If you want to take care of your dog’s digestive health, you might consider giving your pet probiotics for dogs. Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that have numerous digestive and immune health benefits. If human probiotics like yogurt are part of your everyday diet, then you’ve probably heard about probiotics. Dogs and other animals have natural probiotics in their stomach to maintain intestinal health and a well working digestive tract.
If you notice that your pet is often sick, it could be due to changes in their microbiome! To have a healthy dog, you need to make sure that their microbiome is healthy too. That’s where a probiotic supplement can come in handy! Read further below on some tips for encouraging good health in your dog’s gut!
Canine Microbiome – What Is It?
Bacteria are all over dogs’ digestive tracts. Some live in the stomach, but most of the bacteria are in the intestines. Still, the greatest number of bacteria are in the colon. This community of bacteria and other gut flora in your dog’s stomach is called the canine microbiome. Scientists refer to the microbiome as the “forgotten organ.” Since every dog is exposed to a different environment and diet, every microbiome is unique, like a fingerprint.
An unhealthy microbiome may cause inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. This can lead to digestive issues, bad breath, diabetes, lowered immune system function, and even depression in dogs.
What Are Probiotics For Dogs?
Probiotics are considered “friendly bacteria.” Aside from a dog’s gut, probiotics can also be found in fermented food and probiotic supplements. For example, certain yeast species are considered probiotics.
The friendly bacteria have a few important roles in your dog’s body:
- Ease digestion
- Produce vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamin K
- Reduce gut pH
- Produce serotonin and influence a dog’s mood
- Support the immune system
- Produce enzymes
- Promote the health of your dog’s gut
- Produce fatty acids that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria
Do Probiotics Support The Canine Immune System?
Millions of bacteria inhabit a dog’s gut and these bacteria eat the same food your pet eats. Bacteria eat fiber since a dog’s digestive system cannot digest it. As bacteria take in fiber, short-chain fatty acids or SCFAs are eliminated. Probiotics in dogs help them to keep the healthier SCFAs in their gut. These SCFAs help maintain general wellness. There are three main SCFAs: acetate, butyrate, and propionate.
The short-chain fatty acids can remain in the colon or travel throughout the dog’s body. Either way, SCFAs play a critical role in your pet’s immunity and overall well-being. They can:
- Form the mucus layer of protection in the gut.
- Feed the good bacteria and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Keep cell lining in the gut close together, thereby preventing leaky gut.
- Build T-cells in the immune system, which helps reduce chronic inflammation.
- Decreases glucose levels, thereby protecting the dog’s body from metabolic disease and obesity.
- Help in the absorption of essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and magnesium.
- Protect the dog’s stomach from food allergens.
About 80% of a dog’s immune system is in their gut! That means proper gut care is important to their health.
Dogs Health Benefits & Probiotics
Good bacteria helps support gut health. But pet parents giving their dog probiotics can expect more than just proper digestive function. Also, other health issues can be addressed by giving probiotics to your dog, including:
- Yeast overgrowth
- Leaky gut
- Colitis and bowel diseases
- Urinary tract infections
- Allergy symptoms
- Mood disorders
Causes of Bacterial Shifts
Even the smallest changes to the species of bacteria in your dog’s gut can have a noticeable impact on their host. These health conditions are all related to the shifts in the bacterial populations in your pet’s microbiome. Bacteria shifts occur all the time, which can be caused by the following:
- High-fat diet
- High starch diet
What Probiotics Are Best for Dogs?
The type of probiotics for dogs that you choose will depend on your pet’s needs and individual health. You should also consider your vet’s recommendations when making decisions on your pet’s health. This is important before introducing your dog to a new probiotic supplement. When searching for the best dog probiotics, check supplement labels for these strains of probiotics: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Enterococcus, and Bacillusor. More on these later.
Dosage of Probiotics for Dogs
The dosage of probiotics for dogs will vary, depending on the type and form of supplement, hence, you have to consult your vet before adding them to your dog’s diet. It is also important to follow the instructions on the packaging along with your vet’s dosage prescription.
With regards to the type of probiotic, keep in mind that there are probiotics that have a variety of strains. For example, lactic acid bacteria have several strains, and they are easily destroyed in the gut. Therefore, you’ll need a product that contains a large number of CFU (colony forming units). The CFU count is the amount of living (viable) bacteria per serving of probiotics for dogs. The total CFU of a probiotic will be added to the total of all bacteria included in the formula. If you refer to the product label, every strain of probiotic is listed with its corresponding CFU. In some labels, though, the formula may combine all strains into the total CFU count per serving.
