Kefir for Pets - a cure all for digestive upsets

Kefir Benefits for Dogs and Pregnant Bitches

Delilah had an upset stomach last week, so she’s been getting Kefir daily with her food, and she loves it. I’ve now started adding it to everyone’s food, since it is such a rich, healthful and relatively inexpensive way to add nutrition to their diets, and to support immune and digestive function. Similar to yogurt, Kefir is made by fermenting milk (goat, cow, sheep or even coconut) with a bacterial and yeast starter known as ‘kefir grains’. From an Article on Kefir for Culinary Students –

Yogurt is made by culturing fresh milk (previously boiled and cooled) with a bacteria starter. The starter, usually containing two or three beneficial bacteria, comes from a previously made batch of yogurt. Yogurt must ferment in an environment warmer than normal room temperature (about 110 degrees), for a fairly specific amount of time (about 8 to 16 hours), in order to develop properly. The culture bacteria in yogurt have only a limited lifespan and must be renewed regularly with new culture. In contrast, kefir is made by culturing fresh milk with live kefir grains. These grains are actually colonies of more than 30 bacteria and yeasts that are bound together in a stable, symbiotic relationship.[2],[3] Kefir ferments at room temperature, and has a wider range of acceptable fermentation periods (from about 12 hours to two days). Kefir grains stay alive and robust indefinitely. They also grow in size and number during the fermentation process. After the milk is fermented, the grains are filtered out and added to new milk for another batch of kefir.

Kefir has some really interesting health claims, some documented, some not. Of prime benefit is the fact that the beneficial bacteria found in Kefir actually colonize the digestive tract,  aiding in digestive function and in fighting harmful bacteria. The culture in yogurt, on the other hand, must continue to be eaten daily to get the benefit of their digestive bacteria and enzymes.

Kefir – the Dog Breeder’s Toolkit

For dog breeders, Kefir’s effects on folic acid production are interesting. Kefir itself is naturally rich in vitamins B1 and B12, and is also a wonderful source of biotin, another B vitamin which has been shown to aid in the absorption and functioning of other B vitamins, including folic acid, and to

‘significantly increase folic acid content’.

 “Vitamin profiles of kefirs made from milks of different species”

There is speculation that kefir can also aid with milk production, which makes it very useful to have on hand for after bitches deliver, and it has been shown to aid in lactose digestion.

In my own dogs, I have treated chronic pancreatitis with a combination of acid reducers and ongoing daily kefir supplementation, and I now also use kefir any time I change a dog’s food. I also recommend it for puppies when they go to their new homes, to help stave off the dietary upsets that new food, water and a new home environment can sometimes cause. 

Kefir has even been studied for its benefits at reducing incidences of Coccidia and Giardia infection rates in animals.

Studies in goats have shown that goat kids fed Kefir at weaning

“shed numerically 35% lower coccidial oocysts than the controls”

 Effects of kefir on coccidial oocysts excretion and performance of dairy goat kids following weaning

while studies on mice show that

“Kefir administration was able to significantly reduce the intensity of Giardia infection at 7 days post-infection”

Administration of kefir-fermented milk protects mice against Giardia intestinalis infection

For people, Kefir is being studied for even more significant health benefits.

The American College of Physicians writes about kefir’s proven efficacy in a treatment program for patients with recurrent C. difficile infections.

 

To further confound the organisms, his patients drank kefir, a fermented milk product containing 10 to 12 probiotic agents, with every meal. “The probiotic agents may occupy binding sites that C. diff also needs to occupy and they may compete for food sources. They may have positive beneficial interactions in the immune system on the epithelial lining, in the intestinal tract. They may even promote substances that are injurious or noxious to C. diff,” he said.

A tasty solution to recurrent Clostridium difficile”

Kefirin, an active ingredient in Kefir, has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol  and to suppress an increase in blood pressure (see). 

For smokers attempting to quit nicotine products, Kefir has

“a potential effect on the treatment of nicotine cessation-induced depression, anxiety and cognition impairment in the animal model. Kefir may be useful for adjunct therapy for nicotine abandonment treatment protocols.”

Kefir protective effects against nicotine cessation-induced anxiety and cognition impairments in rats

Kefir is also  a natural source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid known to have  ‘calming effect’ on the nerves (a vital concern during pregnancy, especially when dealing with small brindle beached whales who are currently fuming with hatred for all of mankind).

 

3 replies
  1. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    How do prefer to administer the kefir in the food? Just mix directly in the food? I feed my frenchie a mix of fresh cooked meat like liver or chicken and premium kibble (Innova.) How should I mix in the kefir or should I give it separately?

    Reply
    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      I just give them a dollop of kefir on top of their food. They seem to like the taste! I was giving them a large tablespoon full, but have cut it back to a teaspoon or so twice a day.

      Reply

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