Dogs and cats have been cohabiting with us for thousands of years. They are the major human companions. Today, dogs and cats live in urban areas. Cats and most dogs are on high carbohydrate diets and face similar life-style challenges as the human beings. The health and well-being of companion animals, just as their owners, depends on the gut microbes. Providing a proper care and nutritionally balanced diet to companion animals is recognised as a part of our responsibility to maintain the health and well being of our pet. However, as microbiota differences may facilitate exposure to pathogens and harmful environmental influences, it is prudent to search for novel tools to protect dogs and cats and at the same time the human owners from pathogens. Specific probiotic strains and/or their defined combinations may be useful in the canine and feline nutrition, therapy, and care. Probiotic supplementations have been successful in the prevention and treatment of acute gastroenteritis, treatment of IBD, and prevention of allergy in companion animals. New challenges for probiotic applications include maintenance of obesity and overweight, urogenital tract infections, Helicobacter gastritis and parasitic infections. The probiotics of human origin appear to be among the new promising tools for the maintenance of pets' health. However, the host-derived microorganisms might be the most appropriate probiotic source. Therefore, more controlled trials are needed to characterise new and safe probiotic preparations with an impact on general health and well being as well as health maintenance in dogs and cats.
Keywords: Cat; Dog; Gut microbiota; Health; Prebiotic; Probiotic; Veterinary care.
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