The Health Benefits Of Probiotics For Dogs & CatsLarry Kay
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Join us on this five part journey to good gut health for your cats and dogs
Oscar & Felixx Give You the Straight Poop on Probiotics (Part 1)
Oscar & Felixx Present: Probiotics 101
Hi there! I’m Mom. Well, I am to my two fur-babies: Oscar, a goofy, floppy-eared pup, and his brother Felixx, the orange cat who keeps Oscar in line. Say hello, boys.
Oscar <wagging>: “Hi everyone! It’s nice to meet you.”
Felixx <yawning>: “Oh, please. I’m napping.”
Don’t mind Felixx. He’ll warm up after a while. Anyway, I adopted both my boys from a local shelter, and they’ve taught me a lot about pet health, starting with Oscar’s explosive diarrhea. All. Over. The. Bedroom. It wasn’t just gross, it was terrifying. I thought for sure he was going to die.
Luckily, we have a great veterinarian, and she suggested a supplement that had Oscar feeling better in a surprisingly short time: pet probiotics. Oh, it wasn’t a magical solution, and I made a few mistakes along the way, but it turns out that the key to a healthy pet is a healthy gut – just as it is for us humans.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard about probiotics – you can’t sign into social media or turn on the TV without seeing advertisements. But there’s not a lot of education about what they are and how they work. So, let’s do a little Probiotics 101.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the intestinal tract and help fight other types of bad, illness-causing bacteria. If you break it down, the word pro-biotic means “favoring life” or “good for living things.” People take probiotics for a variety of reasons, from weight loss to relieving occasional diarrhea to managing more serious issues like Crohn’s Disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That’s good, right?
Although probiotics are naturally produced by the body, the stresses of modern life and our way of eating make it hard for our bodies to stay in balance. That’s not so good, since recent research tells us that 70-90% of our immune system is found in our guts. In fact, probiotics keep our immune system functioning and help us to fight off all kinds of illness. So, to help combat imbalances, people take probiotics.
If you read labels at the grocery store, you might see probiotics mentioned on several different foods, especially dairy products like yogurt and kefir (a kind of fermented milk product). They’re often listed as “active cultures” or “live cultures.” The word culture refers to how probiotics are produced: They’re grown, or cultivated, much as larger organisms like the fruits and vegetables we eat are grown.
We’ll talk about why the probiotics in the foods you buy at the supermarket don’t have much impact on your health (or your pet’s health) in a later post, so watch for it!
Why Probiotics Matter to Your Dog Or Your Cat
Our furry companions also benefit from probiotics, much in the same way we do. Believe it or not, they also live modern lives with many of the same stresses and dietary deficiencies we deal with. Even when we feed them the best food we can and give them plenty of exercise and play and love, it’s not the same as if they were living in balance with nature the way their wild ancestors did.
As it turns out, even adopting a dog (or cat) and giving them a loving home can cause them stress. Changes in their environment and food, even if they’re pleasant, can sometimes lead to imbalances in their bodies that cause all kinds of ominous-seeming symptoms like vomiting and itching – and Oscar’s explosive diarrhea. Longer-term imbalances can result in things like:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Gastrointestinal infections or parasites
- Food allergies
- Skin and coat issues
- Chronic gas and bloating
- Dental issues, such as gingivitis
Giving your pet a high-quality probiotic (as well as making some dietary and lifestyle changes) can help manage, reduce, or even eliminate some of these issues. Even if they don’t have health issues, you can help your pets maintain their healthy guts with probiotics.
However, our pets have different needs than we do, so a few manufacturers have produced probiotics specifically for them. We’ll talk in a later post about how to select a probiotic for your pet.
I hope you found this little talk helpful. The boys and I will be back here soon with a short, specific list of how your dog (or cat!) can benefit from probiotics and how to choose a probiotic.
See you soon!
Oscar: “That was really nice. But I can’t believe Mom remembers my…uh…’incident.’ I mean, that was years ago!”
Felixx: “Didn’t she have to repaint that room?”
Felixx: “Pretty memorable, I’d say. And I think there was more than a single ‘incident.’”
Oscar: “*sigh* I guess you’re right. You know, it’s great being adopted and all, but it’s sure hard on the system. I mean, remember you and the green goo?”
Felixx: “Ahem! We pledged never to speak of that. The good news is that, after probiotics worked so well for you, she found a formulation for me, too.”
Oscar: “Mom’s smart.”
Felixx: “For a human. Now quit talking. You move around when you talk, and I have to keep repositioning myself so I don’t fall off your back.”
Oscar: “Isn’t there a cushion or something you could nap on?”
Felixx: “You’re moving again.”
Oscar and Feilxx are spokespets for Humarian, makers of Probonix, a liquid probiotic specially formulated for your fur babies.