Like humans, the majority of a dog and cat’s immune system resides in their gut.
The gut is the largest immune organ in the body, which also digests and absorbs food. It is populated by trillions of bacteria collectively called Microflora, which support a dog or cat’s digestive function. The bacterial population can be affected by a number of aspects and bad bacteria can flourish and multiply which can lead to an upset tummy.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are living organisms that are found naturally in foods such as yoghurt. They are known as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria as they compete for space and fight against bad bacteria to prevent them from settling in the gut. Probiotics can have a positive effect on a pet’s digestive system. They can help to increase friendly bacteria within the gut, as well as replenish the natural balance of gut bacteria and improve their stool consistency. Good bacteria are integral for your pet’s gut health, but they also support their brain, digestion and their immune system. Boosting your pet’s immune system is one of the most important roles of probiotics.
Approximately 70% of the body’s immune Lymphatic tissue is located in the digestive tract, mostly in the form of ‘Gut- Associated Lymphatic Tissue’ (GALT). The GALT contains many types of immune cells that optimise the efficiency of immune response. Studies have shown that having a healthy microflora stimulates the immune tissue. Therefore, a healthy digestive system is important for optimal immune support, as well as helping to aid recovery. Viruses and bacteria can enter the body through your pet’s mouth and probiotics are present starting in the mouth and throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Maintaining your pet’s good bacteria can help to keep pathogens in check.
When to use probiotics?
The intestinal tract is the organ in the body that digests and absorbs food. It’s populated by bacteria that keep your dog healthy. If your pet develops an upset tummy or Diarrhea it may result in a trip to the vets where probiotics for pets may be prescribed.
During illness & recovery
Various drugs and pain killers can have a vital and often lifesaving role for pets that are suffering, but they can also kill healthy (beneficial) gut bacteria and upset the delicate microbiome balance. The immune system produces toxic oxidative products which can injure the cells of the gut. These are usually balanced by the animal’s own antioxidants but can become overwhelmed in times of inflammation or infection. This can cause digestive imbalance and impairs the GALT immune response.
Due to the inquisitive and natural presence to explore, scavenge, taste and put themselves in places they shouldn’t be (and because pet owners & humans have a habit of offering too many treats) pets are prone to tummy upsets.
What to look out for
- Excessive gas
- Regurgitating or vomiting
- Changes in your pet’s appetite
- Loss of weight
- Diarrhea / changes in stool consitency
- Eating grass to alleviate discomfort
- High temperature
- Lethargy and general feeling unwell
How probiotics can be beneficial
Maintain long-term gut health
To help maintain long-term gut health and a healthy digestive balance Probiotics can help with conditions such as, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic or infectious diarrhoea and pets with a history of gut related problems.
Maintain tummy comfort
Do you have a nervous dog or cat? If this is the case it could have an impact on their digestive system and using probiotics for pets could help to look after their digestion during stressful periods.
Probiotics can help to optimise the efficiency of the immune response to help fight infection and boost immune system functioning.
If taking antibiotics
They can help to repopulate the balance of good bacteria that antibiotics can wipe out.
They can help pets who are recovering from surgery or treatment who require added immune support.
Probiotics are becoming recognised more and more as a positive way to improve the health and wellbeing of dogs and cats, by both vets and pet owners. Speak to your vet for further information on how probiotics can help your pet.