Just like us, cats and dogs have trillions of tiny organisms (microbes like bacteria, fungi, and viruses) living in their gastrointestinal tracts. Collectively called the gut microbiome, those little organisms do all sorts of amazing, important things for your patient, like helping digest their food, protecting against disease, and maintaining a beautiful coat, just to name a few.
Defining the Gut Microbiome
Symptoms Related to the Gut Microbiome
In a healthy gut, the thousands of different kinds of microbes make up a diverse, balanced community. But when there aren’t enough beneficial microbes or there are too many harmful ones, some of that community’s important functions stop working, and your patient may develop uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhea or itchy skin. This kind of disruption in the gut microbiome can be caused by a variety of factors, including disease, age, diet, and medications—especially antibiotics.
Balanced Gut Microbiome
Imbalanced Gut Microbiome
A diverse, balanced gut microbiome includes thousands of different kinds of bacteria and other microbes. This dynamic community is crucial for the proper functioning of your patient’s body.
An imbalanced gut microbiome may contain only a handful of different bacterial groups. When important kinds of bacteria are missing, the gut can’t function properly, and your patient may develop uncomfortable symptoms.
How Antibiotics Affect the Microbiome
In some situations, these powerful medications are a necessary and even life-saving treatment, but antibiotics (like metronidazole) can make radical, long-term changes to your patient’s gut microbiome. That’s because antibiotics kill a lot of beneficial bacteria along with the harmful ones they’re meant to target. But if your patient needs a course of antibiotics, there’s still a lot you can do to support their gut health during and after treatment.
Find Out What’s Going On in Your Patient's Gut Microbiome
Microbiome testing is a great way to learn the status of your patient’s digestive health and whether their diet is promoting the right microbes. With our easy, non-invasive, at-home test, you can find out what’s really going on with the bacteria living in your patient’s digestive system. And if an imbalanced community of bacteria in the gut microbiome is causing symptoms like diarrhea or itchy skin, we can help you restore harmony among the gut microbes. By rebalancing the gut microbiome, you can help your patient feel better.
How Diet Impacts Gut Health in Pets
Diet is the best and most important way to manage your patient’s gut microbiome. What you feed your cat or dog helps determine which kinds of microbes thrive and multiply in their gut. By feeding a diet that supports the beneficial kinds of microbes and discourages the harmful kinds, you can help your patient live a longer, happier life.
How Probiotics Affect Gut Health in Pets
Probiotic supplements do contain beneficial bacteria, but even the probiotics that are marketed specifically for pets contain only a few bacterial strains, and they’re typically not the right ones for cats and dogs. These products may temporarily improve some digestive symptoms, but the microorganisms they contain won’t become permanent residents of your patient’s gut, so they can’t fix an imbalance. In fact, new research suggests that probiotics can actually interfere with the recovery of the gut microbiome after antibiotic use.