What Are Dog Probiotics?

Dog Probiotics Are Live Microorganisms That Are Thought to Provide Health Benefits to Dogs

Dog probiotics?

Perhaps you have seen them in your veterinary surgery, heard others talk about them, or even noticed them on the labels of many dog foods and dogs treats.

But what exactly are they?

Dog probiotics or canine probiotics as they are also known, are live beneficial microorganisms or "friendly bacteria" that are thought to provide health benefits to our four-legged friends.

You’ll find these helpful bacteria in many dog products including food, treats and special dog probiotic supplements. Currently many pet product manufacturers add probiotics to their range and as a result there is an ever-expanding array of products on offer. Your dog will be spoilt for choice!

What Are The Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs?

Probiotics can be very helpful to dogs both for maintaining health and in treating disease. Have a look at our page on probotics for dogs, cats and horses for more information on just how probotics are thought to help pets.

Additionally, scientific research relating specifically to dogs has found that giving a dog probiotics:

  • Helps reduce the length of episodes of canine gastroenteritis. Species used in this trial were Lactobacillus acidophilus, Pediococcus acidilactici, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis and Lactobacillus farciminis1.

  • Reduces the time to resolution of acute diarrhea. This study used Bifidobacterium animalis strain AHC7 (IAMS Prostora, Procter & Gamble Pet Care)2.

  • Enhances specific immune functions in puppies. This study used Lactobacillus casei3.

  • Improves the clinic symptoms in dogs with food intolerant or food responsive diarrhea when used in conjunction with an elimination diet4.
Also a preliminary study has concluded that probiotics may have an important future role in the treatment of canine chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)5.

Certainly probiotics, notably VSL3 and Mutaflor, have already been shown to be helpful in treating ulcerative colitis in humans!

The evidence demonstrating the benefit of dog probiotics is growing.

Holistic veterinarians have used canine probiotic products for many years. Their more conventional colleagues are now joining them in using probiotics. Ask your veterinarian for more information.

When to Use Dog Probiotics

Obviously, given the research above, it is clear that dog probiotics are very useful in cases of gastrointestinal illness. Gastrointestinal ailments are the second most common ailment in dogs and they can be caused by numerous factors including parasitic infection, digestive stress, flora imbalances, diet, as well as a propensity to eat anything and everything!

Probiotics are also thought to be of benefit to dogs in reducing the effects of stress, correcting nutritional deficiencies and helping your dog adjust to a different diet.

Additionally, if your dog is currently taking antibiotics or has recently completed a course, it makes sense to give probiotics. Antibiotics disrupt the balance of gut micro flora by killing "good bacteria". Giving your dog probiotics will help replenish his/her supply of friendly bacteria thus rebalancing the digestive flora.

Probiotics can also help prevent or reduce cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Be sure though to give your dog his/her probiotics at least three hours apart from the antibiotics. On no account should you give antibiotics and probiotics at the same time – this is an expensive mistake as the antibiotics will destroy the probiotics rendering them useless!

You may of course have a very healthy dog. If this is the case for you, you can also use dog probiotics to maintain your dog’s good health – as a simple but effective preventative measure.

Dog Probiotics or Probiotic Dog Food?

With the vast array of different probiotic products for dogs, you can be forgiven for wondering which is the best option: dog probiotic supplements or probiotic dog food?

Dog Probiotics Are Available as Supplements and in Dog Foods and Dog Treats

Our advice is that if you have a sick dog, then opt for dog probiotic supplements over probiotic dog food and treats. These special supplements generally contain a greater number of probiotic bacteria than the foods and thus are more suited to therapeutic use.

Dog probiotics can be purchased in a variety of different forms including powder, tablet, gel and paste, allowing you to choose a product to suit your dog’s needs. Probiotic dog foods can of course be used in conjunction with dog probiotic supplements.

If on the other hand, your dog is healthy and you just want him/her to stay that way, then giving probiotic foods will be sufficient. You can either buy special probiotic dog foods or alternatively you can give you dog a little human probiotic food. probiotic bacteria than the foods and thus are more suited to therapeutic use.

Dog probiotics can be purchased in a variety of different forms including powder, tablet, gel and paste, allowing you to choose a product to suit your dog’s needs. Probiotic dog foods can of course be used in conjunction with dog probiotic supplements.

