Staying healthy is always a priority, but fighting off disease is clearly more important now than ever. But, what about our pets? How do we help to keep them healthy? There are a number of ingredients in pet food that are known to support the immune system. Annamaet utilizes ingredients in our formulas such as chelated minerals which are known to increase their utilization and strengthen the immune system. Blueberries and cranberries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, they contain a wide variety of phytonutrients and although controversial, cranberries are synonymous with urinary tract health. Dried apples are also notable for an impressive list of phytonutrients and antioxidants, including dietary fiber, B-complex vitamins, quercetin and vitamin C.
Just like humans, our pets are shaped by bacteria. It is estimated that there are nearly 30 trillion bacterial cells living in or on each human. That is about one bacterium for every cell in the human body. This full collection of bacteria is known as the microbiome. Because of the differences in environment, diet, and behavior, the specific types of microbes that make up the microbiome can vary greatly between individuals. When these gut bacteria are not properly balanced, digestive disorders may occur; this is known as dysbiosis. However, beyond digestion, gut bacteria impact many areas of dogs’ overall health. Altered gut bacteria have been linked to several diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, skin health and even cancer.
What many people may not realize is that 80% of the body’s immune system is in the digestive tract. The microbiome helps to shape the immune system, making it very important to a dog’s overall well being. Simply put, a healthy gut equals a strong immune system which makes a healthier dog. When a dog’s immune system is declining there is an increased risk for developing an infection. However, when the immune system is overactive, the body can trigger inflammation at inappropriate times. This long-term inflammation may lead to chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and skin problems.
Ingredients in pet food such as prebiotics and probiotics help to improve the balance of the microbiome if done appropriately. Probiotics are the good bacteria which we often find in pet foods; they can be alive or dead. Most often in pet foods the probiotics added don’t survive digestion in the stomach all that well, but the bacterial components digested may still have some utility in strengthening the immune system. Prebiotics, arguably the more important of the two, feed all of the good bacteria in the GI tract to support healthy digestion and immune function.
Lactobacillus Acidophilus is an important probiotic found in all Annamaet products. It is activated upon ingestion and helps to maintain normal bacteria balance in the lower intestine, aiding in digestion and promoting gut health. It reduces undesirable bacteria by producing lactic acid and other short chain fatty acids helping to promote healthy gastrointestinal cells and immune function in the body.
Dried Chicory Root is a good source of prebiotics as well as an excellent dietary fiber source found in Annamaet formulas. It is composed of inulin, a prebiotic known for encouraging growth of healthy gut bacteria. Chicory root is better utilized by bacteria to make short chain fatty acids that are a preferred energy source of GI cells, making it an ideal prebiotic in many of our formulas. Through this bacterial fermentation, it helps to nourish the gut bacteria as well as improve overall digestion. Other Annamaet formulas utilize beet pulp which can be partially fermented to provide similar advantages and is well known for its ability to provide better stool quality.
Feeding your pets microbiome will help strengthen the immune system and likely lead to a longer and healthier life. With our dogs and cats living longer, we now need to consider what changes occur as they age and know how to best support them. All current research shows that as our pets age, just like in humans, more protein on a calorie basis is needed. There are also exciting new findings that show the use of some ingredients can really help our aging pets. Turmeric and coconut oil have been shown to help slow the aging process. Turmeric is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory that has also shown promise in ameliorating the clinical signs associated with arthritis. Coconut oil is a rich source of medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) that are well known for anti-aging properties. MCT’s also have positive effects on the aging brain, leading to a brighter and healthier dog as they age gracefully.
As you can see, diet plays an enormous role in our four legged friends’ overall health & well being. Including certain ingredients in a pet’s diet will have a positive effect throughout the body, including help to promote healthy digestion, strengthen the immune system, support cognitive function, and ultimately lead to a longer and healthier life. Annamaet takes pride in our knowledge in nutrition and our involvement in research that allows us to utilize superior ingredients to formulate the best products and keep your pets and ours at their best.
Written by Rob Downey
Founder & CEO of Annamaet Petfoods