Key Takeaways –
- Select probiotics based on CFU, expiration date, bacteria diversity, presence of prebiotics, and avoidance of fillers
- Key dog probiotics include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Bacillus strains, and Saccharomyces boulardii
- Probiotics are beneficial after post-long-term antibiotics, during a stressful event, and during diet changes
Hey there, dog lovers! Today, we’re going to have a natter about something that might seem a bit scientific at first, but trust us; it’s vital for your furry friend’s health. We’re talking about probiotics.
To kick things off, let’s demystify what probiotics are. They’re essentially the superheroes of the bacterial world, living within the digestive tracts of animals, including our beloved dogs and even humans.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that work tirelessly to help digest food, fend off harmful bacteria, and bolster a healthy immune system.
You might be wondering why these probiotics are important for our canine buddies. Well, picture your dog’s gut as a bustling ecosystem. Probiotics act like the park rangers of this ecosystem, maintaining balance and keeping unwanted bacteria from causing a kerfuffle.
They’re essential in preventing various health problems, ranging from tummy troubles to skin conditions.
So, the next time you’re at the pet shop, remember that probiotics aren’t just some buzzword. They play a key role in promoting your dog’s health and well-being.
Stick around as we delve deeper into how to incorporate these powerful little helpers into your dog’s diet.
What Is The Microbiome?
The ‘microbiome’ is a term that refers to the COMPLEX ecosystem of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that inhabit a specific environment. In the context of your dog’s health, we’re primarily referring to the gut microbiome.
This intricate microbial community plays a CRITICAL ROLE in your dog’s overall well-being. It aids digestion, contributes to the immune system, and even impacts mental health.
As Dr Katie B. Kangas point out, the composition of the gut microbiome can significantly impact mood and behaviour. Different species of bacteria produce different chemicals, some of which can have a calming effect, while others may promote depression and anxiety.
Imbalances in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, can contribute to various diseases and systemic problems, including behavioural disorders.
Understanding the microbiome is, believe it or not, a bit like understanding the secret life of your pets. It’s integral to promoting their optimal health (who knew your pet was housing such an intricate microbial party?).
This fascinating world is not just a science fair project – it’s an ESSENTIAL aspect of canine health science.
What Are Dogs Probiotics?
Dog probiotics are essentially beneficial live microorganisms that contribute to your furry friend’s well-being. They’re primarily LOCATED in the dog’s gut but can also be found in certain fermented foods and supplements.
In addition to bacteria, specific yeast species are also counted among these probiotics. These probiotics perform several pivotal functions within your dog’s body:
- Enhancing a desirable intestinal microbial balance.
- Assisting in the breakdown and assimilation of nutrients from your dog’s diet.
- Engaging in producing vital vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin K.
- Creating serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can impact your dog’s mood.
- Helping to lower the pH level within the gut.
- Acting as a barrier against harmful bacteria, both by outnumbering them and creating an environment that discourages their growth (to improve their immune system).
- Generating enzymes necessary for various biochemical reactions.
- Making fatty acids that further deter the proliferation of bad bacteria.
- Bolstering the immune system to help your dog fend off illnesses.
What To Look For In A Probiotic For Your Dog
When selecting a probiotic for your dog, there are several key factors to consider:
Colony Forming Units (CFU)
This term refers to the number of live bacteria in the dogs’ probiotics products. This is an IMPORTANT figure, as the good gut bacteria must be alive to outperform the harmful bacteria.
For a healthy dog seeking an additional health boost, choose a probiotic offering between 5 to 10 billion CFU.
However, if your pooch is struggling with digestive tract issues and you’re aiming for a GUT HEALTH RESET, a probiotic containing a robust 40-50 billion CFU is advisable, as suggested by Naturally Dog magazine .
Remember, these bacteria are alive, and, like all living organisms, they have a lifespan. Probiotics past their expiration date will likely contain DEAD BACTERIA, which won’t benefit your dog’s digestive health. In my experience, probiotics last between 12-18 months.
Diversity is vital to avoid digestive upsets, so aim for a probiotic that contains a MIX of at least two or three different bacteria species. If the species aren’t clearly listed on the label, it’s best to move on to a different product.
These are indigestible fibres that essentially serve as FOOD for good bacteria. A probiotic that includes prebiotics ensures the beneficial bacteria have a better chance of thriving in your dog’s gut. I prefer to go with a supplement that doesn’t contain pre-biotics.
