Hi guys, I am lucky to be here in beautiful Toronto, Canada. I’m here for the Hill Global Symposium. Because I am here? This has to do with the microbiome. Those are those little critters that live in our intestines, the intestines of our dog and also the intestines of our cat. So we learn a lot. Today is the end of the first day, it has been a busy and busy day. Hill’s is very good. They gave us musical entertainment in between, we had a lot of food, a lot of entertainment, and then we changed gears and the afternoon was about some of my favorite things on social media, the narration, we were joined by three of my favorite social media gurus, and then we had a panel. Not surprisingly for me, I was invited on stage for part of that panel. So it’s been a great day. I can’t wait for the end to sum it all up and tell you about prebiotics and probiotics. We learn a lot about how dogs and cats have individual microbiomes. Really exciting, I’ll finish it for you when we’re done. And for now we are just going to enjoy this beautiful city. Oh I think maybe the highlight was the dog fountain.
Thanks for joining me and I hope we have some great things to share. So, as promised, I’ll try to summarize what I learned for you at Hill’s amazing Global Symposium on the Microbiome. So I have three messages to take home. So I’m going to tell you what they are from time to time, we’re going to break it all down and then we’ll wrap it up and expand it a bit more for you. So number one, not all probiotics are created equal. Number two, not all prebiotics are created equal. And number three, some dogs and cats also need probiotics and prebiotics. Well, let’s break it down. And we’ll break it down by talking about the microbiome first. Okay, so what is the microbiome? I’m glad you asked. The microbiome is essentially a mini-ecosystem of bacteria and insects that live in our bodies. And whether we are a dog, a cat or a person. And they live together in a certain environment. And they play an important role in balancing not only the pet’s digestive system and our digestive system but also our well-being. And we really learned a lot about him at the conference that there is a connection to the gut, the mind, and the kidneys, and connections to obesity and health in general. So we shouldn’t think of gut health in terms of inflammatory bowel disease, or perhaps if your pet has GI lymphoma, but general wellness. And one of the analogies that emerged is to think of the microbiome, these bacteria as a garden. And for this garden to flourish, we have to collect the plants or the different bacteria, because there are good bacteria and bad bacteria, we have to collect the good bacteria to thrive in their environment.
So where do these little creatures live?
Therefore, they live where our body meets the outside world. So there is a microbiome of bacteria on our skin, in the nose, in the mouth, throughout the gastrointestinal tract, which is why the stomach passes through the intestines to the colon. So basically wherever the body is in contact with the outside world, we will have bacteria there. So some interesting data, in humans there are over 300 times, let me make sure I understand this correctly, 300 times more genes from bacteria than from human cells. And if you weighed all the bacteria in an average human person, you would weigh about six pounds. That’s twice the weight of the average human brain, that’s about three pounds. So we carry a lot of bacteria in our body and they have a good function, especially the good ones. And for the microbiome, we want to focus on these good bacteria. So all of us, and this really came out at the conference, it’s really interesting, every person, every dog, every cat has a unique fingerprint. And one of the things that came up at the conference is that pets and people often have similar fingerprints. what do I want to say with that? Similar microbiomes living together. So our microbiome is influenced by our diet, our experiences, where we live, and what we are exposed to. And some of them could be the antibiotics that you are taking, some things that we are exposed to early on. So whether you were born by cesarean section or normal vaginal delivery, whether you were breastfed or bottle-fed. And this also applies to puppies and kittens. So all of this can really have a huge impact on your microbiome for years to come.
So things to think about, those puppies and kittens that are born by cesarean section are then bottle-fed, sometimes that happens, but it’s certainly possible that those pets have the downside of having their microbiome thrown out, something called dysbiosis. . . So it’s definitely something we want to think about with the microbiome. Another very, very interesting thing that I was referring to at the beginning is that this microbiome will not only affect our gastrointestinal health, but it can also affect our mood, it can affect our brain, it can also affect our affect the kidneys. . And so we had a lot of different conferences that were really about that. And guys, it’s too much for me to cover in this article, but I just want you to know that because of that, you know, I’m a cancer doctor, right? That’s why you usually come to read my articles because you want information about cancer in pets. But this is important and this is important to me as a medical oncologist, you know, I use a lot of these probiotics on my chemotherapy patients. So the microbiome is important for our pets, but I think it is important for other pets, as well as for our health. And again, for our well-being as humans and for our dogs and cats. So it’s very, very important, that’s basically what the microbiome is. And now the question is: how do we modulate it? How do we do it? Let’s start with probiotics because it is a term that is not unfamiliar to most of us, right? Most of us have heard of probiotics.
So what are probiotics?
It is bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially our gastrointestinal health. And our body is full of these bacteria. Probiotics are often called good bacteria or beneficial bacteria because they help keep our intestines healthy. So how exactly do these probiotics work? Well, the researchers are definitely trying to figure that out, one of the times people think of using them is after taking antibiotics because it killed some of these bacteria so it might be a time when it’s recommended. Because probiotics can help you replace some of the good bacteria that you have lost. Again, there is always a balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut and we try to maintain that balance there. As I said, researchers are still trying to figure out what are the best diseases, what are the best scenarios to use them. Some of the conditions that we think are suitable, certainly there are some studies in dogs and cats that use it for chronic colitis, that is, inflammation of the colon, inflammatory bowel disease, some diarrhea, diarrhea caused by antibiotics. So those could be some situations. Things are, guys, we’re still learning a lot about probiotics. In humans, they are again often used for diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and also for some immune diseases. What I think is the most important thing about probiotics is that it is overwhelming when you go to the store and try to figure out which one to buy.
