Written by FOTP Team
We’ve all heard of probiotics and how they’re essential for our health, but we’re just beginning to understand the full range of benefits when it comes to giving our dog probiotics.
Probiotics for dogs can help:
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Billions of bacteria and yeast live in the gastrointestinal system of both humans and animals. Healthy gut bacteria are essential to provide balance to the internal environment, preventing disease and promoting good health.
Some of the main tasks that probiotics perform include:
The difference between prebiotics and probiotics is that prebiotics are a type of fibre. This fibre nourishes and promotes growth of the good bacteria that is present in the colon. Prebiotics are usually found in foods that are high in fibre.
Usually, a healthy dog will be able to maintain the balance of the digestive microbes naturally if they have a healthy and balanced daily diet. However, imbalances can occur if the dog is sick, stressed, or not getting the right nutrients in their diet in which case probiotics can be prescribed. Most dogs will respond positively to a probiotics supplement of beneficial microbes and they’ll help bring balance back to the digestive microflora.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two species of probiotics often found in good quality dog food, these can help with:
The Bacillus species can strengthen the immune system and support the immune response. Dog probiotics can be given to treat instances of diarrhoea caused by factors like a sudden change in diet, stress colitis from a disruption in routine, or a bacterial imbalance from the long-term use of antibiotics.
Can puppies take probiotics? The answer is yes, probiotics can be great for both puppies and older dogs. Puppies can take dog-specific probiotic supplements to help their developing intestinal bacteria remain balanced, supporting a healthy immune system.
There are lots of benefits to giving dog probiotics supplements to your puppy like reducing digestive tract infections, diarrhoea, and constipation.
There are lots of different types of probiotics that dogs can take. Some dog foods even include probiotics in the list of their ingredients. You’ll be able to see the type and number of bacteria added to the food if you check the guaranteed analysis section of any dog food packaging with probiotics.
Bacillus coagulans and Enterococcus faecium are two main species-specific strains that tend to be most recommended for dogs. If you want to find a supplement or food that will improve the quality and consistency of your dog’s stools, look for Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium animalis, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Along with being added to dog food, probiotics also come in a variety of supplement forms including chews, powders, and capsules. You’ll find the recommended dosage and use frequency on the packaging, or your vet can provide you with more advice.
Usually, dogs who have a healthy diet can naturally produce the healthy gut bacteria that they need to achieve balance. However, dogs with certain health conditions or during prolonged periods of stress, taking medication such as antibiotics, may benefit from taking a daily probiotic supplement or eating a daily diet of food that has probiotics added. It’s always a good idea to check with your vet before you start giving your dog any new supplement.
Whilst some dogs can take probiotics without experiencing any side effects, some dogs might experience a few of the following:
Although we never like to see our beloved pets in discomfort, these side effects are usually nothing to worry about and will subside as your dog gets used to their supplement; it’s not uncommon for digestive systems to get worse temporarily before they get better when you start giving your dog probiotics.
Even if you don’t notice any of the side effects mentioned above, make sure you’re keeping an eye out for any change in appetite as this can be an early symptom of an adverse reaction to probiotics in your dog. If you’ve recently started using supplements or switched to a food that contains probiotics and are worried about how your dog is reacting, speak to your vet who can advise on the best next steps to take.
If your dog has been prescribed antibiotics, these will kill both good and bad bacteria without discrimination. They’ll kill any good bacteria in your pet’s digestive system, which are often the dog’s natural digestive enzymes. This can lead to digestive side effects like bloating, discomfort, and diarrhoea. Probiotic supplements can be given to replace the useful bacteria that your dog has lost by taking antibiotics, helping your dog get back to normal.
More and more vets are offering probiotics as a treatment to help ease suffering associated with chronic gastrointestinal distress in dogs. This condition can cause issues like an upset stomach, bloating, diarrhoea, and other symptoms associated with an imbalance in the digestive system.
Being under stress can cause digestive issues for your dog and knock their digestive system off balance. This can cause symptoms like bloating, bad breath, and excessive gas. Giving your dog probiotic supplements can help to reduce these symptoms and rebalance your pet’s digestive system.
There are various types of unhealthy bacteria that can enter your dog’s digestive system in a range of ways. Salmonella, for example, is a type of bacteria that can lead to severe issues like diarrhoea and stomach cramps, which can be eased by giving your dog probiotics and help to build a stronger gut.
Dogs that are getting on in life will often suffer from more digestive issues compared to younger dogs. Probiotics can be useful in gut and digestive tract stabilisation, which can help to prevent flare-ups and improve your older dog’s quality of life.
It’s clear to see that probiotics can have a positive impact on your dog’s mood. When their digestive system is balanced, they’re less likely to suffer from issues that can impact their mood and behaviour like bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and gas. Along with this, some experts suggest that there is a connection between the brain and gut bacteria, meaning that probiotics may be able to reduce the likelihood of issues like anxiety and depression.
In some cases, it might be necessary to begin feeding your dog a different type of food. Whether your dog needs to go on a special diet due to a health condition or you are trying to help them lose some weight, a food change can lead to stomach upset. Since probiotics can help to balance the digestive system, they are recommended during a food change to help their digestive tract get used to the new diet.
Probiotic supplements aren’t just good for our own gut health as humans; they can also have lots of health benefits for your precious pet.