If on the other hand, your dog is healthy and you just want him/her to stay that way, then giving probiotic foods will be sufficient. You can either buy special probiotic dog foods or alternatively you can give you dog a little human probiotic food.

Dog Probiotic Supplements Are Expensive. Can’t I Just Give My Dog Some Probiotic Yogurt?

Another way of getting probiotics into your dog is to give human probiotic foods in small amounts.

Probiotic yogurt is easily available in the vast majority of grocery stores. Perhaps you even eat it yourself! If you choose to give your dog yogurt, be sure to give a small amount only (one to three teaspoonfuls with each meal depending on the size of your dog) and choose natural (plain), unsweetened probiotic yogurt. Be sure too that your dog is not lactose intolerant as this will mean that all milk products (probiotic or not!) are unsuitable for him/her.

There are also many other types of probiotic foods such as plain sauerkraut or fermented cabbage (i.e. without garlic, or onions) and milk kefir. These can also be fed to your dog in small quantities.

Be aware though that feeding your dog some probiotic yogurt or sauerkraut will not supply him/her with the same high quantities of probiotic organisms as a dog probiotic supplement. A dog probiotic supplement also has an additional advantage in that it gives a measured dose of probiotics. If you feed your dog a probiotic supplement, you can give an exact dose of probiotics suited to his/her size and condition. It is impossible to be so precise with probiotic foods as far as measured doses are concerned. For a sick dog therefore, choose a probiotic supplement. This way you can be sure to feed enough bacteria to assist with the health problem in question. You can always add in processed probiotic dog food or some of your probiotic food if you like.

Can I Give Human Probiotics to Dogs?

You can give human probiotic foods such as probiotic yogurt, milk kefir and fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) to dogs in small amounts. As far as supplements are concerned though, it’s more sensible and safer to stick to dog probiotics for dogs and human probiotics for humans. There are several reasons for this:

  • Dog probiotics contain strains and species which are specifically suited to dogs. Dog probiotics for example often contain the probiotic Enterococcus faecium whereas human probiotics do not.

  • Dog probiotics contain numbers of probiotic bacteria which are suited to dogs.

There Are So Many Dog Probiotics on The Market. How Do I Choose The Right One?

There are so many dog probiotics on offer that you may be unsure as to which one to choose. The key differences between the products concern:

  • The strains and species of probiotics they contain.

  • The potency. This is measured in numbers of probiotics, which is measured in colony forming units (CFUs). The higher the number of CFUs in a product, the more potent it is.

  • The delivery mechanism used: powders, pastes, tablets, capsules, treats and dog food itself.

  • The storage requirements: most probiotics require refrigeration. However there is a growing number of products on the market that do not.

The elements listed here should help you shortlist potential products. If you are unsure as to the best strains and species to use for your dog or how much you dog will require, then consult your veterinarian who should be able to help. Also to ensure you get the best value for money, consult our cost comparison page.

Buy Dog Probiotics

We have teamed up with Amazon.com to provide you with an aStore featuring a wide range of dog probiotics. Click here to enter our store.

References

1.Herstad, HK et al; Effects of a Probiotic Intervention in Acute Canine Gastroenteritis--a Controlled Clinical Trial; J Small Anim Pract.; Jan 2010;51(1):34-8.

2.Kelley R.L et al; Clinical Benefits of Probiotic Canine-Derived Bifidobacterium Animalis Strain AHC7 in Dogs with Acute Idiopathic Diarrhea; Vet Ther.; Fall 2009;10(3):121-30.

3.Chung JY et al; Effect of Recombinant Lactobacillus Expressing Canine GM-CSF on Immune Function in Dogs; J Microbiol Biotechnol; Nov 2009; 19(11):1401-7.

4.Sauter, S.N et al, Effects of Probiotic Bacteria in Dogs with Food Responsive Diarrhoea Treated with an Elimination Diet; J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl).; Aug 2006; 90(7-8):269-77.

5.Chrzastowska M. et al; Prospects for the Use of Probiotic Bacteria in the Treatment of Gastrointestinal Diseases in Dogs; Pol J Vet Sci.; 2009; 12(2):279-84.


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