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How To Choose The Best Probiotic For An Upset Stomach – Shawnee News-Star

Having a stressed or sick pet is worrisome, especially if there is diarrhea, gas, and digestive problems. A probiotic might ease those digestive issues, but there are a few considerations an owner should take into account before choosing one.

Dr. Emily Gould, clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Teaching Hospital of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, explores the reasons for using probiotics and what makes a probiotic more effective.

Probiotics are supplemental live bacteria found in certain foods or pills that generally improve gut health when too many harmful bacteria are present. This irregularity of bacterial imbalances can be caused by intestinal disease or the use of antibiotics.

For example, when a pet visits the veterinary clinic due to illness, a vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection. In addition to killing off the bacteria that are making your furry friend sick, antibiotics can also decrease beneficial bacteria, causing an imbalance in the digestive tract. As a result, your pet may experience diarrhea.

“The purpose of administering a probiotic would be to replenish the ‘good bacteria’ in the pet’s gut to restore a healthier gut ecosystem, correcting the imbalance,” Gould said.

Because there are limited studies on probiotics in veterinary medicine, it can be difficult to decide which supplements are beneficial. The range of available probiotics offers different varieties, types and amounts of beneficial bacteria; While researching the best probiotic can take time, it will also benefit your pet in the long run.

“There are some products that have studies to show that they benefit our veterinary patients, or veterinarians have enough experience with them to know that they provide benefits,” Gould said. “For example, we think that probiotics with more different types of bacteria are more balanced and generally ‘better’ probiotics to administer. A greater diversity of good bacteria is associated with a better product.”

Probiotics shouldn’t cause any side effects, as long as they’re purchased from a reputable company known to be safe for pets, Gould explained.

For those whose pets are undergoing a trial of elimination diet, a strict diet that slowly reintroduces foods to determine a pet’s allergies, Gould recommends looking at a probiotic’s label to make sure it’s unflavored. Probiotics from a reputable company will be of good quality and free of flavoring contamination.

“Many probiotic products will either be flavored like animal protein or simply not have good quality control during product manufacturing, which can result in contamination,” Gould said. “This can definitely confound the effects of your food test.”

However, Gould noted that probiotics are supplements and will not treat other health problems. If there is chronic or severe vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in appetite, pet owners should take pets to their veterinarian to discuss the best solution.

“Although cats and dogs with chronic intestinal disorders may have symptoms that benefit from probiotics, owners should be aware that probiotics are often not the only treatment,” Gould said. “Usually other diagnoses and therapies are necessary to find the root of the problem and treat it.”

However, Gould says that probiotics are great for pets with stomach issues.

In case your furry friend is having a difficult time with his gut, talk to your vet about different types of probiotics as a possible solution to get your pet back to his old self. They might even thank you by wagging their tail!

Pet Talk is a service of Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics can be sent to vmbs-editor@tamu.edu.

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