Why Is Gut Health Important for Your Pet?
Words can’t even begin to describe how much joy and comfort a pet can bring to its human family. Unconditional love, trust, and boundless enthusiasm from our furry friends will have us doing nearly anything to keep them happy and healthy.
As a loving pet owner, you likely provide your dog or cat with quality food, warm shelter, abundant exercise, and much-deserved petting time, but did you know that taking care of your pet’s gut health may be the most valuable gift you can give them?
You see, just like in humans, your pet’s gut is their foundation of health. As the largest immune organ (more than 80% of the immune system resides in the gut), the G.I. tract is responsible for preventing toxins and undesirable bacteria from entering the bloodstream, as well as making sure your pet digests and absorbs valuable nutrients from the food and supplements they eat.
And the gut couldn’t function properly without the trillions of microbes living and working there. Called the gut microbiome, this ecosystem of bacteria provides a myriad of life-supporting functions that can help your pet live their healthiest days.
6 Ways Your Pet’s Microbiome Keeps Them Thriving
A healthy, balanced microbiome—with at least 85% probiotics—is key to your pet’s lifelong vim and vigor. Here are six ways the microbiome supports your pet’s overall health and vitality:
1. Supporting bone and joint health. Weak bones and painful joints can quickly derail your active pet’s joie de vivre, but a healthy gut can do wonders when it comes to supporting physical strength. Some strains of bacteria produce vitamins (like vitamin K) that can help your pet metabolize calcium for strong bones, and beneficial bacteria can also help make enzymes that support the body’s overall mineral absorption.1
2. Maintaining energy levels. Puppies and kittens are often full of endless energy, but levels can wane as they get older—this may be due in part to an imbalanced microbiome. Fortunately, probiotics can support energy levels by helping your pet thoroughly absorb all the nutrients from the foods they eat. Some friendly flora even produce B vitamins, which are essential for energy production.2
3. Easing stress. They may not have jobs and responsibilities to fret over, but pets can experience significant physical and emotional stress from new environments, changes in diet, time away from family, and visits to the vet. The good news is that probiotics help the body produce and regulate feel-good neurotransmitters (like serotonin and GABA) that can support a positive mood. Beneficial bacteria can also keep stress at bay by supporting appropriate levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone.3
4. Soothing tummy troubles. Whether due to a food brand switcheroo, a stressful encounter, or eating too many grains, digestive discomfort is a common pet symptom that often points to a microbiome in need of some nurturing. Indeed, studies indicate that both cats and dogs experiencing temporary diarrhea see significant benefits from taking a probiotic supplement when it comes to both recovery and prevention.4,5
5. Supporting healthy weight management. As much as we love our pet’s chubby adorableness, carrying too much weight on such a small frame can affect your companion’s health and longevity. Luckily, a healthy gut full of friendly flora can help them with weight management. How? Probiotics support blood sugar levels already within a normal range, help to encourage satiety hormones, and maintain healthy digestion, all of which can keep your furry friend from wanting to overeat and gaining unwanted weight.6
6. Supporting immune function. With so much of the immune system centered in the gut, it’s no wonder that the microbes living there have such a supportive impact on your pet’s immune function. In fact, probiotics work hard to support the gut barrier, which blocks out harmful bacteria and toxins from leaking into your pet’s bloodstream. In one study, just 14 days of probiotic supplementation (Bifidobacterium animalis) increased dogs’ white blood cell activity, and the effects lasted for weeks after treatment ended.7
It’s clear that the beneficial bacteria in your pet’s microbiome work overtime to keep them healthy and strong, but what happens if there aren’t enough of the good guys to do their jobs?
Unfortunately, your pet’s microbiome can quickly become out of balance due to factors like antibiotics, stress, vaccinations, changes in diet, inappropriate foods, the aging process, environmental contaminants, and dietary indiscretion (hello, trash can!). Even parasites in your proud cat’s mouse conquest can disturb their delicate microbial balance.
When your pet’s microbiome is out of whack, they can experience a variety of effects that leave them feeling less than their best—this is because a lack of beneficial bacteria allows inhospitable microbes to grow unchecked, blocking the good guys from taking charge. Some of the temporary symptoms of imbalanced flora in your pet’s gut may include:
• Itchy skin
• Behavioral problems
• Bad breath
• Poor coat quality
• Eye tear staining
If your beloved companion starts to experience any of these undesirable (and often uncomfortable) symptoms, it’s time to take a deep look at the state of their gut.
