Probiotics are naturally found in food and are considered an integral part of your dog’s health. It can work to provide your dog with better skin and coat appearance and reduce the amount of intestinal gas amidst other benefits. Probiotics can be naturally attained through food or can be taken orally as a supplement.
There are various sources of food that contain probiotics including yoghurt or kefir. They provide your dog with the necessary probiotics to ensure healthy gut health, which brings with it a host of other health benefits.
We will discuss to greater depth on probiotics for dogs and will highlight some of the natural sources of probiotics for dogs and will even discuss whether probiotic supplementation is necessary.
Before we go into further depth, we first need to understand what probiotics are and the various types of dog probiotics.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are considered good for the body. Probiotics are an essential part of the human diet and are also an integral part of health for your pooch.
We usually think of bacteria as germs that cause diseases. However when it comes to bacteria, what is important to highlight is the division of good and bad bacteria. The bad bacteria is what causes diseases and can lead to an imbalanced gut, while good bacteria work to improve gut health by neutralising the effects of bad bacteria.
Good bacteria fight the disease-causing bad bacteria which are known to affect the body negatively. Probiotics, often termed as good or helpful bacteria, can thus work to keep the gut healthy.
Probiotics can be sourced from the diet. That being the case, it is a popular supplement taken orally for the various health benefits it brings. Taking an oral supplement ensures the sufficient delivery of probiotics on a daily basis, which is easier to keep track of. With supplements, you are ensured that your body is getting sufficient probiotics to reap all the health benefits of them.
What are the Different Types of Dog Probiotics?
Though probiotic strains do allow you to use human probiotics for your dog and don’t cause any actual harm, the bacteria in your dog’s immune system is different to yours. Hence, it is considered a lot more beneficial to give your dog, dog probiotics which are specifically designed for their system.
There are different types of dog probiotics which can be classified into five main types. These types of probiotics in dogs include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium breve, Enterococcus faecium and Bifidobacterium lactis.
These various types of probiotics all bring various health benefits to your pooch, which we will discuss further down in this article. Sourcing specific types of probiotics from food alone can be a difficult thing to do. This is why, many dog owners prefer giving their dogs probiotic supplements or treats, to ensure they are getting sufficient doses of the right type of probiotics.
The Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics
While probiotics are the living strains of bacteria that add to the number of good bacteria in the digestive system, prebiotics are the specialised plant fibre that works as food for the good bacteria.
Prebiotics helps the growth and maintenance of probiotics and work together hand in hand. Simply taking probiotics and depriving the body of prebiotics won’t help the good bacteria count in the body.
Good bacteria needs a reliable food source and is only attained through prebiotics. Hence it is integral to ensure that the pooch is maintaining a diet that contains a good portion of prebiotics to enhance the function of probiotics taken through diet or through supplementation.
Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs
There are various health benefits of ensuring that your dog gets a good amount of probiotics. The benefits of probiotics for your dog is both external and internal.
Externally, your dog’s skin will be in better health and the appearance of your dog’s coat will become better. Healthy skin and coat are very important to ensure that your dog looks good. This is probably the most noticeable benefit of probiotics for dogs, better skin and coat.
Probiotics also work to balance the gut bacteria in your dog’s digestive tract which helps reduce and alleviate intestinal gas. Intestinal gas can be trouble for both you and your dog. It produces an element of discomfort which is reduced by ensuring that your pup gets a good dose of probiotics.
Another outward benefit that you may notice is improved breath. The increase in the population of good bacteria will work to fight the bad bacteria in your dog’s gut, which will alleviate elements of bad breath in your pooch. Nobody likes bad breath, even on your dog. Probiotics work to improve breath, which thereby leads to a happier dog and a happier dog owner.
Another health benefit that probiotics brings with them is the reduced instances of catching allergies. Dogs like people develop allergies. These allergies are further enhanced by the effects of bad bacteria in the gut. Taking sufficient probiotics to ensure that your dog’s immune system is active helps your dog maintain optimum health. This means fewer instances of allergies and a healthier dog.
