“…oral administration of live nonpathogenic organisms can result in improved GI health and immune system function, and growing evidence supports potential therapeutic benefits in diverse disease conditions (eg, chronic GI abnormalities, allergic disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, liver disease, mood and behavior disorders).”  Clinician’s Brief- Marcella D. Ridgway, VMD, MS, DACVIM University of Illinois.

Probiotics are “happy gut bacteria”.  They have traditionally been used for pets with gastrointestinal diseases causing chronic diarrhea.  New studies indicate that daily probiotics help over-all immune system function, decrease inflammation, even stabilize metabolism.   This makes sense since 75% of the immune system lines our guts!

New Uses for Probiotics

  • Reduce inflammatory marker levels in dogs with allergies.    (This is a very active area of study in the human arena!)
  • Improve growth rates and vaccine responses in puppies.
  • Lower cholesterol in normal dogs and dogs with intestinal disease.
  • Reduce numbers of diarrhea-causing bacteria in the feces of dogs.
  • Reduce symptoms of Feline Herpes Virus-1 infection.
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Obesity
  • Liver disease
  • Mood and behavior disorders (another very active area in human medicine!)

Criteria for a “Good” Probiotic product for pets

Probiotics for pets are available through veterinarians.  It’s IMPORTANT to use pet probiotic isolates as they are different from the “happy gut bacteria” in humans.   Additionally,  an appropriate Probiotic product meets the following criteria:

  • Nonpathogenic ( will not cause disease on its own)
  • Remains viable during large-scale production and storage
  • Survives transit through the GI tract (exposure to gastric acid, bile)
  • Adheres to and colonizes gut epithelium
  • Shows a beneficial effect on host

There are 3 veterinary products that meet label claims :

Products Meeting Label Claims

  • Proviable-DC (nutramaxlabs.com), synbiotic ( contains both beneficial strains of probiotics AND prebiotics- nutrition to feed the happy bacteria!)
  • FortiFlora (purina.com), Enterococcus faecium SF68
  • Prostora (iams.com), Bifidobacterium animalis

If your pet suffers from recurrent or chronic diarrhea, chronic infection (Valley Fever?), or any of the conditions listed above, ask your veterinarian for one of the probiotic products above.