Ensuring optimal digestion and gut health is a crucial aspect of pet care, just as it is for humans. In recent times, there has been a noticeable surge in pet food brands and supplement companies marketing their products as being rich in probiotics—highlighting the different biotics and the numerous gut health benefits they can provide for your beloved furry companions. As the emerging market for Pet Probiotic products has caught the attention of devoted pet owners, many have been actively searching for the best, high-quality products that can improve their pet's overall wellbeing.
If your cherished companion animal is experiencing difficulties with their digestive system, it could be useful to contemplate introducing probiotics into their nourishment. These microorganisms have the capability to provide your furry friend with an additional source of reinforcement, which can enhance their gastrointestinal health and promote their overall welfare.
So! Are you an animal lover who wants to learn more about keeping your pets healthy? Then you're in the right place! In this article, we'll explore the different types of biotics and why gut health is crucial for your furry friends. Plus, we'll give you some tips on how to incorporate biotics into your pet's diet. So, keep reading if you want to give your pets the best possible care!
What are Biotics
In the context of an ecosystem, the term "biotics" refers to any substance that is either derived from or produced by living entities such as plants, animals and microorganisms. These living entities play a crucial role in their respective environments, and microorganisms, in particular, provide a multitude of benefits that contribute to the maintenance of human health. But! Did you know that they can help our pets too? The incredible thing is that these tiny organisms have the potential to assist our adorable furry friends in some truly remarkable ways. They possess the capability to offer exceptional assistance to our beloved furry companions in such a manner that could improve our pets’ performance and promote their health.
When it comes to biotics, it's important to understand that there are three main types—the “biotic trio”—that contribute to good gut health: prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. While you may already be familiar with probiotics—whether it be from eating yogurt or other probiotic-filled foods— and their role in promoting gut health and overall wellness, it's worth noting that prebiotics and postbiotics also play important roles in maintaining a healthy microbiome. Prebiotics are essentially the food that probiotics feed on, while postbiotics are the byproducts of the fermentation process that occurs when probiotics break down prebiotics. By incorporating all three types of biotics into your diet, you can support a diverse and thriving gut microbiome, which in turn can have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being.
However, it's not just humans who benefit from a healthy gut microbiome - our furry friends also reap the rewards! In fact, the phrase "Happy gut, Happy mind" is equally applicable for our furry friends, as their digestive system's state can significantly impact their health and overall well-being. By ensuring that our pets' gut is healthy and balanced, we can help boost their immune system, maintain a healthy weight, and even enhance their mood and behavior. Therefore, paying attention to our furry companions' gut health is crucial. Taking necessary measures to support it is essential if we want them to feel and act their best.
To begin, let's define and understand what is meant by the term "pet microbiome"!
Pet gut microbiome
A microbiome can be defined as a microscopic population of trillions of diverse tiny organisms—like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa—that live in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. It provides a myriad of life supporting functions that help your pet to have the healthiest of days, and without it, your pet’s gut would not be able to function properly.
Each pet—whether cat or dog—has their own unique gut microbiome and by studying this, veterinarians can gain valuable insights into your pet’s overall health and potential prevention and treatment strategies for various diseases. These microbiomes work to help improve their health, and keeping these organisms in optimal balance is key to their overall wellbeing and helps to shape their health in the future.
How does a microbiome form?
Dogs and cats are not born with a microbiome. Instead, it is developed after birth—when they are kittens and puppies—and is built from exposure to a variety of different experiences and external factors. Genetics, nutrition, the environment, lifestyle, and medication (especially antibiotics, which can kill a lot of beneficial bacteria in their gut), all have an impact on how their microbiome evolves.
However, the more diversified a microbiome is, the healthier it is said to be! In fact, there is a widely held belief that a diverse microbiome is a key indicator of good health in pets. Whether it be from toys, engaging in outdoor activities, the food they eat, and even you—yes, you!—exposing your pet to a varied spectrum of bacteria can help to strengthen their immune system and offer protection against harmful pathogens that could otherwise cause illness.