Look for at least 10 billion CFU of any type of natural probiotics so they can survive in the gut of your dog. This is the ideal count for a healthy dog. For dogs with digestive or immune issues, look for about 20 to 50 billion CFU, particularly for a medium to large-sized dog.
As for Saccharomyces boulardii, consider a smaller amount, about half a billion to 5 billion CFU. If you are looking at spore-forming dog probiotics, a smaller amount of CFUs would suffice (about 1 billion CFU) since they can easily survive the acidity levels of a dog’s gut.
Side Effects of Probiotics for Dogs
Side effects are quite uncommon in probiotics for dogs. However, you should always seek the advice of your vet and consider your dog’s medical history before introducing these supplements to your dog’s diet. Typically, if you notice symptoms of allergic reaction like hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling after giving your dog probiotics, get your pet to your vet at once. The most common side effects of probiotics for dogs are gas, bloating, and upset stomach.
Your vet should be able to tell you that there are instances where giving probiotics may not work. If your dog has a condition such as SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), probiotics might not be what your dog needs. Most of the bacteria in dogs is in their colon. SIBO happens when abnormally large amounts of bacteria inhabit the small intestines, which can potentially interfere with digestion and the nutrient absorption in the small intestines. Its causes include:
- A diet rich in carbohydrates and high in sugar
- Medications (like antibiotics and steroids) that might disrupt the microbiome
- Low gut motility (the guts ability to ‘push-down’ food)
SIBO’s symptoms include:
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Leaky gut
- Chronic or intermittent diarrhea
- IBS (inflammatory bowel disease)
- Weight loss
- Food intolerances
SIBO is an overgrowth of bacteria. Hence, it is not advisable to give your dog probiotics if they have SIBO because doing so will only facilitate the growth of bacteria. Spore-forming bacteria are a better choice if you think your dog has SIBO. They have a protective coating that allows them to stay in their spore form until the surrounding environment is safe, allowing them to travel through the small intestine and eventually reside in the colon.
Dogs on Antibiotics
A 2018 study showed that Lactobacillus after antibiotic use resulted in a delay in the recovery of the microbiome, and the recovery didn’t achieve completion compared to a group that was not given the probiotics. Experts say that you should give Saccharomyces boulardii and other soil-based probiotics to restore your dog’s microbiome if they have been on antibiotics.
Canine Probiotics Interaction with Other Drugs
Aside from their potential effect on dogs from taking antibiotics, the efficacy of probiotics can be compromised given alongside antifungals.
Supplements, vitamins, and herbal therapies may interact with one another, likewise, with prescription and over-the-counter medications. Make sure that you disclose with your vet whatever medications, including supplements that your dog is taking.
Ingredients in Probiotics for Dogs
The ingredients included in the probiotic supplement have a big influence on how well it will support digestive health. Listed below are some of the ingredients you’ll find in the best probiotics for dogs. Look for these beneficial microorganisms when searching for the best probiotic for your dog!
Lactic Acid Probiotics
Fermented Milk is the base for Lactic acid probiotics. This type is the most common probiotics for dogs. You’ll find their stain names on the label of the supplement, including the species. For example, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species often appear as “B.” or “L.”, so, you might find Longum or L. acidophilus. For our purposes, we’ll continue to refer to them as “B.” and “L.,” too.
L. converts milk sugar into lactic acid. They inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal system. B. also produces lactic acid but it is not considered to be lactic acid bacteria. B. is found in the colon and may interact with the immune system. Experts observe that low numbers of L. and B. may be associated with anxiety.
L. and B. probiotics are quite fragile. Typically, they can only live in the body for about 24 hours in the gut. They may not colonize, but their DNA is left behind, so they can still provide some health benefits. These probiotics can help treat diarrhea in dogs.
Lactic acid probiotic strains include:
- L. Acidophilus: Is in most probiotics. It is referred to as the tried and true bacteria. These probiotics can help increase Lactobacillus populations in your dog’s gut, plus it helps control the growth of harmful clostridia. It is also beneficial for the immune function.
- L. Casei: Is in the mucus membrane of dogs. Casei plays an important role in the gut-brain axis and influences your dog’s moods and emotions.
- L. Plantarum and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus: Have better survival rates than other probiotic strains. They both help maintain the health of the colon walls of dogs with irritable bowel movement (IBS) and minimize antibiotic-related diarrhea. Decreased levels of Lactobacillus rhamnosus are linked to dog anxiety.
- B. Animalis : Helps manage acute diarrhea.
- B. Longum: Helps reduce stress, food allergies, and diarrhea in dogs.
