Pre & Probiotics - Tips, Tricks, & Best Practice


In the world of pet care, the term "probiotics" often gets tossed around, but what exactly are they, and why are they important for your furry friends? Let's delve into the fascinating world of probiotics, gut health, and how they can benefit your pets! Get our staff recommended list of great products at the end of this blog, so you can help your pets today.

Understanding Probiotics and Their Role

First things first, what are probiotics? Simply put, probiotics are live organisms that provide health benefits to their host, whether that's your dog, cat, or even you. It's important to note that probiotics are distinct from fermented foods, which are essentially food matter that has been metabolized by microbes and carry a microbial load.

When it comes to probiotics for pets, we often encounter terms like lactobacillus, which is one of the three general types of bacteria typically considered. These microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining a balanced gut environment for your pets.

Why Use Probiotics for Pets?

Probiotics offer a myriad of benefits for your pet's digestive health. They can alter the local acidity of the digestive tract, release short-chain fatty acids, and provide protection against harmful bacteria like salmonella.1 By improving gut microbiota balance, reducing inflammation, and enhancing immune function, probiotics contribute to overall well-being and help protect against intestinal infections. 2

The Importance of Gut Health

To truly understand the significance of probiotics, it's essential to grasp the concept of the microbiome and good gut health. Imagine your body as a giant tube, starting from the mouth and ending at the bowels. This intricate system processes food, absorbs nutrients, and plays a vital role in various bodily functions.

The small intestine, with its vast absorptive surface area, is where most of the digestive process occurs. It absorbs nutrients into the bloodstream, while the large intestine is much shorter in humans (roughly 1.5 meters vs 7 meters for the small intestine), and its focus is mostly absorbing water and salts from the fibrous material, dead cells, salt, bile pigments, and water that that the small intestine passes on to it. The large intestine is where helpful bacteria feed on this mixture and produce vitamins that are absorbed into your blood, and help to digest the fibre.3 

This giant tube structure needs the supportive balance of a diverse set of bacteria to help it do its job effectively. When we have an overgrowth of just one bacteria or yeast, or we strip away the helpful bacteria with antibiotics, our gut is severely out of balance. It won't do the same good job when it is out of balance. To help it get back into balance, we re-introduce some of the helpful bacteria that we want to have living in our guts. 

When to Use Probiotics for Pets

Determining when to use probiotics for your pets depends on various factors, including their health status and any specific digestive issues they may be experiencing. Probiotics can be particularly beneficial during times of stress, dietary changes, or following antibiotic treatment.

Selecting the Right Probiotic

Choosing the right probiotic for your pet can seem overwhelming, but the key is to look for products that contain a diverse range of strains. Current research suggests that products with multiple strains tend to be more effective, offering comprehensive support for gut health.

How to Use and Store Probiotics

When incorporating probiotics into your pet's routine, it's important to follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer. Store probiotics according to the instructions on the packaging, typically in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Some may not require refrigeration, but we recommend that as a typically good dry place to store them.

Precautions and Contraindications

While probiotics are safe and easy to administer to pets, certain steps should be taken, especially when your pet is undergoing antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics target and take out bacteria, friendly or otherwise. When a pet is actively taking antibiotics many of the probiotics will be killed off by the medication. In such cases, it's best to opt for yeast-based gut supplements, like Saccharomyces boulardii, to avoid loss of microbiome support. S. Boulardii is safe to use while on antibiotics because it is from a yeast, not a bacteria.

Avoid administering antibiotics and probiotics simultaneously, as this can contribute to antibiotic resistance (in people and in pets). Consider discussing with your veterinarian if antibiotics are truly necessary for your pet's treatment, to help ensure we save our useful antibiotics for times when we need it most.

If you must offer probiotics during antibiotic treatment, offer the probiotics at least 6 hours away from administering the antibiotic. Probiotics are generally most effective when given following a round of antibiotics. This gives them the best opportunity to rebuild gut flora. 

Differentiating Pre-, Pro-, and Postbiotics

Understanding the distinction between prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics can help you make informed choices when selecting supplements for your pet. Prebiotics are food for the probiotics, while postbiotics are the byproducts of probiotic metabolism. Incorporating a combination of pre-, pro-, and postbiotics can provide comprehensive support for gut health. At Pet Grocer, we prefer high quality sourced prebiotics (rather than sugary prebiotics, as you see in many products for both people and pets).

Exploring Probiotic Sources

When it comes to incorporating probiotics into your pet's diet, you may wonder if options like probiotic-infused kibble, yogurt, or goat milk are viable choices. While yogurt and goat milk may have probiotics added to them these options are best thought of as food boosters rather than actual supplementation. It is widely suspected that probiotic-infused kibble is likely not very potent as most beneficial bacteria would die off during the multifold high heat processing that kibble goes through. Testing shows some have none at all, even if the label claims it.

Prioritizing your pet's gut health is essential for their overall well-being. By incorporating probiotics into their diet, you can support a healthy digestive system, enhance immune function, and promote a happier, healthier life for your furry companion. Remember to consult with your holistic veterinarian or nutrition experts for personalized recommendations tailored to your pet's specific needs.

Stay tuned for part two, where we explore interesting ways to use probiotics to support your pet's health - for oral and heart health and topically!

Pet Grocer Pre & Pro-biotic Recommendations

Adored Beast

Four Leaf Rover


Legacy Biome


  **The content in this blog is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Always consult your holistic veterinarian regarding your pet's health.**