A recent study found that children who were given antibiotics were more likely to be overweight. The more antibiotics the kids got, the fatter they got. If this is true for people then it is most likely true for pets as well. But what’s the connection between taking antibiotics and weight gain? I can answer that with one word: probiotics!
I have written here about the many benefits of these friendly bacteria that live in the GI tract. We have 10 times more bacterial cells in our bodies than we have body cells. That means that from a cellular perspective, we are more bacterial than we are human. No doubt pets are similar to us in this respect. One of the many effects of probiotic bacteria is that they seem to regulate the body’s weight.
Antibiotics kill bacteria. In fact, the word “antibiotic” comes from the words “against life.” If a pet is infected with disease-causing bacteria, then antibiotics can help. Unfortunately, while they’re helping, they’re also hurting. Antibiotics kill the good gut bacteria along with the bad bacteria. Antibiotics give with one hand and take away with the other.
I have written here about the health problems linked to being overweight. My biggest concern is that being overweight promotes inflammation and predisposes to cancer. Keeping pets at their ideal weight has been shown to delay the onset of chronic disease and lengthen lifespan.
There are times when antibiotics are needed. When your pet gets a course of antibiotics, be sure to follow that ups with a 2-3 week course of probiotics. I’m not talking about the Purina or Iams probiotics. Those only contain one strain of bacteria. The best probiotics have a full spectrum of bacteria and are from natural sources – like Answers fermented goat’s milk.
Do you give your pet probiotics?