Ingredients to Avoid
Lastly, watch out for UNNECESSARY fillers and flavours, such as tapioca and dried potato products, which don’t benefit your dog’s health.
Pro Tip: Keep probiotics in a cool, dark place or even in your fridge to help the good bacteria live longer.
What Are The Best Types of Probiotics for Dogs
|Probiotic Strain||Main Benefit|
|Lactobacillus acidophilus||Enhances digestion and boosts immune system|
|Bifidobacterium animalis||Supports overall digestive health and boosts immunity|
|Lactobacillus rhamnosus||Helps to prevent and treat gastrointestinal disorders|
|Lactobacillus casei||Supports digestion and helps in managing diarrhea|
|Bifidobacterium bifidum||Supports overall digestive health and boosts immunity|
|Enterococcus faecium||Enhances nutrient absorption and helps in managing diarrhea|
|Lactobacillus plantarum||Supports digestion and helps in managing inflammation|
|Bifidobacterium longum||Helps in managing stress and anxiety|
|Lactobacillus fermentum||Enhances nutrient absorption and supports immune health|
|Lactobacillus reuteri||Helps in managing skin conditions and boosts immune system|
Lactobacillus Bacteria Species
This is among the most researched strains of bacteria in probiotics. Species like Lactobacillus salivarius and Lactobacillus Acidophilus  are known for their lactic acid-producing properties.
They find their home in your dog’s SMALL INTESTINE, the primary site of dog food digestion.
They are commonly recommended for conditions such as diarrhoea, constipation, diabetes, and allergies.
Look for Lactobacillus casei on the label, as it resides in the digestive tract membrane, an essential part of the gut-brain axis, and can help balance your dog’s MOOD and EMOTIONS.
Lactobacillus Plantarum and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus are worth mentioning for their survival ability in the dog’s digestive system and their contributions to HEALTHY colon walls.
These species particularly benefit dogs suffering from bowel diseases and antibiotic-related diarrhoea.
Also heavily researched, this species produces lactic acid bacteria that inhabit the colon or large intestines.
They help balance the immune systems (especially in growing dogs), REGULATE blood sugar and insulin levels, and have even been known to combat skin conditions and viruses.
Soil-Based Bacteria – Bacillus Strains
These are spore-forming probiotics that create a PROTECTIVE coating to resist heat, stomach acids, and most antibiotics. Bacillus Subtilis, for instance, supports a healthy gut lining, helping to prevent ‘leaky gut’ syndrome and aids in vitamin A production.
Bacillus Coagulans is an ANTI-INFLAMMATORY bacteria with health benefits for inflammatory bowel disease and conditions and can even alleviate symptoms of arthritis.
Probiotic Yeast Species
Saccharomyces Boulardii is a HEALTH PROMOTING yeast that not only combats diarrhoea but also fights yeast infections. Uniquely, it is resistant to being killed off by antibiotics .
Each of these bacteria and yeast species brings its own HEALTH BENEFITS to your dog’s health. The best probiotic supplements for your dog will depend on their unique needs and health conditions.
Forms of Probiotics for Dogs
These are popular form of probiotics for dogs due to their precision in dosage. Each capsule or pill contains a specific amount of probiotics, making it EASY TO CONTROL the quantity your dog receives.
However, getting your dog to swallow a pill or capsule can sometimes be a tricky task, especially if they’re particularly fussy or anxious about medication.
Boost your dog’s gut health with the specially formulated YuMOVE Digestive Care, conveniently available in an easy-to-administer tablet form – it’s our top pick for ensuring your furry friend’s optimal health and well-being.
Probiotic powders offer a FLEXIBLE and straightforward option. You can sprinkle them directly onto your dog’s food, effectively disguising them if your dog tends to be resistant to taking supplements.
However, it’s essential to store these powders properly to maintain their potency.
We highly recommend you give Buddy & Lola’s Pre & Probiotics For Dogs a try. This top-notch powder formula can be effortlessly mixed into your dog’s food, offering them the essential gut health support they need to live their best life.
Many dogs love their treats, making this form of probiotics an appealing option. Probiotic chews and treats are often designed to be tasty and ENJOYABLE for dogs, making medication time less hassle.
However, it’s worth checking the label for any additional ingredients that may not be beneficial to your dog’s health, such as artificial flavours or excessive sugars.
