Probiotics vs Prebiotics and How They Impact A Pet's Gut Health
Original Post by: inClover Research
In both the human world and the pet world, probiotics and now prebiotics are all the rage. We hear talk about probiotic and prebiotic foods and supplements that will help keep our pets' digestive health in peak condition. When working in pet retail, pet parents will come to you looking for a solution when their pet has an upset tummy. It is in the best interest of you and the pet parents you serve to provide them with a solution that will continuously support the gut health of their pets and not just provide them with a quick fix.
So, what is the solution? What will truly support our pet's gut health, probiotics or prebiotics? What are the differences between the two? And how can we sell this to customers? Well, let's take a closer look!
What Are Probiotics and Prebiotics?
Probiotics are “good” or “friendly” bacteria that reside within the gut (intestines) of mammals, including humans, dogs, and cats. Probiotics are living organisms that act like little “factories” that produce essential nutrients the body needs to function. Each animal has his or her own unique, preferred strain of probiotics. The preferred strain is the one that will be at the highest level when the animal is healthy. If there are three dogs playing in a park, it’s unlikely that any of them will have the same preferred strain of probiotics.
Think of our animals’ digestive systems like vehicles. While they all take fuel to run, there are certain types of fuel that work best for particular vehicles, whether that’s high-grade gasoline, diesel, coal or electricity. To help that vehicle run, you need to give it the fuel its “body” prefers.
Probiotic supplements contain living bacteria, generally sourced from soil, cows, goats or sheep in a dairy form like raw kefir. When you give a probiotic supplement to your pet, you are introducing a foreign strain of bacteria into their system. In our fuel example, this is like putting low-grade gasoline into a high-performance car. Sure, it’ll get the car moving, but it won’t allow the vehicle to perform at its best.
Prebiotics are present in fiber-rich foods and are an ideal food source for your pet’s native, preferred strain of probiotics. Prebiotics cannot feed (penetrate the cell walls) of unwanted bacteria but will help induce the growth of beneficial bacteria living in an animal's gut.
Prebiotic supplements work to quickly shift the balance of beneficial bacteria to a healthy, natural state. Prebiotics will double your pet’s friendly bacteria every 20 minutes. So, in just three hours, 100,000 bacteria become over 5 million! This targeted feeding allows the beneficial bacteria to multiply, thrive and line the intestinal walls, while undesirable bacteria starves, has nowhere to attach and flush right through the system.
Problems Solved with Prebiotics
Within your store, customers won't often come to you specifically looking for a prebiotic but they will come to you with problems that a prebiotic supplement can help. Being able to recognize situations and problems where customers may benefit from a prebiotic supplement is an excellent way to ensure you are providing pet parents with a long term solution.
Here are some common issues that could benefit from a prebiotic supplement:
- Pets with Coprophagia- This is just the technical term for a pet eating their stool. Sometimes the cause of coprophagia is behavioral but the other cause for coprophagia stems from the animal not adequately digesting the nutrients in their food, leaving partially digested food in the feces. In this case, digestive enzymes will allow pets to fully digest all the nutrients in their food and absorb them into the bloodstream. Once the supplement is incorporated into their regimen the stool eating should cease after a few days.
- Cats with hairballs- Studies show that cat's spend up to half of their waking hours cleaning and grooming themselves. Due to the structure of their tongues, cats tend to ingest a significant amount of fur. Their fur is made from the protein, keratin, which is not easily digestible. Thus the hair clumps into a hairball in the digestive tract that causes discomfort and the inevitable hacking up of the clump. The digestive enzyme protease can break down the protein of the keratin and help cats pass the hair easily through their system.
- Pets on Antibiotics. Antibiotics are intended to kill harmful bacteria in the pet’s system. Unfortunately, they often kill the beneficial microbes as well, including any introduced through a probiotic supplement. However, because prebiotics are not living, they are well-suited to support the digestive tract even during antibiotic use. They can help rebalance a pet's gut health during a round of antibiotics.
- Transitioning foods. Sometimes when a pet is transitioning foods it can cause an upset stomach and unfortunate accidents. Making a gradual switch can help soothe this issue but sometimes a pet's system may be a bit more sensitive so a digestive aid can really help the transitioning process. When customers come in looking to switch their pet's food this can be a great opportunity to sell a digestive aid supplement.
Although there are several great digestive pet supplement options on the market, Optagest digestive aid made by my company InClover Research is an amazing option that pet parents can trust. Optagest includes clinically tested levels of organic prebiotics and four digestive enzymes for nutrient absorption. With Optagest there are no foreign probiotics and it is not necessary to take probiotics. Pet parents will notice a change in stool, color, size, consistency, and odor in 1-3 days with Optagest due to its complete and clinically tested formula.
Available through Pet Food Experts in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Mountain Region Optagest is a great solution for any tummy troubles your furry customers may be facing.
Get Social Selling the Solution
So, now that you've learned the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, the problems that benefit from prebiotics, and the solution you can offer pet parents and their pets let's talk about how you can promote it in your independent pet retail store. It is easy to sell Optagest on a case by case basis once a customer comes to you with one of those above-mentioned problems, but how can you get the word out in a broader way? I encourage you to get social with it.
Post on social media about what you offer so customers know they can come to you when their pet has tummy troubles. Whether you are sharing the product selection you have to support pets' digestive health or informing pet parents about a promo on said products, a social post is an easy way to disseminate this information to your customers.
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Take the social aspect a step further and host an ice cream social with free ice cream from The Bear and The Rat. InClover partners with The Bear and The Rat so every cup of their frozen goat's milk yogurt comes with a complete serving of Optagest. Not only is this a fun frozen treat but it's also an easy way to incorporate a prebiotic supplement into a pet's diet.
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🍦 Save the Date! 🍦 Free Ice Cream from @thebearandtherat with a full topping bar! Plus, we’ll have ice cream for you too! . . . #illbedoggonellc #illbedoggone #mokena #mokenaillinois #dogsofinstagram #petboutique #dogbakery #diydogwash #icecreamsocial #thebearandtherat
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No Guts, No Glory
Now that you have learned all this wonderful information about probiotics and prebiotics it is time to start sharing this knowledge with your customers. Finding a long term solution for the messy problems tummy troubles cause will keep pets happy and create loyal customers for your business. Solution-based selling with supplements is a great way to help boost your sales while providing the best for pets in your community so get started today!
About Rebecca Rose
Rebecca Rose, founder of InClover Research, uses her biochemistry education and experience in healthcare and biotechnology research to scientifically design all of InClover’s products to work with pets’ unique physiology. When she isn’t getting really excited explaining the chemical structure of glucosamine or how prebiotics work, she enjoys being outdoors and in the barn. Whether she is riding horses or snuggling a chicken, she is happiest surrounded by animals.