Coupled with lower instances of developing yeast-associated disorders, probiotics help maintain healthy bacteria in the reproductive tract, which can lead to better reproductive health.
Further to all this, probiotics help regulate bowel function, which works to ensure that your dog doesn’t have a hard time passing bowels.
They even work to support dental health which means, better teeth. Plus, probiotics improve metabolism which brings with it positive effects on fat metabolism. This leads to better absorption of nutrients in the gut, thereby ensuring the maintenance of a healthy weight.
Sources of Natural Probiotics for Dogs
Probiotics can be attained through diet alone by ensuring that your pup is eating food that contains sufficient probiotics. Hence, it is important that you are aware of the various probiotic sources which would help you ensure that your pooch gets a healthy dose of probiotics.
There are various foods that contain probiotics for dogs. A good source of natural probiotics for dogs include yoghurt or kefir which has live cultures in them. You have to be careful though, some brands of yoghurt or kefir contain cultures but they are not probiotics. Hence, you have to ensure that the yoghurt or kefir that you are giving your pooch contains probiotic cultures.
When giving your dog yoghurt or kefir, you also have to take into account any artificial sweeteners that may be present. Artificial sweeteners can be dangerous for dogs, hence you should only give them plain yoghurt with no artificial sweeteners.
Though there are plenty of foods that are good sources of probiotics, they aren’t all safe for dogs. Onions, bananas and garlic are three very common foods that are sources of probiotics. However large quantities of onion and garlic are considered dangerous for your dog and should be avoided. This leaves bananas as another reliable source of probiotics for dogs.
Further to this, leeks, kimchi, honey and Jerusalem artichokes all contain a good amount of probiotics. However, kimchi is considered too spicy for dogs and should not be something that you give your dogs.
Here is a list of natural probiotic foods that are considered safe for dogs.
- Yohurt or kefir
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Fermented vegetables
- Dandelion greens
- Chicory root
- Chia seeds
As you can see from the list above, there are some reliable sources of probiotics that you can include in your dog’s diet. You don’t have to opt for supplementation and can easily ensure that your pup is getting a good dose of probiotics from the diet.
You can always work with a supportive veterinarian to come up with a safe and nutritious diet plan for your pup that ensures sufficient amounts of probiotics attained through a well-balanced diet.
What Types of Dogs Can Benefit from Probiotics?
There isn’t a specific breed of dogs that particularly benefit from taking probiotics. All dogs stand to benefit from probiotics.
Probiotics are something that is common to all dogs. It isn’t particular to breed. Dogs with heavier coats will have more to gain from including probiotics in their diet due to improved health of coat and skin. That does not mean dogs with lighter coats can’t benefit from probiotics. Probiotics benefit the health of dogs and that includes all dogs.
Risks and Side Effects of Probiotics for Dogs
There are some side effects of probiotics on dogs that are experienced by some dogs not all. Some dogs may experience digestive discomfort such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation and nausea.
The discomforts experienced usually come about when you start your pooch on a probiotic diet or start giving them probiotic supplements. These issues are often temporary and can initally get worse before it gets better. This is because it takes your dog’s gut, time to get accustomed to the new bacteria in the gut. The new gut balance that is brought about by taking probiotics doesn’t happen immediately. As your pooch’s gut adapt to the influx of good bacteria, the digestive disorders do relieve themselves.
Probiotics in supplement form are usually given to dogs to repair the imbalance caused by antibiotics in the gut. Further to this, they are given to dogs to treat diarrhoea which may be caused due to stress.
Apart from the digestive disorders mentioned herewith, there aren’t any actual risks of adding probiotics to the diet or giving your pooch probiotic supplements. Once again, not all dogs experience temporary digestive disorders as those mentioned within this article; however, some do.
