Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: July 22, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Many of us think of bacteria as harmful, or even deadly, but did you know that certain bacteria are not only desirable, but necessary for your pet’s good health?
“Friendly” bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifido-bacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus are just a few of the helpful microorganisms that can reside in your dog or cat’s intestinal tract where they play an important role in defending his body against disease and illness. These kinds of bacteria are referred to as “friendly” because, rather than causing illness and disease, they serve to defend your pet from harmful organisms which can invade his body from time to time.
Keeping this complex ecosystem of microorganisms in balance, however, is not always easy. In this ongoing “tug of war” between friendly and harmful bacteria, sometimes the friendly bacteria get outnumbered due to a number of causes:
- The use of prescription drugs
- The aging process
- An inadequate diet
- A compromised immune system
- Fertilizers, pesticides and chemical pollutants
Probiotics and Antibiotics
One of the most common ways that the ratio of friendly-to-harmful bacteria gets nudged out of balance is through the use of antibiotics. Of course, the use of these drugs is not always avoidable, especially if your dog or cat is fighting a serious infection.
Unfortunately, antibiotics are not able to distinguish between friendly and harmful bacteria, so when eradicating the harmful bacteria (the source of many serious infections), they also kill off a large number of friendly bacteria. This leaves your pet with even less of a defense the next time he is exposed to harmful microorganisms.
Chemicals in the water supply and soil can have much the same effect. They do eliminate many of the harmful bacteria your pet is exposed to; but they also upset the balance between good and harmful bacteria. In this way, chemicals can also have a negative impact on your pet’s health.
Even a natural event such as aging can affect the balance of good and harmful bacteria in your pet’s intestinal tract. Regardless of the cause, if your pet shows any of the signs of an unhealthy intestinal tract, this should serve as a red flag: It’s time to intervene and help your pet get his intestinal ecosystem back on the right track. Some of the most common symptoms of an unhealthy digestive tract are the following:
- skin problems
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS)
Probiotic Supplements for Dogs and Cats
One of the simplest and most effective remedies for poor digestion is to administer probiotics to your pet. Probiotics are supplements comprised of different kinds of friendly bacteria. The ingredients in them may vary from brand to brand, as do the methods of delivery. For instance, probiotics may come in capsule, paste, liquid, or tablet form. They may even be included in some brands of commercial pet food, although this is not considered the best source since, according to some studies, certain brands do not contain the amount or even the kind of probiotics that are stated on the labels. For this reason, supplements are considered the more effective way to go.
The Right Formula
So what should you look for when shopping around for probiotics? Above all, you want a formula that is comprised of quality ingredients that will help restore the balance of microflora in your pet’s intestinal tract. A formula that contains a 1:1:1 ratio of Lactobacillus Casei, Bifidobacterium Thermophilum, Enterococcus Faecium should address this need.
If you are looking for information on how to manage your pet’s health with holistic or natural pet care products like nutritional supplements, vitamins, nutraceuticals and other natural medicines, Holistic Pet Info is the place for you. They carry more than 100 natural pet products including vitamins and nutritional supplements, nutraceuticals and other natural medicines. The site also offers a wide range of well-written and researched articles and other information on animal health issues.
Source: Holistic Pet Info
Featured Image Credit: Lee waranyu, Shutterstock
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.