Sometimes the harmony in your cat's tummy can be thrown out of balance causing a number of uncomfortable symptoms. Here, our Alpharetta vets talk about the gut health of your feline friend and how you can help protect their tummy with the help of probiotics.
Are probiotics good for cats?
As you may be aware, probiotics are used to help restore the balance in the bacteria that live in the digestive system – which may lead you to wonder if your cat needs probiotics.
If you notice that your cat is frequently experiencing digestive upset or anxiety-related symptoms then it is possible that they are overloaded by unhealthy gut bacteria. There is an entire system of bacteria growing in your cat's stomach which, when kept at a healthy balance can allow your kitty to live comfortably. When your cat's tummy becomes overloaded with bad bacteria it can lead your kitty to start experiencing a number of health conditions.
How can probiotics help your cat's gut?
Probiotic supplements contain both live bacteria and yeast microorganisms which help to bring balance back to a digestive system that has an abundance of bad 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: 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 undergoing treatment for infections using antibiotics.
What are the best probiotics for cats?
Veterinarians commonly recommend lactic acid-based probiotics for cats. Some of these probiotics are:
- Lactobacillus spp
The two most common types of probiotics used are Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium.
These bacteria each have a specific part of the digestive system that they make their home in. Enterococcus generally lives 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.
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.
Vet-Recommended Probiotics For Cats
The way that you give the probiotics to your cat is usually the main factor taken into account when choosing a probiotic. Probiotics are able to be found in a variety of options – from powders, capsules, chews, or formulated 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.
One thing you should never do is make your own probiotics at home. This can be dangerous for the health of your cat. Please only use probiotics that have been developed by professionals.
Cat Probiotic Side Effects
While the most notable side effect would be flatulence, our vets in Alpharetta 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 my cat be given 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.