Similar to humans, the bacteria in your cat's stomach can get disrupted, causing uncomfortable symptoms and issues. Our Poway vets provide information about your kitty's gut health, how it can be managed, and the best probiotics for cats.
Do Cats Need Probiotics?
You're probably familiar with how probiotics promote good digestion. This might make you wonder if they're beneficial for your cat.
If your cat frequently experiences digestive issues or anxiety-related symptoms, their unhealthy gut bacteria may be causing problems. An entire system of bacteria is growing in your cat's stomach, which, when kept at a healthy balance, can allow your kitty to live comfortably. But if the bad bacteria outweigh the good ones, their digestion and overall well-being can be disrupted.
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 the effect on your cat's digestion, these bad bacteria can also cause trouble with your cat's weight, hormones, mood, immunity and increase their risk of infections. Some of the areas that probiotics can help include:
- Diarrhea: This can commonly be caused by viruses such as feline panleukopenia or parasitic diseases such as giardiasis.
- Antibiotics: Probiotics are 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, they could use probiotics' immune-boosting benefits.
- 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
When it comes to cats, the top probiotics are Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium.
Each of these probiotics has its own place in the body. Enterococcus usually resides in the colon of your cat, whereas Bifidobacterium can be found in the small intestine. Enterococcus has a focus on colonic health while aiding in the formation of healthy feces, whereas Bifidobacterium aims to keep up with digestive health.
These different probiotics serve different purposes and offer distinct benefits. That's why it's crucial to choose a probiotic with multiple strains, preferably at least two.
What probiotics do vets recommend?
When it comes to selecting a probiotic for your cat, you pay attention to the delivery method. Probiotics come in various forms, such as powders, capsules, chews, or even incorporated into food. The important thing about choosing probiotics for cats is that you choose one that contains the right 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 the most notable side effect would be flatulence, our vets in Poway also would like to remind you again that these are live bacteria, so they should only be administered under the direction of a vet.
When should cats take probiotics?
Aside from taking on a daily basis to help promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, you may also want to consider giving your cat probiotics if you begin to notice any of the following concerns:
- 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.