Probiotics For Dogs: Hype or Health?

I have seen the benefits of probiotics in my own stomach health. So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn my furbaby can benefit from natural probiotics for dogs. After discussions with my veterinarian and research on the topic, I determined a number of potential benefits of giving my dog probiotics.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are simply friendly gut/stomach bacteria. Animals have billions of stomach probiotics that aid in fighting infections, strengthening the immune system, digesting food, and creating vitamins and nutrients. This stomach environment is called the microbiome.

A dog needs a healthy microbiome. An unhealthy microbiome can lead to your best friend becoming sick or suffering from allergic reactions.

Probiotics are alive and need to eat to survive and grow. Additionally, consider the importance of prebiotics, which are nutrients in food that feed the probiotics.

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Can I Give My Dog Probiotics?

Yes, you can give dogs food with probiotics. Not as much research has been completed on probiotics for dogs as research on probiotics for humans. For this reason, before you give your dog probiotics, do your research and buy quality products. Check the type and expiration date and properly store the product to offer the best dog probiotics.

Also, your pet’s diet can affect the probiotics’ activity in the stomach. Always ask your vet before adding anything to your pet’s diet. There are many uses for natural probiotics for dogs.

Common Uses and Benefits

Should I give my dog probiotics? There are numerous benefits to giving your dog probiotics. Healthy stomach bacteria is important for the health of mammals, including you and your dog. Natural dog probiotics support food digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, and the immune system. Probiotics can even lessen the symptoms of allergies. Research has shown probiotics can help:

  • Yeast infections
  • Skin and coat conditions
  • Allergies
  • Digestive issues (diarrhea)
  • Obesity
  • Colitis
  • Gas
  • Bad breath

Common Forms of Probiotics for Dogs

The best dog probiotics (AKA “direct-fed microbials”) include dog food, yogurt, pills, treats, and powder.

Dog food. Feeding your furbaby dog food with probiotics added is an easy way to give your dog probiotics. Be careful to choose a food with prebiotics, too, because these feed the probiotics. Also, examine the food prep process and ingredients because temperature, air, and moisture affect bacterial growth. Often, you need to keep live probiotics in the fridge.

Yogurt. Plain dog probiotics yogurt or kefir with live cultures, and without artificial sweeteners, may work well for your furbaby. But be careful because the cultures must be listed as “live” to benefit your dog. Also, be wary of artificial sweeteners, which are often dangerous for dogs. You must store this food in the fridge.

Pills. While the market offers probiotic capsules, some dogs aren’t good at taking pills. Try giving your dog the pill by hand, and make sure your doggo doesn’t spit out the pill. You can try hiding the pill in yummy food, a treat, or peanut butter. Be sure to read the label for how to store and give the pill. If this doesn’t work, maybe a probiotic treat, paste, or powder will work better.

Treats/Chews. You can give your dog soft treats with probiotics, but watch out for unhealthy additives and preservatives. Remember, too, to make sure the probiotics are live and stored properly.

Pastes. This sweet paste comes in tubes, and dogs usually enjoy eating these dog probiotics. But this option is sometimes messy. Be sure to check the ingredient list and storage requirements.

Powder. If you can convince your doggo to eat the dog probiotics powder alone or mixed into food, this option might be your best bet. Some dieticians claim live probiotics in this form may offer more benefits because the powdering process better controls air and moisture exposure. Maintain these controlled conditions for storage, too.

Probiotics for Dogs with Cancer

Dogs undergoing cancer treatment sometimes struggle with stomach health, especially from chemotherapy. This treatment is especially common for dogs with lymphoma. While most dogs receiving this treatment have no side effects, some dogs suffer from loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Probiotics for dogs with cancer can help reduce these side effects. As always, discuss with your vet whether or not to consider adding natural dog probiotics to your best friend’s diet.

*Updated June 1, 2022

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