Vets advised to assess the evidence for the probiotics they recommend

Veterinary professionals advised to assess the evidence supporting the probiotics they recommend

Veterinary professionals are being encouraged to look at the evidence that supports the use of the probiotics they recommend. Studies carried out on diets claiming to contain probiotics have previously found that they generally did not meet the label claim when evaluated1,2 and there are many other reasons why probiotics might not exert the benefits veterinary professionals might expect to see.

Libby Sheridan, MVB MRCVS, Purina® Veterinary Technical Affairs Manager, UK & Ireland says the efficacy of probiotics is thought to be strain specific3 and recommends the clinician critically assesses the evidence for the particular strain and preparation of probiotics stocked or used, “The quality and efficacy of probiotics can vary and while in some cases there is strong evidence for efficacy in the targeted species, for others, the evidence is scant. Having experienced it myself, I know it’s not always easy when working in a busy practice to take the time to ensure the evidence is there, but the studies back up that we should assess these things carefully before making a robust recommendation to our clients.”

Most of the probiotics commercially available to veterinary professionals use the lactic acid bacterium Enterococcus faecium. The particular strain and preparation of any probiotic will affect its ability to reach the large intestine, the expected site of action, intact.  The evidence for the SF68 strain of Enterococcus faecium has been validated in a number of studies4-11 over recent years. Proven benefits of the SF68 strain include those focused on the gastrointestinal system where it supports canine and feline intestinal health and microflora balance and those with wider implications, such as support for a healthy immune system.

Image shows the veterinary probiotic FortiFloraThe team at Nestlé® Purina® PetCare is currently offering veterinary practices a complimentary counter top unit and pillow packs, to help vets and nurses communicate the benefits of probiotics to clients.   The unit can hold a cat and dog 30 sachet box of PURINA® PRO PLAN® FortiFlora® from practice stock and the pillow packs can be used to dispense single sachets, so the client can trial the product with their pet at home. FortiFlora® contains the SF68 strain of Enterococcus faecium.

To obtain a unit or discuss the science, veterinary professionals should contact their PURINA® Veterinary Nutrition Partner or telephone the PURINA® Veterinary Nutrition Team on 0800 212161 quoting code VETPRESS.

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  1. Weese JS, Arroyo L. Bacteriological evaluation of dog and cat diets that claim to contain probiotics. Can Vet J. (2003); 44: 212
  2. Weese JS, Martin H. (2011) Assessment of commercial probiotic bacterial contents and label accuracy. Can Vet J. 52: 43–46
  3. Culligan E, Hill C and Sleator R (2009) Probiotics and gastrointestinal disease: successes, problems and future prospects. Gut Pathogens 1, 19. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-1-19
  4. Benyacoub J, Perez PF, Rochat F et al., (2005) Enterococcus faecium SF68 enhances the immune response to Giardia intestalis in mice. J Nutr,135 (5), 1171-6
  5. Veir JK, Knorr R, Cavadini C et al., (2007) Effect of Supplementation with Enterococcus faecium (SF68) on Immune Functions in Cats. Veterinary Therapeutics 8: 4, 229-238
  6. Benyacoub J, Czarnecki-Maulden G, Cavadini C et al., (2003) Supplementation of food with Enterococcus faecium (SF68) stimulates immune functions in young dogs. Nutr 133 (4), 1158-1162
  7. Lappin M, Veir JK, Satyaraj E, Czarnecki-Maulden G (2008). Pilot study to evaluate the effect of oral supplementation of Enterococcus faecium SF68 on cats with latent feline herpesvirus 1. JFMS, 11(8), 650-654
  8. Bybee SN, Scorza AV and Lappin MR (2011). Effect of the Probiotic Enterococcus faecium SF68 on Presence of Diarrhea in Cats and Dogs House in an Animal Shelter. J Vet Intern Med; 25, 856-860
  9. Fenimore A, Groshong L, Scorza V, Lappin MR (2012) Evaluation of Enterococcus faecium SF68 supplementation with metronidazole for the treatment of non-specific diarrhoea in dogs housed in animal shelters ACVIM Forum Proceedings, p 793.
  10. Gore AM, Reynolds A. (2012) Effects of Enterococcus Faecium on stress diarrhea. ACVIM Forum Proceedings; p 453
  11. Waldron W, Kerr W, Czarnecki-Maulden G, David J (2012) Supplementation with Enterococcus faecium reduces flatulence in dogs. In: Proceedings 16th Congress of the European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition, p 51