Pets and probiotics: when their gut needs some support

Our pets are no different to us in many ways. For example, just like their owners, animals have a gut full of bacteria that support their digestion and overall health.

Some estimates suggest there are 95 bacteria to every animal cell in an animal’s gut.
Normally, with a good diet, plenty of fresh water and regular exercise your pet will be in good health. But there are times when things get out of balance.
As humans, we might turn to a probiotic yoghurt to help restore our natural balance, but pets will need the help of their owner to know when to intervene. It goes without saying that you should always consult with your vet before changing diet or giving probiotics.
Some pet foods will contain probiotics already. They are not always needed or beneficial and other treatments might work better.
Probiotics work by topping up the gut’s natural flora. Some may also help to ‘bind’ diarrhoea to help restore a healthy stomach environment.

Often, they will be given following a bout of diarrhoea which has been caused by stress, illness or change in diet, or possibly even following a course of medicine.
A course of probiotics normally lasts no more than five days and is given as either a tablet or paste. They produce helpful vitamins while aiding absorption of useful nutrients like iron, calcium and magnesium.
They also help to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria and pathogens, like salmonella and E Coli. Combined, these little healthy warrior bacteria help restore your pet’s gut flora to healthy levels.
You may also hear talk of prebiotics. These are soluble bits of fibre that help fuel the work of the probiotics. So without the pre, the pro is destined to be short lived.
Make sure to ask your vet about both pre and probiotics.

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