Over the last few years, probiotics have became a more popular conversation topic among dog lovers. Some owners swear by their benefits while others are concerned by potential side effects. So I thought it was time to discuss all positives and negatives of using dog probiotics.
Doing so will help you decide whether probiotics are worth adding into your dog’s daily regime. But before I dive into the benefits and other relevant topics, it’s vital to define probiotics at a basic level. It’s a crucial part of understanding if they’re right for your pup!
What Are Probiotics for Dogs?
Probiotics are nutritional supplements that contain live microorganisms. Owners use them to promote better gut health, especially for pups with more sensitive digestive systems. It’s easy to see why so many owners have started using them.
But most owners don’t realize that probiotics are already within your dog’s gut. So introducing these probiotic supplements doesn’t add anything new. Instead, you can rely on them to improve an element within a dog’s gut that wasn’t working effectively.
Furthermore, some dogs won’t produce enough probiotics to keep their gut healthy. In these situations, probiotics can be limited by several issues like stress or malnutrition. A bad diet or excessive harmful bacteria can even impact probiotic production.
These situations are where probiotic supplements will become helpful and necessary. Their addition will ensure the probiotics can reach a healthy amount while reducing harmful bacteria. I even had to use them when first getting my Pitbull as her gut health was terrible.
Over time, the probiotic supplement pushed out the harmful bacteria. My Pitbull’s digestive system soon began to function without any hiccups. I no longer had to worry about her throwing up her food or any bathroom issues.
This experience is only a sample of the benefits provided by probiotic supplements. I’ll dive deeper into this topic later on in this article. But overall, probiotics are certainly something that an owner need to consider if their dog’s gut health is lackluster.
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics
A common source of confusion is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics. Given how the terms are spelled, it’s completely understandable. It also isn’t helpful that both serve the similar purpose of elevating a canine’s gut health.
But it’s still a topic that dog owners should understand entirely before using a prebiotic or probiotic supplement. Otherwise, you may choose the wrong one for your pet’s situation.
As I mentioned earlier, probiotics are microorganisms inside a dog’s gut. Prebiotics happen to be nondigestible carbohydrates that these microorganisms will consume. In other words, probiotics require prebiotics to thrive and work their magic.
So naturally, most experts will recommend using probiotics and prebiotics together. The combination will make the probiotics more effective and establish their colonies quicker. It’s why many probiotic supplement manufacturers include both inside their products.
Honestly, the best options usually follow this route. I often recommend first-time probiotic supplement users find an option that includes probiotics and prebiotics. It makes the entire process much easier, especially for newbies.
Another option is to increase prebiotics by putting more fiber in their diets. Some fiber types are even considered prebiotics, so they’ll only provide more food for the probiotics. But I’d suggest talking to your vet before changing a dog’s diet. It’s a simple way to ensure there won’t be any issues.
Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs
Since I’ve covered the basics of probiotics, let’s dive into their advantages. It’ll offer a much better idea of whether using them is a wise idea for your canine:
1. Promotes Better Digestion
One of the more apparent benefits would be their impact on a dog’s digestive system. Their presence will help ensure a healthier environment while preventing several different issues. Dogs who take probiotics often find them to reduce vomiting and diarrhea.
Many vets even recommend using them for breeds prone to digestive problems: Boxers, German Shepherds, Terriers, and Great Danes are only a few examples. But these supplements have shown excellent results when added to their routine.
However, breeds prone to digestive problems won’t be the only ones experiencing them. Thankfully, probiotics are a helpful option for any dog with these issues. I certainly saw excellent results when using them for my Pitbull’s digestive problems.
2. Effective Preventative Measures Against UTIs
UTIs are a common issue dogs will pick up during their lives. So owners must be vigilant about preventing them, especially if their breed is prone to them. One overlooked preventative measure is using dog probiotics.
After all, these supplements have proven to improve bladder health by a considerable margin. A healthier bladder will go a long way in stopping a UTI from ever being an issue. Trust me; it’s much easier to do everything possible to prevent them than trying to treat them later.
