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November 01, 2022 7 min read

We know probiotics are a great supplement to add to the human diet for their various benefits. They aid the digestive system and also support our immune system, among other things. But what about your dog’s diet? Do probiotics work for dogs? And, if they do, what type should you give your dog? You may ask a dozen questions in this regard, and we have the answers.

A healthy gut is a requirement for both humans and dogs, which probiotics provide. There are hardly any other supplements that do the job of probiotics in keeping your microbiome healthy. It would be interesting to learn how these supplements affect your dog and how much you should administer it to keep your dog free of illnesses and in good health.

What Are Probiotics For Dogs?

Probiotics are live organisms found in the colon, intestines, and stomach. They are considered good bacteria since they support your dog's digestive health. Probiotics can also be found in many fermented foods, such as plain yogurt. Certain yeast species also work as probiotics.

Probiotics vs. Prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics sound similar but are different in their functions. Together with probiotics, prebiotics encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria and other organisms in your dog's digestive system. Foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, naturally contain prebiotics. They act as indigestible fiber for your dog but live as a host for probiotic microorganisms.

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are the most frequently prescribed prebiotic for dogs. Because the two work together, most probiotics come with prebiotics. You can find prebiotics in the following:

  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables

Why Will Your Dog Need Probiotics?

Bacteria prefer to reside in your dog's digestive system because they consume the same things your dog eats. Since your dog cannot digest fiber, bacteria enjoy eating it. After consuming the fiber, the leftovers come out as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Therefore, probiotics for dogs are a fantastic approach to increasing your dog's intake of beneficial SCFAs. These are of the following types:

  • Acetate
  • Proprionate
  • Butyrate

These fatty acids will either stay in your dog's colon or travel through your dog’s entire body. They are essential for your dog's health and immunity. Their functions are:

  • Support the growth of good bacteria and prevent any harmful bacteria
  • Aid in the formation of the gut's protective mucus layer.
  • Keep the intestinal lining cells in close proximity to prevent a leaky gut.
  • Keep the glucose levels in check to prevent metabolic disorders and obesity.
  • Increase the number of crucial T-cells in the immune system to help lower chronic inflammation.
  • Defend the host from food allergies.
  • Aid the body's absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Your dog's health depends on the gut bacteria in its stomach because 80% of its immune system is located there, and a community of good bacteria is diverse and well-populated to keep the gut healthy.

Health Benefits of Dog Probiotics

As we have mentioned, probiotics benefit most dogs, just as humans, because they maintain an excellent canine gut and a healthy immune system. The two main types of probiotics - lactobacillus and bifidobacterium - can help with a wide range of health conditions, including

  • A leaky gut
  • Yeast infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Dog diarrhea
  • Pancreatitis
  • Obesity
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Mood issues
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Bladder infections
  • Irregular bowel function
  • Gas and bloating

The intestinal bacteria might noticeably affect your dog with even the slightest changes to its species. You may relate the abovementioned problems with a bacteria change in your dog’s gut.

These changes are less noticeable if your dog has a broad population of bacteria in his digestive tract. However, bacterial shifts occur often. Bacterial shifts may be due to the following:

  • Antibiotics drugs
  • Toxins
  • A fat-heavy diet
  • A starch-loaded diet

Types Of Probiotics

There are various types of probiotics available for dogs. The kind and amount of bacteria added can be seen in the guaranteed analysis section of a dog food packet. Probiotics are even listed as components in some dog meals, so you can check the package label to get more information.

Dog probiotics are available in the form of dog foods, chews, capsules, and powders, and each of them comes with instructions for the proper dosage and usage frequency on the label. The type of probiotic supplements you choose for your dog will depend on its health requirements.

Lactic Acid Probiotics

Most canine probiotics are lactic acid bacteria typically produced from fermented milk. You can find their strain names on the probiotic supplement label. You will often find Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species written as B or L. So, B. Longum or L. acidophilus may be used for Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Longum.

The lactic acid produced by Lactobacillus species prevents the growth of dangerous bacteria in the intestine by converting milk sugar to acid. Bifidobacterium species create lactic acid, similar to Lactobacillus, although they are not regarded as lactic acid bacteria.

The colon is home to bifidobacterium, which can interact with immune cells. Anxiety has been linked to low levels of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus probiotics. They can boost the immune system by displacing dangerous microorganisms.

