Probiotics are a popular human dietary supplement for digestive and immune system health, but are probiotics for dogs necessary? Can boosting your dogs’ gut microbes be advantageous or too much of a good thing? Read our guide to learn about the pros and cons of probiotics for dogs.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that, when administered in an adequate amount, provide their host with numerous health benefits. These organisms regulate the intestinal immune function, enhancing the gastrointestinal (GI) barrier function, and reducing the gut’s sensitivity to stress. In addition, probiotics may block disease-causing bacteria by hindering their ability to bind to the intestinal wall and by producing protective antibacterial substances.1
Probiotics are safe for dogs, but these bacteria are species-specific. Although probiotics intended for people aren’t harmful to dogs, they will not provide the same benefits as a dog-specific supplement. Probiotics that are beneficial to dogs include2:
Probiotics can be beneficial to your pup’s physical and mental wellbeing.
These microorganisms can enhance your dog’s health by doing the following:
Canine probiotics come in many different forms, including supplement treats, capsules, powder, chewable tablets, and liquid. Probiotic-fortified dog food is also available. Most dogs willingly eat probiotics, but you can hide a probiotic capsule in a treat if your furry pal is picky.
Probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs), and the current recommendation for dogs is 1 to 10 billion CFUs per day.2 Ensure the product has not reached its expiration date, because probiotics lose potency and effectiveness over time.
You can give your dog probiotics on a regular basis to promote digestive health and immune function. Probiotic supplements are especially beneficial during these situations:
If your dog has an upcoming stressful event, such as receiving a vaccination, start administering a probiotic several days in advance so they have a healthy, well-functioning GI tract before they experience potential stress. Continue the treatment for several days after the event.
Canine probiotics are considered extremely safe, having few reported side effects. In rare instances, probiotics for dogs cause gas, stomach upset, and discomfort, particularly when starting the supplement.
Specially formulated canine probiotic products are safe for puppies. However, you should always consult your veterinarian before adding beneficial microbes to your pup’s bowl.
Many veterinarians recommend probiotics at various times to support a puppy’s developing immune system and intestinal tract. Although puppies seem to have a worry-free life, they’re vulnerable to internal and external stressors (e.g., growth and development, training, diet changes), which can lead to loose stools. Supplemental probiotics can fortify your puppy’s resilience to life’s stressors and support healthy digestion.4
Some foods you eat, such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables, have live cultures that may benefit your dog. You can give your dog plain, unsweetened yogurt products that don’t contain artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Recommended yogurt dosages for dogs include:
If your dog is experiencing GI upset, your veterinarian should rule out an underlying medical problem before you add a probiotic to your pup’s diet. If your goal is to promote your dog’s intestinal health, administer a probiotic that contains multiple live culture strains, and choose a product that requires refrigeration, because many shelf-stable probiotics are less potent.
Veterinarians often recommend probiotics for dogs when they experience GI and digestive problems. Your veterinarian may recommend you administer probiotics to your pup if they have one of these common afflictions:
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that live in your dog’s GI tract, and prebiotics are fiber sources that nourish and promote probiotic growth. Prebiotics, which high-fiber foods provide, feed probiotics. If you are considering a probiotic for your dog, consult your veterinarian regarding the appropriate product and dose for your canine companion.
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