Probiotics for cats and dogs (yes, really!)
Probiotics have burst onto the wellness scene to help improve everything from our digestive health to skin and mood. Millions of us take probiotic supplements to boost our microbiome – the trillions of beneficial bacteria (and other microbes) that live in and on our bodies.
But did you know that cats and dogs have a microbiome? And like us humans, these microbes are in constant communication with the brain and rest of their bodies – affecting the well-being and mental health of our furry friends!
Let’s delve deeper into the health of our pets – and their gut microbiomes!
Do dogs and cats really have a microbiome?
Yes, dogs and cats have a microbiome. Their gastrointestinal tract is home to a huge number of microbes that makes a difference to their health. In fact, the gut microbiome is essential for the health of all animals (mammals).
Changes to the microbiome is linked to various gastrointestinal and other illnesses.
Like humans, do dogs and cats have a gut-brain axis?
The gut-brain axis is the term used for the communication network that connects our gut and brain. These two organs are connected in a number of different ways, both physically (through the vagus nerve) and biochemically (e.g. via hormones and other molecules produced by gut bacteria).
And cats and dogs have a gut-brain axis, just like us!
I was amazed to realize this but of course it makes perfect sense; their guts and brains will have evolved to co-exist and communicate exactly like ours.
What are probiotics for cats and dogs?
Probiotics are live microbes, typically bacteria and yeast, that can help improve the gut microbiome in cats and dogs.
Probiotics may be especially beneficial when there is suspicion the usual gut bacteria have been altered (think changes in digestion).
NOTE: Whether to use a probiotic, and which one(s), must be discussed with the clinician in charge of your pet.
Are probiotics good for cats and dogs?
Both in human and pets, probiotics may have beneficial effects on health, such as the immune system. The use of probiotics in livestock is broadly spread, whereas in probiotics pet nutrition is a rapidly developing field.
NOTE: Whether to use a probiotic, and which one(s), should be discussed with the clinician in charge of your pet.
Can probiotics help with my cat’s digestion?
Probiotics can help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria and other microbes in your cat’s tummy, by out-competing ‘bad’ bacteria.
One study found that: “the use of a multi-strain probiotic in healthy, short-haired domestic cats can promote gut health by modulating gut microbes, improving microbe-derived SCFA molecule production, reducing inflammatory conditions, and improving antioxidant status. These results provide new insights for further exploration of the role of probiotics in the gut microbiome of cats”.
Probiotics may help beneficial bacteria and microbes thrive by creating the right environment e.g. by decreasing the pH in the gut. his can help improve your cats digestive health.
Can probiotics help with my dog’s digestion?
Probiotics are friendly bacteria and other microbes that may be helpful for some dogs. In fact, billions of probiotic bacteria are naturally found in your dog’s gut, where they help with digestion, making vitamins, support your dogs immune system and more.
Increasingly, probiotics are being added to dog foods and they are also available as supplements.
Probiotics come in several forms, including:
- Soft treats with added probiotics
- Food with added probiotics
- Yogurt or kefir with live probiotic cultures
NB! Talk to your vet about which probiotic is best for your beloved furry friend!
What are the best probiotics for dogs?
Not surprisingly, the selection of probiotics for dogs is not as extensive as the plethora of probiotic supplements available to their humans.
The Purina PRO PLAN® FortiFlora Probiotic Dog Supplement has been extensively studied, and contains a guaranteed level of their unique probiotic Enterococcus faecium SF68®, and according to the label and studies this supplement:
- Supports intestinal health
- Promotes strong immunity
- Contains 500 million CFUs / gram*
*CFU stands for Colony-Forming Unit, which is a unit of measurement used in microbiology to estimate the number of viable microbial cells in a sample
This Purina FortiFlora probiotic gets a 4.7 rating on Amazon.
I have tried the cat version which is great!
There are other brands available for dogs, however I wanted to share just brands with which I’ve got experience.
What are the best probiotics for cats?
Not surprisingly, the selection of probiotics for cats (and dogs) is not as extensive as the plethora of probiotic supplements available to their humans.
But it’s no less important to do your research and select a probiotic supplement that is based on science.
Personally, I’ve tried the Purina FortiFlora for my little Merlot, and noticed a huge difference in his digestive health. At the time of writing, Amazon were awaiting stock of the probiotic supplement for cats.
For your kitten, Purina does a kibble biscuit with probiotics.
CLICK below for further details and purchase:**
There are other probiotic supplements for cats however I wouldn’t like to recommend ones that I’m not familiar with. For Merlot, at least, I know the Purina probiotics make a real difference to his tummy.
In summary – what are probiotics for cats and dogs?
More research is needed to help us better understand probiotics for cats and dogs but promising probiotics are available.
As with humans, we get what we pay for, and I’d always go for a premium, well-researched brand.
It is important to note that not all pets may need daily, long-term treatment with probiotics. Some may only need a short-term course of probiotics to manage the symptoms of chronic digestive issues. It is recommended to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best probiotic for your cat or dog.
**These are affiliate link through which I would get a small commission. My cat Merlot’s Purina probiotics are purchased by myself.
Resources & further reading
The power of probiotics | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Role of gut microbiota in dog and cat’s health and diseases – PMC (nih.gov)
Cats and Dogs With Separation Anxiety – Tips | Purina Institute
The Gut-Brain Connection: How it Works and The Role of Nutrition (healthline.com)
Behavioral Probiotics – Whole Dog Journal (whole-dog-journal.com)
The 5 Best Probiotics for Cats | PetMD
Use of Probiotics in cats and dogs Fact Sheet | Davies Veterinary Specialists (vetspecialists.co.uk)
Probiotics for Dogs: Everything You Need To Know About Probiotics and How to Use Them (webmd.com)