Different Forms of Probiotics for Dogs
There are various forms in which you can give your dog probiotics. As mentioned within the greater part of this article, probiotics can be sourced from food and diet alone. A well planned diet can include various probiotic sources to ensure that each meal your dog eats has a good dosage of probiotics.
In fact, if you prefer, there are specific brands of dog food that have probiotics added to them. This can be an easy way to ensure that your dog is getting a good dose of probiotics. It doesn’t require any planning of the diet or meal and you can simply feed your dog, dog food that contains probiotics.
Probiotics also come in the form of soft treats that contain probiotics. This is probably the easiest way to give your dog a dose of probiotics. However, some probiotic treats do not contain live probiotics and may also have additives and extra presevatives added. Hence, you should be careful when choosing probiotic treats for your pup.
Another common form of probiotics is the pill. Probiotic capsules are available for those dog owners who don’t find it difficult to feed their dogs pills. Not all dogs like swallowing pills and may even have to be ground up into the food, however probiotic pills are available in supplementation form. However, you do run the risk of your dog spitting out the pill, hence you may have to put it directly in your dog’s mouth. Pills are definetly the harder means to give your dog probiotics.
Another means to give your dog probiotics is through powdered form. Probiotics powders are also available which contain live probiotics in indiviual pockets. This enables the better control of exposure to air and moisture. That being the case, much like pills, powdered probiotics are hard to administer and requires extra effort to ensure that you dog consumes it.
By far, the easiest ways to give your dogs probiotics is through probiotics treats, probiotics dog food and through a probiotic rich diet.
What You Should Consider When Buying Probiotics for Dogs?
When you are buying probiotics for dogs the first thing that you have to consider is how easy it is to actually give your dog the probiotic. Getting your dog to eat a banana can be much easier than having to have it take a pill. Hence, take this into consideration when you are puchasing probiotics for your dogs.
Another thing that you want to try ensure is the various strains of probiotics. Not all probiotics are made the same. Some contain a singular strain of probiotics, while others contain multiple strains. You have more to gain by giving your dog a probiotic which contains multiple stains. This yeilds to more benefits for your dogs. Hence, when you are looking to buy probiotics, check to ensure what type of probiotics it contains; we have listed the five main types for reference.
Another thing that you have to keep in mind is the colony forming units (CFU). Probiotics have to survive passing through your dog’s highly acidic stomach. Hence, the greater the number of CFU, the better. We recommend that you choose a product with no less than 3 billion CFU. Hence, be sure to check this too.
You should also consider what is used for flavouring the probiotics. Probiotics alone are simply not palatable enough for dogs, hence flavouring is usually added. Some probiotics contain animal digest and are often listed within the ingredients. It is best to choose something with a single ingredient flavour booster such as beef or chicken liver.
Another thing that you should try doing is choosing a product that contains prebiotics. As we mentioned earlier within this article, prebiotics are the food that feed the probiotics. Hence a good dose of prebiotics are integral in the success of probiotics. Choosing something that already contains prebiotics makes your job much easier.
If the probiotics contains digestive enzymes is an added benefit. If the probiotic that you choose has digstive enzymes in them, they make it easier for your dog to digest food and effectively absorb nutrients in the gut.
Hence, remember to take these things into consideration when choosing a probiotic source for your dog.
Probiotics are an essential part of your dog’s health and you should ensure that your dog is getting a good dose of probiotics. As mentioned, it isn’t difficult to source probiotics from the diet. There are various sources of probiotics as we listed within this article. If not, you can always choose a probiotic treat or some dog food that contains probiotics.
All in all, your dog will be happier and healthier if you can include probiotics into your dog’s diet. Remember, probiotic pill though available are much harder to adminster. You have more to gain from naturally sourcing probiotics from the diet or relying on probiotic enhanced dog food and treats.
We hope reading this word to word has helped you understand the importance of probiotics for your dog. We aimed to provide you with an informative article that would help you better care for you pooch.