- Enterococcus Faecium: Prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in your dog’s gut. While it is beneficial for dogs, scientists are concerned because it can cause antibiotic-resistant enterococcal infections in humans.
- Pediococcus acidilactici: Aids in leaky guts and helps manage skin conditions.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a healthy yeast and a good probiotic for dogs. Yeast can sometimes treat acute chronic diarrhea in humans. Recent studies show that it has the same benefits in dogs. It has also been used as a treatment for Candida and yeast, and helps manage digestive issues resulting from chronic inflammation.
It is important to point out that probiotic yeast cannot be destroyed by antibiotics. That means you can give them to your dog even while taking antibiotics!
Spore Forming Probiotics
The Bacilli strains are spore-forming microorganisms. These strains can build a hard coating that can protect them from stomach acids and most antibiotics. Soil-based probiotics are the base ingredient for many antibiotics.
The most common strains of Bacilli are:
- Bacillus Coagulans: Produces lactic acid, allowing it to crowd unfriendly bacteria. It has anti-inflammatory properties, thus it can help manage diarrhea in dogs. A 2016 study shows it can help improve rheumatoid arthritis in rats.
- Bacillus Indicus: Is a unique probiotic that produces huge amounts of carotenoids, which are yellow and orange pigments in plants. Carotenoids have anti-oxidizing properties. It can produce quinols, B vitamins, and vitamin K2. Dogs with EPI and those that need digestive enzymes can benefit from B. Indicus.
- Bacillus Subtilis: is in the gut of healthy dogs. Bacillus Subtilis was a treatment for urinary tract infections before antibiotics. B. subtilis helps in the production of IgA, an antibody that has low levels in dogs suffering from autoimmune disease. It also strengthens the gut lining and produces vitamin K
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics are manufactured from dairy. However, S. boulardii and other spore-forming probiotics are not, making some of them the best choice for dogs with allergies (specifically dairy allergies).
Probiotics for Dogs Additions & Alternatives
Probiotics may not be for every pet, but fortunately there are plenty of options. If you or your vet decide that probiotics aren’t the right choice, there are some alternatives to keep your dog’s microbiome healthy:
- Prebiotics: Promote the growth of healthy gut microbes. Examples of prebiotics are mannan oligosaccharide, inulin, and other sources of fiber. Many commercially available dog foods contain these ingredients. If you are considering giving prebiotics to your dog, start with small doses so you can assess how your dog responds. You may also consult your vet.
- Fermented foods: Probiotic treats like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, MSG-free miso, and tempeh are equally safe to feed your pet.
- Raw fresh foods: Are also a good source of natural microbes. Some people give raw meat diets to their dogs, but you have to follow appropriate safety precautions to make sure that doing so would not end up being harmful to your dog. it is best to consult with your vet as well.
Other Beneficial Dog Digestive Suggestions
Many dog owners use CBD oil and other CBD products to support the digestive tract health. CBD (cannabidiol) is in hemp plants and the best products don’t contain any synthetic additives.
There are different ways to give your dog CBD, like CBD oil, CBD treats, and CBD soft chews. CBD oil helps decrease discomfort and swelling in your dog’s intestines. It can help calm your dog and minimize the environmental stress that may lead to digestive problems like diarrhea. CBD can also help to relax the muscles, aiding in easier digestion. Sometimes, it is hard to get dogs to take CBD oil. That’s where CBD treats and CBD soft chews come in with plenty of flavor and the same great benefits.
Other health benefits of CBD products for dogs include:
- Boosts appetite
- Soothes nausea
- Eases swelling
- Alleviate discomfort
- Aids nervousness
As with any other changes in a dog’s diet, it is important to consult with your vet first before taking drastic actions.
Where to Get CBD Products
CBD products in the form of oil and dog treats have become quite popular as an alternative to probiotics. Many pet supply stores offer CBD products and you can find a lot of online sellers as well. The best place to get high-quality CBD products is from HolistatPet. Thats because we make our products using excellent quality organic ingredients. So when you use one, you can be sure you are giving your dog all of the possible benefits of hemp.
Final Thoughts – Probiotics for Dogs
As a pet owner, you want to keep your pup healthy and one of the ways to ensure it is giving them probiotics for dogs. Your dog might experience digestive discomfort initially, but this is temporary. Keep in mind that before introducing new food or supplements to your dog, you should consult a vet first to make sure that the changes won’t harm your dog.
In addition, you can also calm a dog’s stomach using CBD! Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on exciting new products and deals on some of our favorites. So the next time you are in need of a way to calm your dog’s upset stomach, consider some CBD from us at Holistapet! We will be honored to have you and your dog as members of our community.