Proviable for Cats: Overview, Dosage & Side Effects

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Proviable for cats is a probiotic supplement made by Nutramax. In this article, you will learn what Proviable is, how it works on the digestive system as a probiotic, evidence to support its use, and explore some frequently asked questions.

Proviable for Cats Overview

Medication Type:
Powdered capsule
Prescription Required?:
Proviable DC is over the counter, though Proviable Forte is only available through veteirnary practices.
FDA Approved?:
As a supplement, Proviable is not subject to FDA approval prior to release.
Brand Names:
Common Names:
Available Dosages:
Proviable DC contains 5 billion colony forming units (CFUs) of beneficial microorganisms. Proviable Forte contains 10 billion CFUs. Both forms also come in kits with a probiotic paste containing soluble fiber.
Expiration Range:
Products should be used before the expiration on the package.

About Proviable for Cats

Cat walking in the evening

Your cat’s digestive health requires a certain amount of balance in the bacteria that grow in their intestinal tract.

Proviable is a probiotic supplement indicated to help promote better stool quality and digestive health and balance. The intestinal tract is an environment that supports many strains of different types of bacteria. It all needs to be maintained within a certain balance to help with proper digestion, and intestinal health, and to avoid digestive upset.

Cats can have trillions of bacteria. Most of it is concentrated in their intestinal tract, with each cat possessing a unique balance depending on diet, overall health, lifestyle, and other factors.

A shift in the bacterial balance within the digestive tract can lead to the overgrowth of some bacteria that contribute to what is called dysbiosis. When dysbiosis occurs,  diarrhea develops. Shifts in the balance of a cat’s digestive tract are caused by stress, diet changes, infection, and other factors.

What Does Proviable Do for Cats?

cat running in the garden

Probiotics can help improve the quality of your cat’s digestive tract and are very safe to use.

Probiotics help restore and maintain balance by providing one or more strains of beneficial commensal bacteria. This counteracts the growth of other bacteria that may be more harmful if allowed to overpopulate the gut.

Proviable contains seven different strains of bacteria. There are two main versions of Proviable, which are Proviable-DC and Proviable Forte. Both products contain the same seven strains of beneficial microorganisms, but there are a couple of differences to be aware of.

Proviable-DC capsules contain 5 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of beneficial bacteria. Proviable Forte contains double the amount of total bacteria or 10 billion CFUs.

Proviable is a supplement, so it does not generally require a prescription. WhileProviable-DC is readily available from many sources over the counter or online, Proviable Forte is only available through purchase from a veterinary practice.

Each version of Proviable comes in sprinkle cap form, where one capsule is opened up and the powder inside is added to food. This is typically used for daily maintenance.

In cases of diarrhea or other signs of acute dysbiosis or upset, each version also comes in a kit that contains an oral syringe of paste, along with the capsules. The paste contains both probiotics and soluble fiber to help with loose stools and is given for a couple of days. The capsules are then also used once daily for several days for continued digestive support.

Both Proviable products also include prebiotics, which encourage the growth of probiotic bacteria within the gut. Products that contain both probiotics and prebiotics are termed “synbiotics.”

Also Read: FortiFlora Probiotic For Cats: Overview, Dosage & Side Effects

How Does Proviable Work?

cat eating wet food in cat bowl

Proviable is usually administered by mixing it in with a cat’s food.

The bacterial strains that Proviable contains are strains of bacteria naturally found within the digestive tract. Enterococcus faecium is one of the most commonly included bacterial strains in a probiotic for pets.

Enterococcus bacteria have some specific characteristics that can make them a useful bacterial type to include in a probiotic. A 2018 article in Frontiers of Microbiology entitled “The Genus Enterococcus: Between Probiotic Potential and Safety Concerns—An Update” describes some of these characteristics.

Enterococcus bacteria are highly competitive and resistant to changes in temperature and pH. This means they can more easily survive environmental changes going from a probiotic powder through the stomach and into the intestinal tract.

