Probiotics for Pets

You’ve heard of antibiotics—these medicines destroy or stop the growth of harmful microorganisms in both human and animal patients. You may not be familiar with probiotics, though! Although probiotics have been commonplace in human medicine for a while now, the use of probiotics for our furry friends is still a relatively new pursuit. Read on to find out more.

What Exactly Are Probiotics?

A probiotic is a beneficial microbe—a bacteria or yeast—that lives in a pet’s digestive tract (either in the small or large intestine). Think of probiotics as “friendly” microbes that help to keep “bad” microbes at bay. Millions of these organisms live in your pet’s digestive tract, and probiotics work to help digest food, manufacture vitamins and other nutrients, and fight off pathogens. Probiotics can ultimately help the immune system to function better.

Probiotics that are prescribed to pets may take several forms. Some come in a yogurt or kefir product, while some may come in capsule or chew form. Still others are crushed into powder or are included in packaged dog food.

Why Are Probiotics Prescribed to Pets?

In a general sense, probiotics are prescribed to pets to maintain the proper intestinal microbial balance; this means that they help to maintain the balance between healthy and disease-causing microbes residing in your pet’s gut. When this balance is disrupted, your pet may experience diarrhea, cramping, gas, and other digestive-health symptoms. Probiotics help to restore that balance, reducing or preventing symptoms in the long run. For more information on what foods to avoid feeding your dog to maintain this balance, see 5 Foods You Should Never Feed Your Dog.

Veterinarians may prescribe a probiotic supplement to a pet in order to help manage or correct infections, parasitic infestations, colitis, or any other health issue that causes digestive disorders. Another common ailment that probiotics may be prescribed to correct is stress—dogs, in particular, may develop diarrhea and cramping as a result of stress, and some studies indicate that probiotic supplementation may work to prevent or at least lessen the problem.

Does My Pet Need a Probiotic?

You may be wondering if your beloved animal companion needs a probiotic to live a healthy, happy life. Here’s a general rule to follow: don’t purchase and administer a probiotic to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Working together, you and your veterinarian can decide whether or not a probiotic supplement may be beneficial for your pet’s health and well-being.

Do you have more questions about probiotics and your pet? Contact us, your local animal clinic in St. Lucie County, FL! For tailored dietary advice and weight management options, consider our Vet Nutrition and Weight Management services.

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