Who doesn’t want their pet to live its happiest, healthiest life? Giving your pet probiotics can help it do exactly that by boosting its gut health and fortifying its immune system. In fact, veterinarians regularly prescribe probiotics to their furry clients for ailments ranging from diarrhea to chronic halitosis. What do you need to know about probiotics for your four-legged friend? We’ll break it down.
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Benefits of Probiotics for Pets
If you take probiotics for your own digestive health, you’re likely familiar with some of their benefits. Like humans, pets can also greatly benefit from a balanced gut microbiome and a healthier digestive system. However, you might be surprised just how much your pet stands to benefit from taking probiotics! Here are a few advantages:
- Alleviate diarrhea. Probiotics are often prescribed for pets who struggle with gastrointestinal issues and diarrhea. Dogs that have been given probiotics regularly are shown to have less diarrhea issues.
- Manage GI disease. Gastrointestinal diseases aren’t uncommon in cats or dogs. Probiotics can help manage GI disease by aiding the digestion of foods and restoring the GI florato overrun bad bacteria.
- Improve mood and behavior. If you’re struggling with an anxious dog or cat, probiotics may help decrease stress behaviors. Research has long since confirmed the link between the gut and the brain (known as the gut-brain axis), and the same holds true for your furry friend!
- Enhances immune function. Certain strains of probiotics have been shown to help dogs and cats fight off diseases.
These are just a few of the many benefits of probiotics for pets. Although research on pet probiotics is still somewhat scarce, veterinarians continue to prescribe them to help manage their weight, treat gastrointestinal diseases, alleviate allergies and reduce parasitic infections.
Choosing a Probiotic Supplement for Your Pet
With all the benefits of probiotics for your pet, you may be tempted to slip your dog the same probiotic supplement that you take for your own digestive health. Before you do, just be aware that probiotics come in many different bacteria strains, and they each do different things.
The best probiotics for both people and pets contain multiple strains of bacteria (aka, multispecies probiotics) because they can target various problem areas within the gut. Aim for around five or six strains to hit the sweet spot and achieve improved results for your pet.
Which Strains Are Best for My Pet?
For people with gastrointestinal issues, the probiotic strains to look out for might include lactobacillus plantarum and bifidobacterium lactic fermentum — both of which can benefit your pup as well. Still, you may want to choose a pet-specific probiotic that contains enterococcus faecium and/or bacillus coagulans, which have both been shown to improve gut flora in cats and dogs. Here are some additional strains that your pet may benefit from:
- Bifidobacterium animalis. A strain of bacteria that is ideal for healthy digestion and stool quality. Studies show that this strain is beneficial for dogs suffering from acute diarrhea.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus. A strain found in both dogs and humans. It protects the digestive tract and may also improve stool quality.
- Bifidobacterium longum. A rod-shaped bacterium that can enhance immune system function and reduce inflammation.
- Bifidobacterium bifidum. A common strain of bacteria that promotes a healthy balance of gut flora and may improve immunity.
- Lactobacillus casei. Most beneficial when paired with other strains, it works with others to boost the growth of good bacteria in your dog’s gut.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Often found in high amounts in healthy canines, this strain is helpful for reducing bad bacteria in the gut to promote a healthy microbiome.
No matter which probiotic supplement you choose, be sure to buy it from a credible probiotics manufacturer working in a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified facility.
Tips for Giving Your Pet Probiotics
Many well-intentioned pet owners try to give their furry companions probiotics without doing their research first. This can result in your pet not getting the best digestive health benefits possible. Not to mention that it’s money right out your dog’s backside! To ensure that your pet gets the maximum health benefits, here are a few quick tips:
- Avoid canned foods containing probiotics. Probiotics can’t survive in canned or heat-treated foods. Stick to buying probiotics in powders, capsules, and packets instead.
- Give probiotics with meals. Probiotics are best given during mealtimes to lower the potential for gastrointestinal upset. Try getting them in powder form so you can dampen their food and sprinkle probiotics on top for easy consumption.
- Read the instructions carefully. Some probiotics are stable at room temperature, while others must be refrigerated after opening. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that you store your probiotics properly and give your pet the right dosage.
- Monitor your dog for side effects. Similar to humans, dogs and cats can experience unwanted side effects from probiotics. Watch them carefully and note any discomfort such as abdominal pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea.
- Consider adding a prebiotic. To reap the maximum health benefits, consider adding a prebiotic to your dog’s health regimen. Prebiotics feed the microflora to promote healthy bacteria in the gut, essentially giving your dog’s probiotics a boost.
- Use high-quality food. Preservatives and artificial ingredients in your pet’s food can negatively affect the beneficial flora in the body. Feed them a high-quality food without fillers. Just remember to make the transition gradual to avoid upsetting their stomach.
Optimizing Your Pet’s Health with Probiotics
You already know that probiotics can benefit people in many ways. Why not extend these benefits to your pets? From alleviating illnesses to disease prevention, giving your dog or cat probiotics can help restore good bacteria in their bodies to keep them looking and feeling their best for years to come. Just remember to pay attention to how your pet reacts to the different strains and products. This will help you determine the best probiotic that meets the needs of your pet. With a little research, you can make an informed decision for your furry friend to help optimize and improve their digestive health.
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