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Forti-flora and other brands of probiotics for cats

Discussion in 'Cat Health' started by clshealer, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. clshealer

    clshealer Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Dec 31, 2012
    My experience with the use of Probiotics is generally favorable, when high quality and appropriate species are used.  However, forti-flora & other brands that are sold through Veterinarians for small animals are not adequate to the task. Most Veterinary probiotics are adopted from mixtures developed for calves, sheep, foals and pigs where they work well. If a probiotic developed for large animals has been repackaged to use in small animals you will see "E.coli" as one of the organisms. I do not recommend probiotics that contain E.coli for small animals. One month ago I searched  the science/agriculture/medical literature looking for any data to support the use of E. coli in probiotics. I found none that showed a benefit and in some experiments infections resulted. I also evaluated the science papers available from the development companies. All studies I was given by these companies were inconclusive or so poorly done no effect would be measurable. Yet these companies claim their studies prove the benefit of their product.  Lower price is the reason for this widespread practice.

    I recommend  probiotics available for people and reduce the dose to 1/5th -1/10th of recommended on the label, based on body size.

    Look for products that:

    1. Are kept in a cooler and have a use by date.

    2. Have a minimum of 1 billion organisms on back side of label.

    3. use at least 3 different organisms , ideally some lactobacillus species and bacillus species.

    4. Cats, dogs or people may be allergic to the base ingredients. Most probiotics are grown in naturals oils or dairy products. With cats I avoid dairy as the base because so many cats are lactose intolerant once they are adults.

    5. Better results occur if probiotics are mixed  into warm (not hot) food and allowed to sit for 15 minutes. Between temperature of 85-100 degrees. Same as baby bottle temperatures. This allows the dried organisms to reactivate and multiple before entering the harsh stomach pH.

    6. Do not give within 2 hours of giving an oral antibiotic.

    Probiotics are most useful for diarrhea that happens during or following antibiotic treatment. Begin probiotics the same day as the antibiotics and continue once a day for a full 30 days after the end of last antibiotic.

    Probiotics can be helpful for skin allergies after 1 to 3 months but only as part of a complete allergy treatment protocol. Used alone probiotics do not cure allergies. Long term probiotics assist the immune system to regulate itself as part of an anti-allergy diet.

    As far as allergies to food are concerned, probiotics are a helpful part of later in a treatment process when they do most benefit. Early in treatment, the Gut can be so irritated that it reacts to every new product.  See a holistic Veterinarian who can determine the cause of feline diarrhea then a treatment approach can be determined.
    ldg purraised this.

  2. jennyr

    jennyr TCS Member Top Cat

    Dec 6, 2004
    The Land of Cheese
    Many people here, myself included, have found pro-biotics a useful supplement when a cat is sick. However, it is TCS policy never to make any recommendations that replace veterinary advice, and always to consult your vet before using any medication or supplement. It is always good to talk to the vet already armed with well-researched information, so your post is useful to those who may be confused about their options.

    FOr your information and for others who may be reading, here is the relevant section from the TCS rules:

    1) If you suspect that your cat may be ill, please contact your vet immediately. No online advice can replace direct veterinary intervention.You are welcome to look for advice in the health forum while waiting for that appointment, but never delay proper veterinary care waiting for Internet advice.

    2. Do not provide medical advice. Discussing various options is encouraged and you may share your experience including details about what kind of medication was administered and dosage. However, do not suggest to another member that they should change anything in the course of treatment prescribed by their vet without first consulting with a qualified veterinarian.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013

  3. ldg

    ldg TCS Member Veteran

    Thanks for the info, clshealer.

    Your info conflicts a bit with information from my holistic D.V.M. Her advice is to provide (for adult cats) 10 billion CFU. She agrees using a human probiotic with live cultures is best - she recommends simply a good acidophilus supplement - most come with bifidus, and both are beneficial to cats. Some are made from a base culture of goat milk, which is typically fine for cats.

    I think it important to mention - if you use probiotics during antibiotic treatment, they should not be given together. :nono: Current thinking is the probiotics should be given mid-point between antibiotic doses.

