Dog Probiotics 101: The Ultimate Guide
Dogs are weird—they eat anything off the ground. If you have a clean floor, then that’s OK. But if you have a lot of bacteria and toxins on the floor, your dog might be in for hours of diarrhea. Luckily, there are ways to improve your dog's digestive system. If Fido has a sensitive stomach, then this is the article to read.
The best strategy to promote excellent gut health would be to give your canine companion some probiotics.
Probiotics are a magical solution and a must-have for all dog owners. If you are curious about probiotics, then we have all the information that you need.
Related: How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are natural flora bacteria that are found in your dog's body. Your canine friend's G.I. tract, vagina, oral cavity, respiratory organs, nasal cavity, and the surface of the skin all have natural bacteria living in them. We often referred to these little critters as the good guys.
Keep in mind that not all bacteria in your dog's body are harmful. The good guys tend to keep your dog healthy and free from infection. You want to make sure that your dog has plenty of good bacteria in its system. Luckily, probiotics, it adds more healthy bacteria to the equation.
What Do Probiotics Do?
Probiotics play a significant role in keeping your dog's G.I. system healthy. The G.I. tract functions to digest and absorb nutrients as well as provide protective mechanisms for the body. Natural flora bacteria in the gut help Fido digest food, absorb nutrients, and get rid of toxins. It also helps fight off infections so your canine companion doesn’t get sick too easily.
However, if the body is compromised, it tends to lose a lot of good bacteria and would need to create more. Luckily, probiotics can increase the number of natural flora bacteria in the gut. It emphasizes improving your pup's digestion and absorbing nutrients as well as fighting off invaders.
How Do Probiotics Work?
Probiotics contain the natural flora bacteria called lactobacillus or bifidobacterium. Whenever the gut has an uneven number of bacteria where the harmful microorganisms outweigh the natural flora organism, it is a good idea to take in some probiotics. The good bacteria are packed into the probiotics and released into your dog's digestive system to promote a healthy gut.
Probiotics benefit your dog by:
- Aiding digestion
- Modulating their immune system
- Providing intestinal benefits and inhibiting harmful bacteria
- Treating intestinal inflammation, diarrhea, and IBS
- Preventing urinary tract infections
- Reducing allergic reactions and controlling inflammation
How Do Probiotics Work?
Probiotics contain the natural flora bacteria called Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Whenever the gut has an uneven number of bacteria where the harmful microorganisms outweigh the natural flora organism, it is a good idea to take in some probiotics. The good bacteria are packed into the probiotics and released into your dog's digestive system to promote a healthy gut.
Probiotics for dogs do things like:
- Break down food
- Create vitamins and nutrients
- Fight off potential pathogens
- Strengthen immunity
Differences between Probiotics for Dogs and Humans
A lot of times, people go to the local drugstore and purchase probiotics for humans but end up giving them to their dog. It’s OK to do that, but not advisable. This is mainly because every dog weighs differently, and some dogs require a higher dosage while smaller or more sensitive dogs may require a lower dosage. It all depends on how much your dog weighs. Plus, a lot of probiotics for people are basically pills that you take with a glass of water and swallow.
Unfortunately, pills are challenging to administer to your pet. They will most likely spit it out and run away. The best thing to do is to go to your local pet store and purchase probiotics formulated for dogs. A lot of these puppy probiotics are chewable and flavored with meat, so it’s appetizing for Fido. This will get rid of the annoyance of having to shove the pill down his throat. In addition, the supplements will have instructions on how much to give to your dog based on the weight.
The Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs
Probiotics can provide a significant amount of benefit to your canine companion. If your dog suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, the supplements can help calm the symptoms of alternating diarrhea and constipation. If Fido has an upset stomach, probiotics for dogs can help alleviate the symptoms to improve the overall digestion. It can also prevent urinary tract infection and soothe any stomach flu or allergies. The other amazing benefits of probiotics is that it can strengthen your dog's immune system, regulate his behavior and mood, and keep his weight and appetite under control.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains of probiotics help your dog:
- Manage yeast for a healthier immune system
- Prevent anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Have a positive mood and emotions
- Improve food allergies
Related: Why Do Dogs Pant?
How Do You Know if Your Dog Needs Probiotics?
Not every dog needs probiotics, but they can benefit from the supplement. If your dog is facing some stomach issues like constant diarrhea or constipation, then your vet may recommend a higher dosage of the supplement. Keep in mind that giving your dog probiotics will not truly correct the issue.
