In the last decade, probiotics have really taken the spotlight. And like all human health trends, this one eventually trickled down to pets. And, there is good reason for the interest—research has shown probiotics to be an effective treatment for various health issues. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
Probiotics are healthy bacteria (microorganisms), and there are many different species that can be used in a probiotic supplement—but all are not created equal.
In fact, most probiotics are a waste of money as they never make it to the small intestine, which is where they need to be to have a positive effect on the body. Instead, they are destroyed by the low pH of the stomach soon after ingestion. Bottom line, when it comes to choosing the right probiotic, you need to do your research.
We did ours and of all the probiotics currently available on the market, the bacterial strain we chose for our Omega & Probiotic Sprinkles (one for cats and one for dogs) is a Bacillus coagulans BC30. This is a spore-forming (vs. vegetative) bacteria that is highly stable with a naturally protective outer layer. Importantly, that means that our probiotic can survive the low pH of the stomach and that it does not require refrigeration.
To be more specific, vegetative cells such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium are:
Highly stable with a naturally protective outer layer
Able to survive most manufacturing processes
Resistant to the low pH of the stomach
Shelf-stable for three years and does not require refrigeration
So, what should you look for when buying a probiotic for your pet?
The first thing you should look at is the name of the bacteria. As mentioned, it’s recommended you look for B. coagulans, a spore-forming bacterium.
Another thing you can look at is what else is going on inside that capsule. For example, in the case of our probiotic, the additional component is inulin, which is food for this type of bacteria. Ideally, anything else inside that capsule should be a food that is beneficial for the microorganism—which is in turn beneficial for your pet!
Should it go in the fridge?
Many people think probiotics need to be refrigerated and that if they don’t require refrigeration they are an inferior product. That’s false. In fact, if refrigeration is recommended, that’s a sign the probiotic is not hardy enough to be beneficial. If a probiotic can’t survive room temperature, how will it survive the acidity of the digestive tract?
How do you know the probiotic is working for your dog or cat?
Probiotics are one of those ingredients that, ideally, we use preventively to maintain the health of a pet so that they don’t get sick. If your pet is healthy, you would expect this to keep them healthy. If your pet is susceptible to ailments such as gas, diarrhea or digestive issues, B. coagulans BC30 has been shown to help. For example, you could see an improvement in stool consistency.
And, importantly, B. coagulans BC30 is one of the very few probiotics on the market to have received FDA GRAS status.
Why is it beneficial for pets to have probiotics?
In the past decade, science has shown that the health of the gut, which is largely a product of the microbiota (communities of microorganisms in the body), is intimately connected with virtually every aspect of the health of the body. B. coagulans play an impressive role in eliminating infections, reducing GI diseases and aiding in digestion and gut health.