Pro/Pre/Postbiotics: How they support your pet's microbiome
The biotic trio—probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics—have all become more prevalent when it comes to the gut health of your beloved pets. They have even become a staple in a lot of pet food and supplements as the benefits they have on dogs and cats become more widely understood. With all three incorporated into your pet’s diet, they are receiving complete biotic support!
To further understand the role of each, let’s take a closer look at how they each function within your pet’s body and the role they play in keeping them healthy!
Probiotics is a term I’m sure many people are familiar with, especially if you consume drinks such as kombucha, or foods such as yogurt, kimchi, or others that contain live and active cultures. As you may know, when eaten regularly, probiotics help to support gut health, more specifically the lining of the gut that includes the microbiome. As a popular topic generating buzz for its health benefits, pet owners are considering adding probiotics to their furry friend's diet for potential health benefits!
Probiotics are live, beneficial microorganisms that are good for the digestive system and aids in boosting the immune system. They help to restore the natural balance of good bacteria in the gut, which allows for better digestion of food. They can also help prevent issues such as diarrhea and constipation. These benefits also apply to your furry friend! Along with the benefits spoken of prior, probiotics also help your pet make and absorb vitamins and nutrients, combat foreign invaders in your pet’s body, and prevent diseases.
In a recent study surveying pet owners, it was determined that there were three top motivators for pet parents giving their furry friends probiotics! According to results, digestive health (61%), immune health (59%), and healthy aging (58%) were three of the main benefits that these owners sought out from providing probiotics to their pets. Other areas of interest that were motivators included oral/dental health and urinary health.
Probiotics are important in maintaining a healthy gut. Some conditions that your pet may benefit from include obesity, liver disease, and intestinal inflammation. So if you're a pet owner looking to take care of your furry friend's digestive health, incorporating probiotics into their diet might be worth considering!
Research on the use of probiotics for pets is still ongoing! Consult with a veterinarian to ensure that the probiotics you’re considering are safe and suitable for the specific needs of your pet.
Did you know that there is a secret ingredient in some of your favorite foods that can promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut? It’s called prebiotics! Prebiotics are specialized dietary fibers and are a nourishing food source for probiotics! The most common prebiotics are plant-based fibers and resistant starches—like inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS)—that are typically found in supplements and ingredients of foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Unlike other carbohydrates, prebiotics are not digestible, which means they can travel through your pet’s digestive system without being broken down and stimulate the growth of certain bacteria.
Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in the gut which supports a healthy gut environment. Foods, supplements, and treats that contain prebiotics can be a valuable addition to your pet's diet!
Some benefits of prebiotics for your pet is that they can help regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve nutrient absorption. Other benefits include controlling blood sugar spikes—beneficial for pets with diabetes—and improving bone density and strength!
Have you ever heard of postbiotics for pets? They are bioactive compounds, produced when probiotics feed on various types of prebiotic foods in your pet’s colon and ferment fiber. It includes compounds such as short-chain fatty acids (promote the growth of good bacteria), enzymes and amino acids (influence your pet’s metabolism), certain vitamins (B and K), and peptides (prevents the growth of harmful bacteria).
According to researchers, postbiotics have been found to provide numerous health benefits for our beloved furry friends! These substances can enhance the immune system, facilitate digestion, and even promote healthy skin and fur. They can benefit your pet by protecting against food allergens, aiding in digestion, anti-inflammation, gut hormone regulation, and more!
Why is gut health important for pets?
The overall health of your pet's digestive system is profoundly affected by their lifestyle and dietary habits. It’s important to keep in mind that the type of bacteria that thrive and multiply in their gut depends largely on proper nutrition and the quality and balance of their diet. Providing your pet with a diet that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria can significantly enhance their longevity and happiness. As a responsible pet owner, ensuring that your pet's gut is adequately cleansed, balanced, and fueled with the appropriate nutrients to maintain their overall health and well-being is imperative.