If there are other underlying health issues that are causing severe G.I. symptoms, then it’s best to consult your veterinarian for a blood test and examination. Another thing is that if your dog is suffering from an ailment like a viral infection, allergies, parasitic infection, a change in the dog food brand, using antibiotics, or undergoing significant stress, then it might be a good idea to provide him with daily probiotic supplements.
If you know that your dog will experience some digestive issues from specific changes in the environment or medication, then it’s best to provide the supplements a few days before the occurrence.
What Are The Side Effects Of Probiotics?
Usually, probiotics don’t cause a lot of side effects. If you provide the correct dosage, probiotics are generally safe for dogs. However, every dog is created differently, so some may react negatively towards the supplement.
If your dogs consume a huge amount of probiotics, they may experience extreme nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Another issue is that probiotics can multiply very quickly. This can result in severe infection or inflammation. That is why it’s not a good idea to give your dog probiotic supplements from the local drugstore, but instead, you should consult your veterinarian or buy supplements from the pet store.
What Type Of Probiotics Can I Give My Dogs?
There is a variety of probiotics for dogs. It’s not a good idea to give your dog the pill form because they will most likely spit it out. The best type of probiotic would be the chewable or the powder form. With the powder form, dogs can eat these probiotics when sprinkled in their food or mixed with water. A lot of the chewable probiotics for puppies are flavored with chicken or beef, which can be very appetizing for your dog.
The Three Types Of Probiotics For Dogs
Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium
These are dairy-based probiotics. Let’s take a look at the two separately:
Lactobacillus converts the milk sugar into lactic acid, stopping harmful bacteria from growing in your dog’s intestine. That’s great, right? Well, too much Lactobacillus can be detrimental to your dog.
A recent study showed that aggressive dogs had a larger number of Lactobacillus in their system; it’s probably best to save this probiotic for when your dog really needs it, rather than using it as a daily supplement.
Bifidobacterium also produces lactic acid but is not considered as a lactic acid bacteria. Bifidobacterium lives in the colon, and it interacts with immune cells, crowding out harmful bacteria while supporting your dog’s immune system.
There are different strains of both of these probiotics that have various benefits for your dog’s health:
dwells in your dog’s mucus membranes, and it affects their mood and emotions.
Lactobacillus Plantarum & Lactobacillus Rhamnosus promote a healthy colon wall, and they can decrease diarrhea related to antibiotics. Low levels of these probiotics have been shown to cause anxiety in dogs.
Bifidobacterium Animalis is a type of probiotic that helps manage acute diarrhea in dogs.
Bifidobacterium Longum helps reduce your dog’s anxiety and stress while aiding in preventing diarrhea and treating food allergies.
Enterococcus Faecium is a different species of probiotic but functions similarly to the other two. It survives the acidity of your dog’s gut better than the ones mentioned above. While it has been shown to be healthy for dogs, it is not suitable for human use.
Saccharomyces Boulardii is not a bacterium like most probiotics; it’s a healthy yeast. It gets used to treat chronic and acute diarrhea in people, and scientists have recently found that it gives the same benefits to dogs. Saccharomyces Boulardii also treats Candida and yeast.
Antibiotics don’t affect Saccharomyces Boulardii, so they can be taken along with them to protect your dog’s beneficial gut bacteria. It can also help with digestive issues caused by inflammation.
Saccharomyces Boulardii is an excellent addition to your dog’s probiotic routine.
Soil-based probiotics are organisms found in soil or water. They are spore-forming, which means they can protect themselves from stomach acids, heat, and most antibiotics.
Most of these probiotics don’t have to be refrigerated like other ones do, and they aren’t made from dairy -- good news for dogs that may have issues with dairy.
The most common strains of soil-based products that are safe for dogs are:
Bacillus Coagulans is a bacteria that produces lactic acid; it crowds out unwanted bacteria. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and has a positive effect on your dog’s digestive system.
Bacillus Indicus is unique;it produces carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants. This probiotic also has quinols, vitamin K2, and various B vitamins
Bacillus Subtilis has a strong effect on your dog’s immune system by producing IgA and vitamin K. It was used to treat urinary tract infections in dogs before the development of antibiotics.
The Top Choice of Probiotics for Dogs
The top choice of probiotic for your dog would be the ones that have lactobacillus. Lactobacillus can enhance nutrient absorption so your dog will get all the vitamins and minerals from their dog food. Lactobacillus is a potent bacteria that can fight against invaders and alleviate upset stomach and diarrhea. They can also reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting so your dog will get a good night's sleep.
