Should You Give Your Dog or Cat Probiotics?
How To Choose The Best Probiotic For Your Pet
Probiotics are live microorganisms, often referred to as "friendly bacteria" that promote a healthy digestive tract and immune system. Cats and dogs have billions of them in their digestive tracts. The word probiotic means "for life". Probiotics fight off pathogens such as bad bacteria, fungus and viruses. They are essential for your pet's good health.
Your dog or cat has natural flora bacteria living in their mouth, respiratory tract, on the skin surface and in the GI tract. These friendly bacteria help to break down food, absorb nutrients and fight off infections. The balance of good and bad bacteria can be disrupted by stress, aging, infections, medications, or diet changes. Supplementing with probiotics can help to prevent digestive upset and maintain a healthy immune response.
Three Reasons Why Every Pet Needs Probiotics
Probiotics support immune health - While probiotics reside in different parts of your pet's body such as the mouth, skin and sinus cavity, the majority reside in their intestinal tract. Your pet's gut contains a community of micro-organisms (known as the microbiome) which include good and bad bacteria, viruses and fungi (e.g. yeast) that must live in balance. When there is an imbalance, for example: too much bad bad bacteria in relation to the friendly bacteria can create "dysbiosis" along with symptoms such as digestive upset or a weakened immune system. Similarly, an overgrowth of yeast can cause pets to have a yeast infection. Probiotics benefit cats and dogs by making it harder for harmful bacteria, viruses and yeast to grow.
Probiotics replenish the friendly flora that your pet may have lost due to taking antibiotics or steroids - Sometimes, cats and dogs need prescription medications to help with infection, illness or inflammation. Probiotics can help rebalance the good bacteria that antibiotics and steroids can kill when destroying bad bacteria. Probiotics, when given away from prescription medications, may help to prevent some common side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting or gas.
Probiotics promote healthy digestion and can relieve tummy problems - Stomach problems in cats and dogs can stem from food allergies, diet changes, or stress. Research shows that probiotics can help pets with diarrhea, allergies, constipation and gas. Giving probiotics to cats and dogs with chronic GI conditions, like IBD or pancreatitis, can help to replenish healthy gut bacteria and reduce inflammation through the digestive tract. When your pet’s tummy is healthy, they are less likely to exhibit behaviors such as depression, anxiety, excessive grooming, or aggression.
How To Choose The Best Pet Probiotic
Now that we’ve covered why pets need probiotics… how do you choose one? There are so many pet products currently on the market and they are not all created equal.
Here are five things that you should look for when selecting a probiotic for your pet:
The Manufacturing Process - When you choose vitamins and supplements for yourself, you check to see where and how the products are made and tested. The same criteria should hold true for your pet’s supplements. Look for a product that is manufactured under GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) standards. This ensures that quality standards are in place from the sourcing of the raw materials, through the manufacturing process and with final analytical testing of the finished product for potency and purity.
Colony Forming Units (CFU) & Ability To Survive Stomach Acid - Many pet probiotics are inferior quality and easily killed by heat, air and moisture. Certain probiotic strains, like Lactobacillus Plantarum, Bifidobacterium Longum and Bacillus coagulans, are more likely to survive heat and stomach acid. In order for your pet to benefit from probiotics, they must remain viable through the GI tract. The measurement of colony forming units (CFU) tells you the amount of live and active microorganisms in each serving of the probiotic. A higher CFU can help to ensure the probiotics get where they need to be.
Multiple Strains of Beneficial Bacteria - It is important to have a diverse blend of bacteria, as different strains do different things. Some strains live in the mucus membranes and others flourish in the intestines. A few of the most beneficial bacteria strains for use in pet probiotics are:
Contains Prebiotics - Prebiotics are essentially food for probiotics. They are a type of plant fiber that feeds the “good” probiotic bacteria to ensure they can survive a pet's acidic digestive system. Prebiotics, such as inulin, occur naturally in fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, like sweet potatoes, asparagus, carrots, green beans, berries, and Jerusalem artichoke. Choosing a supplement that contains inulin will provide the proper symbiotic environment for the pre- and pro-biotics to ensure the supplement is highly effective.
Doesn’t Contain Fillers - A good pet probiotic does not need to contain chemicals, colorings, preservatives and sweeteners. You are giving them to your cat or dog to improve their health. Ingredients such as dye, cane sugar, flour, or tapioca starch can all be linked to food allergies and may lead to long-term health risks such as cancer. Fillers, preservatives and flavors may be added to extend shelf life or make the product more appealing, but they aren’t necessary. Choose a probiotic that is safe, pure and natural.
- Lactobacillus. These bacteria help to break down sugars, prevent yeast overgrowth, increase nutrient absorption and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Lactobacillus acidophilus is the most researched bacteria found in pet probiotics. Other species to look for are Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus salivarius and Lactobacillus casei. These are found in the intestines and mucus membranes and are especially helpful for diarrhea and IBD.
- Bifidobacterium. These bacteria live throughout the intestines. They provide immune support and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Research has shown that Bifidobacterium longum can help reduce signs of stress in dogs and is beneficial for pets with diarrhea and food allergies.
- Bacilli. These soil-based strains of bacteria are spore-forming, which means that they are able to protect themselves from heat, antibiotics and stomach acids to successfully balance out bad bacteria. Bacillus coagulans has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it excellent for pets with inflammatory digestive diseases.
Ask Ariel's Power Probiotic For Pets
Power Probiotic is the best probiotic for pets. Backed by scientific research, this powerful multi-strain probiotic supplement for cats and dogs contains many strains of beneficial bacteria which are live, viable organisms. Includes prebiotic fibers to help feed the "good" probiotic bacteria to ensure they can survive a pet's acidic digestive system. All-natural probiotics are not alike. The difference is in the manufacturing process. Power Probiotic is specially formulated to include probiotic strains that are more likely to survive heat and stomach acid. Many veterinary sites have published guides on what to look for in probiotics for dogs and cats[1,2]. Power Probiotic meets or exceeds all of the suggested criteria for quality and potency. Contains no fillers, GMP certified - Made in the USA. Power Probiotic is safe, pure and natural.