Tips To Choosing The Best Probiotic For Dogs & Cats
One of the most efficient and effective ways to help your pet maintain a healthy microbiome is with a high-count, multi-species probiotic that contains live bacteria, but NOT all probiotics are the same. In fact, probiotic supplements for dogs or cats come in different forms (capsule vs. powder), different strains, different prices, and have different amounts of bacteria. So how can you choose the best probiotic for your pet? Here are six tips to help you evaluate and choose the best probiotic for your dog or cat.
TIP 1: CHOOSE A PROBIOTIC THAT IS FORMULATED SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR PET
Simply put, a probiotic made for your human microbiome will probably not work for your pet’s microbiome. In fact, most probiotics developed for humans aren't always appropriate (per the AAFCO Official Publication) or as effective for dogs and cats. More recently, new pet probiotics have entered the market that are specifically formulated, as a better choice for pets, for owners who are purchasing human probiotics or pet probiotics that have not been effective.
Look for documented strains, try and select one with more than one strain. The probiotic needs to be able to tolerate (or make it through) the stomach acid, low pH and bile acids to make sure it travels all the way through the pet's GI tract and adheres to the intestinal wall. Make sure you are selecting a probiotic with ingredients backed by research and science for use specifically in your pet.
TIP 2: CHOOSE A PROBIOTIC WITH APPROVED INGREDIENTS
Probiotics formulated for dogs and cats are referred to as "direct-fed microbials" by the animal feed regulatory body AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), and they are live microorganisms that help to develop and maintain a healthy environment in the pet’s stomach and digestive system.
Research shows roughly one-third of probiotics for dogs contains ingredients that are not listed in the AAFCO Official Publication (OP). Profauna Pet Probiotics only contain bacteria, organic inulin (prebiotics) and maltodextrin -- no other junk or additives! All the ingredients in Profauna are listed and generally considered safe by AAFCO. Be sure you’re giving your dog or cat a product that contains reputable ingredients that are safe.
TIP 3: CFU COUNT IS IMPORTANT
We often get feedback from pet parents that other probiotics they’ve tried, with lower CFU counts, did not properly support their pet’s digestive health needs. This comes as no surprise because your pet already has trillions and trillions of microorganisms in their body that come in over 1000 different types. No one knows exactly how many of these microbes are “good” and how many are “bad”, but with that many living organisms in your pet’s microbiome it’s important to have a high-count multi-strain army of good bacteria to help tilt the balance in favor of good bacteria.
Good bacteria are not only essential for the health of your pet’s gut, but good bacteria, such as the kind found in probiotics, are just as important for your pet’s immune health, digestion, assimilation of nutrients, and overall wellness. Probiotics are typically measured in colony-forming units (CFU) which simply refers to the number of live and active microorganisms capable of dividing and forming colonies. When choosing a probiotic for your dog or cat, you’ll notice product counts can range from 1 million all the way up to 100 billion CFU per serving. Probiotic bacteria should be able to tolerate stomach acid, low pH and bile acids to make sure it travels all the way through the pet's GI tract and adheres to the intestinal wall, so pick a probiotic that makes you confident that there are enough viable CFU’s in each scoop of powder or capsule to support maximum digestive health and immune function. Bottom line, it's important for your dog or cat to consume probiotics in sufficient amounts.
TIP 4: CHOOSE A PROBIOTIC WITH MULTIPLE STRAINS
Research suggests that probiotics work better together called synergy. Multi-strain probiotics are more effective or have a broader range of activity in contrast to single strain probiotics. It’s important to look for a product with the most effective strains to work throughout your pet’s entire gastrointestinal tract (from mouth to anus). In order for a probiotic to be effective for your dog or cat, each bacteria strain bacteria should be supported by science and research.
Profauna contains 8 strains of bacteria supported by published clinical evidence and species-specific research:
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus delbrueckii (Recently reclassified L. bulgaricus by AAFCO)
- Bifidobacteria animalis
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Lactobacillus casei
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
The strains that cats tend to do best with are those of the Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus families. Bifidobacterium tends to live in the small intestine, whereas Streptococcus generally resides in the colon (large intestine). Lactobacillus plantarum is known for supporting urinary health in cats. So, each strain could have a different function when it comes to probiotic activity to support your cats or dogs.
TIP 5: DON’T JUST LOOK AT PRICE. LOOK AT THE COST PER BILLION CFU
When buying anything, what’s one of the first things we all tend to look at? Yep, the price! When evaluating a probiotic for your dog or cat you should take a deeper dive in your price comparison and actually calculate the price, you’re paying per 1 billion CFUs, not just cost per dose or serving. You will also want to look at how many doses the brand is recommending per day, and if you’ll need additional items such as pill pockets to conceal the probiotics as this can add to the “price.” You may be surprised to discover you’re actually paying too much per dose for your pet.
TIP 6: CHOOSE A POWDER PROBIOTIC
There are many benefits of choosing a powder probiotic over a probiotic in a capsule/caplet or tablet.
- Saves time and money: Easy-to-dispense tasteless powder (no pills or capsules to mess with)! That means no pill pockets needed and no hassle trying to force feed capsules or tablets to your furry friend.
- Convenient and easy to give: Just add the powder to your pet's wet or dry food. That's it!
- No taste. No odor: We’ve taken pride in creating a probiotic with essentially no flavor so your pet should not be able to detect it in the food. In fact, 8 out of 10 pet owners who participated in our free trial program said their pets could not detect Profauna 100 in their food.
- Considerate for all dogs and cats: Powder can be given to dogs and cats who cannot swallow capsules for physical reasons (throat or tongue abnormalities).
When you’re picking a probiotic for your dog or cat, go with your “gut”! Choose a probiotic that you feel will work best for your pet based on your pet’s needs and your research. You may also need to consult with your veterinarian and discuss your probiotic options to help with your decision. A good probiotic will replenish good bacteria in the digestive tract will provide an abundance and variety of bacteria to support a pet’s digestive health, immune health and overall wellness.
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