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An Urban Experience
C.R. Bjornvad1
1University of Copenhagen, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Copenhagen, Denmark
Charlotte R. Bjørnvad, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECVCN
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Elie Metchnikoff, who is considered the inventor of probiotics proposed that the life span of consumers of fermented dairy products was prolonged because the acid-producing organisms would prevent “fouling” in the large intestine1.
Inspired by the use of fermented products, strategies
for supporting health have since been proposed. Prebiotics are nutrients (commonly carbohydrates and fiber) that are able to favor “beneficial” gut bacteria, probiotics are defined as live microorganism that, when given in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host and synbiotics are a combination of pro- and prebiotics2. Currently, only Enterococcus faecium NCIMB 10415 and Enterococcus faecium DSM 10663/ NCIMB 10415 have been approved for use as food additives in dogs and cats by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)3. Probiotics are thought to confer intestinal health by several mechanisms; displacement of intestinal pathogens, production of antimicrobial substances, maintaining a local intestinal environment unsuitable
for pathogenic bacteria (for example decreasing pH) and enhancement of immune function and responses. These effects are partly conferred by bacteria-derived metabolites such as short chain fatty acids (SCFA), known to provide energy for enterocytes and the
host, regulate intestinal motility, and modulate immune function. Other favourable metabolites are indole and secondary bile acids that support immune homeostasis and intestinal barrier3.
Intestinal dysbiosis, is an alteration in the composition, abundance and diversity of the gut microbiota leading to altered physiological pathways compared with healthy individuals. Intestina dysbiosis result in compromised intestinal barrier function through decreased production of anti-inflammatory metabolites, altered mucosal
fluid secretion and increased production of toxins. Dysbiosis can be primary or develop secondary to other disease, environmental changes or antibiotic treatment. Depending on timing and the host’s ability to cope with the challenges, it may lead to severe chronic alterations of the whole body metabolism.
Molecular-phylogenetic studies have revealed the presence of intestinal dysbiosis in dogs and cats with acute and chronic diarrhea. Following the realization that there exist an intense and complex communication between the host and the intestinal microbiota, development of targeted and possibly more potent probiotic strains has been intensified. Furthermore because intestinal dysbiosis in early childhood is closely linked to increased risk of developing allergies, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease in adulthood, it has been realised that probiotics may not only act locally in the GI tract but may have more systemic effects.
Randomized blinded studies investigating the effect
of probiotics in dogs and cats are still limited and the variety of strains or combinations with prebiotics makes comparisons difficult.
Probiotics and acute diarrhoea
One of the best investigated areas of probiotics use
in dogs and cats are the use for preventing or treating acute or stress-related diarrhea, however, most studies are characterized by a low number of animals and presence of confounding factors. A recent double- blinded randomized placebo-controlled study including 773 shelter dogs showed significantly fewer days scored as diarrhea relative to the dogs total stay, in synbiotic (Enterococcus faecium NCIMB 10415 4b1707, 2 x
109 colony forming units (CFU/g)) treated dogs (2.0%) compared with placebo treated dogs (3.2%, P=0.0008)4. In shelter cats (n = 217), administration of Enterococcus faecium strain SF68 (2 x 109 CFU/g) was associated with a lower percentage of cats (7.4%) having stress-related diarrhea for more than 2 days compared with placebo (20.7%, P=0.03)5. However, when all outcomes were included in the analysis (0-5 days with diarrhea), there were no significant difference between groups5. An in the same study no effect was found in dogs, but this could be due to a very low prevalence of stress-related diarrhea in both groups5.
Probiotics and chronic diarrhea
One randomized controlled trial evaluated clinical and histological response rates in dogs with moderate to severe IBD6. The dogs were treated with either probiotics (VSL#3, multi-strain formulation, 2 x 1011 CFU/g, n=10) or a combination of prednisone and metronidazole (n=10). The two groups had similar remission rates, but

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