with herbs and other natural treatments, helped return me to a healthy weight, completely eliminated my acid reflux, and significantly improved my digestion, so I can actually digest food now.
In times when I’m feeling healthy, I do not take probiotics, or take them once or twice a week as a maintenance dose. In times when my symptoms return, I take probiotics once or twice a day, with breakfast and/or dinner. They are expensive, but they work. If someone I talk to has taken probiotics and had no positive effects from them, they likely bought a probiotic off the shelf that’s likely got little to no living bacteria left OR they did not take them long enough to see results. Probiotics that contain live/active bacteria should show results within one or two doses, but long-term fixes often require probiotic use for an extended period of time.
For animals, we’ve mostly used probiotics as a preventative or to boost the immune system of animals in need (fresh cows, sick animals, injured animals, etc.). Fastrack is my favorite brand, because it also contains yeast, which is especially important for ruminants. Yeast can also be purchased on its own from companies such as Emmert or Diamond V. Ask your feed store, they often carry yeast in some form.
- The Use of Probiotics in Animal Nutrition
- PennState Hershey – Lactobacillus Acidophilus