Are Probiotics Right For Your Pet?


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics can potentially provide an array of health benefits to dogs; they can help treat and prevent a variety of diseases and illness, particularly those of the gastrointestinal system. They also help maintain balance in the digestive tract and after being consumed, they help to inhibit harmful pathogens from colonizing the GI tract. Here at Big Lick Vet, we carry two different brands of Probiotics – Nutramax’s Proviable Forte and Purina’s Forti Flora.

Proviable Forte comes in a kit containing both a paste and capsules or in a box containing just capsules. The capsules can be given whole or can be opened and sprinkled over food. These probiotics contain billions of seven different strains of probiotic microorganisms, plus two prebiotics. Capsules are typically used long-term for intestinal health balance. Kits, on the other hand, are used for short-term digestive upset, as the paste helps bind and firm stools and prolonged use could potentially cause constip ation.

Forti Flora is a packet of powder used by sprinkling over food. They contain a probiotic proven to promote normal intestinal microflora and increase levels of beneficial bacteria. They also promote a strong immune system and can help reduce flatulence in dogs. Forti Flora has also been shown to increase a pet’s desire to eat, as it was made to be tasty.

While some pet foods now contain probiotics, they may be ineffective when ingested by the pet due to the manufacturing process of the food. In addition, there may not be sufficient numbers of the probiotics to elicit a response, and the strains included in the food may not have the beneficial properties of a probiotic organism. The products we carry contain a guaranteed concentration of live bacteria and provide multiple beneficial strains.

Yogurt products may also contain probiotic bacteria but not usually at concentrations necessary to help populate the intestinal tract of the dog or cat in order to elicit a beneficial response, especially during times of imbalance. Furthermore, the probiotic species in yogurts may not be live or a beneficial strain for dogs and cats.

Probiotics are a safe and effective way of promoting a healthy gastrointestinal system, so if you are interested in adding probiotics to your pet’s daily routine, we recommend contacting your veterinarian or calling our office at 540-776-0700.