If your cat has been having issues with their gut health lately then you may wonder how you can help improve their gastrointestinal health. Here, our Rockland County vets offer some information about probiotics for cats and how they can help make your cat's tummy happy.
Why do cats need probiotics?
We hear all the time about how probiotics can help with your gut health but did you know that they can also help with your cat's digestive issues?
If your cat is commonly experiencing tummy issues then they may have an overwhelming amount of bad bacteria in their digestive system. 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. Occasionally the bad bacteria can overwhelm their digestive system causing a series of uncomfortable symptoms.
Are probiotics good for cats?
When we talk about probiotics, we are talking about a combination of live bacteria and yeast that can help improve the function of your cat's tummy. There are a number of potential causes of unbalanced 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 ways that giving your cats probiotics and restoring balance to the bacteria can help include:
- Diarrhea: This can commonly be caused by viruses such as feline panleukopenia or parasitic diseases such as giardiasis.
- Antibiotics: When your cat is on antibiotics it can destroy all of the bacteria in your cat's tummy including 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.
- 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 the best probiotics for cats?
There are a few specific types of probiotics that vets will recommend including:
- Lactobacillus spp
For cats in particular, the best types of probiotics are the lactic acid-based Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium.
These are commonly given together as they each live in different areas of your cat's digestive system performing different duties. 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.
Are there any probiotics that vets recommend?
The choice of probiotics most commonly comes down to the method of delivery. 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.
Do not attempt to create and provide your cat with homemade probiotics as they can cause serious harm if not blended properly.
What are the cat probiotic side effects?
When it comes to the side effects of probiotics, the most commonly noted is flatulence. Our vets in Rockland County 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 do cats need 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.