According to Animal Wellness Magazine, between 70 to 80 percent of our pets immune system resides in the gut, more specifically, the gastrointestinal tract—the largest immune organ. One of its functions is to protect the body against harmful substances, such as toxins, parasites, and unwanted bacteria, from entering the bloodstream—fighting off any diseases. This is done through various methods, including the production of digestive fluids and enzymes, and the maintenance of a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut. When there's a balance between good and harmful microorganisms, pets are able to develop a strong immune system and flourish!
In addition to its protective role, the gastrointestinal tract facilitates digestion and absorption of essential nutrients from the food, water, and supplements our furry friends consume. This involves a complex series of chemical and mechanical processes, starting with the breakdown of food in the mouth and ending with the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Furthermore, the gastrointestinal tract plays a critical role in eliminating waste products from your pet's body, ensuring optimal health and well-being.
When your pet’s microbiome and digestive system is healthy and balanced, it can help to maintain various important functions and improve their overall quality of life. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits below!
Supports and maintains energy levels
If there’s one thing for certain, our fur babies always find a way to bring joy into our lives with their endless energy and playful antics. But as they age, we notice that their once boundless energy is not quite the same. Oftentimes, this is due to an imbalance in the microbiome. Did you know that their gut health could be the key to restoring their youthful vitality? A balanced gut with the right bacteria can efficiently absorb nutrients from the food they consume and transform them into energy to fuel their daily activities. And guess what? The beneficial bacteria in your pet's gut can even generate vitamin B, a crucial component for energy production. So, if you want to see your furry best friend regain their lively energy, focus on maintaining their gut health. A healthy gut equals a happy and energetic pet!
Supports bone and joint health
For our furry friends who enjoy running, jumping, and playing, strong bones are essential in keeping up with their high-energy activities and maintaining their overall health and well-being. Unsurprisingly, a healthy gut microbiome aids in strengthening bone and joint health! Your pet’s microbiome is able to produce many of its own nutrients and vitamins that aid in keeping your pet healthy, and Vitamin K—a vital nutrient for bone building and calcium accumulation—can be synthesized by their microbiome. Not only that, but the digestive enzymes produced by these little helpers can also help your pet breakdown and absorb minerals, which can be utilized by their body to improve their bones and joints.
Supports healthy weight management
From time to time, we’ll see a chubby dog or a fat cat and think to ourselves, “how cute!”. However, in reality, some of them might actually be overweight. According to a report from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, it has been estimated that the rate of obesity in dogs in the United States has reached a staggering 59% in the year 2022. Similarly, the rate of obesity in cats is also on the rise at around 61%. When your pet is overweight, this can lead to several health issues, including but not limited to diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, and more. Therefore, it’s important for them to maintain a healthy weight! With a healthy gut, your pet’s body is able to maintain normal blood sugar levels, produce hormones that tell their brain when the stomach is full, and help them to maintain healthy digestion. These all help to keep your furry friend from overeating and undesired weight gain.
Better balances emotions: relieves stress levels
A healthy gut microbiome is able to help your pet regulate their emotions! How? Well healthy gut bacteria produce “feel-good” neurotransmitters like serotonin which can help to reduce stress levels and anxiety. Pets can experience physical and emotional stress due to situations such as a change in environment or visits to the vet—as I’m sure we all know! These emotions can cause spasms in the intestines due increased nerve activity, vomiting/diarrhea, affect their appetite, and negatively impact their nervous system making it more likely for them to get sick. When your pet’s gut produces enough levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, it can help to keep both stress and anxiety regulated and promote positive moods!
