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Understanding Dog Probiotics: Benefits, Risks, and Choices

Published on June 16, 2023
Written by Nade

Why should we talk about dog probiotics?

The trend towards this type of supplement is rapidly growing, spurred on by marketing campaigns from probiotics manufacturers. But the core of our conversation isn’t just about trends – it’s rooted in our affection for our dogs and our dedication to doing what’s best for them. As a vet, I often field questions about probiotics, from understanding their purpose to their workings, and whether they are necessary for our furry friends.

In the current age, we’re spoiled for choice with various brands of dry and wet food, and the BARF diet gaining traction. It’s crucial to realize that these diverse nutrition options have varying impacts on your dog’s digestive health. At times, your dog may exhibit signs of digestive discomfort, which can often be remedied by simply altering its diet and incorporating some dog probiotics.

It’s important to understand that at Dog Pricing, our goal is to offer advice on all matters related to dogs. We’re here to help you make the most informed decisions not just for your dog’s well-being, but also for your financial stability. And with probiotics becoming a significant player in dog health, it’s crucial to understand them properly.

What are probiotics…

Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria and some yeast that live in the dog’s digestive system and help in breaking down the food that is ingested. Moreover, they help keep harmful bacteria under control, and in this way protect the dog’s immune system.

While they are beneficial bacteria, it is important to note that they are not a cure. Every pet owner should be aware that their canine companion may not need probiotic supplements, which is why they should always consult their vet before introducing one in their dog’s diet.

Choosing the Right Probiotic for Your Dog

When it comes to choosing what probiotic is best for your dog’s health, there are a few important factors to consider:

Strain diversity

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing probiotics for dogs is to contain desirable intestinal microbial balance. This means that a good probiotic supplement will contain at least three different bacteria strains that will work together and provide immune support.

 A good probiotic would contain some of these live bacteria:

  • Bacillus coagulans
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum

CFUs

Colony-forming units are a measure of the number of live bacteria in a probiotic. The higher this number, the more effective the probiotic is likely to be. owners should look for probiotics for dogs that contain at least 1 billion CFUs per serving.

Form

We all have dogs that are picky eaters. As a vet, I have come across many desperate owners when I tell them they need to give their dogs tablets, pills, or any treatment orally. This is why companies that make and produce dog supplements have made our lives a bit easier.

Probiotic supplements nowadays can be found in many different forms, shapes, and sizes. Even different tastes and smells, all with the purpose to be more appealing for your picky pooch.

Whatever works for you and your dog: zesty paws, probiotic bites, tablets, capsules, or powders, we the vets promise not to tell you what to choose. We just want our patients to be healthy and happy.

Purpose

It is important to know why you are giving your dog a probiotic, because different probiotic supplements may have different purposes.

Some may be designed to support intestinal health, while others may be formulated to support the immune system or reduce inflammation.

For example, Lactobacillus Acidophilus improves stool quality and frequency and Bifidobacterium Longum could help with anxiety.

How can probiotics help my dog?

Is your dog prone to some kind of environment or food allergies? Is it showing signs of an impaired immune system? These are one of the many problems that every owner faces during their dog’s life.

Here is how dog probiotics affect your dog:

  • better digestive health
  • improves immune function
  • reduces allergic reactions
  • reduces gastrointestinal issues
  • positively affects mood and lowers anxiety and stress
  • improves nutrient absorption

It’s working! But how?

Probiotics’ mechanism of action is at the gut lining. By strengthening the mucosal barrier, they prevent toxic compounds from entering the bloodstream. They also help improve the immune response through increased mucosal antibody production. This way they prevent potential pathogens from overgrowing and causing infection.

Are there side effects of using probiotics for dogs?

Even though it is not common for probiotics to cause side effects, they can occur. But they usually don’t last long. Many times owners come to me expressing their concerns that their dog got a stomach upset and that they have some diarrhea. 

Sometimes, your dog’s gastrointestinal system needs to get used to those specific bacterial species and symptoms usually subside in a day or two. 

Other side effects that your dog could experience are:

  • bloating
  • gas
  • constipation

If these symptoms do not clear away in a day or two or you are noticing that your dog is getting worse, consider visiting your vet.

Can Puppies Take Probiotics?

Yes! And they are safe. Probiotics will certainly help them develop a balance of good bacteria, which will positively affect the immune system and prevent any problems that arise from digestive disorders.

Puppies are known to put everything that they shouldn’t in their mouth. So it does not come as a wonder to me when a worried new owner calls me and tells me that their puppy is perfectly fine, but they have softer or loose stool.

In cases like this, I always only recommend changes in diet, adding probiotics and lots of TLC (Tender Love and Care!).

Can Dogs Take Human Probiotics?

The answer is yes, but the real question is should they?

My personal professional opinion for every owner on this question is that if you have a veterinary product, use that one. Human probiotics may not provide the same beneficial effect. In some cases, they may even do the opposite and you may end up cleaning after your dog.

Can I Use Probiotics when giving antibiotic treatment?

Probiotics for dogs contain beneficial microorganisms that can help restore the gut flora, especially when your dog is receiving antibiotic treatment. It is something that vets recommend very often.

However, owners should be aware that they should avoid giving these two medications at the same time. this way the possibility of destroying the good bacteria in the supplement is minimized. We recommend that you should wait for at least two hours between the antibiotic and probiotic. 

