PROBIOTICS FOR DOGS AND CATS
Written by Momma Becker, Creator and Owner
Your dog and cat’s digestive tract is the largest immune organ its body and contains more intestinal bacteria than yours or mine! There are, however, critical factors that can disrupt the ratio of good-to-bad bacteria in our pet’s body. Thankfully we can help insure a healthy population of bacteria in our pet’s GI system by providing them with probiotics.
Probiotics are beneficial strains of live microorganisms that help maintain healthy levels of gut-friendly bacteria in our pet’s digestive tract, preventing pathogenic bacteria from taking over.
Let’s look first at some of the disruptors of this healthy ratio of good-to-bad bacteria: a biologically inappropriate diet or genetically engineered foods, vaccinations, emotional stress from changes in their routines or environment, all the nonfood stuff they sometimes eat, contaminated water, sudden change in diet and GI disease, to name a few.
Why does this matter? It matters immensely for our pet’s digestion, nutrient absorption, vitamin synthesis and toxin removal… for their basic health. And fortunately for us, both holistic and conventional veterinarians use probiotic therapy to help ease diarrhea, allergies and high cholesterol levels.
So the question becomes “What is the best probiotic for my pet?” This is a very important question to ask because not all probiotics are created equal. A study in the Canadian Veterinary Journal shows that out of 25 commercial pet probiotics, only four met the expected bacterial numbers listed in their label, while only two brands accurately described their contents.
My daughter, Dr. Karen Becker, suggests that when looking for the best pet probiotics, for both dog and cat, to consider three factors:
- The number of beneficial bacterial strains that your pet needs. A probiotic that provides 10 or more strains of bacteria that are beneficial for pets, promotes optimal health.
- The amount of good bacteria that a product provides per gram-every scoop should have at least 20 million beneficial bacteria to adequately colonize the intestines. This is referred to as Colony-Forming Units or CFU.
- The viability, potency and purity of the pet probiotic-choose a product that meets or exceeds the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). This will ensure its safety, potency and is not contaminated.
Pet probiotic supplements come in pill form, easily opened or crushed into a powder. Another form of probiotics is fermented food, which you can make at home or buy in a grocery store. My daughter and I demonstrated making a fermented vegetable that shows you how really easy it is to make your own. You can find this on Mama Becker’s Facebook page. Simply scroll down to the demonstration.
Fermented veggies are simple to make, easier to buy. They contain a wide variety of beneficial bacteria, potent chelators and detoxifiers, vitamins and minerals. When adding fermented veggies into your pet’s meals, start with very small amounts, gradually increasing by a teaspoon or two per day. Feeding too many fermented veggies all at once may cause GI upset. Start slowly to allow your pet’s digestive system to adapt.
Kefir is another source for probiotics you can either make or buy. Add 1-3 teaspoons of kefir to your pet’s food once or twice a day. This beverage contains 10-20 strains of probiotics and is one of the best and least expensive ways to up their probiotic intake.
Grass fed plain yogurt is an excellent source of beneficial probiotics, providing calcium, B vitamins and cancer-fighting conjugated linoleum acid (CLA). If you make it, use a starter culture and raw grass fed milk. If you purchase, choose organic, unflavored and made from pastured milk.
Are there any risks or side effects of pet probiotics? Typically probiotic supplements do not have any severe negative effects in pets.
- there is a difference between probiotics and prebiotics.
- always choose a probiotic formulated for pets not humans.
- it may take several days before you see noticeable results, even though the probiotic starts to work repopulating good bacteria as soon as it enters your pet’s gut.
My daughter, the vet, had a dream: make a probiotic treat for our pets. My son, the baker, did it! Dr. Becker’s Bites is happy to offer you our Biome Bites, a treat infused with bioactive probiotics delivering 1 billion CFUs of beneficial bacteria in each treat. Our treat can be taken with antibiotics and helps to support digestive and immune health.
If you are interested in research and more in-depth information on probiotics, I refer you to my daughter’s article, Probiotics for Dogs and Cats.