Prebiotics are nondigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth or activity of beneficial bacteria in the intestines
and, thus, may improve the host's health. In particular, fructooligosaccharide (FOS), a fermentable fiber and prebiotic found
naturally in fruits, vegetables, and grains, has been shown to improve the intestinal microflora population, improve stool
quality, and enhance nutrient absorption.1 A recent randomized parallel-design study compared levels of beneficial (lactobacilli) and pathogenic (bacteroides, Escherichia coli, eubacteria, Clostridium perfringens) bacteria in dogs before and after they were given a steady diet of Eukanuba Adult Maintenance dog food (containing FOS)
and found that prebiotics can be a central component of an effective wellness diet.
The test period of the study included supplementation with two wellness levels of FOS. The results of the study found that
- Significantly decreased mean fecal E. coli concentration at both levels of FOS inclusion.
- Decreased fecal concentrations of bacteriodes and eubacteria. These decreases were statistically significant only with FOS
level 2 inclusion.
- Increased fecal concentrations of lactobacilli. This increase was statistically significant only with FOS level 1 inclusion.
- Did not significantly change fecal concentrations of C. perfringens.
Supplementation of FOS in a canine wellness diet matrix affected the intestinal microbial population by increasing concentrations
of beneficial bacteria and decreasing concentrations of potential pathogens. With about 70 percent of the immune system located
in the gut tissues,2 the intestinal environment plays a key role in improving pets' overall health. Including prebiotics, such as FOS, may be
beneficial when recommending wellness diets for supporting gut health and the innate defense system.
1. Swanson KS, Grieshop CM, Flickinger EA, et al. Fructooligosaccharides and Lactobacillus acidophilus modify gut microbial populations, total tract nutrient digestibilities and fecal protein catabolite concentrations in healthy
adult dogs. J Nutr 2002;132:3721-3731.
2. Hall JB, Schmidt GA, Wood DH. In: Principles of critical care. 3rd ed. Chicago, Ill: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2005;118.