Like humans, cats can suffer from gastrointestinal and hormone imbalances which impact their health. In this post, our Pflugerville vets discuss counteracting bacteria imbalances in cats with probiotics, which probiotics are healthy, and how you can tell if your kitty might need them.
Do Cats Need 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. But when the bad bacteria begin to outweigh the good bacteria, it can cause havoc on their digestive system and entire well-being.
How can probiotics help your cat's gut?
Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that are able to help restore the balance of healthy 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The Best Types of Probiotics for Cats
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.
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.
What probiotics do vets recommend?
When it comes to choosing a probiotic for your cat, you might want to strictly focus on the delivery method. 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.
Probiotics are not something that you should create at home, leave the science behind gut bacteria to the experts.
Are there any side effects with probiotics for cats?
While the most notable side effect would be flatulence, our vets in Pflugerville 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 take 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.