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The intestinal tract is home to a mind-boggling number of bacteria. While we usually think of bacteria in context of the diseases they cause, the “good” bacteria normally found within the gut are absolutely essential for proper digestion and immune function. Without them dogs and cats could not break down or absorb nutrients from food, and disease-causing “bad” bacteria could more easily infect the gastrointestinal tract.
Diarrhea is the most common symptom of a loss of “good” intestinal bacteria. But even when a pet receives appropriate treatment for diarrhea from your vet, their intestinal tract sometimes needs a little help getting back to normal. Digestive supplements that contain living “good” bacteria called “probiotics” can do just that. Probiotics can also help treat diarrhea associated with stress, antibiotic use, or dietary changes. The table below compares some common digestive supplements for dogs, cats, and horses. Many digestive supplements also contain “prebiotics,” which are ingredients that support the growth of “good” intestinal bacteria. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are a common type of prebiotic.