Owners of hardworking dogs know that stress is a natural part of competition. Stressful situations, such as travel, working in unfamiliar field environments and change in routine, can trigger gastrointestinal (GI) upset and diarrhea, ultimately impacting a dog’s performance.
Professional bird dog trainer Ronnie Smith of Big Cabin, Okla., relies on a canine nutritional supplement, Purina Veterinary Diets FortiFlora, to help dogs handle stress. "We use FortiFlora proactively when we receive dogs for training, during periods of travel, and when our dogs have added work demands,” Smith says. “We’ve found it helps to keep our dogs healthy and their stools firm. It boosts their immune system and gives our dogs an added advantage when they need it most."
Purina Veterinary Diets FortiFlora is available exclusively from veterinarians. Introduced in 2006, it provides dietary management of dogs with diarrhea. FortiFlora with Enterococcus faecium SF68, a live beneficial probiotic, or bacteria, offers a way to help maintain a normal intestinal balance by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria. FortiFlora also helps support a healthy immune system.
Smith presents more than 30 training seminars a year with his cousin, Rick Smith, teaching enthusiasts how to build upon a dog’s instincts using the Silent Command System of Dog Training developed by the Smith family. “There’s no room for dehydration from diarrhea with our bird dog training program,” Smith says. He’s also impressed with FortiFlora’s palatability.
“Just sprinkling a packet on a dog’s food helps those that otherwise might not eat the first night or two,” Smith says. “Dogs that don’t eat don’t have the energy they need for performance. Plus, dogs with stomach issues don’t achieve energy recovery as quickly after running in the field.”
Professional retriever trainer Tom Dokken of Northfield, Minn. agrees with Smith about the benefits of FortiFlora. He gives FortiFlora to dogs he works with at his Oak Ridge Kennels, the largest gun dog training kennel in the upper half of the United States.
“It’s a lifesaver in my opinion when dogs have digestive problems or watery stools,” he says. “It quickly clears up a loose stool.”
Dokken has given seminars across the United States, as well as South America. He has been featured on ESPN, TNN and other major outdoor TV channels.
Hardworking dogs that experience diarrhea lose focus in the field. “When their digestive system is in turmoil, they just can’t perform the way they should. From a concentration standpoint, you can just tell they are off,” Dokken says. “We can’t afford to not be on our A game.”
Probiotics Promote GI Health
Diarrhea is a common physical response to stress or anxiety. In dogs with diarrhea, the normal balance of bacteria in the intestine is upset. Probiotics provide a safe, effective and natural way to help nutritionally promote and maintain a balanced intestinal microflora.
FortiFlora can be used proactively, when a stressful situation or field trial is coming up, to help promote a dog’s digestive tract. This nutritional supplement may be helpful in managing dogs experiencing:
- Stressful situations due to travel and work in unfamiliar field environments
- Diet change or consumption of inappropriate foods
- Soft stools in puppies
- Antibiotic therapy
In developing FortiFlora, nutritional scientists at Purina studied the effects of a probiotic, or live beneficial bacteria, to determine its usefulness in the diets of dogs. A research team, made up of microbiologists, nutritionists, immunologists, veterinary surgeons, food scientists and stability specialists, spent more than eight years evaluating the specific probiotic, Enterococcus faecium SF68, used in FortiFlora.
Few studies had evaluated probiotic value for dogs until Purina conducted three studies: Two assessed the benefits for puppies and one looked at benefits for adult dogs. The research indicated that supplementing canine diets with FortiFlora promotes intestinal health and balance in growing puppies and adult dogs
FortiFlora also contains antioxidant vitamins A, E and C to help promote a healthy immune system. The GI tract’s role as a body’s natural defense system is often overlooked. In fact, about 70 percent of the body’s immune cells are located in the GI tract.