Probiotic supplements made of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are rather fragile and often only remain in the gut for around 24 hours before being removed. Although they are unlikely to colonize, their DNA is still present, and they can still provide many health advantages. Overall, these are beneficial for preventing diarrhea.

Lactic acid probiotics include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus Casei, L. Plantarum, B. Animalis, B. Longum, Enterococcus Faceium, and Pediococcus acidilactici.

Probiotic Yeast

A beneficial yeast that works as a probiotic for dogs is Saccharomyces boulardii. S. boulardii helps with digestive problems brought on by persistent inflammation since it can change immune system cell signaling pathways. Humans suffering from acute and chronic diarrhea are treated with Saccharomyces boulardii, which has the same advantages for dogs.

Antibiotics cannot kill S. boulardii, making it distinct from other bacteria. It can be used concurrently with the usage of antibiotics to assist in safeguarding the beneficial gut flora and stop diarrhea brought on by antibiotics.

Spore-Forming Probiotics

Spore-forming probiotics or soil-based probiotics are species of bacteria in the soil. They are especially beneficial to aid digestion problems and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), particularly if your dog has a dairy sensitivity. Because soil-based probiotics are spore-forming, they are shielded from heat, stomach acids, and most antibiotics by a tough outer layer.

The probiotic strains of this type are Bacillus coagulans, B. indicus, B. subtilis, etc.

Natural Probiotics

Many dog prebiotics is also found in the food we commonly consume. These include:

Yogurt

Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus are the bacteria species used in the fermentation of milk to create yogurt, which then works as a prebiotic. Yogurt as a probiotic comes with a few drawbacks. Dairy products, to start with, can impair a dog's immune system and cause inflammation. Second, there aren't many probiotics in most yogurt. And most yogurt has a lot of sugar, which might unintentionally alter the intestinal bacteria.

Fermented foods

Chaga, kefir, and kimchi, among other foods, can add high nutrition to your dog’s diet. The enormous amount of prebiotics that fermented vegetables and foods contain makes them special. Fermented meals may potentially feed dangerous bacteria and yeast because prebiotics isn't picky about the kinds of bacteria they feed. Therefore, you must use fermented foods sparingly and cautiously if your dog has yeast infections or SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth)

Prebiotic foods

High-fiber dog food products are the best choice to add for a healthy gut. These may include:

  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Chicory root
  • Pumpkin

Things To Ensure In A Probiotic Food Regimen

With the type of dog food given to dogs, it is difficult to maintain a desirable intestinal microbial balance. A dog owner must understand the canine digestive system to help them find the best probiotic that most suits them and their gut.

1. pH-balanced

pH greatly impacts the intestinal tract, where the probiotics live. Giving your dog dry dog food causes the dog’s gut to form alkalosis, which imbalances the environment. Make sure you are not giving your pet such food that causes the pH to change drastically.

2. Prebiotic support

Feed your pets microbes if you want healthy dogs. Prebiotic fibers, plant material, and bugs are great options.

3. Bacterial diversity

The diversity of Lactobacillus strains is essential for enhancing the overall health of dogs' skin and coats, allergies, and other conditions. Certain sporulating strains play more significant roles as "directors" of other gut bacteria. The more diverse bacteria your dog’s gut is, the better.

Can you give your dog human probiotics?

Giving your dog probiotics that are designed for humans is NOT advised. Given the significant differences between the digestive systems of humans and dogs, treating your dog with human probiotics may result in severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additionally, they could grow too quickly within your dog's body, leading to a serious infection or inflammatory reaction.

You should only give your dog the probiotic supplements and probiotic treats that are specifically designed for pets.

Is it safe to give my dog probiotics daily?

Yes, it is safe. Make sure to take a balanced vitamin that contains compounds for intestinal health. If you want a stand-alone probiotic, consult your veterinarian about how frequently to administer one to your dog because they will be able to determine the proper dosage based on the breed and size of your pet.

A daily probiotic may take several weeks to start working. Giving your dog a regular probiotic will help proactively remove and prevent stomach troubles.

Conclusion

It's crucial to keep in mind that providing your dog with probiotics is a continuous process. You are putting time and effort into building colonies in the intestines of your dog that will eventually benefit its health.

It's challenging to cure the canine gut, and probiotics have trouble surviving in the intestines. Giving probiotics access to live cultures in whatever form they choose will help them have a chance to colonize. The secret to giving your dog probiotics is consistency. Make sure to follow your vet's advice regularly, and follow up if your dog doesn't get better.