Millions of bacteria live in our gastrointestinal tract, and the same is true for our companion animals. Some gut bacteria are helpful to our pets, assisting in the digestion of food and keeping harmful bacteria from getting established. However, diseases (both in and out of the gastrointestinal tract) can disrupt this community, allowing harmful bacteria to expand.
Drug therapy, particularly with antibiotics, also can disrupt gut bacteria. Probiotics are designed to introduce “good” bacteria back into the gastrointestinal tract, helping the gut environment to return to normal.
Prebiotics work by providing bacteria with the fuel they need to thrive. In the case of dietary fiber, bacteria use indigestible fiber as fuel, and the byproducts of this process benefit the cells of the gastrointestinal tract.