Another type of bacteria is called the bifidobacterium, which is known to strengthen the immune system. If your dog is recovering from an illness, this would be the best probiotic to give to him. You can also get probiotics that have a combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. That way, you can get the best of both worlds.
Choosing the right probiotics for your dog also has the added benefit of treating:
- Bad breath
- General intestinal upsets
- Excessive gas
- Low energy
- Atopic Dermatitis
Related: 10 High Fiber Foods For Your Dog
This best part about probiotics is that they are not only supplements, but they can also be found in the food you eat. If you don’t want to give your dog supplements, you can give them particular food to enhance the natural flora bacteria.
Kimchi is fermented veggies and is often a dish that is loved by the Korean culture. If you love kimchi, then why not share some to your companion. The fermentation process of kimchi helps enhance the growth of natural flora bacteria to fight off invaders.
Raw goat milk
Raw goat milk is typically safe for dogs and contains a considerable amount of probiotic components. It also has a small amount of lactose so it will not cause those unfavorable digestive issues that cows milk will give to your dog. Because of its rise in popularity, a lot of pet store now provides raw goat milk for pet owners.
Everybody loves yogurt, especially Activia. This yogurt contains a healthy amount of lactobacillus that acts as a probiotic to enhance your digestive system and G.I. health. If you ever take some yogurt out of the refrigerator, don’t forget to share some with your Fido.
Dogs can eat kefir, an excellent snack for the picky eater made from raw goat milk. It is jam packed with probiotics and mixes very well with your dog's meal. You can find Kefir at your local grocery store, but make sure to get the ones without sugar. You can also mix in 2 to 4 tablespoons of milk kefir grains to 4 cups of coconut milk. This combo is both delicious and does very well to provide maximum benefits for your dog's GI system.
Letting Them Be Dogs
The worst thing you can do for your dog is keeping them too clean. Don’t get us wrong; it’s essential to groom your companion and make sure that he has a shiny coat. However, many dog owners often go overboard by giving them too many baths or wiping every little piece of dirt or dust out of their body.
This can actually weaken their immune system. Your dog's immune system needs to practice to get stronger for the real fight against potential invaders. The best strategy to strengthen your dog's immune system is to allow him to be a dog. Let him play around the backyard with all the dirt and soil. These components have ample amounts of microorganisms that can act as a punching bag for Fido's immune system.
How To Find The Best Probiotic Supplement For Your Dog
If you’re interested in finding the best probiotic supplements for your dog, then we have a few things that you should look at. It is important to note the probiotic strain so you know what type of bacteria are found in these supplements. Keep in mind that each strain of bacteria perform different functions. Some strain has strong anti-inflammatory properties, while others are known for their immune stimulants.
The next thing to look for is the guaranteed analysis, which is how many bacteria will exist at the end of the shelf-life. This is important because there could be a possibility that by the time you have purchased the supplements, the microorganisms may have already died in the probiotic. This would be completely useless if that were to have happened.
Do We Need Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are basically the food that probiotics eat. Not a lot of pet owners know that probiotics require prebiotics. Prebiotics originate from carbohydrates and helps supply the natural flora bacteria with an ample amount of nourishment so they can thrive properly in the digestive system. When you give prebiotics in combination with probiotics, your dog can enjoy the proper symbiotic environment that he needs for a healthy gut.
The best type of prebiotic to give to your dog would be apples, bananas, green leafy vegetables, and mushrooms.
How To Properly Give Your Dog Probiotics
If you consult with the veterinarian, they will provide you with the proper dosage based on your dog's weight. Your vet can also provide you with helpful tips and strategies to administer the supplement. For example, if you purchase the powder form of probiotics for dogs, you can mix it in Fido's food. The best part about probiotics is that they begin to work right away when they enter your dog's gut.
However, it will take several hours for the probiotic to be fully digested and enter the gut. Keep in mind that some dogs may take a couple of days for their digestive system to have the proper amount of protective bacteria. In a few weeks, pet owners may notice a positive change in their dog's digestive health. It’s essential to be patient because it takes time for these supplements to work properly. You don’t want to give too much supplements because they can upset your companions G.I. tract.
Recommended Doses of Probiotics For Dogs
If you’re giving your dog Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, it’s best to look for supplements that contain several different strains. Studies on probiotics in dogs use a mixture of strains because using only one doesn’t have as positive of an effect.
