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Front Of The Pack

Can Dogs Take Human Probiotics?

Written by

Dr. Scott Miller

Last updated

You’ve probably seen probiotics mentioned alongside certain fermented foods, yogurts, yogurt drinks, or supplements. Maybe your friend has mentioned taking them, or your doctor has suggested it. 

Probiotics are everywhere, and with good reason. 

Loosely translated as “for life,” probiotics are “good bacteria” that, once consumed, live in the digestive tract and help it function smoothly. They also help stop any nasty bacteria from growing in the stomach and intestines. 

Probiotics for humans deliver all sorts of benefits, from balancing the friendly bacteria in your gut to preventing diarrhea and even reducing the symptoms of anxiety. Interestingly, many of these same benefits also apply to your four-legged friend. 

So, can dogs take human probiotics? In theory, yes, your pup could share your probiotics. The ingredients shouldn’t be toxic or seriously harmful. 

But should your dog regularly take a human probiotic that isn’t clinically tested in dogs? 

No, not a good idea. Here, we explain why.

Why Shouldn’t Dogs Take Human Probiotics?

Before we answer that, it’s helpful to know why dogs should take probiotics in the first place.

First, as a preventative measure, probiotics can be added to your pup’s daily diet to stop digestive issues from arising. 

More commonly, however, probiotics are suggested when your dog is unwell, undergoing antibiotic treatment, or eating an unbalanced diet. These can all cause your pet’s gut bacteria to become depleted, resulting in inflammation, diarrhea, and lowered immunity. 

By adding a probiotic supplement to your dog’s diet, you can restore balance to their gut, reduce the frequency and severity of diarrhea, and even boost their immune system.

So, probiotics are good for dogs — but why can’t they share yours? 

Well, for the simple reason that your dog’s digestive system is very different from your own. The probiotics we take contain very specific strains of “good” bacteria to help make us feel healthy. Many of these are also effective for dogs, but if your designed-for-human probiotic hasn’t been clinically tested on dogs, there’s a chance it could upset your pup’s gut. 

This may result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea — perhaps the very things you’re trying to prevent by giving them a probiotic in the first place. 

That’s why it’s always better to err on the side of caution and give your pooch dog probiotics, or probiotics that are proven to be safe for dogs. Doing so means they’re getting the species-friendly probiotic strains they need for a healthy gut.

Are Probiotics for People Harmful to Dogs? 

Here’s an important thing to understand. Giving your dog a human probiotic on occasion shouldn’t be harmful. The very fact it’s been designed for human consumption means the food or supplement containing the probiotics meets certain standards, including safety, cleanliness, and quality of ingredients. 

What’s more, some of the strains of bacteria found in probiotics for people are actually beneficial to dogs, too, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. In fact, evidence suggests that these strains, in particular, can help your pooch recover from diarrhea faster.

The trouble is, your probiotics have been formulated to restore balance to the human digestive system, not a canine’s

People probiotics contain a variety of carefully selected bacterial strains to boost your gut health. While they likely won’t cause harm to your dog as a one-off, and would potentially be ok to use regularly, you can never be sure unless they’ve been clinically proven for dogs.

Repeated use of human probiotics on dogs could, at best, have no effect — and at worst, could upset the balance of bacteria in their gut. 

What Should You Look For in Dog Probiotics?

When you’re searching for the right probiotic for your best friend, you need to keep the following in mind:

  • It should contain multiple strains of species-specific “good” bacteria: Probiotics for dogs are most beneficial when they contain several different types of bacteria. Each strain should deliver species-specific benefits to your pup’s digestive tract. Here are a couple worth remembering:

    - Enterococcus faecium - This particular bacterial strain can alleviate digestive issues caused by illness or stress and promote healthy skin, coat, and teeth in dogs. 

    - Bacillus coagulans - This strain of probiotic bacteria is effective against different types of infectious diarrhea, such as acute, antibiotic-induced, and giardia or so-called “traveler’s” diarrhea. It can also minimize common digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Probiotics only work when the organisms are live: An effective probiotic should contain millions of live organisms in each serving — the more, the better. Some types of dog food will claim to include probiotics, but it’s unlikely that the bacteria will make it through the manufacturing process alive.
  • It should be from a trusted source: Supplements, in general, aren’t subjected to the same levels of strict regulation as pharmaceutical products, and this is especially true when it comes to pet supplements. This means companies are under very little obligation to list their ingredients or back up claims of potency and effectiveness.

    We don’t like that, which is why we take testing super seriously. We put our ingredients under the microscope eight separate times to ensure our supplement is safe, accurate, and effective. Learn more about our approach to testing here.  

Signs Your Dog Needs a Probiotic

Some of the signs that your dog might need a probiotic will be noticeable — others will be very hard to miss. 

Shedding, bloating, and constipation are all strong indicators of gastrointestinal distress. However, it’s the worse-than-usual breath, incredibly foul-smelling gas, and diarrhea that should put you in no doubt that your dog’s gut health needs a boost. 

Often, these symptoms are brought on due to stressful situations. So, if you know you’re going to be boarding your pup, moving house, or the Fourth of July is on the horizon, it’s a good idea to proactively add probiotics to your dog’s diet. 

Similarly, if your dog is on (or is going to be on) antibiotics, it’s time to introduce probiotics as soon as possible. While fighting infection, antibiotics can also negatively impact your dog’s gut health, throwing everything out of balance. This, in turn, can result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

The probiotics counter this by reintroducing “good” bacteria to reduce the extra “bad” bacteria and restore harmony to your dog’s gut. 

Need to Give Your Dog a Probiotic? Make Sure It’s For Dogs

Let’s recap. Can you give your dog human probiotics? Yes, you can. Probiotics designed for people are safe, clean, and full of quality ingredients. However, those quality ingredients (and the strains of friendly bacteria) have been selected to benefit humans.

So, should your dog take a human probiotic? Ideally, no. Human probiotic supplements won’t cause any harm, but they won’t deliver all the species-specific benefits you’re looking for when you supplement their diet.  

Instead, you need a probiotic for dogs — in other words, a probiotic that contains ingredients that have been clinically tested in dogs. A probiotic supplement like The One

Our combination of clinically proven (and tested) ingredients helps good bacteria thrive, supporting your dog’s digestive system and gut health. Simply sprinkle the recommended number of scoops onto your dog’s food once a day, or mix it in with their favorite healthy snacks. Noticeable, positive improvements can appear within 4-6 weeks.