Guest Contributor— Answers Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Doug Knueven, veteran among veterinarians, examines raw nutrition as a healing power of pets and works to ensure an all-encompassing true health (physical, mental and spiritual) regimen in veterinary medicine for animals. Apart of his work with Answers Executive Veterinary Program, he’s a consultant for Answers product and program development, lecturer, and participant on panel discussions.
The term “antibiotic” literally means “against life.”
If fact, while antibiotics are sometimes lifesaving in the case of a serious bacterial infection, they do kill the good bacteria along with the bad. Many veterinarians try to stop the damage caused by antibiotics be prescribing probiotic supplements. Unfortunately, this strategy may do little good. The reason for this can be found with a deep dive into the gastrointestinal microbiome. So, hold your nose, we’re jumping in!
The gastrointestinal microbiome is the collection of all the organisms in the gut. It is well known that a balanced microbiome is needed for many processes in the body, including the immune system, brain function, detoxification, general metabolism, and digestion/gastrointestinal function. It is also understood that antibiotics (as well as other medications) throw off the balance of GI bacteria, a condition known as dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis has been linked to immune system dysfunctions such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. It has also been shown to have a negative effect on pet behavior causing fear and anxiety. An unbalance gut microbiome can cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as well as liver disease. It has even been associated with obesity.
Please be aware that just because a pet does not get diarrhea when taking antibiotics, it does not mean they do not have dysbiosis. If your pet takes antibiotics, you can be sure their gut bacterial balance has been thrown out of whack. In fact, one study1 in dogs found that Metronidazole, a drug commonly used to treat diarrhea, caused major disruptions in the microbiome that lasted 4 weeks. A human study2 found that just a short course of antibiotics caused an alteration in the GI microbiome that lasted up to 4 years.
It is for good reason that veterinarians try to head off the microbiome damage caused by antibiotics by prescribing probiotics.
The problem with this strategy is that the antibiotics kill off these bacteria too. If we look more closely at the definition of the GI microbiome, we can see a better solution.
You’ll remember that the microbiome consists of all the organisms in the gut. These include bacteria for sure, but yeast and viruses too. While the good bacteria in the intestines have gotten all the press, there are good yeast organisms as well, which are equally deserving of the name “probiotic.” One such organism is called Saccharomyces. (Just like there are good and bad bacteria, there are good and bad yeast) The significance of probiotic yeast like Saccharomyces is that antibiotics only kill bacteria. So, while antibiotics destroy GI bacterial balance, they can’t touch probiotic yeast organisms. The good yeast can stabilize the microbiome through the onslaught of antibiotics.
In people, Saccharomyces supplements have been used successfully to treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea, IBD, IBS, unclassified acute diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea, and C. difficile infection.3 In a study4 of 20 dogs with chronic IBD, Saccharomyces improved clinical signs and body condition score. In another study5, 24 healthy dogs received an injection of the antibiotic lincomycin at 7 times recommended dose. In the group that got Saccharomyces at the time of the injection, none developed diarrhea. Meanwhile 75% of those that were not given the probiotic yeast got diarrhea that lasted an average of 6 ½ days.
Why all this talk about probiotic yeast?
Well, it turns out that Answers Raw Cow Milk Kefir is not only loaded with a host of amazing, health-promoting nutrients and probiotic bacteria, it also contains Saccharomyces yeast! Giving this product with antibiotics can help a pet maintain their GI microbiome balance and avoid the issues caused by dysbiosis. Every pet who is receiving antibiotics, or any other medication for that matter, needs to be taking Answers Raw Cow Milk Kefir.
- Suchodolski, J. et al. Effects of a hydrolysed protein diet and metronidazole on the fecal microbiome and metabolome in healthy dogs. J Vet Intern Med. 2016;30:1455.
- Jakobsson HE, Jernberg C, Andersson AF, Sjo ̈lund-Karlsson M, Jansson JK, Engstrand L. Short-term antibiotic treatment has differing long-term impacts on the human throat and gut microbiome. PLoS ONE. 2010;5(3):e9836.
- Farland LV. Systematic review and meta-analysis of Saccharomyces boulardii in adult patients. World J Gastroenterol. 2010;16:2202–22.
- D’Angelo S, Fracassi F, Bresciani F, et al. Effect of Saccharomyces boulardii in dogs with chronic enteropathies: double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. Vet Record. 2018;182(9):258.
- Aktas MS, Borku MK, Ozkanlar Y. Efficacy of Saccharomyces boulardii as a probiotic in dogs with lincomycin induced diarrhea. Bulletin of the Veterinary Institute in Pulawy. 2007;51:365–369.