Probiotics for Dogs & Cats : Understanding Strains and CFU
How to Find the Best Probiotic For Your Dog or Cat
Many manufacturers make the mistake of just taking human probiotic formulas and relabeling for pets. This usually manifests itself in products that are either:
1. Too Simple
Just a combination Lactobacillus acidophilus for dogs and Bifidobacterium formula, or,
2. Too Complex
A broad strain formula combining many different strains (some as much as 14 per formula)
How Many Strains of Probiotics Does My Pet Need?
Not too many. Choosing the best probiotic for your pet is not as simple as choosing the one with the most strains or CFU count. To choose the right probiotic that will be the MOST EFFECTIVE for his needs, find one that has the research backing it. If you do choose a probiotic formula with multiple strains, it is important for every one of those strains to not compete with one another, as well as be well-studied for their effectiveness in dogs and cats.
In our opinion, a 10-14 strain probiotic for pets is a haphazard formulation at best. There is little evidence that these extra strains will help your pet's issue, but there is good reason to believe that the unneeded strains will dilute the value and effectiveness of the beneficial strains.
Through our body of research, from literally hundreds of probiotic strains to choose from, we find that there are 6 strains of probiotics that cooperate effectively together to benefit your pet. Probiotic Miracle® contains guaranteed potency of these 6 highly-studied strains of bacteria.
Multi-Strain Probiotic Problems
Some strains are not complimentary and may compete with one another for absorption.
2. Lack of Research
Most of the probiotic strains have never been researched for dogs. Use of these strains and their benefit are merely speculative and likely based on a human-system model.
3. Low Quality or Poor Potency
These formulas tend to include extremely low amounts of each probiotic strain. Your dog does not get the therapeutic amount or even the preventative benefits it needs.
Is Acidophilus Enough For a Dog?
Acidophilus is a great species of bacteria for the gut. A truly high quality strain of acidophilus in the right CFU amount can potentially offer more benefit for your dog or cat than a formula with many low value strains. That said, for the most benefit to your pet, a targeted probiotic should contain more than just acidophilus.
Our research indicates that there are about 6 well-tested strains of probiotics that offer valid benefits to dogs and cats.
Dog Specific Research Regarding Probiotics
Probably the most studied probiotic strain in dogs is B. animalis. It has been demonstrated to reduce acute diarrhea, and improve overall intestinal health. However, most dog probiotic products do not contain this strain. We believe that over time all of the formulas will move to containing B. animalis because of the vast research.
Commentary: In this study B. animalis on its own reduced the resolution time in half from 6 days to 3 in dogs. Vet Microbiol. 2009 Oct 20;139(1-2):106-12. Epub 2009 May 19.
Portrait of a canine probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis, from gut to gut.
“Bifidobacterium animalis adhered to epithelial cells, transited the murine gastrointestinal tract to high numbers and significantly reduced S. typhimurium translocation. B. animalis consumption significantly reduced the carriage of Clostridia, in particular Clostridium difficile, in dogs. This study describes the isolation and screening of canine-derived bacterial strains with commensal traits. The results demonstrate that B. animalis has significant potential for improving canine gastrointestinal health.”
Commentary: Clostridium difficile is the pathogen that primarily causes diarrhea. The fact that B.animalis has such a dramatic effect on C. difficile, makes it really the number one choice for dealing with acute diarrhea.
Lactobacillus acidophilus as been show to be especially good with use in puppies. L. acidophilus was shown to increase weigh gain/growth in canines (Note it is thought that probiotics are critical in the puppy stage also for bolstering foundational immunity). Puppies supplemented with L. acidophilus were found to display less symptoms of allergies and other diseases in older years.
Along with L. fermentum, and L. salivarious, L. rhamnosus is one of the highest concentrated bacteria found in normal healthy canine microbiota. Formulas that do not have this probiotic in fairly high amounts should not claim to be specifically formulated for dogs.
“SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The selected LAB strains are among the first host-specific LAB with antimicrobial activity isolated from canines that could serve as potential probiotics for canine use.”
Commentary: This study shows that L. rhamnosus is one of the foundational bacteria found in canine intestinal tracts.
Again one of the naturally concentrated bacteria inherit to canine microbiota, L. fermentum has strong survival characteristics and the ability to significantly modify the intestinal microbiota.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Oct;72(10):6539-43.
As part of the Lactobacillus family, L. reuteri has many of the broad ranging health benefits. In dogs though they have found that reuteri may be the most resistant and may be especially helpful in controlling canine intestinal infections.
Again, one of the naturally concentrated bacteria inherent to canine microbiota. Strong and viable, this probiotic should always be in a natural canine probiotic formula.
CFU (Colony Forming Units)
A probiotic's CFU count represents the amount of viable (living) bacteria in a serving.
When it comes to probiotics for dogs and cats, we see a random approach to formulation ranging from extremely low CFU (i.e. 200-500 million), to extremely high CFU (i.e. 58 billion). This is also reflected in the types of strains used in each formula.
How many CFU of probiotics do dogs and cats need?
The amount of CFU needed depends on the problem that is being treated and the research available for dogs and cats is not as robust as it is in humans. For a pet with IBS, a higher CFU count is needed. Pets with diarrhea, a lower CFU of probiotics is in order (and higher counts may be contraindicated for diarrhea). Our findings show that for general health maintenance, 1-4 billion CFU is very effective for pets depending on the animal's weight.
There are 360 billion CFU of animal-researched probiotics in a large canister of Probiotic Miracle®, each scoop provides 1 billion CFU. This makes modifying dosages, higher or lower, for your dog or cat very simple.
A Confused Market
When it comes to probiotics for dogs and cats, we've seen a haphazard approach to formulation... from extremely low CFU to extremely high CFU. We've seen formulas that contain only one or two species, to products that include almost every species imaginable. We said...
"What does the science and research about probiotics for pets say?"
There are 6 strains of probiotics that cooperate effectively together to benefit your pet. Probiotic Miracle® contains guaranteed potency of these 6 highly-studied strains of bacteria.