As responsible and loving pet parents, we always strive to provide our beloved fur babies with the best possible care and attention. We prioritize their overall well-being by ensuring they access top-quality food, comfortable bedding, engaging toys, and plenty of love and affection. However, caring for our furry friends is more than just giving them love and attention. It's about ensuring they stay healthy from the inside out, and that starts with their gut. After all, a happy gut means a happy pet! It is the foundation of their health, so let's make sure we take good care of our furry friends!
Signs of gut health problems
An imbalanced gut microbiome can be detected through a range of symptoms that suggest the absence of important beneficial bacteria, an overabundance of harmful bacteria, or a lack of diversity in the types of bacteria present in your pet’s gut. This can lead to improper gut functioning, which can manifest as digestive issues, discomfort, and other health problems. As a result, many pet parents are looking for foods and supplements that can benefit their fur babies. According to a survey by GlobalPETS, pet owners are particularly looking for food products and ingredients that can help with their furry friend's digestion and gut health, and 55% of respondents believe that innovative ingredients should provide this specific advantage to their pets. It's also worth noting that probiotics are a highly coveted ingredient, with 63% of pet owners indicating they are more inclined to purchase products that include them.
Various factors can lead to the disruption of your pet’s gut microbiome. These factors include age, disease, diet, medication, genetics, and environmental factors. If your furry friend is experiencing some gut-related issues, it might be time to examine their microbiome more closely. To ensure your pet has a healthy and balanced gut microbiome, it is recommended to have them undergo a gut microbiome test. This can provide useful information and valuable insights into the status of their digestive health and whether their diet is promoting the right microbes.
Is your furry friend not feeling their best? Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs that their microbiome may be out of whack and in need of some TLC. Always contact their veterinarian if you notice anything abnormal about your pet’s behavior.
How you can improve your pet's gut health and microbiome
Given the significance of your pet's microbiome, you may be interested in ways you can positively contribute to improving their gut health! Taking care of your pet's gut health can have a tremendous impact on their overall well-being. By implementing measures to promote a healthy microbiome, you can help your furry companion strengthen their immunity, reduce their risk of illness, and improve their overall vitality.
Your furry friend deserves the best possible care! Luckily, there are some steps you can take to give your pet's gut health a boost. Check out these recommended actions to get started!
As always, consider asking your veterinarian about ways to improve your pet's microbiome during your next appointment. Your furry friend will thank you for it!
Implementing Pro/Prebiotic-rich foods and supplements into your pet's diet
As mentioned, one of the most critical aspects of taking care of your pet is maintaining their gut health and microbiome. This is largely dependent on their diet and nutrition, which can vary depending on factors such as breed, age, and size. To ensure optimal health, it is crucial to provide your pet with a well-balanced diet that includes a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and prebiotics. These all can contribute to promoting a diverse and robust gut microbiome.
It is important to keep in mind that dogs and cats have distinct dietary requirements, so consulting with a veterinarian before introducing any new foods or supplements, especially probiotics, is essential. Your vet can provide valuable insights into your pet's specific nutritional needs and help develop a personalized diet plan that meets those requirements. A healthy gut microbiome promotes overall wellbeing and can help prevent a variety of health issues. By prioritizing your pet's dietary needs, you can help ensure that they live a long, healthy, and happy life.
If purchasing food or nutritional supplements that contain pro/prebiotics for your furry friend’s regime, it is important to pay attention to the labeling. Ensure that the label includes the expiration date, the specific species of microorganisms, the number of microorganisms in the product, and a guarantee for the number of live organisms. You should also look for evidence of the product's effectiveness, such as a third-party study by an accredited researcher, which should be provided by the manufacturer. Probiotics for pets can come in different forms such as powder, food-based, liquid, pastes, or pill!
However, take precaution when buying food for your beloved pet! Some food can be dangerous or toxic to dogs and cats, so always pay attention to the ingredients and what you feed them. For informational purposes, here are some food items your fur baby should stay clear of. When ingested, these foods can cause gastrointestinal distress, along with other serious health problems.