And Denny ate everything from rugs to fudge cake.
What exactly does a glutton of a dog do when left in the kitchen, where the morning rush left a bit of egg stain on the rug? Well, the dog eats a big piece of the rug and then proceeds to print out warp and weft thread for the next week. And what is this dog to do about the layer cake on the far side of the desktop? With such a tremendous invitation wafting into its muzzle, it is simply compelled to ease the cake platter onto the floor without breaking it, and to lick up the lovely treat down to the last morsel – with predictable results.
Dogs that have strong tummies have a specific lactic acid bacterium.
“A researcher friend of mine and I used to joke about probiotics being the reason why our dogs, which were of the same breed, differed in terms of intestinal health,” recalls Shea. “You see, we did know, for example, that the best-known lactic acid bacterium enjoyed by humans had been isolated from an American soldier with a remarkably strong stomach. So, just for fun, we grew some dishes of bacteria culture out of feces collected from our own dogs and sure enough: there was a difference! The dog with the healthy tummy carried lactic acid bacteria.”
Excited over this discovery, Shea began collecting samples from dogs with sensitive, normal and strong stomachs and cultivating them on a lactic acid selective agar base. It turned out that the dogs with sensitive tummies did not have any lactic acid bacteria, those with normal tummies carried small quantities of several bacteria species, but the dogs with strong tummies had only one particular species as the prevalent strain.
Denny felt much better after getting probiotics.
Once the probiotic properties of the lactic acid bacterium being studied were analyzed and the bacterium was declared safe in the mid-2000s, Shea began to administer it to Denny. Gradually, the probiotics began to take effect.
“After ingesting them for a few years, the dog decided one day to provide a windscreen for a tray of dark chocolate muffins, wolfing them down (silicone tray and all)—and finishing without any tummy troubles or symptoms of poisoning. And then my other dog, a puppy, began getting probiotics while adjusting to solid food. It has never suffered from an upset tummy.”
Research is expanding.
“We observed that feeding probiotics regularly to dogs with sensitive tummies gradually led to fewer intestinal problems,” explains Shea, recalling the pioneering stages of the research. “Once enough research results were accumulated, we began searching for dogs all across Finland to participate in a study, which involved each dog getting either the probiotics being tested or a placebo. The results showed the difference and we got a great response especially from the dog owners, whose pets first got the placebo and then, as a tribute after the study was finished, the real probiotics. The condition of these dogs improved and the intervals between recurrences grew longer.”