Probiotics offer many benefits to dogs & cats and are a great addition to their diet.
1. Improves Intestinal Health
Probiotics are healthy microorganisms that have a beneficial effect on the body. The intestinal tract normally contains billions of “healthy” bacteria or microflora. During times of stress, disease, use of antibiotics, dietary changes or other causes, these bacteria can change leading to an unhealthy or depleted microflora. The most common symptoms of unhealthy bacteria in the gut are diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. Probiotics can repopulate the gut with “good” bacteria leading to improved intestinal health.
2. Decreases Side Effects of Antibiotics
Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria. When your pet takes an antibiotic it should have positive effects in fending off an infection. All antibiotics, however, also kill off the “good” bacteria in the gut and this is a common cause of diarrhea and other gastrointestinal side effects of antibiotics. If you know your pet will be taking an antibiotic, start giving a probiotic right away and you may be able to prevent these side effects.
3. Provides a Natural Alternative Treatment for Diarrhea
There are many causes for diarrhea, including stress, travel, changes in diet, and various illnesses. Probiotics help maintain healthy populations of microflora that can help prevent diarrhea. In addition, at higher doses, probiotics can be an effective treatment for many types of diarrhea without the need for pharmaceutical drugs or other interventions.
4. Improves Body’s Immune System
Probiotics help in the production of Vitamin K and Vitamin B. They also produce short chain fatty acids and protect against pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Probiotics have a strong effect in improving the local intestinal immune system and this translates to overall improved immunity for the body. The gut is the first level of defense against diseases and other pathogens that are swallowed. Improving the gut’s immune system has been shown to decrease the incidence of allergies, chronic respiratory disorders, and other illnesses.
5. Helps Treat Many Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders
Many dogs and cats with chronic intestinal disorders such as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), colitis, bacterial gastroenteritis, and other intestinal disorders can benefit tremendously from daily probiotics.
Note - some immune compromised patients should not take probiotics. Be sure to check with your veterinarian first prior to starting probiotics with your pet.
Leilani Alvarez, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVCHM is an integrative veterinarian, utilizing both conventional and holistic modalities and is employed at the renowned Animal Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Alvarez is the director of The Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation & Fitness Service at NYC’s Animal Medical Center. She practices Integrative Medicine, which includes therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy and physical rehabilitation, which help to increase the overall health of a patient and can often increase the success of conventional treatments.