Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Intestinal Dysbiosis
Probiotics are important for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome in chinchillas. A healthy chinchilla has a wide diversity of normally residing beneficial microbes in the gut. Chinchillas can also have bad bacteria in their digestive systems, called pathogens. Pathogens are often kept at bay by a healthy immune system, but pathogenic organisms can grow out of control under certain circumstances. An imbalance of healthy microbes in relation to pathogenic microbes causes intestinal dysbiosis and illness. Pathogenic bacteria often produce gas. This is why chinchillas can suffer a distended belly, gas colic, or bloating when suffering from a gut imbalance, especially common after the animal is stressed, consumes too much sugar, is on a poor diet, or consumes too many carbohydrates. Probiotics may be particularly beneficial for you chinchilla. They can be of two types:
- Organisms that will go on establish themselves and reproduce in the gut, or
- 'Competitive inhibitors' that do not establish in the gut
One difficulty with probiotics is getting them past the stomach's harsh environment alive, so that they are still viable when they reach the hind gut. Additionally, many probiotics are not heat resistant, so it is difficult to ship and store a product that will still be viable when it reaches the customer. The Brytin probiotics endorsed by Chinchillas.com are advantageous for several reasons. They able to survive the stomach's acidic environment, they can tolerate heat, and they can survive in both aerobic and anaerobic environments. Their purpose is to consume the resources or food that pathogens (harmful microbes) consume, and essentially 'starve out' or kill off the pathogenic organisms. These competitive inhibitors do not reproduce in the gut. They do their job and then leave.
Good bacteria, both the kind that establish in the gut, and those that do not, need nutrients called prebiotics. Brytin probiotics include prebiotics specifically suited to the good organisms in the tablets. Therefore, even if the animals are off feed, as long as they ingest the tablet, there is sufficient 'food' for the saccharomyces and pediococcus microbes in the Brytin probiotics to flourish. Certain foods, like dandelions, are also good prebiotics. Animals will often naturally consume these types of foods when they are trying to 'seed' their guts.