  4. ritz

    ritz TCS Member Veteran

    Apr 2, 2010
    Annapolis, MD
    This is my lay[woman's] experience with probiotics:   after a 36 hour episode of Ritz vomiting three times I took Ritz to the vet.  He blamed bad meat (I feed raw), prescribed antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and Forti Flora, a probiotic.

    Not crazy about what else is in Forti Flora, I did some research, consulted with a certified Chinese herbalist and almost immediately switched Ritz from Forti Flora to a human grade probiotic.  For me personally, I don't worry too much about what exactly the probiotics protect against and what organisms they contain, in part because I like to look at the bigger picture and in part because Ritz doesn't have any underlying illnesses or diseases.

    In the month that Ritz has been on probiotics, she has been more active, wanting to play two or sometimes even three times a day.  I attribute Ritz vomiting to just one of those things, perhaps she ate a bug that didn't agree with her.

    PS:  the antibiotic even chicken/tuna flavored tastes horrible, so I used the Forti Flora to disguise the taste.  She literally licked the bowl and inside the serving package of the FF.

  5. ldg

    ldg TCS Member Veteran

    I provide daily probiotics because the natural diet of a cat includes them - they eat the guts of their prey. When feeding a high protein, low carb diet, the lack of fiber means there's little substrate to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, so I provide it, given the importance of healthy gut bacteria to immune system function.

  6. pushylady

    pushylady TCS Member Veteran

    Jul 26, 2005
    Forti Flora certainly seems to taste good to cats! My picky boy Wiggies lapped it right up. My vet said it was used as an appetite stimulant as well as for health. I find it quite expensive, so don't use it regularly but I would if my cat was ill and this helped.

  7. ldg

    ldg TCS Member Veteran

    :nod: It's the animal digest in it - it makes it smell like kibble, which is typically sprayed with animal digest to increase palatability. Most cats love it, and it's a great (but not very healthy) way to get them to eat.

  8. millicent

    millicent TCS Member Kitten

    Jan 7, 2014
    Cishealer names FortiFlora as one of the inadequate probiotic brands sold by vets for cats.  I agree, FortiFlora lacks adequate probiotic strains.  However, cishealer's post that E.coli is a common organism used in many of these brands sent me rushing

    to grab my box of Forti-Flora and read the ingredients list, which (thank goodness) does not include E.coli! 

    The following is printed on the FF box:  

    FortiFlora Ingredients:

    Animal digest, Enterococcus faecium, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin E supplement, beta-Carotene, zinc proteinate, taurine, salt, manganese proteinate, ferrous sulfate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite.

    My 16-y-o male tuxedo cat was dxd with Stage II kidney disease five months ago and was not looking well-- very droopy, and had lost weight.  A change of diet was one recommendation and to entice him to eat his new food a holistic vet suggested we sprinkle it with FortiFlora, which works amazingly well for that purpose.   It just takes a tiny amount, too, so a 30-count box lasts a long time.  Used past the expiration date is fine.  The vet ephasized that she likes FF for its taste appeal, not for its probiotic properties.  I can see why, as FF only has the one strain (E.faecium) of beneficial bacteria.    

    I am cautious of any product I give the furbabies and was hesitant about the FF suggestion initially, but absolutely needed to get my little guy to eat, as he was losing weight.  FF makes food so appetizing (apparently) he polishes his bowl and asks for more.  I'm thrilled to say he seems to have turned around.  He has perked up, his weight has stablized, and his blood pressure was "perfect" on his last vet visit.  All likely due to many things we're doing, but FF is certainly playing an important part.

    By the way, the product Azodyl is an effective probiotic / supplement for cats and dogs; specifically developed to support kidney function.  It contains Kibow Biotics [E. thermophilus (KB 19), L. acidophilus (KB 27), B. longum (KB 31), and psyllium husk].  It must be shipped on dry ice and kept refrigerated, AND it's rather costly.  However, we noticed an improvement in kitty's energy and alertness after being started on this.  One-half capsule 2xdaily with food. 

    The third thing is Ubiquinol.  Read reviews about it for pets on Amazon and Mercola websites.  We give our guy 1/3 of a 100mg gelcap every day.


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