Objective: To evaluate viability of a probiotic strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus in a dry dog food, determine its ability to survive transit through the gastrointestinal tract and populate the colon, and assess its effects on intestinal and systemic parameters.
Animals: 15 adult dogs.
Procedure: Dogs were sequentially fed a dry control food for 2 weeks, the same food supplemented with > 10(9) L. acidophilus for 4 weeks, and the control food again for 2 weeks. Fecal score was assessed daily, and fecal and blood samples were collected for enumeration of bacterial populations and measurement of hematologic variables.
Results: Recovery of L. acidophilus from the supplemented food was 71% and 63% at the start and end of the study, respectively, indicating that the bacteria were able to survive manufacture and storage. The probiotic bacterium was detected in feces via ribotyping and RNA gene sequencing during the probiotic administration phase but not 2 weeks after cessation of administration. Administration of the probiotic-supplemented food was associated with increased numbers of fecal lactobacilli and decreased numbers of clostridial organisms. There were significant increases in RBCs, Hct, hemoglobin concentration, neutrophils, monocytes, and serum immunoglobin G concentration and reductions in RBC fragility and serum NO concentration.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: These data indicate that L. acidophilus can be successfully incorporated into a dry dog food, survive transit through the canine gastrointestinal tract, and populate the colon and are associated with local and systemic changes. This probiotic bacterium may have the potential to enhance intestinal health and improve immune function in dogs.