3. Helps Manage Inflammatory Conditions
Inflammatory conditions can make your dog’s life an absolute nightmare when incorrectly treated. It could be anything from an intestinal infection, inflammatory bowel disease, or a virus. All will wreak havoc on your dog if they aren’t managed and treated properly.
Probiotics are an excellent way to promote the healing process with these conditions. These supplements will help ensure your gut health gets back on track. Doing so provides a healthier environment to speed up the healing process while preventing future issues.
4. Reduces Allergic Reactions
Allergies are a bane of existence for many dogs and their owners. But thankfully, probiotics can be a massive factor in reducing allergic reactions by a considerable amount. These supplements provide this benefit ensuring your dog has a more stable intestinal permeability.
In other words, probiotics will help control inflammation even when systemic. But please, don’t think of probiotics as an alternative to canine allergy medication. It’s a supplemental treatment that works with the meds to manage these issues more effectively.
I also must stress how much impact probiotics have limited my Beagle’s hot spots. It used to be a massive problem for him during the summer months. But now, this issue has become almost non-existent after adding probiotics to his daily routine.
5. Boosts the Immune System
It never hurts to provide your dog’s immune system with an additional boost, especially if your dog is constantly struggling with illnesses. A probiotic can offer this boost by ensuring their gut becomes a pinnacle of health.
Once gut health increases, the immune system and overall health will soon follow. It’s another reason why many dog owners have their canines on a daily probiotic regime. Doing so is one of the safer ways to keep them in the best condition possible.
6. Effective Part of Stress Management
An underestimated benefit of dog probiotics is their ability to limit stress. For instance, a canine who isn’t fond of being a crate or traveling could benefit from them. Probiotics help manage symptoms from those stressful situations like an upset stomach.
Hopefully, the lack of an upset stomach will help soothe your dog. Those vet trips may no longer be a nightmare for everyone involved with a daily probiotic regime. Plus, it could give them a calmer demeanor by providing a beneficial boost to their overall health.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a much happier person when I feel healthy. Your dog isn’t any different.
Notable Side Effects of Probiotics for Dogs
Dog probiotics aren’t a perfect supplement by any measure. These products have some notable potential side effects that could bring about issues. It’s essential to be aware of them before putting your pupper on a regime. So here’s a quick overview of issues to look out for when providing your dog with probiotics:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Stomach aches or upset stomachs
- Noticeable flatulence
- Excessive fatigue
Overall, these side effects are considered rare. But it’s always a good idea to be extra vigilant whenever introducing a new supplement or food into your dog’s diet. It’s the easiest way to notice issues and address them immediately.
Types of Probiotics for Dogs
So if you’re still interested in using dog probiotics, your next step is looking at the types. These probiotics come in a variety of strains, and all serving different purposes. Due to this, you must match what you’re looking for in these bacteria with the appropriate type.
You’ll also want to ensure any dog probiotics supplement contains three or more live strains. It’s the quickest way to check whether an option is high-quality. If they don’t, move on to a different option or ask your vet for recommendations.
In any case, I’ve created a cheat sheet for you that showcases the best types. I’ll also discuss their potential uses to make choosing the perfect ones easier. So without further ado, let’s jump into the first probiotic type:
1. Bacillus Indicus
Our first type, Bacillus indicus, is known for its beneficial ability to produce carotenoids. They’re antioxidants that’ll have many positive effects when placed inside gut. But these antioxidants aren’t the only benefits offered by these probiotics.
Your dog will also receive vitamin K2, B vitamins, and quinols within this probiotic strain. All of them are seen as necessary nutrients and help promote better overall health.
Vets use this strain to help dogs with EPI or digestive enzyme deficiency, as well. So anyone with dogs suffering from these conditions shouldn’t hesitate to ask about it during a vet visit. It could end up being a key component in the treatment.
