Probiotics for Dogs: Do They Work? Recommendations from Experts

    In this article, we’ll take a look at what dog probiotics are, if they are worth giving to your dog, and if they have any side effects. Experts from KinpurPetCare will answer all your questions about probiotics for dogs and tell you why they should be given to your dog.

    What Are Probiotics?

    Probiotics are the live bacteria that are introduced to the digestive system in order to promote health.  These particular types of factitious organisms are naturally occurring in our environment, especially within the soil.  Humans and animals alike have developed relationships with these organisms that help them remain healthy when they come in contact with them on a daily basis.  According to AZ Central College of Veterinary Medicine, “probiotic supplements typically contain between one million and 100 billion CFU per dose”. CFUs refer to Colony Forming Units which is how millions or billions of an organism can be measured.  

    Although probiotics are a fairly new fad in the wellness world, there is still research being done to figure out what role they play in our health.  According to an article from Colorado State University’s Department of Clinical Sciences, “The dog intestinal tract contains good bacteria; however, when needed, probiotics can be used to re-establish or supplement healthy bacterial growth.”  It has been shown that certain illnesses, like antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), might respond well to these supplements.

    Do Dogs Need Probiotics?

    Many pet owners are confused about the difference between prebiotics and probiotics.  Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that act as food for the healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut.  Your canine needs these good bacteria to help with digestion, absorption of nutrients, protection against infection, blood sugar regulation, brain function, weight control…the list goes on.  

    Probiotics are live micro-organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host animal.  That is why it is so important to find a quality product before you purchase it. A good rule of thumb is if there is no expiration date on the container then it’s probably not or just bad quality.

    What Are the Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs?

    Probiotics work to aid dogs in numerous health issues.  The truth is that dogs are similar to humans because gastrointestinal problems are one of the most common ailments for both species. When stomach bacteria get out of balance, all sorts of digestive problems can surface.

    Therefore, adding a probiotic supplement for dogs to your dog’s diet can help cure or at least lessen the symptoms associated with illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating. By regulating digestive tract function probiotics also aid dogs in maintaining normal cholesterol levels. Additionally, they have been found to improve skin conditions by reducing itching, flaking and inflammation while boosting overall immunity because it produces antibodies.

    There are other benefits not directly related to your dog’s digestive system. Since probiotics increase the absorption of nutrients, dogs fed with these supplements may benefit from better coat and skin health by getting more out of their food. If your pup is experiencing chronic bad breath, good bacteria might be able to help fight the formation of plaque & tartar by limiting oral cavity deterioration.

    Probiotics are available in different forms; you can either buy live cultures or supplements filled with beneficial bacteria strains. Which one should you go for? Both have advantages and disadvantages so read this article carefully before making a decision because it could affect your dog’s health!

    Types of Probiotics for Dogs

    Live cultures are the most popular choice for probiotics because they’re cheaper and have better success rates. Unfortunately, their benefits are only active in the digestive system so they don’t provide any additional health perks.

    Supplemental probiotics contain viable bacteria strains that are more likely to stick around in your pup’s body when consumed orally. They come in different forms so tracking down your dog’s specific needs shouldn’t be a problem even if you have a picky eater. It’ll take some experimenting to find out which one works best but there aren’t that many options available on the market anyway.

    Do Probiotics Have Side Effects for Dogs?

    Just like probiotics for humans, the answer is no. They should not have any side effects at all and can be safely used by anyone unless you happen to be allergic to the ingredients found in the supplement. However, this should only concern a very small percentage of individuals since there’s only 1 ingredient that has actually been clinically shown to cause an allergic reaction.

    Can Dogs Take Human Probiotics?

    This is another question we get asked a lot. Being the passionate pet owners that we are, this was one of our first questions too when looking into probiotics for dogs. The good news is yes, they can but only if you want to sacrifice the full benefits of having dog-specific probiotics.

    So, what’s the downside? Well, as you probably know yourself, the composition and even dosage of bacteria in human probiotics aren’t exactly tailored to your canine friends unlike other types like those designed specifically for cats or small dogs. So, while it should work well enough so long as you stick with reputable brands (as always), don’t expect them to be as effective because they still contain higher concentrations of bacteria suitable for regular people than pets.

    Likewise, the really good ones typically contain several bacterial strains which can be listed on their packaging so it’s hard to pinpoint whether they’re doing much or not.

    In this article, we’ve covered all the important questions about whether to give your dog probiotics. You can also purchase other products for dogs on our website. For example, you might find calming treats for dogs helpful. We will be glad to see you among our clients!

    Photo by James Barker

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