Probiotics and prebiotics have gained momentum and popularity in recent years in human medicine, and these trends have also infused the animal world. With many options available, it’s difficult to know what to look for in a digestive supplement. We’ll walk you through a little background information on probiotics and prebiotics for dogs and cats and go over a few important ingredients and features to look for.
What are Probiotics and Prebiotics?
Probiotics are live, good bacteria which help the host animal heal or stay healthy by controlling the microbial balance of its gut. They improve gut health by fighting and outcompeting bad bacteria; if enough good bacteria populate the intestine the bad bacteria have nowhere to live!
Prebiotics are carbohydrates, often food or dietary supplements, which feed the probiotics. Bad bacteria are unable to use these nutrients, but they provide valuable support to probiotics and good bacteria already living in the gut.
What Do Probiotics Do For Dogs?
Probiotics and prebiotics work together to provide support for a variety of gastrointestinal upsets. The gastrointestinal (GI) system, which includes the stomach and small and large intestines, is an important component of the immune system. Usually stomach acid and immune defenses kill bad bacteria before it gets into the intestines, but sometimes these bad bacteria get through and cause a variety of GI problems.
These can come from changes in diet or environment and from infectious pathogens and parasites. Additionally, emotional or physical stress, as well as antibiotic treatment alone or in combination, can lead to the growth of bad bacteria. Recurrent diarrhea is a common problem stemming from these sources.
What Probiotics are Good For Dogs?
Synbiotics are supplements which combine with the bad-bacteria-fighting power of probiotics with the nourishing benefits of prebiotics. While feeding a probiotic and a prebiotic together also works, a synbiotic provides the same important benefits in a single, easy-to-dose product.
It’s also important to find a prebiotic/probiotic or synbiotic which can bypass stomach acid. The stomach is a vital component of the immune system, protecting animals from many of the pathogens they take in. However, this means that the stomach can destroy good bacteria we give as well. Double check your supplement to make sure that it can get past the stomach to the intestines and serve its beneficial purpose!
Ingredients to Look For
Enterococcus faecium for dogs
- Very durable lactic acid-producing bacteria
- Able to attach to and colonize in the GI tract
- Quickly regenerates – two times every 17 to 19 minutes
- Produces by-products that are anti-microbial to pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella
- Provides measurable performance outcomes
Lactobacillus acidophilus for dogs
- Most well-known strain of lactic acid-producing bacteria
- Recognized worldwide
- Best of the lactic acid strains to use as a probiotic
- Regenerates more slowly – two times every 50 minutes
Beta glucan mannan oligosaccharides (bgmos®)
- A prebiotic which fuels beneficial GI microflora
- Encourages the growth of normal GI microflora as well as lactic acid-producing probiotic strains
- Pathogenic bacteria cannot use bgmos as an energy source
- Binds to pathogenic bacteria to remove them from the GI tract
- Improves fecal consistency and reduces fecal ammonia, which also results in a reduction of fecal odor
Maltodextrin for dogs
- Carbohydrate source of energy for beneficial bacteria to grow and proliferate
Garlic Extract for dogs
- Natural ingredient
- Excellent antioxidant for preventing oxidative damage to the host animal’s cells
- Improves flavor, providing a perfect solution for picky dogs and cats
Doc Roy’s® GI Synbiotics brings these beneficial features and ingredients together in easy-to-dose granules or gel. The granules are great for mixing with a cat or dog’s food, and the gel can be administered orally by swiping the recommended dosage on the back of the cat or dog’s tongue.
Breeder’s Edge® Nurture Flora™ is a probiotic specifically designed for newborn puppies and kittens. Nurture Flora contains the 4 strains of live (viable) beneficial bacteria puppies and kittens need to support good gut health, prevent digestive upset and promote a healthy immune system to create a thriving environment for healthy gut flora.
Understanding how and when probiotics for dogs and cats are useful will help you decide whether they are the best solution for your animal.
If you have more questions on probiotics for dogs, call us at 800.786.4751.
The Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs and Cats
What does a probiotic do for a dog? Do probiotics work for dogs and cats during a stressful situation? Learn about the benefits of probiotics for dogs and cats.
Treating Diarrhea in Newborn Puppies or Kittens
Diarrhea in newborn puppies or kittens isn't always normal and can cause concern. Learn the possible causes of diarrhea in puppies and kittens and treatments.
Diarrhea in Dogs
What can I give my dog for diarrhea? Diarrhea in dogs is not always life-threatening, but it can become fatal if it's left untreated. Learn how to treat diarrhea in dogs.
4 Causes of Kitten Diarrhea
Why does my kitten have diarrhea? What causes diarrhea in cats and what can you do to stop it? Learn the top causes of kitten diarrhea and discover the best ways to treat it.
Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.