Do cats need probiotics?
You are probably well aware of the direct correlation between probiotics and good digestion – which may lead you to wonder if probiotics are good for your cat.
If you notice that your cat is frequently experiencing digestive upset or anxiety-related symptoms, it is possible that they are overburdened by unhealthy gut bacteria. There is an entire system of bacteria growing in your cat's stomach that, when kept in a healthy balance, can allow your kitty to live comfortably. When the bad bacteria begin to outnumber the good bacteria, it can wreak havoc on their digestive system and overall health.
How can probiotics help your cat's gut?
Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that are able to help restore the balance of healthy bacteria. There are a number of factors and situations that can lead to an unhealthy balance of bacteria.
Along with affecting your cat's digestion, these bad bacteria can also affect your cat's weight, hormones, mood, immunity, and increase their risk of infection. Probiotics can be beneficial in the following areas:
- Diarrhea: This can commonly be caused by viruses such as feline panleukopenia or parasitic diseases such as giardiasis.
- Antibiotics: The use of probiotics is common in humans taking antibiotics as the medication helps to rid the body of illness-causing bacteria, but also the good bacteria. Taking probiotics may be able to help restore the balance in cats as well.
- Stress: Stress can be related to gastrointestinal issues, by giving your cat a probiotic, you can help them manage their gut health through stressful situations.
- Flatulence: When a cat (or any other creature) suffers from gastrointestinal issues, it can lead to an increase in flatulence.
- Constipation: Along with flatulence, gastrointestinal concerns can lead to constipation.
- Immune system booster: If you have a very young or very old kitty then they could use the immune-boosting benefits of probiotics.
- Overweight and obesity: Some vets believe that there is a direct link between the health of the cat's gut bacteria and obesity.
- Chronic diseases: Bad gut bacteria can contribute to inflammatory bowel disease or feline intestinal lymphoma.
- Other diseases: Hormonal diseases and allergies can both cause issues affecting the bacteria in your cat's stomach.
- Infections: As mentioned above, probiotics may be recommended if your cat is having treatment for infections using antibiotics.
The Best Types of Probiotics for Cats
The most common types of probiotics are lactic acid based such as:
- Lactobacillus spp
For cats in particular, the best types of probiotics are Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium.
Each of these probiotics has its own area. Enterococcus is commonly found in your cat's colon, whereas Bifidobacterium can be found in the small intestine. Enterococcus focuses on colonic health while assisting in the formation of healthy feces, whereas Bifidobacterium focuses on digestive health.
The different types of probiotics have different purposes and can provide different types of aid. This makes choosing a probiotic with a number of different strains (at least two) very important.
What probiotics do vets recommend?
When it comes to selecting a probiotic for your cat, you should pay close attention to the delivery method. Probiotics are available in a variety of forms, including powders, capsules, chewables, and food formulations. The important thing to remember when selecting probiotics for cats is to select one that contains the appropriate combination for your cat's needs.
Probiotics are not something that you should create at home, leave the science behind gut bacteria to the experts.
Are there any side effects with probiotics for cats?
While flatulence is the most noticeable side effect, our vets in Bellevue would like to remind you that these are live bacteria and should only be administered under the supervision of a vet.
When should cats take probiotics?
Aside from taking probiotics on a daily basis to help promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, you may want to consider giving probiotics to your cat if you notice any of the following issues:
- Your Cat's Age
- Dietary changes
- Eating grass
If you notice any changes in your cat's digestive health during these situations you should speak with your vet about treatment with probiotics.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.