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Hug explains… prebiotics and probiotics for dogs and cats

Many of you pet parents have heard of prebiotics and probiotics for dogs and cats. Perhaps your vet mentioned them in passing, or you’ve seen them listed on pet food packaging. 

But what are they? How do they differ? And what can they do for your pet? We explain. 

Probiotics for dogs and cats

Like any natural ecosystem, your canine or feline’s body has vast numbers of micro-creatures living on and inside it. This incredible colony of bacteria is called the microbiome, and some of the micro-creatures inhabiting it are referred to as ‘good’ bacteria.

Probiotics for dogs and cats: microbiome diagram

Good bacteria guard walls of the digestive system. Here, they protect against the entry of ‘bad’ bacteria, pathogens, and inappropriate food particles into the bloodstream, and aid in the absorption of immune-boosting nutrients. In other words, they’re essential for strong, happy pets.

Probiotics are live good bacteria that are typically fed as supplements. A good probiotic contains a diverse range of beneficial bacteria species.

Does my pet need probiotics?

In some cases, a pet’s bacteria colony isn’t as robust as it should be, resulting in a poor microbiome: research has linked this to factors such as a highly processed, poor-quality diet and the long-term use of antibiotics.

A damaged microbiome leads to a debilitated digestive system that cannot effectively absorb critical nutrients, leaving your pet’s body malnourished. From here, a number of issues can arise – itchy skin, digestive problems, and food intolerances (to name a few) – with the potential to cause a long-term impact on health.

Sad puppy

If your pet is suffering from a condition linked to a weak microbiome, probiotics for dogs or cats may be recommended. 

Introducing probiotics to your pet’s diet

Feeding probiotics is the first step to rebuilding healthy, immune-boosting gut flora. 

We recommend the Body Biotics range for dogs as it contains a diverse range of soil based probiotics, rather than just one species of bacteria. Soil based bacteria would have been ingested by canines in the wild, pre-domestication, making them an ideal means of restoring the natural balance your pal’s microbiome needs.

One of the species Body Biotics contains is Bacillus: these micro-creatures are resistant to stomach acid and many antibiotics; they’re also immune-stimulating, producing anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial substances. Another species you’ll find in Body Biotics is Lactobacilli; these micro-creatures help cultivate an infant’s digestive system from birth onwards.

For cats, we suggest Animotics, a bespoke probiotic paste. This high-strength product delivers 22 billion colony forming units that belong to four different strains of probiotic bacteria. Pretty mighty!

Kitten in the wild

Once introduced to your pet’s system, probiotics will begin to kill off opportunistic (bad) bacteria. Subsequently, toxins may be released that temporarily result in symptoms becoming worse, rather than better. This is why we start off feeding a small portion of probiotics, gradually increasing until we reach a therapeutic level, suited to the individual’s needs.

What are prebiotics?

Whereas probiotics for dogs and cats are supplementary good bacteria, prebiotics are components in food that support the growth of good bacteria and cultivate a strong microbiome from the get-go.

The first prebiotic your dog or cat ever encounters is found in their mother’s milk: the oligosaccharides it contains are known to boost the beneficial bacteria population and strengthen the immune system. 

As prebiotics lay the groundwork for a thriving colony of good bacteria, getting them right early on should lessen your pet’s need for probiotics going forward. That’s why both our raw and cold pressed ranges contain prebiotics.

Our species-appropriate meals are designed to create and sustain a great microbiome, whether you choose to feed them alone or add probiotics for dogs or cats. Alongside top notch protein and fibre, we put to work whole foods that are high in prebiotics, such as seeds and chicory root.

While rebuilding a solid colony of good bacteria takes time, it really is the route to long-term health for your pet – and that’s what we’re all about.

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