Animal probiotics? Are these new to you?
Perhaps you have already come across probiotics for dogs, cats and even horses. You may be wondering what the logic is behind giving animal probiotics. Why do this?
Well, just as they are very helpful to humans, probiotics can also be useful to our four-legged friends. Just like us, dogs, cats and other mammals have a digestive tract that contains billions of microorganisms. Like us, our animals need a vigorous community of friendly bacteria in order to keep the less helpful digestive microorganisms in check and maintain a balanced digestive flora.
Benefits of Probiotics for Pets
Probiotics for dogs, cats and horses are increasingly recommended by many veterinarians to keep animals healthy. They are often used to restore the balance of the digestive micro-flora in situations where it has been disturbed, thereby returning the animal to its normal nutrition, growth and health status1. Circumstances in which probiotics are often administered to animals include:
- Managing gasteroenteric disease (gut infections, vomiting, diarrhea).
- Resolving diarrhea following antibiotic therapy.
- Reducing the effects of stress.
- Maintaining health in old age, when the numbers of friendly bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tract typically decrease.
- Improving nutritional inadequacies.
- Assisting transition to a change in diet.
- Following surgery as part as the post-operative care plan.
As well as being useful in these specific, and often acute medical scenarios, probiotics are also thought to be helpful to the general health and well being of warm-blooded animals2. Just as they help humans, the use of probiotics is thought to assist animals by3:
- Increasing natural resistance to infectious disease in the gastro-intestinal tract by means of competitive exclusion and reduction of gut pH. A lower colonic pH creates a more acidic environment which is less favorable to pathogens.
- Optimizing the digestive process by producing enzymes, B and K vitamins and synthesizing amino acids, allowing the animal to gain maximum nutritional benefit from food.
- Stimulating the immune system.
Types of Probiotics for Dogs, Cats, and Horses
Animal probiotics are most commonly available as supplements. Since animals are not always keen on taking their medication, probiotics for dogs, cats and horses come in a range of handy forms, so you can choose the delivery method that suits your animal best. These include:
- Pastes and gels, which can easily be mixed with food or placed directly into the animal’s mouth.
- Powders, which can be mixed into or sprinkled on foods.
- Liquids, which are often available in pump sprays with measured doses.
Pet food manufacturers are also increasingly adding probiotics to their products. Additionally, some companies also manufacture special probiotic "treats" for pets.
Where Can I Buy Pet Probiotics?
Your first stop for animal probiotics is your local veterinarian, who most often will stock suitable products. Should this not be the case, your veterinarian will most probably be able to order them in for you. You may also be able to gain valuable advice on the best probiotic for your animal, as well as dosage guidelines, from your local animal health center.
You can also buy probiotics for dogs, cats and horses both at your local and on-line pet stores.
Pet foods containing probiotics are also easily available at your local grocery and pet stores.
Where Can I Find Further Information?
If you feel you would like to learn more about probiotics for specific animals including, dogs, cats and horses, have a look at our dedicated pages on
feline probiotics and horse probiotics. Please also be sure to ask you local veterinarian for further information.
If you do decide to give your pet probiotics, be sure to check with your veterinarian that the product is suitable for your particular animal and circumstances. Be aware that just in like humans, too great a quantity of probiotics too soon can cause problems for your animal. Remember our advice: start with a small quantity and ramp up slowly!
Finally, to ensure you buy only quality products, follow our general probiotic
2.The Use of Probiotics in Veterinary Medicine; Source:220.127.116.11/public/files/ProtexinVeterinary-MPonting.pdf; Protexin.