Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
The gut system, also known as the microbiome, is a complex network that plays a significant role in maintaining overall health and well-being in both humans and animals. Alterations in the microbiome have been linked to a range of chronic diseases, including allergies, immune-associated disorders, and even psychological conditions.
Probiotics for dogs can help maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, which is essential for optimal health. Learning about the different types, forms, and recommended dosage of probiotics can be helpful in ensuring that your dog receives the full benefits of these beneficial microorganisms.
What Are Probiotics for Dogs?
Probiotics for dogs are friendly bacteria residing in the dog’s body, particularly the colon, intestines, and stomach.
They produce bacteriocins, which are antibacterial compounds that fight off harmful bacteria and increase immunity against various canine illnesses and diseases.
What Are the Differences between Probiotics and Prebiotics?
Probiotics are frequently mistaken for prebiotics and vice versa. Both of them are good for canine digestion and overall health, but they have slight differences.
Probiotics for dogs are live bacteria that increase the population of healthy gut microbes in their digestive tracts. On the other hand, prebiotics is a high-fiber food that aids in good bacteria production in the guts when consumed.
What Are the Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs?
Probiotics for dogs can positively affect your pet’s health in many ways. Here are the top 5 health benefits he can acquire from probiotics:
1. Promote better digestion
One of the most well-known perks of probiotics for dogs is they support good gut health. They replenish the gut with good bacteria, improving the stomach’s ability to break down food and absorb nutrients.
2. Aid in soothing digestive upsets
Probiotics work well in alleviating stomach problems, especially diarrhea. They can cut down the duration of diarrhea in dogs to 4–7 days. However, dogs with chronic diarrhea may need canine probiotics as a long-term remedy.
3. Enhance immunity from canine diseases
Around 70% of a dog’s immune system is found in his digestive tract. Giving your pooch probiotics for dogs boosts his immune system and lowers the chances of health issues from cropping up, such as allergies, nutrient deficiencies, and upset stomachs.
4. Ease inflammations
Inflammations can be triggered by harmful gut bacteria, which lead to the development of health issues such as ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Probiotics for dogs are believed to be anti-inflammatories and can help alleviate these diseases.
5. Lower anxiety and stress
Canine health problems cause pain and discomfort, which can lead to emotional and behavioral issues. Probiotics for dogs help resolve diseases and their symptoms, which relieve the stress of sick canines.
What Are the Most Effective Types of Probiotics for Dogs?
There are many different varieties of canine probiotic strains, and each serves a unique function. For example, Bacillus coagulans is a probiotic that effectively fights different types of diarrhea, such as those caused by antibiotics, rotavirus, traveler’s diarrhea, and food indiscretion. This strain helps to reestablish a normal and healthy gastrointestinal microbiome in dogs.
Here are other best probiotic live cultures for dogs:
1. Lactobacillus acidophilus
Lactobacillus acidophilus stimulates the digestive tract to produce more antibacterial and antifungal properties. It offers lots of health benefits to dogs, such as alleviating cholesterol levels, eliminating bad breath, reducing bacteria, and supporting digestive health.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is also one of the good probiotics for puppies that need to gain weight.
2. Lactobacillus plantarum
Lactobacillus plantarum is a resilient probiotic strain that can improve antibiotic production in your dog’s body. It also triggers the creation of an amino acid called lysine, which promotes healthy digestion.
3. Bacillus indicus
Bacillus indicus is a probiotic for dogs with a unique ability to produce powerful antioxidants known as carotenoids. Other essential nutrients this live culture can create are B vitamins, quinols, and vitamin K2.
Dogs with pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) or digestive enzyme deficiency can benefit from Bacillus indicus since it improves the synthesis of digestive enzymes.
4. Bacillus subtilis
Bacillus subtilis supports a healthy immune system. It helps create an antibody known as IgA, which strengthens the stomach lining and produces vitamin K. This type of probiotic for dogs is good for pooches with autoimmune disease.
5. Enterococcus faecium
Enterococcus faecium aids in increasing the population of other beneficial bacteria including bifidobacteria (e.g., Bifidobacterium animalis) and lactobacilli (e.g., Lactobacillus rhamnosus). It is one of the best probiotics for dogs with diarrhea.
