If commercials were anything to go by, probiotics might just stop global warming. While there is a lot of marketing hype, there is also compelling research showing that probiotics might be beneficial to the gut. As their popularity has soared, veterinary professionals and pet care organizations have begun to take notice. Now, there are more than 2000 products on Amazon alone, under the heading ‘pet probiotic.’ Let’s explore this growing class of supplements, their benefits, and a few cautions. Plus, we’ll take a look at EcoDigestive, a probiotic and enzyme support formula for pet digestion.
What Exactly Are Probiotics?
Coming from the Latin words for ‘pro-life,’ probiotics are live microorganisms that provide benefits to digestion and immunity. It’s the ecosystem of bacteria and enzymes that aid digestion. While most often associated with yogurts, these bacteria have now become common ingredients in everything from dog food to facial cream. While there are plenty of companies overdoing it, the purpose is in natural, holistic balancing of the gut and digestive tract. Unlike antacids and laxatives, probiotics use naturally-occurring gut bacteria to promote overall bodily health.
The Benefits of Animal Probiotics
While there are valid concerns among the scientific and consumer communities about the benefits of probiotics as a largely unregulated industry, there are documented benefits in the laboratory environment. Probiotics can:
- Improve a dog or cat’s mood
- Treat IBS and other chronic gastrointestinal disorders
- Lessen the severity and frequency of diarrhea
- Combat the adverse side-effects of some medications on digestion
- Fight minor to moderate food intolerances
- Regulate and balance hormone levels
- Bolster the immune system against certain diseases
The Drawbacks of Regular Probiotic Use
Though rare, members of the veterinary community have noted the following side effects while the digestive system undergoes changes to become more balanced:
- Increased gassiness or burping
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Increased hunger and thirst
For older or immunocompromised animals, the use of probiotics can lead to more dangerous side effects. If we observe any signs of allergic reaction, such as swelling or excessive itchiness, we should cease use and call our pet’s veterinarian right away.
Tips for Choosing the Right Probiotic for Your Pet
Most pet guardians don’t have anything to lose by giving a probiotic a trial run. With hundreds of brands to choose from, however, picking one can be a little overwhelming. Here are four things we can do to make the selection process a little easier:
1. Pick a Probiotic with Good Reviews: Read what other pet guardians have said about a particular product. While their situation may be different, their comments can give us a good idea of the overall effectiveness of a product. We should also steer clear of any products with lackluster or nonexistent reviews. When it comes to Fido’s health, it’s worth paying for the good stuff.
2. Select a Product with Several Different Bacterial Strains: Fido’s gut only flourishes thanks to the interaction of hundreds of different types of bacteria. For that reason, it’s essential that we pick a probiotic with a variety of complementary strains and side effects. Try to avoid products with five or fewer unique strains.
3. Be Picky About Delivery Method: They’re available in liquid, powder, and capsule form, we should always pick the delivery method best suited to our fur babies. It’d be silly to waste money on pills if Miss Whiskers turns her nose up at them. If our pet is open to pills, however, we should always grab one that’s resistant to stomach acid.
4. Choose a Probiotic Support Formula That is Tailored to Our Cat or Dog’s Needs: Probiotics are not one-size-fits-all. Some are better-suited to treating diarrhea, while others are specially-engineered to promote brain health. Some are best for overall gut health, while others are geared toward immunity.
There is evidence that probiotics can be beneficial to our dog or cat’s health, even though it doesn’t treat illness or disease. Think of these supplements as a way to support overall health. Just like vitamin C isn’t going to treat disease, as a vitamin, can help to increase overall health and acts on specific areas, such as great skin and immunity. Plus, with relatively low price tags, it’s often worth a trial run.
For those in the market for an organic, all-natural brand, we suggest taking a look at EcoDigestive. Commercial pet food is not always easily digested, and many dogs and cats lack the essential enzymes to get the full benefit of their food. EcoDigestive™ Probiotic & Enzyme Support Formula improves canine and feline digestion and the absorption of nutrients in their diet. This translates to better health, more energy, and can lead to a longer life.
It’s important to understand probiotics and to be aware that:
- Sharing Medication with Our Pets Is a Huge No-No. Our bodies are significantly different from our dogs and cats. Attempting to treat them with something out of our medicine cabinet can sometimes be fatal.
- It’s Important to Consult Our Dog or Cat’s Veterinarian Before Starting Them on Any Medication: As lay people, we’re not particularly familiar with how things like probiotics might interact with our animal’s current medication. This initial consultation is particularly important when it comes to supplements because a few studies have shown unscrupulous commercial veterinary probiotics do not contain what they claim.
- The FDA has Not Approved Probiotics for the Treatment or Prevention of Disease. While there is evidence to support the effectiveness of probiotics, their regular use is not yet approved by the broader scientific community. Therefore, we should approach pet probiotics with caution.