Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: Enterococcus Faecium

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bacteria slideToday we move to the letter E in our ingredient A to Z series and are featuring Enterococcus Faecium as our ingredient of the day.  Admittedly, this is one tough ingredient to understand and there is some conflicting, and somewhat scary, information on it!


What is enterococcus faecium?

Enterococcus faecium is a stomach bacterium that is used as a probiotic in some dog foods.  This bacterium is normally found in the digestive systems of many animals including dogs and humans.

Probiotics are generally defined as a living organism, often bacteria, which are used to promote digestive and overall health.


Common names for enterococcus faecium

There really aren’t many common names for but it can sometimes be called e. faecium,  enterococcus faecium fermentation product, or spelled differently (e.g. enterocococcus faecieum). It was formerly called “streptococcus faecium” before it was renamed in 1984 due to a change in classification.


Why is enterococcus faecium included in dog food?

Enterococcus faecium and probiotics in general are added to dog food as a digestive aid and to increase the number of healthy bacteria in the stomach which may provide health benefits.

Is enterococcus faecium are commonly used ingredient in dog food?

The use of probiotics in dog food is becoming more common.  We searched our food database for “enterococcus faecium” and found it in 13.7% of all dog foods.  A broader search on “enterococcus” matched in 14.4 % of the dog food ingredient lists.


Common benefits or risks of enterococcus faecium

Enterococcus faecium (and probiotics generally) are purported to provide several benefits to a dog including aiding digestion and helping to maintain a healthy mix of bacteria in the stomach (which can be helpful when switching diets or after anti-biotic treatment).  Probiotics are often used to treat dogs with inflammatory digestive diseases, to counteract stress related stomach disorders, and to treat diarrhea.

Enterococcus faecium is one ‘bad ass’ bacterium , can live in a multitude of environments and temperatures, and is among the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections in the United States and Europe, partly due to its ability to build resistance to anti-biotic drug treatments.


Miscellaneous facts about enterococcus faecium

The research on the efficacy of enterococcus faecium as a dog food supplemental ingredient is somewhat mixed.

Some studies suggest that it is not appropriate as a probiotic at all.


Sources and further reading

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  1. Interesting. We have tried a few pro-biotic supplements with Thunder. After he bloated, we could not keep weight on him. We felt he was not digesting the food properly (not uncommon with dogs that survived bloat). There is a drug many dogs who bloat need for the rest of their lives, but we did not want to use it if we could find a more natural way. None of the pro-biotics really helped. We ended up trying yogurt and that worked. His food is listed in that first article as being a pro-biotic food, but it was not enough.
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  2. interesting, we supplement in the clinic with a probiotic fortiflora didn’t realize the name of the stuff in food.

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