Written by Ella White
Probiotics – in other words, the ‘good’ bacteria and yeasts that live in the gut of dogs, humans, and other animals – are what keep the digestive system functioning. But they come with plenty of other benefits too. Whether your dog has gut issues, needs help fighting off pathogens, or could just benefit from a boost in immune support, probiotics might be the answer.
And it’s not as scary as it sounds. If you’ve ever eaten a live cultured yogurt to improve your digestion, then you’ve had a probiotic – and your dog can take them too.
The good microbes that live in the gut are called probiotics. Not to be confused with prebiotics, which are nutrients that promote the growth of that bacteria, probiotics are known as ‘direct-fed microbes’ by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
These microbes can be damaged and destroyed, which causes stomach upsets and wider issues to your dog’s general health. So if you notice your pet is sick more often than usual or suffers from diarrhea and stomach issues, speak to your vet about whether they need a probiotic supplement.
Examples of probiotics for dogs include:
Some probiotics for dogs are sold in individual servings. This is because they’re made with live cultures that cannot survive air, moisture, or temperature extremes.
If your dog is unwell, the balance between the good and bad microbes in their gut can become unbalanced. Signs that this balance has been disrupted include gas, cramping, diarrhea, and bad breath.
In the event of disrupted microbes, vets might prescribe probiotics to regulate and maintain the balance the gut needs. There are a number of potential causes for this imbalance, including:
Senior dogs, especially those on antibiotics or steroids, can suffer diarrhea from medication that kills gut bacteria.
Eating food that is bad, or an unexpected change to your dog’s diet can trigger an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria.
Colitis can be triggered by stressful situations like moving house, losing a family member, or being put in a boarding or rescue facility. For this reason, many dogs in shelters suffer from diarrhea. If you are able to anticipate stressful situations in advance,you can feed your dog probiotics in preparation.
Probiotic bacteria essentially ‘eat’ or ferment the food in your dog’s stomach. They break down fiber, which dogs are otherwise unable to digest, and help them to eliminate short chain fatty acids in their poop, which would otherwise stay in the colon or travel into the body.
80% of a dog’s immune system lives in their gut, which is why a full and diverse bacteria population is essential for their health. Probiotics also prevent the following diseases that are caused by shifts in gut bacteria:
As with any shift in diet, medication, or supplements you should also consult a vet before adding probiotics to your dog’s diet. Though they’re a ‘good’ bacteria, too much of it can still disrupt the balance in their gut. So if they don’t need it, don’t supplement it.
Front of the Pack’s air-dried food is designed to improve your dog’s gut health with its fiber-rich blend of fresh fruit and veggies, raw meat protein, and postbiotics. It’s vet-approved and air-dried to lock in all the goodness of the natural ingredients. So you don’t have to worry about any added filler or nasties that can disrupt your pet’s digestive system.