9 October 2018

Probiotics and prebiotics for cats and dogs

Did you know that it is important to offer probiotics and prebiotics to your dog or cat, not only when they have diarrhea? In the following sections we explain what their function is and how to select a Good, effective and safe probiotic.

For thousands of years, man has benefited from microorganisms to ferment food and thus improve its conservation. Little by little, they discovered that these bacteria were not only useful for the preservation of food but also for human’s health. The consumption of fermented foods, such as kefir, kimchi and yoghurt, showed clear health benefits, as summarized in the article published by María L. Marco and collaborators. These observations initiated the in-depth study of the microorganisms present in this type of products. And so began the history of the well-known probiotics.

The World Gastroenterology Organization defines probiotics   as  live microorganisms that, when administered in sufficient quantities, confer a benefit on the health of the host. These beneficial effects have already been demonstrated for many diseases, so its use is recommended along with the consumption of prebiotics.

Prebiotics They are non-digestible ingredients, mainly carbohydrates, which stimulate the selective growth of certain beneficial bacteria. The best known, very well explained in a document of the University of Murcia, are FOS, MOS, SOS and GOS. Natural sources for these prebiotics would be chicory, artichokes, garlic, onion, dandelion, legumes and cereals. Therefore, the consumption of this type of ingredients would contribute to the growth of the microbiota or intestinal flora thus to health in general.

Currently, other types of supplements, which also have therapeutic effects, are gaining strength:  synbiotics (which contain both probiotics and prebiotics), and postbiotics (substances similar to those produced by the microbiota, that mimic its beneficial effects in the body).

To give you an idea of the potential of prebiotics and probiotics, we summarize the diseases in which, after their consumption, an improvement has been noticed:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Diarrhea (acute, due to antibiotics and rotavirus)
  • Constipation
  • Overgrowth of Helicobacter spp.
  • Intestinal diverticulitis
  • Genitourinary and respiratory infections
  • Neuropsychiatric disorders
  • Oral problems
  • Obesity and metabolic syndrome
  • Cancer

From Dingonatura we always recommend providing foods that contain this type of ingredients to take care of the intestinal flora of our dogs and cats DAILY, being particularly important in the event of:

  • Diarrhea and pasty stools.
  • Treatments with antibiotics and vaccines (use at the end of treatment).
  • Stressful situations.
  • Lactation.

To help you choose the best probiotic, we will explain the most important selection criteria:

  • Probiotics must be resistant to the action of gastric and biliary juices (they must reach the intestine being bioavailable).
  • Those microorganisms in the intestine must have the ability to stimulate the immune system, without causing inflammation.
  • Choose products that contain strains) specific for that pathology and / or that animal species (for example, in cats it seems that strains of enterococci are more important, while in dogs they would be those of lactobacilli). So, probiotics for humans are not the best option for our pet (especially if we have a cat).
  • They must include a high number of microorganisms and, if possible, several strains (since multistrain products have shown greater efficacy, in general).
  • Choose products with a proven biological safety, so that their strains are not carriers of antibiotic resistance or pathogenic (in theory).
  • Check with a veterinarian before offering probiotics to immunosuppressed dogs or cats (with cancer or immunodeficiencies, for example) to assess the possible risks and benefits.
If you want to know more about the advantages of having a healthy microbiota and the its importance for your pet’s health, read our article (link to post about microbiota) on intestinal flora.