Enterococcus bacteria produce compounds called bacteriocins, which have the ability to target certain other bacterial strains, especially pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and Clostridium species.

The combination of outcompeting undesirable bacteria as well as being able to target and inhibit them is what gives Proviable some of its distinctive advantages. There are only a couple of approved veterinary supplements that include Enterococcus faecium.

Other species included in products like Proviable are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus thermophilus. These are also commensal bacteria normally found in the body, especially the gut. These bacteria aid in breaking down nutrients and helping with digestion.

Like many probiotic supplements, Proviable capsules contain a powder that is sprinkled over or mixed with food. Some folks may wonder how a powdered supplement kept at room temperature could possibly contain live bacteria.

A 2020 blog article posted on the website of the International Scientific Association for Probiotic and Prebiotics (ISAPP) answers this question.

In the article, Professor Gabriel Vinderola, an associate professor in microbiology at the National University of Litoral in Argentina, describes that most probiotic products appear as white powder due to the process of freeze-drying. By quickly removing water from around and inside the bacterial cells, the microbes are not killed but enter a dormant state where their metabolic activity is put on hold.

When these dormant little bacteria enter the gut, the environmental conditions trigger a restart in the metabolic processes of the bacteria, allowing them to grow, reproduce, and generally be active to provide their health benefits.

Some amount of cell death may still occur during a product’s shelf life. This is one reason why such high levels of colony-forming units (CFU’s) are found in probiotics.

Also Read: 10 Best Probiotics For Cats

Side Effects of Proviable for Cats

cat sleep in curling position

When dosed correctly, Proviable shows little to no side effects in most cats.

Proviable for cats is not known to have any observed or expected side effects. Generally, probiotics are safe and well-tolerated by a majority of pets.

The paste that comes in the kit could potentially lead to constipation if given too frequently or for too long. This is uncommon to see when it’s used for short 2-3 day periods for cats experiencing diarrhea.

One of Proviable’s bacterial strains Enterococcus as a bacteria has the potential to cause disease, sometimes cultured from some infections. The authors of the article listed above discuss this as part of the risk/benefit assessment for using Entercoccusas as a probiotic.

While Entercoccus faecium may occasionally contribute to infections in human patients, this occurs predominantly in hospitalized patients. While these infections can be very serious, they are considered very rare outside of a hospital environment where patients are already ill and have compromised immune systems.

In the same vein, probiotics containing Enterococcus faecium should be used cautiously in pets with severely compromised immune systems. Discuss Proviable use with your vet if you have concerns that your cat may have a severely compromised immune system.

In the powdered form you’re adding to your cat’s food, the bacteria contained are in a dormant state and do not become “active” until they reach the gut. Handling probiotic powder, therefore, is not considered to be a significant contamination risk.

Also Read: The 7 Best Supplements For Cat Urinary Health

Proviable for Cats Dosage

cat looking at the capsule medicine

Most cats respond well to taking Proviable in its powder form. Giving it to your cat as a whole capsule is also an option.

The box of Proviable-DC sprinkle caps comes in blister packs containing either 30 or 80 powder-filled capsules. Each capsule contains 5 billion CFU’s.

Proviable Forte comes in a similar packaging but with 45 capsules per package. Per the manufacturer, the dose of the Proviable capsules is one capsule once daily.

The capsule is opened and the powder is sprinkled on as a topical or mixed with food. It may also be administered directly by mouth without opening the capsule. When pilling a cat, follow-up administration of a capsule or tablet with 1-2ml of water.

The Proviable kits containing the paste and sprinkle capsule combination are designed to be used concurrently together. The paste is used for 2-3 days to help with diarrhea and the capsules are given for ten days until finished.

For cats, the dosage of the paste is 1ml given 2-3 times daily, or every 8-12 hours, for 48-72 hours total.