2. Bacillus Subtilis
Dogs with a lousy immune system could benefit from a probiotic with Bacillus subtilis. It has a known reputation for strengthening the stomach lining. It’s one of the first things I looked for when buying my Pitbull a new supplement.
I didn’t even mention its ability to produce vitamin K, another immune system booster. These immune system booster abilities are all made possible by this probiotic creating an antibody called IgA. So if your dog is having an issue fighting off illnesses, ensure your chosen probiotic has some Bacillus subtilis in it.
3. Enterococcus Faecium
Enterococcus faecium is an very beneficial strain to have in these supplements. I find it intriguing because it promotes population increases of other beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
So what does this mean? Simply put, it’s excellent for dogs with digestive problems. Anyone dog owner struggling to manage their canine’s diarrhea or upset stomach should look for this specific strain.
4. Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Owners who need their dogs to gain weight should look out for this strain. It’s proven to help pups put on pounds. I certainly made sure my dogs were taking probiotics with it when first coming home underweight from the shelter.
Lactobacillus acidophilus also prevents bad breath, offers antifungal/antibacterial properties, and boosts overall digestive health. Overall, this strain is a versatile and useful one, which could benefit almost any dog.
5. Lactobacillus Plantarum
Another strain known for aiding healthy digestion is Lactobacillus plantarum. It excels within this area because the strain helps create an amino acid called lysine. Doing so ensures the entire digestive system functions as expected without any issues.
Furthermore, Lactobacillus plantarum is known for improving antibiotic production. So it’s presence can help fight off several illnesses and diseases that may cause your pup issues. Therefore, this bacteria will be a helpful addition in any probiotic supplement or source.
What is a good probiotic for my dog?
If you’re looking for a good daily chew that supports your dog’s immune system and includes several of the probiotics mentioned above, I recommend checking out Vet Naturals Immune & Allergy Chews. The 100% natural chew includes the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacteria breve, and Lactococcus as well as other beneficial ingredients such as Colostrum, Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Licorice Root, Inulin (FOS), Hemp Oil, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Sources of Probiotics for Dogs
Probiotics are capable of being given to dogs from a variety of sources. The most common would be purchasing a supplement at your local pet stores. But several other ways of providing your dog with these beneficial bacteria do exist. Let’s take a look at my favorite ones:
- Probiotic Supplements: These products are usually in powder or chewable forms to ensure easy digestion. You just add them to dog food during meal times. I’d consider it the easiest and most effective way of introducing probiotics.
- Yogurt: Humans eat several different foods without even realizing probiotics are in them. The best example suitable for a dog to eat would be yogurt. But make sure the yogurt doesn’t contain xylitol, which is extremely toxic to dogs.
- Dog Food with Probiotics: Certain manufacturers put probiotics in their dog food to make them healthier. As a result, these options represent a simple way of introducing them into your dog’s diet. But I’d consult with a vet about which ones provide beneficial probiotics before using them.
When Should I Give Probiotics to My Dog?
So you’re now well-versed in all things dog probiotics. At this point, it’s clear that adding them to your dog’s daily regime is a wise idea. But there are certain situations where using probiotics isn’t the right choice.
Given this info, if you want to move forward with probiotics, talk with your vet. They’ll have a great understanding of whether it’s the right move. After all, they have the health history and can offer specific recommendations.
I’d also suggest bringing up the idea if your dog has digestive problems or similar issues. It never hurts to ask, especially when it concerns a pup’s health.
Overall, the benefits of dog probiotics clearly outweigh any potential side effects. It’s just a simple matter of deciding what type mesh with your canine’s needs and finding a usable source. Once you do, it won’t be long until your dog is taking advantage of what they can offer.
But again, don’t proceed with probiotic use without consulting a vet. It’s an essential step in this process that can’t be ignored as there are potential side effects.
If you have more questions, please let me know in the comment section. I’d also love to hear about your experiences using dog probiotics and whether they worked for your pup!