This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
There is a general rise in awareness that antibiotics can have some pretty detrimental side effects for short and long-term health. Although the breakthrough science and focus on gut health is for humans, it is just as important for our furry friends. Today we explore all things gut health for animals, and how to help your cat or dog restore gut health after antibiotic use.
Antibiotics and Microbiome Health
Like the human microbiome, our pets have an array of living bacteria that makes up various ecosystems (microbiomes) in their body. The mouth biome, the skin biome, and the gut biome are three prominent areas that play a crucial role in regulating the immune system and generating whole-body health. 
Antibiotics are a medicine that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms. They are born out of the ‘germ theory’, the medical concept whereby diseases are caused by the invasion of microorganisms that can be killed. This theory gave rise to the anti-bacterial products that swept the nation, including anti-bacterial soaps and antibiotic medications.
As science evolves, so has our understanding of how bodies work, and germ theory has been replaced with a more comprehensive concept known as ‘terrain theory’. This theory suggests that the body’s bacteria is actually a key player in regulating health and protecting the body and that the ‘best’ things to do are to encourage the proliferation of the good bacteria as a means of fighting off the bad. 
Using antibiotics can mean life or death in certain situations, but the overprescription and overuse of them have led to an array of problems ranging from decimated gut health, autoimmunity, and even the creation of deadly drug-resistance bacteria (like MRSA). 
Microbiome Health for the Whole Family
Although some people may tend to think of outdoor animals as dirty (always tracking their muddy paws in the house!), the benefits for your human microbiome are actually profound. Studies even suggest that families with outdoor pets (like cats and dogs) have a broader spectrum of bacteria in their gut than families that do not. 
This is because we exchange bacteria with anyone we are in close contact with. Since outdoor cats and dogs generally spend quite some time digging in the dirt and taking in a broad spectrum of outdoor organisms in their body, this usually translates to a better biome for the whole family.
Taking care of your pet’s microbiome will not only help them thrive, but it will indeed also improve the microbiomes of everyone in the household!
How to Restore Your Pets Gut After Antibiotics
1. Get Outside and Dirty in Nature
One of the best ways for animals to enhance their microbiome is to spend time down and dirty in nature. Soil-based spores can help repopulate the gut with a wide range of good bacteria. These good bacteria can be picked up simply by spending time in nature, playing in the dirt, digging, and even eating dirt! 
A key thing to note is the quality of the environment your pet spends time outside. Many city parks are sprayed with toxic chemicals like glyphosate to keep the weeds at bay. Letting your pup or cat nibble and play in sprayed grass can lead to an array of severe health conditions and even more significant destruction of their microbiome.
2. Ditch the Tap Water
This point is pretty straight forward: if your pet is drinking treated city tap water, they will always be battling a compromised microbiome. City tap water is treated with chlorine to help kill harmful bacteria, but like most anti-biotics, chlorine does not distinguish between good and bad bacteria. 
By always bombing their system with even small doses of chlorine, your pet’s biome will never have a chance to truly thrive. Investing in a good water filter (that filters out many chemicals including heavy metals, chlorine, and fluoride) will ensure that they can stay hydrated without any biome-destroying side effects.
3. Focus on an Appropriate (Raw) Diet
It is well documented that grains cause inflammation in humans, and the connection rings true for cats and dogs as well.  Although they are being marketed to in the same way that humans are fast-food and other highly refined and processed foods, much of the kibble sold in pet stores is full of inflammatory nutrition-void ingredients.
Some of the top offenders are a combination of “real food” (but highly refined) as well as a lot of chemical-based garbage including:
- Vegetable oils
- Refine sugar
- Wheat and other grains
- Meat meal
- Artificial food dyes and flavors
- Corn syrup
- BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin
- Propylene Glycol
- Sodium Hexametaphosphate
Although many vets would disagree (in the same way that many medical doctors dismiss the role of diet in generating a very large proportion of human health): animals do better on raw foods. They have no evolved cooking their foods, and their natural instincts are to kill their prey and eat it raw.
A 10-year study by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD was conducted examining the impact of feeding cats raw meat scraps from the butcher vs. cooked meat. Alongside supplementation of cod liver oil and milk (testing for quality, between sweetened condensed milk, raw milk, and raw grass-fed milk).
Over generations of felines, this doctor examined the impact of feeding cats a cooked diet, including low immunity, irritability, and allergies to skeletal deformation, organ malfunction, poor development during kitten-hood, low birth rate, birth defects, infertility, and shortened life-span. 
There are an increasing amount of companies providing handmade raw meals for your pets, using only the best, raw, organic ingredients. If health and longevity are what you want for your pet: invest in a non-toxic, natural diet.
4. Mental Health and Stress
Both acute and chronic stress has the ability to destroy the gut microbiome.  Our pets’ mental health may not be something we think of much, since they don’t communicate verbally in the same way humans do, but it is just as crucial to their wellbeing.
Having animals is a known supporter of human mental health, but keeping on top of their mental health is important too!  Keeping an eye on their mental health is as simple as noticing a change in behavior, including energy levels, appetite, responsiveness, and openness to loved ones and strangers.
If you suspect your pet is feeling down, some tips to boost mental health and reduce stress in animals include:
- Having enough exercise/ access to the outdoors
- Avoiding exposure to chemically sprayed grass and environments
- Playing with them<
- Giving them mentally stimulating toys
- Massage and regular snuggles
- Giving them space
- Connecting with other animals of their kind
5. Beneficial Gut Bacteria
Probiotics are the ‘good’ kind of bacteria you want to introduce into the body to bolster the immune system and promote gut restoration.  With animals, it can be done through diet as well as through supplementation. It’s important to factor in any allergies your pet may have, but for the most part, some good food-based options include:
- Raw Goat Milk
- Fermented Vegetables
- Probiotics designed for animals
FidoSpore™ is the first probiotic supplement clinically proven to support digestive health and reduce leaky gut in dogs. Bacillus subtilis HU58 and Bacillus licheniformis (SL-307) are both spore-forming probiotics that produce digestive enzymes, strengthen the immune system, produce short-chain fatty acids, and maintain the gut barrier.
Pediococcus acidilactii is a lactic acid-producing bacterium that has a wide range of benefits in dogs. It has been used to treat dogs with digestive symptoms like constipation and diarrhea, as well as dogs infected by parvovirus. P. acidilactii is also known to crowd out unwanted pathogens like Shigella species, Salmonella species, Clostridium difficile, and E. coli. FidoSpore™ also contains defatted grass-fed beef liver extract added for flavor and aroma.
Caring for your pet’s gut health is a vital part of caring for their whole-body health and longevity. The gut biome plays a significant role in so many functions, including immune, mood, energy, and digestion. Since we share bacteria with anyone we come in close contact with (human and animal!) caring for your pet’s biome also means better health for the whole family. After antibiotic use, there are a few natural ways to restore your pet’s gut health, including getting outside, drinking filtered water, diet, mental health, and the consumption of food-based and probiotic supplementation.
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Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Revelation Health. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Revelation Health and associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Revelation Health encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.