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Can you give a dog a probiotic? Yes, it’s good for them. Canine probiotics have a ton of health benefits. You can either give your dog a probiotic in supplement or food form.
You should consult your vet before buying probiotics for your dog. They will undergo a medical examination to determine the type of bacteria that is good for them.
Every dog responds differently to probiotics in their bodies. It usually takes a few days for most dogs to show some improvements.
Other dogs might take months before responding to the probiotic. You should speak to your vet if your dog takes too long to respond to probiotics.
Can Puppies Have Probiotics?
Yes, puppies can also be given probiotics like their seniors. They should only take in the right amount as prescribed by the vet and the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Introducing dog-specific probiotics to your puppies will give them a boost in their health. This will help to improve their food digestion and strengthen their immune system.
This is particularly beneficial to puppies, who are born with poor immune responses.
Can You Give Dogs Human Probiotics?
There is no harm when your dog consumes human probiotics. However, you should not rely on human probiotics to supply your dog with good bacteria. The dog’s digestive system is different from the one of humans.
Giving your dog human probiotics will also deprive them of the benefits of dog-specific bacteria strains.
What Do Probiotics Do for Dogs?
The dog’s intestinal tract contains many microorganisms, known collectively as the microbiome. There are two groups of bacteria in the gut, the good and the bad ones.
There needs to be a balance of these to keep your dog healthy.
The gut’s microbiome helps your dog digest food hence making absorption easier. They also fight diseases and pathogens by strengthening the immune system.
A dog probiotic helps to balance the gut’s microflora by providing a favorable pH for the good bacteria to flourish.
Some strains of probiotics also attach to the dog’s intestinal tract. They release short-chain fatty acids that improve gut health.
If an imbalance of the microbiome occurs, your dog will be at risk of having too many bad bacteria. The following conditions can bring an imbalance to your dog’s gut microflora:
- Antibiotic medication.
- Stress and anxiety.
- When introducing your dog to new food.
- Parasites and infections.
- When the dog is getting older.
- When the dog eats spoiled food.
Types of Dog Probiotics
Probiotics are classified according to the type of living bacteria they have. There are hundreds of types of bacteria in the dog’s GI tract and they are clustered into groups.
Here are the 5 main groups of good dog bacteria that are in the dog’s gut:
- Enterococcus faecium
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Bifidobacterium breve
Probiotics are living bacteria and hence they must be protected from harsh conditions.
Keep your products away from moisture, extreme temperatures, air, and direct heat. You should store them in a cool dry place such as a kitchen cupboard.
Have a look at the video below from Dr. Garry Richter where he talks about probiotics for dogs:
Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs
Canine probiotics are mainly used in the gut but their benefits are seen all over. They work to make your dog healthier and happier in many ways.
The following are some of the benefits of dog probiotics.
- Improves digestion.
- Strengthen the immune system.
- Reduce food allergies.
- Promotes nutrient production and absorption.
- Balances the dog’s gut flora.
- Helps dogs to switch foods.
- Prevents diarrhea and vomiting.
- Promotes skin and coat health
- Prevent and helps to heal infections such as:
- Yeast infections
- Ear infections
- Urinary tract infections
Signs Your Dog Needs a Probiotic
Some conditions can tell how healthy your dog’s gut is. An imbalance in the gut’s microflora is dangerous to your dog’s health and should be addressed promptly.
The following signs might indicate that your dog requires some good bacteria in their gut:
If your dog is no longer going to the bathroom as they should, then they might have an unhealthy gut. In the absence of a balanced microbiome, your dog will not get the most from their food.
A balanced microflora ensures that your furbaby digests their food efficiently. This gives them the desired food cycle and a regular bathroom pattern.
When your dog’s intestinal tract is dominated by bad bacteria, they might have diarrhea. This is usually a direct indication of an unhealthy gut.
An unhealthy gut will cause improper digestion. This may upset your dog’s bowels and they might resort to vomiting.
4. Gas and Bloating
A dog with an imbalanced gut flora will produce excess gas. This gas might be emitted and it can be unpleasant, especially when indoors.
The excess gas can also be retained in the dog’s GI tract hence causing bloating and discomfort.
Is Your Dog on Antibiotic Medication?
If your dog is on antibiotic medication, then they also need probiotics. Antibiotics are the opposite of probiotics, they kill bacteria. This medication will adjust the dog’s microbiome by destroying the microorganism.
This imbalance of the microflora can cause serious gastrointestinal side effects. Your vet will recommend the type of probiotic to give your dog during this period.
You should not give both antibiotics and probiotics to your dog at the same time. Wait at least two hours before giving them probiotics. Otherwise, the antibiotics will destroy the good bacteria.
What To Do Before Giving Your Dog A Probiotic
You need to ensure that your dog gets the best possible probiotic strain for their health. Get the right advice from your vet on which bacterial strains are helpful to your dog.
Consider the following factors before giving probiotic support to dogs:
1. Read the packaging labels
Read the ingredients for food-based probiotics. Food-based probiotics for dogs such as yogurt, buttermilk, and kefir should be plain and simple.
They should not have artificial sweeteners and other preservatives which might be harmful to your dog.
For effective probiotic support for dogs, you need to know the specific microbe strains in the product. This will also include the colony forming unit (CFU) and they together determine the dosage.
Check the packaging of your dog’s probiotic to see the expiry date. An expired probiotic supplement might not have living bacteria.
Expired canine probiotics will not give your dog the health benefits you were expecting.
2. Your dog’s size and age
The amount of probiotics that you give to your dog daily should correspond to their size and age. Younger dogs will require small portions than older dogs.
The dosage will also depend on the specific product you are buying.
3. What bacteria strain does your dog need?
Your vet will specify the type of bacteria strain that your furry friend needs. You can also go for the supplement that has a blend of all the dog-specific bacteria.
Dogs rarely get side effects from taking probiotic supplements. In the exceptional case that your dog reacts negatively to probiotics, you should top their dosage immediately.
Some common side effects are vomiting and diarrhea. Speak to your vet about the best ways to introduce specific probiotics to your dog. You should also read the labels on the product package to find out any side effect information.
4. Does the probiotics have prebiotics
The term ‘prebiotic’ is often mistaken for probiotics. Whilst the two are related, they are a bit different in what they do.
Prebiotics are fiber sources that are used to feed the bacteria in your dog’s gut and promote their growth. Unlike probiotics which have living bacteria, prebiotics have non-living compounds.
You should go for a probiotic supplement that has been infused with prebiotics. These will improve the growth, and effectiveness of the bacteria strains in your dog’s gut.
Can you give a dog a probiotic? Yes, regular probiotic intake will help your dog with digestion and improve their immunity.
You should rely on advice from your vet on how to give your dog these supplements. If you have not got a probiotic supplement for your dog, don’t worry you are not late.
Check out our list of the 8 best probiotics for dogs.