How many bacteria do they have there?
And then you want to see how many million units of bacteria they have. And not all are created equal. And some of them, you look at the labels and they’re really colorful and eye-catching. And there was a great section on how difficult and almost entertaining it is to figure out which probiotic I should take. And this is mostly for humans, but even for dogs, it can be really overwhelming. Therefore, buyers should be careful, they are not all the same. So which one should you bring for your pet? Fortunately, we have a number of good studies, I have changed in recent years. One of the products I used was good, and one of the other products added more bacteria, so there are more bacteria. So it is constantly changing. Therefore, I generally recommend talking to your vet about the best option they recommend. But right now, and you can see from some of my other articles that I’m using Proviable for dogs and cats because it had some more strains than some of the others and that’s a good one.
For humans, there is This Biome, and that’s one more you might want to use. What is also really important to get back to the idea is that we all have this unique microbiome and that is if one probiotic doesn’t work, it may be reasonable to try one of the other products as there can be several different types. and that can work for you too. So again, not all probiotics are the same, you may need to try different ones, it is important to speak with your vet. Again, by the time you read this, if you read six months into the future, the products are constantly changing. This Biome now has a product for dogs and cats that they didn’t have six months ago, so it’s an ever-changing market, but you’ll want to talk to your vet. Be careful about the different products out there and know that they are good, but the recommendations are likely to change. Okay, now let’s talk about the second thing. Let’s talk about prebiotics. Prebiotics are different, so postbiotics are the actual bacteria you take in in your supplement. Prebiotics are food ingredients that are not digested by the host, for example, the dog, cat, or person, which are digested by the microbiome by bacteria for the health of the host. So a little different from the probiotics you use, the bacteria ingest.
And generally, if you are taking a prebiotic, it will be by fermentation. Basically, we are talking about fiber. And rethink the way we think about fiber. And what, again, all prebiotics, not all fiber is the same. There are different fibers that have different functions. Some of them will retain water so it might be better for something like constipation. Some will be bulky, like beet pulp, and some will be polyphenols. So there will be different fibers that we can recommend for different situations. Again, going back to the example from the beginning, adding a little pumpkin for a little fiber may not be the best in all different situations. So there are some really interesting studies looking at the addition of different fibers and the different benefits they have for dogs, and there is an ongoing study for cats as well. So what they do is they become postbiotic and these are metabolites excreted from the microbiome that are then eliminated by the gastrointestinal tract. And these are things like short-chain fatty acids and some of these other fiber-bound polyphenols released and activated. So again, prebiotics when digested can become postbiotic. But again, what this shows us is that we can really rethink fiber, different types of fiber for different situations and there are several studies showing that this can be beneficial for certain types of gastrointestinal conditions as well, which is quite exciting.
So what do I mean by rethinking fiber?
What they showed in some of Hill’s studies is that postbiotic production can be affected by the different fibers they choose. That is why it is very important that we think about the different fibers, what their benefits are, and what the different types of postbiotics can cause that is beneficial for the host. Really, really interesting, you know, I think it’s kind of amazing how important it is to think about the different types of fiber and then combine that with probiotics in certain patients. So again, prebiotics can become postbiotics, and then probiotics are something that we’re going to supplement as well because then you supplement the bacteria. And I have to do this again because there were really cool things. Guys, there are gut health connections to the brain. There are links to kidney and gut health, as well as obesity,
They found that cohabitating family members often share microbiomes with humans and dogs. So there are so many connections between the mind and the intestines, and the kidneys and the intestines, and our relatives. And again, we all have these unique microbiomes that are formed very early in life by our experiences, through our exposure to antibiotics. So it really got me thinking about the importance of the microbiome. And I think we really learn a lot about it. I think we will continue to see this market for probiotics explode, so it is really important that we as consumers learn about it. And I think you will see a lot about prebiotics. And guys, you’ll see it too, I know there are gummies on the markets that are prebiotics, these fiber chews. And I got confused, it’s the same as probiotics. Again, now that you understand the difference that prebiotics are these fiber supplements, that it is different from probiotics, bacteria. So I hope it has been useful, maybe for you and also for your dogs and cats. But you will probably also see some of these prebiotic diets hit the market, and I think they can certainly have some benefit.
And we will see some more studies in the coming months or years that I am very excited about. Again, some of the diseases that we will be thinking about, inflammatory bowel disease, I think for lymphomas, especially our cats with low and high-grade lymphomas, and then my chemotherapy patients, I am very excited to have the knowledge to this. And again, just the general health of the pets, I think this is also very important. So thank you very much for reading, I hope you have found it useful. So again,
what were our three take-home messages?
Let’s wrap it up. Guys, not all probiotics are created equal, watch out buyers, talk to your vet, do your homework, and remember that if one doesn’t work, it might be reasonable to try another. All fibers, all prebiotics are also not the same and will affect our postbiotic production and different fibers will have different purposes for what we do with them. Again, we talk about water retention, we also talk about bulking, so again there will be different scenarios where we will start to choose different fibers for our pets. And the last thing is, again, not the best, prebiotics or probiotics. Some pets need both. We’re really learning something from that, and I think this idea of dysbiosis, this gut when there’s something wrong with the gut, we learn a lot about it and I’m excited to be at this conference and for some to share this new information with you. And continue to follow her and see how we can improve the health of our pets in the future. Thanks for reading guys. You know what to do. I know this was a little different from some of the other articles. Do you like me? Do you want me to stick with things purely related to cancer? I have some good things planned for the next few articles we will cover on hemangiosarcoma and spleen mass, so stay tuned. Thank you for reading