Exploring the Potential Side Effects of Probiotics for Dogs and Cats

Exploring the Potential Side Effects of Probiotics for Dogs and Cats

As pet owners, we constantly strive to provide the best care for our pawed pals, to ensure well-being and happiness. When it comes to maintaining their health, probiotics have gained significant attention for their potential to support the digestive system, enhance immune function, and promote overall vitality in dogs and cats. However, it's important to have a comprehensive understanding of probiotics, including their potential side effects, to make informed decisions regarding our pets' health.

In this blog, we will delve into the possible side effects of probiotics for dogs and cats, shedding light on their benefits and offering insights on how to minimize the likelihood of any adverse reactions. By navigating the realm of probiotics with knowledge and care, we can ensure that our beloved companions reap the full benefits of these remarkable supplements while minimizing any potential risks.

  1. Diarrhea: probiotics increase the amount of good microbes in your pup or kitty’s tummy. But if they have lots of bad bacteria in their gut, it needs to be evacuated. In most cases, this will happen with frequent bowel movements over time, but if the bacteria in their tummies is very titled towards more bad bacteria they may have an evacuative bowel movement or diarrhea. Usually there are signs to look for such as immune issues or digestive issues. In these cases, it’s good to start the probiotic with food or ensure that the probiotics are given with prebiotics and digestive enzymes to help provide a smoother transition.

  1. Fluid Balance Upset. As probiotics shift the good and bad bacteria balance, this can also change the metabolism of your pet and cause them  to potentially hold onto more fluid in their bodies or their tummy. This is due to probiotics increasing the speed at which food is digested (a good thing) which can enhance and increase sodium and fluid absorption in general. This is usually a short transitionary period and can be helped again by providing a probiotic which also contains prebiotics and digestive enzymes.


  1. Allergic Reactions. It’s good to note that this is incredibly rare and usually occurs in dogs who are immunosuppressed and/or on medication. It is recommended to be very careful when administering to immunosuppressed dogs and consult your vet before doing as probiotics are immunostimulating, and increase your pet’s immune system which is typically a good thing. However, if your dog has weakened immunity or is on NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) you want to be very careful and work with a professional.

To minimize the likelihood of side effects, start with a lower dosage of probiotics and gradually increase it over time. This allows your pet's system to adjust to the introduction of new bacteria. If you notice any concerning symptoms, such as persistent diarrhea, severe gastrointestinal upset, or allergic reactions, discontinue the use of probiotics and consult your veterinarian for guidance.



Quick Tips:

  • To minimize the likelihood of side effects, start with a lower dosage of probiotics and gradually increase it over time. 

  • Feed them with food to start

  • Avoid using probiotic treats as the other ingredients feed bad bacteria in the gut

  • Work with your vet if you are unsure about dosage or potency

  • Find a high quality product with at least 2 billion CFU per serving and at least four different probiotic strains

When selecting a probiotic for your pet, it's advisable to choose a high-quality product specifically formulated for dogs or cats. Look for products that contain a diverse range of beneficial bacteria strains and have undergone quality testing. It's also beneficial to opt for probiotics that include prebiotics and digestive enzymes, as these can support the overall digestive health of your pet and aid in a smoother transition.


These reasons aside, it's important to recognize that probiotics offer numerous benefits to dogs and cats when used appropriately. Probiotics can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and enhance nutrient absorption. They can also contribute to fresher breath and promote a shinier coat. Additionally, for older pets, probiotics can provide a much-needed boost of energy.



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