Another health benefit of Enterococcus faecium is its ability to impede harmful pathogens such as E. coli, Shigella, and Salmonella from proliferating in a dog’s body.
6. Streptococcus thermophilus
Streptococcus thermophilus produces an antibiotic as a by-product. This probiotic strain provides strong support to your dog’s gut, colon, and immune system.
Another purported benefit of Streptococcus thermophilus is it improves the digestion of milk products.
When choosing probiotic supplements for your dog, look for products that contain 3 or more live culture strains to get better results. Adding probiotics and prebiotics to your dog’s diet will ensure optimum efficacy of the health benefits they offer.
What Are the Different Forms of Probiotics for Dogs?
Canine probiotic products in the market are available in many forms, and the most common you will find are:
1. Probiotic Powder
Probiotic powder for dogs can be easily mixed and sprinkled into your dog’s food. This form of canine probiotics has a longer shelf life as it is more resilient against air and moisture. Simply store it in a tight container in your fridge, or follow the specific storage advice provided on the product.
2. Probiotic Capsules
Probiotic supplements in the form of capsules are suitable for dogs that are intolerant of sudden changes in their regular meals. Hide the capsule in treats like peanut butter or cheese to make it easier for dogs to eat, especially if they are not fond of ingesting pills.
3. Probiotic Chews
Probiotic chews for dogs are appetizing to most canines as they look and taste like dog treats. However, some products contain artificial sweeteners and additives, making them unhealthy for your pet.
Always check the label of prebiotic chews to make sure they are all natural and free from harmful ingredients.
4. Probiotic Dog Food
Certain brands of dog food contain canine probiotics in their formula. This is one of the easiest routes to give your furry pal probiotics. However, experts have pointed out that some probiotic dog food brands do not contain the live cultures they advertised to have.
Other products lack enough probiotic concentration, deeming them ineffective. To find high-quality probiotic dog food for your pet, it is best to ask for advice from the vet.
5. Probiotic Yogurt
While yogurts with live cultures can be good probiotics for dogs, there are some downsides to consider. As a dairy product, yogurt can cause adverse effects in lactose-intolerant dogs.
Additionally, many yogurts contain high amounts of additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners which can be harmful to dogs. It is important to only feed unsweetened and 100% natural plain yogurt to your dog.
It’s worth noting that the amounts and types of bacteria in yogurt are limited and may not be the most effective for treating specific health issues in dogs.
6. Natural Probiotic Food
What is a natural probiotic for dogs? Many human food varieties are enriched with probiotics, which help increase the number of good gut bacteria. Here are some of the natural probiotics for dogs:
Consult the vet before adding any of these natural probiotics to your dog’s diet. If the vet approves, keep in mind to feed it in moderation. Although this food is beneficial to his health, offering more than necessary will cause health issues.
Can Dogs Take Human-Grade Probiotics?
Technically, dogs can have human-grade probiotics, but they cannot benefit much from them. The bacteria strains contained in human-grade probiotics are not designed for dogs and may fall short in providing health benefits.
Thus, the best option for your furry pal is probiotics specifically made for canines.
Can Probiotics for Dogs Cause Drug Interactions?
The possibility of drug interactions should be discounted when giving your dog prebiotics. Certain drugs such as antibiotics and antifungals can decrease the efficacy of probiotics.
If your dog is required to take medications, vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies, ask the vet if probiotics can be added to your dog’s diet.
What Is the Dosage Amount of Probiotics for Dogs?
The daily dosage amount of canine probiotics for healthy dogs is around 1–4 billion CFU. Small dogs can have about 1–3 billion CFU as a starting dosage.
On the other hand, medium to large breeds need more, so look for probiotics for dogs containing 2–5 billion CFU. Administer the canine probiotics twice a day during mealtimes.
Do Probiotics for Dogs Have Side Effects?
Minor side effects may occur in some dogs after taking canine probiotics for the first time. These include bloating, constipation, flatulence, diarrhea, and nausea.
Adverse reactions can be avoided by introducing probiotics for dogs in small amounts. If side effects occur, lower the CFU dosage by half and use it once a day for an entire week.
Once your dog recovers, increase the frequency of dosage to twice a day. Slowly increase the probiotics back to their regular dosage if he does not show any adverse reactions.