Background: Beneficial effects of probiotics have never been analyzed in an animal shelter.
Hypothesis: Dogs and cats housed in an animal shelter and administered a probiotic are less likely to have diarrhea of ≥2 days duration than untreated controls.
Animals: Two hundred and seventeen cats and 182 dogs.
Methods: Double blinded and placebo controlled. Shelter dogs and cats were housed in 2 separate rooms for each species. For 4 weeks, animals in 1 room for each species was fed Enterococcus faecium SF68 while animals in the other room were fed a placebo. After a 1-week washout period, the treatments by room were switched and the study continued an additional 4 weeks. A standardized fecal score system was applied to feces from each animal every day by a blinded individual. Feces of animals with and without diarrhea were evaluated for enteric parasites. Data were analyzed by a generalized linear mixed model using a binomial distribution with treatment being a fixed effect and the room being a random effect.
Results: The percentage of cats with diarrhea ≥2 days was significantly lower (P= .0297) in the probiotic group (7.4%) when compared with the placebo group (20.7%). Statistical differences between groups of dogs were not detected but diarrhea was uncommon in both groups of dogs during the study.
Conclusion and Clinical Importance: Cats fed SF68 had fewer episodes of diarrhea of ≥2 days when compared with controls suggests the probiotic may have beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract.