All animals have bacteria in their tummy's that help them digest their food and keep things moving along smoothly but what happens if that balance becomes disrupted? Here, our Westport vets talk about how probiotics can help keep your cat's gut healthy and behaving as it should.
The Purpose of Probiotics
When it comes to healthy digestion, probiotics can go a long way in keeping the appropriate balance of good and bad bacteria in your cats tummy.
When cats experience severe anxiety or if they are commonly suffering from digestive conditions then they may actually be experiencing an imbalance of 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. But when the bad bacteria begin to outweigh the good bacteria, it can cause havoc on their digestive system and entire well-being.
What are the benefits of probiotics for your cat's gut health?
When you give your cat probiotics you are actually giving them a supply of healthy, living microorganisms which are the good bacteria that help their digestive health. 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. Along with generally improving gut health, probiotics can also help a number of conditions and situations such as:
- Diarrhea: This can commonly be caused by viruses such as feline panleukopenia or parasitic diseases such as giardiasis.
- Antibiotic Use: 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.
- 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 which can potentially become serious.
- 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 having treatment for infections using antibiotics.
What are some of the recommended probiotics for cats?
When your vet recommends probiotics for your cat they will likely suggest a lactic acid-based one such as:
- Lactobacillus spp
For cats in particular, the best types of probiotics are Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium.
Each of these probiotics resides in its own area. 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.
Each type of probiotic has a different job to do which makes it most common to provide one that contains at least two different strains of bacteria.
Should you worry about any potential side effects with probiotics?
When it comes to probiotics and a healthy gut, the most commonly noted side effect would be flatulence. Our vets in Westport 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 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.