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Probiotic Supplements for Pets - When Is It Necessary?

Probiotic Supplements for Pets - When Is It Necessary?

Gut health plays a critical role in health, in both people and pets. The importance of gut health is gaining increasing traction in the wellness industry, and alongside that, awareness of probiotics have also increased. Gut health and probiotics go hand in hand, and many people are asking whether they, and their, pets should be taking probiotics as a daily supplement.

Let's take a look at what probiotics are, the role they play in our pets' health, and when it's appropriate to administer a probiotic supplement.

What are probiotics

In both humans and animals, there is a mix of' good' bacteria and yeasts in the gut, as well as 'bad' bacteria. For good health and a strong immune system, the most important thing to achieve is a balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ micro-organisms in the body. Many things can upset this balance, including illness, medication (especially antibiotics), stress, diet, lifestyle, etc.

Probiotics refer to the good bacteria and yeasts, and they offer various functionalities that are vital to the health and wellbeing of the body. A healthy gut contains a good balance of probiotics. If the gut becomes unbalanced and bad bacteria overtakes the probiotics, many health issues arise. One of the most common is candida and yeast infections, but science is increasingly demonstrating that many conditions are caused by an imbalance in the gut 
microbiome, including mood and digestive disorders and even things like concentration, sleep and immune functioning!

Because gut imbalances are common in people and pets, probiotic supplements are easy to come by. A probiotic supplement is a natural supplement that is made using live microorganisms (the same as or similar to microorganisms, or good bacteria, that naturally live inside the body). 

The functioning of probiotics:
  • They help to digest food and make nutrients like iron, vitamins, etc. available to the body
  • They keep the digestive system functioning properly, preventing diarrhea, food intolerances and chronic digestive diseases
  • They keep the immune system strong
  • They can help reduce or prevent allergies
  • They help relieve eczema and skin problems
  • They improve energy levels and general wellbeing
  • They improve coat condition and even bad breath

How often should probiotics be taken?

If the gut and overall health is in balance, it's not really necessary to take probiotic supplements every single day, although there is no harm in doing so. Probiotic supplements are mainly given in short-term situations (i.e. when an imbalance occurs). This applies to both humans and pets. However, if there is a chronic health conditions, or your pet has recently taken a course of antibiotics, a daily probiotic supplement could be very beneficial.

When to give your pet probiotic supplements

1. If your pet is stressed

Dogs and cats (as well as other types of pets) can become stressed from a variety of sources. Some animals tend to be more prone to stress than others. Stress can be caused by vet trips, travelling, going to a kennel, a new addition to the family, moving to a new house, etc. Stress is known to affect not only mental functioning but also physical functioning. This is because when there is an imbalance in the mind, imbalances in the body usually occur, too. 

Stress has been shown to alter the gut flora (microbiome) diversity by decreasing good bacteria and increasing harmful bacteria. A good quality probiotic for pets can help rectify this imbalance quickly!

READ: Common behavioural problems in dogs and how to solve them

 2. Your pet is on medication or antibiotics

Antibiotics destroy all of the bacteria in the digestive system, including the good bacteria! Any time the vet administers a course of antibiotics to your pet, you should always follow this with a course of a good quality probiotics for pets to restore the healthy flora in the intestines. The same applies to other medications, such as steroids and cortisone.

3. Your pet suffers from allergies and itchiness

An allergy is defined as a hypersensitive (or inappropriate) response from the immune system to foreign substances that enter or come into contact with the body. Signs of allergies in pets include itchiness, rashes, watery eyes, respiratory issues and hair loss. Many people find their pets experience allergy relief from probiotic supplements for pets.

4. Digestive issues

Digestive disturbances in pets are very common. Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea and vomiting are examples of either chronic or acute digestive issues in pets, and if they are suffering from an imbalance in the digestive system, a daily dose of probiotics for pets may restore the bacterial balance in the gut.

5. Your pet is fed commercial pet food

Did you know that most commercial pet food and snacks are full of preservatives, colourants and other chemicals which may harm your pet's health? Even the top brands on the market aren’t as 'premium' when it comes to the quality of ingredients and safety of manufacturing processes.

READ: The shocking truth behind store-bought pet food >

These pet foods often result in malabsorption and an imbalance in the gut. Pets who are fed commercial pet food will benefit from a quality probiotic formula containing strains specifically selected for pets. The better option would be to switch your pet to a raw food diet! Raw food diets are beneficial for numerous reasons, including dental health, digestive health, skin health, obesity, and more - plus they do not contain all the undesirable additives!

6. Your pet suffers from a chronic illness

Chronic illnesses in pets include inflammatory conditions, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, IBS, cancer and hyperthyroidism. While you are probably treating your pet with remedies or medicine specifically for their chronic illness symptoms, it’s important to not only alleviate the symptoms, but the underlying issues. A good quality probiotic supplement for pets will not only bring the system into balance and improve how their body deals with their condition, but can also reverse any imbalances caused by their medication.

If you have any health-related questions, please contact us or leave a comment below for FREE advice. We always love hearing from you!

Saskia Michele

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