Could destroying the normal bacteria in your dog’s body be a risk factor for cancer down the road?
This may sound very far-fetched. However, in the spirit of avoiding condemnation before investigation, read on!
It turns out that the so-called “healthy” bacteria in the body may provide cancer protection. And therefore, if this bacteria is destroyed with antibiotics and replaced with “unhealthy” bacteria, does it follow that there is a cancer risk?
Let’s first look at the natural bacteria found in bodies. These live mainly in the GI tract, but are also located on the skin and in body cavities. Healthy intestinal bacteria vary between species, but can include bacteria like some strains of lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, strept, and others.
These bacteria are beneficial as they help block disease causing microbes, help stimulate immunity, and help provide the body with vitamins.
However, what happens when these bacteria are destroyed? Or, are never received by the newborn, such as during a Cesarian section surgery (beneficial bacteria are transferred to the newborn in mom’s reproductive tract).
The frequent result is that the intestine is colonized with bacteria that are not especially healthy, such as some strains of clostridia and bacterioides. These do not provide the benefits of the healthy bacteria, and there is some research that they may produce toxic waste products that create inflammation and precancerous changes in the intestine of lab animals and humans.
Additionally, helicobacter is a risk factor for stomach inflammation and pre-cancerous changes, as opposed to the intestine. This is another example of an “unhealthy’ bacteria.
Although there is not a direct cause and effect yet established in pets or people for many of these changes, I believe we will be seeing much more data on this over the next decade.
Meanwhile, discuss with your vet the use of a couple of weeks of a high quality probiotics after longer term (3-7 days’) antibiotic use. Probiotics are healthy bacteria supplements.
Make sure this healthy bacteria supplement is protected from the stomach acid and enzymes so it can reach the lower part of the intestine without being destroyed in the stomach. There are different quality probiotics.
I feel that lower potency sources such as organic yogurt may not be entirely adequate. Finally, you may provide the fuel for these bacteria, which are called prebiotics. One common one is inulin.
Healthy dogs requiring probiotics and prebiotics benefit from the new product Everpup.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.
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