While the paste is designed for only short-term use, the capsules can be continued for longer periods. Discuss with your veterinarian when your cat should be placed on a probiotic and for how long.

Your cat may have other health conditions where a probiotic may be recommended for long-term use. Whether Proviable is used for short-term or long-term periods depends on your vet’s assessment of your cat’s condition.

Also Read: The Best Homemade Cat Food Recipes For Kidney Disease

In Summary

vet holding and checking a cat

Proviable-DC is available over the counter, while Proviable Forte needs to be obtained from a veterinarian.

Proviable is one of the top probiotics used in veterinary medicine to help pets with diarrhea. Like most probiotics, it is considered to be safe and beneficial in helping restore balance to a cat’s digestive tract.

The seven bacterial strains found in Proviable are all normal commensal organisms of the digestive tract. They carry far more benefits than risks in supplementation. While it is not a prescription item, consult with your veterinarian about when to use Proviable and how long it should be used. Proviable Forte, which contains more CFU’s, is also available only through veterinarians, while Proviable-DC can be found over the counter.

Drug Dosing Disclaimer: We are only able to provide doses for medications that are FDA approved for use in cats and only as the label guidelines dictate. For medications that are used off-label we can only provide guidelines and safety information for use. Safe and appropriate dosing for off-label medications can only be determined by a primary care veterinarian.

We encourage you to work with your veterinarian to determine if a particular medication is appropriate for your cat. Changing or adjusting a dose for your cat on your own without consulting with a veterinarian can carry risk. We do not encourage use of medications prescribed for human use in pets without first consulting with a primary care veterinarian.

Also Read: The 9 Best Cat Foods For Diarrhea

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Proviable do for cats?

Proviable is a probiotic powdered supplement intended to help support a healthy intestinal balance in the digestive tract. In this way, it may help cats experiencing diarrhea secondary to an imbalance of the bacterial equilibrium or microbiome of the gut. 

Is Proviable safe for cats?

Proviable is considered to be very safe to use. The bacteria contained in Proviable are the same strains already found in the intestinal tract that aid in digestion and keep other bacteria in balance. The bacteria in Proviable are in an inactivated state until they reach the digestive tract.

Side effects to Proviable are not commonly reported, though the paste that comes in the kits should only be used for a couple of days to avoid risk of constipation. 

How do I give my cat a Proviable capsule?

Proviable capsules can be either opened and the powder within it sprinkled on top of food or mixed with it, or they can be administered directly by mouth.

Many cats do not mind the taste of the Proviable powder, so mixing it with food is generally preferred. Pilling a capsule can be more stressful for a cat, and it can get stuck in the esophagus on the way down. If administered directly, give the capsule to your cat with 1-2 ml of water to help make sure the capsule makes it into the stomach.

Another strategy is to add the powder to a Pill Pocket or similar treat designed for administering medication.

Does Proviable help with diarrhea?

In many cases, Proviable can help with diarrhea. A study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery from 2012 found that when Proviable-DC sprinkle caps were given to adult cats with chronic diarrhea, 72% of owners saw an improvement after a 21-day course of Proviable.  

It is important to keep in mind that diarrhea can have many causes. Proviable will help most in cases where there is a bacterial imbalance occurring, which is called dysbiosis. Diarrhea may also be caused by intestinal parasites, inflammatory diseases, food allergies, and other afflictions that have other primary treatments where a probiotic alone may not help in the resolution of the diarrhea. 

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About Dr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH

Dr. Chris Vanderhoof is a 2013 graduate of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) at Virginia Tech, where he also earned a Masters in Public Health. He completed a rotating internship with Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey and now works as a general practitioner in the Washington D.C. area. Dr. Vanderhoof is also a copywriter specializing in the animal health field and founder of Paramount Animal Health Writing Solutions, which can be found at Dr. Vanderhoof lives in the Northern Virginia area with his family, including 3 cats.