Probiotics have the potential to improve the overall well-being of animals by enhancing functionality and improving the quality of animal feed.
Companion pets such as cats and dogs have shown to benefit from probiotics for a variety of conditions including allergic reactions, acute gastroenteritis, weight management and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). A study of twenty dogs with IBD showed an increase in regulatory T-cell markers and a restoration of balance to the gut microbiome in dogs treated with a probiotic formula containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus genera, compared to dogs treated with standard medicine.
Probiotics also can help improve animal feed and nutritional intake. Studies show Lactobacillus supplements to improve average daily gain and average daily feed intake of pigs while other studies show no significant effect. More research is therefore needed to establish the role of probiotics in animal nutrition. Nevertheless, probiotics are commonly used as supplements to animal feed for swine due to antitoxin and diarrhea possible benefits and immunomodulation.
Likewise, probiotics have shown to increase antibody production in broilers and encourage growth. A research study induced an Eimeria acervuline infection in broiler chickens and found a stronger immune response against the infection as well as higher IL-2 (growth factor) in Lactobacillus-fed broiler chickens compared to chickens not given the probiotic. Studies have shown similar results in cattle, sheep and goats for growth rate and production performance due to probiotic-supplemented animal feed.
Overall, probiotics can enhance animal health and feed, and may act as an alternative to in-feed antibiotics for farm-raised animals.