Support Gut Health With Probiotics
Unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us when they’re feeling under the weather, so it’s up to us to look for signs of unease and to proactively support their health at its very core. Here’s how you can give your pet exactly what they need to support their gut health:
• Feed Appropriate Foods
Providing your pet with food they are designed to digest is the first step to a healthy gut and happy microbes. What does this mean? Cats, for instance, are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must eat meat to stay healthy. Dogs thrive on a meat-based diet, but can also digest other types of food. Feeding your pet appropriate foods will nourish their inherent gut flora, while going overboard on foods they can’t really digest (like some grains) can lead to an overgrowth of inhospitable bacteria and problems like weight gain.8
If you don’t have the time (or money) to feed your furry friend a raw food diet, look for a high quality, minimally-processed brand of dry or wet food without artificial preservatives. You can also incorporate prebiotics, indigestible fibers that feed probiotics, into your pet’s diet to nourish their friendly flora. Choose animal-friendly whole grains, fruits, and vegetables like oats, apples, and carrots for a prebiotic boost.
• Replenish With Probiotics
The best method for replenishing and maintaining a healthy microbiome is to introduce a multi-strain probiotic supplement—one that includes strains resident to the animal gut—into your pet’s daily diet. Hyperbiotics PRO-Pets is an easy-to-administer, tiny, beef-flavored pearl tablet that provides your dog or cat with the exact beneficial bacteria they need to feel their best emotionally and physically.
With 15x more survivability than most probiotic supplements, PRO-Pets is designed to deliver live organisms deep into your pet’s gut over an 8-10 hour period, so the good microbes can set up shop and get to work supporting your pet’s health from the inside out.
Our furry companions enrich our lives in so many ways; it benefits us to do everything we can to keep them feeling their best each and every day. Supporting their gut health and nourishing their precious microbiome—and giving them lots and lots of love—is the best way to thank your pet for all the happiness they bring to your family!
1. Parvaneh, K., Jamaluddin, R., Karimi, G., & Erfani, R. (2014). Effect of Probiotics Supplementation on Bone Mineral Content and Bone Mass Density. The Scientific World Journal, 2014, 1-6.
2. Arena, M. P., Russo, P., Capozzi, V., López, P., Fiocco, D., & Spano, G. (2014). Probiotic abilities of riboflavin-overproducing Lactobacillus strains: A novel promising application of probiotics. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 98(17), 7569-7581.
3. Kato-Kataoka, A., Nishida, K., Takada, M., Kawai, M., Kikuchi-Hayakawa, H., Suda, K., . . . Rokutan, K. (2016). Fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota preserves the diversity of the gut microbiota and relieves abdominal dysfunction in healthy medical students exposed to academic stress. Applied and Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1128/aem.04134-15
4. Bybee, S., Scorza, A., & Lappin, M. (2011). Effect of the Probiotic Enterococcus faecium SF68 on Presence of Diarrhea in Cats and Dogs Housed in an Animal Shelter. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 25(4), 856-860.
5. Kelley, R.L., Minikhiem, D., Kiely, B., O'Mahony, L., O'Sullivan, D., Boileau, T., Park, J.S. (2009). Clinical benefits of probiotic canine-derived Bifidobacterium animalis strain AHC7 in dogs with acute idiopathic diarrhea. Veterinary Therapeutics: Research in Applied Veterinary Medicine, 10(3), 120-130.
6. Samah, S., Ramasamy, K., Lim, S. M., & Neoh, C. F. (2016). Probiotics for the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 118, 172-182.
7. Strompfová, V., Simonová, M. P., Gancarčíková, S., Mudroňová, D., Farbáková, J., Mad'ari, A., & Lauková, A. (2014). Effect of Bifidobacterium animalis B/12 administration in healthy dogs. Anaerobe, 28, 37-43.
8. Li, Q., Lauber, C. L., Czarnecki-Maulden, G., Pan, Y., & Hannah, S. S. (2017). Effects of the Dietary Protein and Carbohydrate Ratio on Gut Microbiomes in Dogs of Different Body Conditions. MBio,8(1). doi:10.1128/mbio.01703-16
Emily Courtney is a Writer and Editor at Hyperbiotics and mom to two fun and active boys. Emily is passionate about natural wellness and helping others learn about the power of probiotics for vibrant health! For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.