Looking for an alternative to probiotic supplements for your furry friend? Yoghurt could be the answer. There has been much debate about it—whether it is beneficial or if it could even pose harm. Many pet owners choose yoghurt as they believe it is a more natural alternative that their pets will enjoy.

So why are probiotics all the rage in the first place?

The scoop on probiotics

Probiotics are useful active cultures found in the digestive tract. However, only specific strains of bacteria are known to be beneficial in certain ways and in certain species only. Strains known to be beneficial to dogs and cats are Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus coagulans and Lactobacillus acidophilus. Probiotics are known to be effective in treating digestive problems in pets, particularly diarrhoea. Studies in healthy cats have shown a reduction in negative bacterium when dosed with Lactobacillus.

When given probiotics, your furkid will enjoy enhanced mineral absorption, improved digestion and boosted immunity. The best and most crucial time to start probiotics is when your pets are still young and growing. Healthy bacteria in the tummy will make them less prone to illnesses and allergies when it comes their way.

Commercial Probiotics

Probiotic supplements are most commonly found in powder form and are activated by mixing with water. They can be easily found over the counter or available from your vet. Furthermore, pet supplements that enter Singapore are required to go through a thorough check by the AVA. So you can rest assured that your furkid is not ingesting anything hazardous. Some vets believe that supplements are more effective as they have higher bacterium content as compared to yoghurt. However, as every vet has their preferred probiotic supplement, pet owners should speak to their regular vet before purchasing any probiotic products.

Yoghurt: A cultured alternative

While yoghurt is a good source of natural probiotics, many pooches and kitties are lactose intolerant, so do ensure that your pet is not before feeding them yoghurt. Yoghurt offers additional nutrients such as vitamins and proteins, providing your furkids with the energy they need. It also provides calcium for strong and healthy bones. When choosing yoghurt, ensure that it is low-fat or non-fat, especially if your furry pal is on the chubby side.

Do not feed them yoghurt that has artificial sweeteners, sugars or flavours. Depending on your pet’s weight, one or two tablespoons a day is sufficient. Always consult your vet when making adjustments to your pet’s diet. Despite reported benefits of yoghurt, some pet parents believe that yoghurt does not contain sufficient or the right types of probiotics for an effective outcome. It is also still uncertain if the live cultures in yoghurt can survive the highly acidic conditions in the digestive tract or if they have to be consistently replenished. Others believe that there may be negative side effects as yoghurt is pasteurised. Heat destroys probiotics so they need to be added  back into the process. This limits the strains of probiotics.

So what’s the verdict?

While both yoghurt and probiotic supplements are beneficial for your pet’s gastrointestinal health, it is important not to overfeed, as anything in excess can be detrimental to health. Always stick to the recommended dose and never exceed it. It is best to give less than the recommended dosage if you feed your pet other types of supplements. Either supplements or yoghurt should only be given occasionally, such as once a week or once a fortnight. 

 If you decide to feed yoghurt, it is advisable to start with a trial session. It would allow you to know if yoghurt is effective or a no-go for your furkid.

Thinking of putting Fido or Kitty on a yoghurt trial? Here are a few things to monitor:

  • Weight and food intake
  • Consistency of poo
  • Smell of breath
  • Skin and coat texture
  • Gastrointestinal signs (E.g. vomiting, diarrhoea)