You simply have to check out Petlab Co.’s Probiotic Chews. We personally recommend them as a fantastic choice. These delightful chews make supporting your dog’s gut health a breeze, while their irresistible taste will have your pup begging for more.
Liquid probiotics can be poured into your dog’s water bowl or mixed into their food, making it a CONVENIENT option. The downside is that the potency of liquid probiotics can vary significantly, and they often require refrigeration to keep the live cultures alive.
Pro Tip: For the most accurate dosing, look for probiotics that are third-party tested and clearly list the number of bacteria – CFU (colony forming units) – in each serving.
Some pet food manufacturers offer dog food infused with probiotics. This can be an excellent way to ensure your dog gets a DAILY DOSE of probiotics without any extra effort. However, the concentration of probiotics in these foods may be lower than in other forms.
It’s also important to check that the food meets all your dog’s nutritional needs and that the probiotics used are of a strain beneficial to dogs.
When to Give Your Dog Probiotics
Regarding the well-being of our four-legged friends, certain situations might warrant an extra helping hand in the form of probiotics. Let’s explore a few of these scenarios where probiotics can be particularly beneficial for your dog.
Following Antibiotic Treatment
Antibiotics, whilst they’re brilliant at tackling bacterial infections, regrettably, they’re not choosy between malevolent and beneficial bacteria. They end up diminishing the NATURAL gut flora alongside harmful pathogens.
Once your dog has completed a course of antibiotics, probiotics can be a splendid way to ASSIST replenish the beneficial bacteria in their gut.
During Stressful Situations
Just as with humans, dogs can also experience stress, which might have an impact on their digestive health.
Circumstances such as relocating to a new home, separation anxiety, staying at a boarding kennel, illness or even a family member being away for a bit can UNSETTLE your pooch.
During these times, offering probiotics can help to maintain a balanced gut microbiome, which is crucial for their overall health and well-being.
Switching to a New Diet
A change in diet can occasionally throw your dog’s digestive system off kilter. When transitioning your dog to a new type of food, supplementing with probiotics can help SMOOTH over this change, promoting improved digestion and absorption of nutrients from the new food.
Read Here: Best Dog Food For Sensitive Stomachs
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should You Give Your Dog Probiotics?
Probiotics for dogs can typically be given daily, but the exact frequency should be based on your vet’s advice, considering your dog’s health status and the probiotic strain. Always consult your vet for a personalised approach.
How Long Can Dogs Be On Probiotics?
Dogs can be on probiotics indefinitely under veterinary guidance. They’re safe for long-term use and can support ongoing gut health. However, every dog is different, so it’s important to monitor your pet’s response and adjust as needed.
Can Dogs Take Human Probiotics?
As for human probiotics, while not harmful, they aren’t ideal for dogs. Dogs have unique gut microflora, so it’s best to use canine-specific probiotics. Always consult your vet before introducing any new supplement to your dog’s diet.
In a nutshell, probiotics are a little bit like secret superheroes for your dog’s many health problems, working behind the scenes in the gut to ensure everything from digestion to mood is well-regulated.
Choosing the right probiotics, from Lactobacillus to Bifidobacterium, and even the robust Bacillus strains and Saccharomyces boulardii, can make a world of difference. Remember, they’re particularly helpful during times of change or stress and after a course of antibiotics.
As pet owners, your vet is your best ally in this journey. So, here’s to happy, healthy pups, one probiotic at a time!
- Dogs Naturally Magazine. Choose The Right Probiotic For Your Dog. YouTube. Published online August 21, 2020. Accessed May 15, 2023.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoGNouRXv6U
- Fusco V, Hikmate Abriouel, Nabil Benomar, et al. Opportunistic Food-Borne Pathogens. Published online January 1, 2018:269-306. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-814956-0.00010-x
- O’Callaghan A, Douwe van Sinderen. Bifidobacteria and Their Role as Members of the Human Gut Microbiota. 2016;7. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.00925
- Staniszewski A, Kordowska-Wiater M. Probiotic and Potentially Probiotic Yeasts—Characteristics and Food Application. 2021;10(6):1306-1306. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10061306
Jeff Carbridge is a dog behaviourist and trainer with 15 years of experience. He is strongly interested in nutrition and diet for both canines and humans. Jeff has been featured in several publications, providing expert commentary on dog-related topics. His knowledge and expertise make him a valuable resource for anyone seeking to improve the health and well-being of their dogs.