What are Pet Probiotics and are they Good for Your Dogs and Cats?
If you’re a pet parent you may have noticed recently that pet probiotics have become the latest trend for pets, particularly dogs and cats. A quick Google or Amazon search will show that there is a good selection on offer.
So how do you choose? First, is a pet probiotic supplement for your dog or cat a good idea? Second, which products can you trust?
It isn’t really whether they’re sick right now that should be the deciding factor though, but whether you need to protect them against getting sick in the future.
What can affect your dog’s or cat’s health?
Just like the human gut, the digestive tracts of our dogs and cats contain billions of bacteria which plays a part in their overall health. If the balance of those bacteria is upset or wiped out then our pets are going to suffer and their immune system will be compromised.
Imbalances in the bacterial content of our pet’s gut can occur for a number of reasons. For instance, the modern pet diet can have a detrimental affect on their health, just like a lot of our modern processed food can affect us humans. Processed foods can remove some of the essential ‘good’ bacteria in their stomachs weakening the immune system and leading to a variety of health problems.
Dogs are known to eat almost anything and if we don’t control what enters their digestive system we can’t know what effect it will have. Cats are born hunters and even if the worst prey they kill is a common fly, again we don’t know what disease that fly will carry and the effect it will have on the cat’s health.
What are the general signs of illness to look for?
Although cats and dogs may display different symptoms there will be some areas of similarity.
For instance, either of them could suffer from the following:
- Diarrhea and loose stools
- The after-effects of antibiotic doses
- Food allergies
- Bacterial imbalance
- Excessive yeast build up
- Weakened immune system
If you recognize any of these symptoms a check with your veterinarian may be advisable. It’s quite possible that any of these conditions could result from an imbalance of microorganisms in the animal’s gut resulting in an inability to properly digest food and to convert from it the nutrition necessary to support a healthy immune system.
Why would your cat or dog need a pet probiotic supplement?
When we consider that the optimum operation of the immune system in humans, dogs and cats is associated with the gut then it isn’t too hard to imagine that a lowering in your immunity and that of your pet might be attributable to a problem in the gut and the live microorganisms that live there.
If your pet displays any of the symptoms above then a probiotic supplement may be the way to address the imbalance of healthy microorganisms and get your furry friend back to full health.
Probiotics in the form of supplements are living organisms, just like the ones in your dogs and cats gut. Cats and dogs have similar digestive systems, although cats have smaller stomachs with shorter digestive tracts than dogs, they both process the food they eat as it passes through their stomachs. If the good microorganisms in the gut are compromised in any way then nutrition will not be extracted from food and the immune system will break down possibly leading to one of those conditions listed earlier.
A good pet probiotic supplement will help enhance digestion, remove toxins and kill off the disease-causing ‘bad’ bacteria. That’s as good a reason as any to give your pet a probiotic supplement on a daily basis to help them maintain optimum health.
When is the right time to start your pet on probiotics?
Certainly if they have any of the complaints listed above then probably the sooner the better. Otherwise, for the sake of your dog’s or cat’s ongoing good health it would be wise to consider starting a daily program in the near future, but before you make any decision, read on.
What pet probiotics can you trust?
There are a variety of dog and cat specific probiotic supplements available as well as those which suit both dogs and cats. But beware, some probiotics are of inferior quality and will lose their beneficial properties before they reach your pet’s intestine and will be of little value. Other probiotics may be designed for humans but sold as pet specific products and will not be suitable for your pet.
There are a few simple pointers to look out for:
- Look for pet probiotics which come in a dry, stabilized state which does not require refrigeration. When the pet probiotic enters the dog’s or cat’s digestive system the probiotic material will be brought back to life in your pet’s stomach as it comes into contact with digestive juices and will be carried through to the intestines where it will multiply to provide good bacteria to support the animal’s immune system health.
- Look on the label for the number of strains of bacteria included in the probiotic mix. More than 8 strains could possibly be harmful and less than 3 are not likely to be of much value.
- Look for pet probiotics with CFU (Colony Forming Unit) ratings. Any container worth buying will have the CFUs quoted in billions rather than millions. Any product with even hundreds of millions quoted is not as powerful as your pet needs. Any products with CFUs shown as 50-60 billion is probably overkill and you’d be wasting your money.
- Look at the reviews left by previous buyers of the product. If the pet parent didn’t think it worked for their dog or cat they’ll soon tell you.
If you are the proud pet parent of a dog or cat who is in great health, or especially if they are not in the best of health, get online now and look for the right product for your pet.