I heard probiotics can help my anxious dog

Even though it is still not scientifically confirmed, some bacterial strains, such as Bifidobacterium longum, can positively affect your anxious dog. 

Can I give my dog probiotics every day?

Yes, giving your dog a probiotic is perfectly safe for them, but young and healthy animals do not need it. Even though this would not cause them any harm, it could disrupt the dog’s gut health. It is also important how you give the probiotic, meaning if you divide the whole dosage between the morning and the evening or you give the whole dose at once. For any change, consult your vet.

Do dog probiotics cost a lot?

Price usually depends on the company and the product itself. In general, owners can find probiotics starting from $15 and going above. The price also depends on the type of probiotic and its purpose. 

Some dogs could be more picky than others so the owner will have to spend some money until they can find something beneficial for their dog and the dog will enjoy eating it.

What is available on the market?

Every owner wants what is best for their dog. and The market nowadays offers so many different products. Many times if one product works well for your dog, it won’t work the same for another one. 

That is why we suggest that you consult your vet about the specific product that you are interested in

We at Dog Pricing.com can’t choose the right product for your dog, but we can certainly show you what is available on the market so you get a feel of the claims and of the price range:

  • Purina Fortiflora Canine Nutritional Supplement
  • Pupper Digest
  • Zesty Paws Probiotic Bites with Natural Digestive Enzymes Chews
  • NUSENTIA Probiotic Miracle Supplement
  • Nutri-Vet Pre & Probiotic

Best Food with Probiotics for Dogs

Sometimes dog owners may find themselves without their favorite probiotic supplement and their dogs are known to have sensitive stomachs. Don’t worry! You may still be able to provide some healthy bacteria. 

Natural probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, or fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut are a healthy option when there is no other available. However, have in mind that adding new stuff to your dog’s diet may cause gastrointestinal distress.

What are the best probiotics for dogs?

The answer to this question is quite simple: the best probiotics are the ones that work the best for your dog. 

This means that for some dogs, a probiotic that is in the form of powder will work better than in other dogs. 

Or if a dog has a specific condition, it may require a probiotic that has specific bacteria strains that other dogs may not need. 

Your vet will help you make the hard decision since there are so many good products that are available on the market.

Veterinary medicine nowadays has advanced so much and there are many pieces of information available online. But, we recommend that whenever you consider adding probiotics to your dog food, consider talking to your vet beforehand.

How long should a dog be on probiotics?

This usually depends on why your vet has recommended the probiotics in the first place. If your dog is suffering from acute gastrointestinal problems, then you will certainly need to keep them on the supplement until their condition has improved. 

Also, dogs that are on antibiotics are usually required to have probiotics during the whole treatment period. 

What time of day should I give my dog probiotics?

The science behind this question is still not sure. But the basic knowledge says that in the morning, your dog’s stomach is less likely to be filled with gastric acid. This way a greater amount of the probiotic could pass the stomach and get into the intestines. 

Where to buy dog probiotics?

Probiotics are widely available online and at the vet’s office. Wherever you choose to buy from, make sure it is the right brand for your dog. 

If this is the first time you are adding probiotics to your dog’s diet, we recommend you consult your vet because they may recommend a certain brand according to your dog’s needs. 

How long do dog probiotics take to work?

This pretty much depends on your dog’s immune system and its condition and the brand of the probiotic. 

In some dogs, their owners notice differences just a few days after adding the supplement.

However, in some dogs, it may take longer and sometimes they may not even work. If that is the case, consult your vet about a different brand of probiotic.

How much probiotics should I give my dog?

Your vet will usually tell you how much probiotic is needed for your dog. The dose is always related to the dog’s weight. It is always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding dosing. 

What happens if a dog eats too many probiotics?

The worst thing that would probably happen is that the probiotic won’t make any difference. In some cases, if your dog had normal stool and they are on probiotics, they could make a mess. In cases like this, just stop adding the supplement and talk to your vet. 

How to add probiotics to homemade dog food?

We already discussed that there is food that can provide probiotics for your dog, such as yogurt for example. But if you are feeding your dog homemade food, than just add the recommended dose in your dog’s morning breakfast and they should be covered for the rest of the day.

I heard the term “Prebiotics”, what is that?

Often owners come to me with the question about prebiotics, unsure of what that is and how it is connected with the probiotics.

We have already said that the dog’s gut contains different bacterial strains and yeast that help the dog in breaking down the ingested food, positively affecting the overall health. but, just as your canine needs its portion of the dog’s food to function, the good bacteria needs its food source too.

So, prebiotics is food for intestinal bacteria. Prebiotics usually need to arrive in the colon unchanged, where they are metabolized and fermented, and used in nutrition. but it is not only the live cultures that benefit from this fermentation. When the prebiotics are broken down, different short-chain fatty acids are created. These fatty acids usually have many health benefits, such as preventing digestive issues, as well as providing an overall healthy immune system.

To put it in simple words: you can’t have proper gut flora without prebiotics.

Nade
I am Nade and I am a vet with five years of experience working with small animals. I come from North Macedonia where I graduated and went on to finish postgraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I am currently owned by a one-year-old naughty black Labrador Retriever named Fred and enjoy spending my spare time with him.

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