Because Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium get destroyed by the gut easily, you typically want to see around 10 billion CFU (colony forming units) in your dog’s gut for the live probiotics to survive.
Saccharomyces Boulardii is significantly hardier than dairy-based probiotics, so your dog doesn’t need as large an amount: ideally, you want to see .5 to 5 billion CFU.
When it comes to soil-based probiotics, you can use smaller amounts of CFUs since they survive much more easily in your dog’s gut. These probiotics also work better if you utilize more than one strain. Around 1 billion CFUs is ideal for soil-based probiotics.
Take Home Message
The worst part about a dog with an unhealthy gut is the severe diarrhea. This can be a nightmare for your carpet and furniture. Luckily, with daily probiotic supplements, you can provide your dog with adequate strains of natural flora bacteria. These microorganisms can help improve digestion, maximize the absorption of nutrients, and enhance the immune system.
It’s highly recommended to get the chewable or powder form of the supplement, so it is easier to administer to your dog. You can consult with your veterinarian to find the proper dosage based on your dog's weight. With all this in mind, your dog's digestive health will experience significant improvement after a couple of weeks, so definitely consider purchasing some probiotic supplements for your four-legged friend.
Are you looking for the best supplements to keep your dog happy and healthy? Your furry friends will love what Dope Dog has to offer!
Related: Top 10 Fruits Safe for Dogs
Our Top Picks For The Best Dog Probiotics On The Shelf
As we have previously discussed, a healthy microbiome is vital to your dog's overall health. A microbiome, also known as gut flora, is trillions of microorganisms that digest food.
But they also enable and empower a dog's metabolism, immune system, and a host of other functions.
So, we believe that you should invest in the best probiotic products for dogs. Here is a list of two products we think you should buy.
Consult with a veterinarian before giving probiotic doses to your dog. Probiotic doses may need to be calculated according to your dog's breed, weight, medical history, and other factors.
Remember that your dog's microbiome needs as much attention as your dog.
Purina Fortiflora Pro Plan Veterinary Powder Supplements
Purina Fortiflora Pro Plan Veterinary Powder Supplements are liver-flavored probiotic supplements in pre-measured powder packets.
Each package comes with 30 probiotic powder packets. And each packet weighs 1.6 ounces.
So, each package comes with a monthly dose of probiotics to feed your dog. And this product affords dog owners one of the easiest ways to ensure that their dog is getting its daily dose of probiotic medications.
One of the hardest things about feeding your dog its probiotic meds is getting it to eat them. Dogs are notorious for spitting out probiotic pills unless you embed them in something incredibly delicious.
Dog owners never have to worry about that problem with Purina Fortiflora Pro Plan Veterinary Powder Supplements.
You can sprinkle one liver-flavored supplement packet into one of your dog's meals per day. Drizzle a little water to mix it well if you are serving a dry kibble meal to your dog so that a soupy gravy forms.
Instead of spitting out a probiotic pill, your dog will be lapping up its powdered meds.
You can buy Purina Fortiflora Pro Plan Veterinary Powder Supplements at Amazon for about $30. Once your doctor confirms that your dog's gut flora, or microbiome, is back to normal, you could reduce the one packet dosage to half-a-pack daily
The $30 product price is a deal in this circumstance since you can stretch your supply a little further.
NUSENTIA Probiotic Miracle Supplement
NUSENTIA Probiotic Miracle Supplement is a powdered probiotic supplement that is suitable to serve both cats and dogs alike. And this product is designed to last on your shelf for a long time.
Instead of individual packets, this product comes with a pre-measured scoop ladle in a 44-gram or 131-gram container. The 44-gram container, which costs $26, offers 120 individual servings. And the 131-gram container, which costs $40, offers 360 individual servings.
To serve, just sprinkle a serving onto one of your pet's meals each day. If your pet weighs under 50 pounds, sprinkle one scoop onto their meal. And if your pet weighs over 50 pounds, then just sprinkle two scoops of probiotic powder on their meal.
If you have one pet, the 131-gram container could last you for six months or even a whole year. If you have a multi-pet household, buying two or three containers will be financially convenient for you in the long term.
NUSENTIA Probiotic Miracle Supplement features six different strains of probiotics. And each scoop contains over one billion colony forming units or CFUs.
This product is affordable, scientifically proven to improve your pet's gut flora, and is manufactured in the United States.