Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Postbiotics for Dogs and Cats
Cats and Dogs

Pre, Pro, and Postbiotics — What’s the Difference Between All of These?

Pre, pro, and postbiotics are a growing group of supplements designed to help maintain your pet’s optimal health. Here’s how all of these gut-friendly bacteria, and their supporting nutrients, help maintain a healthy gut biome for your pet.

Pre, Pro, and Postbiotics — What’s the Difference Between All of These?

When looking at your pet’s food, you may have seen an advertisement stating “with added prebiotics.” Or, your vet may have recommended a probiotic supplement to help with your dog or cat’s chronic diarrhea. Pre, pro, and postbiotics are a growing group of supplements designed to help maintain your pet’s optimal health. They can help support chronic GI issues and support a healthy digestive tract by promoting healthy gut flora and beating out bad bacteria. Here’s how all of these gut-friendly bacteria, and their supporting nutrients, help maintain a healthy gut biome for your pet.

What Is the Gut Biome?

The digestive tract is a complex system that helps break down foods into usable nutrients. But it also helps protect the rest of the body from harmful pathogens, illnesses, and more. In addition, the gut is filled with millions of microorganisms, such as bacteria and yeast, that play a symbiotic role in keeping the gut functioning properly. 

When working as it should, the gut biome helps with detoxification, protects against harmful pathogens, and assists in the breakdown and uptake of nutrients [1]. When this gut biome is out of balance, it can have disastrous effects such as diarrhea, digestive upset, and a decrease in your pet’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients. 

What Is a Prebiotic?

While most people know about probiotics, prebiotics may be a newer, unknown term. However, this supplement is gaining popularity, especially as an additive to many pet foods. Prebiotics are plant fibers that help the bacteria in your dog or cat’s gut thrive. Rather than being a nutrient your pet digests, prebiotic fibers are broken down by beneficial bacteria in the gut. This helps promote their population and maintain proper gut flora. [2] Prebiotics can also support healthy digestion and normal bowel function. 

What Is a Probiotic?

Probiotics are the most well-known of the three supplements. You’ve likely come across a probiotic while eating a tub of yogurt or drinking a fermented drink. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are beneficial for your pet’s digestive tract. By feeding probiotic-rich foods or giving probiotic supplements, you can help support your pet’s GI tract with healthy gut flora. This is especially important after a bout of illness or course of antibiotics. Probiotics can help maintain the good bacteria that may have been wiped out along with the bad bacteria in their gut.

What Is a Postbiotic?

Postbiotics are the least common, and the newest, of the three supplements. However, they’re quickly gaining popularity — and for good reason. Postbiotics are secreted by the good bacteria in your pet’s gut. These secretions include beneficial enzymes, acids, and other organic compounds that can help boost overall GI health [3]. As the gut is filled with healthy gut bacteria, their secretions help work in symbiosis with your dog or cat’s digestive tract. 

Postbiotics are still relatively new as a supplement on their own. Newer techniques have made it possible to single out and harness these ingredients without being broken down by the stomach when fed to your pet. In addition to giving them as a supplement on their own, feeding beneficial bacteria through the use of prebiotics, probiotics, and ingredients that boost healthy gut populations can result in higher natural production of postbiotics in your pet’s gut.

How Do All Three Work Together?

Think of all three groups as a one-two-three punch for boosting your dog or cat’s gut health. By supplementing all three products, you can support a healthy gut flora and proper digestion and bowel health. Feeding a prebiotic diet or supplement benefits the bacteria already in the gut. It also supports the health of any probiotic bacteria supplements given. And, by keeping the gut flora happy and healthy, extra postbiotic secretions can promote great gut health.

But, it can be tricky to completely boost all of your pet’s gut flora just by feeding a probiotic. Stomach acids can easily break down bacteria before they reach the gut in high enough numbers. And, prebiotics can’t do much if there isn’t already a large, healthy gut population. The addition of postbiotics can help ensure that these beneficial enzymes are still reaching your pet’s GI tract as you boost their gut flora with pre and probiotics.

If your pet suffers from chronic digestive issues such as chronic diarrhea, food allergies, or inflammatory diseases, a gut-healthy supplement may help. By supporting the gut flora, you can help your pet maintain a more stable gut environment, digestive function, and a healthy inflammatory response. As with any supplement, it’s always a good idea to talk with your vet first. They can make sure it’s right for your pet and doesn’t interfere with any special diets.

Why You Should Offer Separate Pre and Postbiotic Supplements

It’s important to offer a well-rounded set of supplements to ensure your dog or cat’s gut stays healthy at every step. However, offering these supplements separately can ensure the best efficacy when giving a GI supplement to your pet. By providing separate probiotic and postbiotic supplements, you can ensure accurate dosing of each for optimal results. 

Consider trying out Fera Pet’s Probiotics + Prebiotics together with Postbiotics Plus. Together, these two supplements provide a full spectrum of gut boosting ingredients. Probiotics + Prebiotics offers a wide variety of beneficial bacteria in addition to inulin to help keep them fed and healthy. Dr. Dulake hand picked 12 powerful strains of good bacteria for Fera’s Probiotics + Prebiotics to promote a healthy microbiome and immune system. Postbiotics Plus ensures those bacteria stay happy and healthy with its key blend of herbal ingredients. In addition, it provides extra beneficial enzymes to help your dog or cat’s gut stay in top shape.

It’s important to know just how much goes into keeping your dog or cat’s gut flora healthy. By supporting good gut bacteria from start to finish, you can maintain a healthy digestive tract for your pet. If your dog or cat suffers from chronic GI upset, consider adding in a pre, pro, and postbiotic group of supplements to help keep their tummies happy and healthy.


[1] Pinna, C., & Biagi, G. (2016, February 18). The utilization of prebiotics and synbiotics in dogs. Italian Journal of Animal Science. Taylor and Francis Online. Accessed 18 June 2024.   

[2] Perini, M. P., & Pedrinelli, V. (2023, July 24). Potential effects of prebiotics on gastrointestinal and immunological modulation in the feeding of Healthy Dogs: A Review. Feed Fermentation: Nutrition and Metabolism. MDPI. Accessed 18 June 2024.  

[3] Sunvold, G. D. (2020, June). Bio-actives: What is the potential role of postbiotics in pet food?. GlobalPets: Pets International (pages 16-17). Publitas. Accessed 18 June 2024.