Probiotics For Dogs – Are They Beneficial?
Are probiotics equally important for your dog as they are for you? And if so, why are they beneficial? This article will give you an answer.
When the topic is “healthy food”, probiotics come up a lot.
Probiotics are believed to help us a lot with certain problems, such as diarrhea and various gastrointestinal problems.
However, does this apply to dogs as well?
Dogs and people can sometimes benefit from the same things, but it’s not a general rule. Something really healthy to us can be bad for dogs, and vice versa. So, given the fact that probiotics are beneficial to us, it’s completely normal that you’re wondering if it’s the same for your pet.
Furthermore, more and more probiotic supplements appear in pet shops which makes you wonder if you should buy some for your dog. You may even wonder if human probiotics are OK for dogs as well. We’ll answer these, and many more, questions in this article. But first things first!
What Are Probiotics?
The term probiotic comes from the Latin word pro = for and the Greek word bios = life. So, probiotic means “for life”. This makes their nickname “good bacteria” a bit clearer.
Basically, probiotics are microorganisms living in your, and your dog’s, body. They live in various places, but they’re especially important for the digestive system. Even though you may associate bacteria with something negative, the body is in fact full of bacteria – both good and bad. As mentioned, probiotics are good bacteria.
While researchers are still trying to figure out the exact way this “good bacteria” works, it’s known that probiotics help in keeping a balance between good and bad bacteria, which makes the body work as it should. Also, when the body loses good bacteria (after antibiotics for example), probiotics help replace them.
Besides living in your body, certain food is also rich in probiotics. The most famous is probably yogurt. Nowadays, since the benefits of probiotics were discovered, you can also buy probiotic supplements.
What Do They Do?
Even though the research on probiotics is far from being finished, so far it has been determined that they help with the following health problems:
- Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses or bacteria)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Diarrhea caused by antibiotics
It’s also believed that probiotics can help with skin conditions, urinary and oral health, but it hasn’t been scientifically proven as of yet.
So, if probiotics are so good for us, the question is…
Are Probiotics Good For Dogs?
Even though studies are ongoing, so far probiotics have proven to be helpful to dogs as well! As with people, probiotics can help dogs with digestive problems and many other issues. We’ll get to that soon.
Just like the human body, the dog’s body is also full of bacteria – good and bad. And just like with people, probiotics help in keeping a good balance of bacteria. This good bacteria can be found in various parts of the body; mouth, stomach, pharynx and colon – just to name a few places.
Why Are Probiotics Beneficial?
This good bacteria:
- Improves the immune system. This is highly connected to the fact that probiotics play a big role in the digestive tract and a big part of your dog’s immune system is in the gut.
- Supports digestion. Apart from helping with digestion, probiotics also help with the assimilation of vitamins and minerals.
- Supports brain function Given the fact that the gut is filled with nerve cells, it’s understandable that probiotics can support brain function.
- Produces fatty acids. Fatty acids prevent the growth and activity of dangerous bacteria, such as Salmonella and E.coli.
- May prevent urinary tract infections.
- May reduce allergic reactions.
- Due to infection or bacterial imbalance
- Diet change
- When on medications, such as antibiotics, that are killing good bacteria
- If your dog has parasites
When To Use Probiotics For Dogs
A common question is if you should give probiotics every day or only when something needs to be “fixed”. There’s no right answer as of yet and it’s up to you to decide what works best for your dog. If you’re not giving it on a regular basis, probiotics could be helpful in the following situations:
Check out the video below for more info!
How Should You Give Probiotics?
Depending on the reason why you’re giving probiotics. So, if you’re giving them in order to help with digestion, you should serve them together with meals. In any other case, for example because of medication, they should be served between meals. They will be particularly effective if you give them with water, as it will make them move more quickly through the digestion tract. You can give probiotics both short-term and long-term.
So, how do you make sure your dog get probiotics?
How Can I Provide Probiotics?
You can give your dog probiotics both via supplement and probiotic food.
1. Give supplements
Nowadays, there are many probiotics to choose from and it could be difficult to choose the right one. When you’re looking at supplement products, there are a few things you should look for. For instance, so far it has been proved that products with single strains of bacteria work the best, as several strains can work against each other. You should also look at the expiration date and make sure the product packaging has a customer service number.
For more details about different probiotic supplement, read this article.
2. Fermented Vegetables
Fermented vegetables are a great way to give your dog probiotics. A popular recipe for this kind of probiotic intake is kimchi. Check out the recipe here.
3. Kefir and Yogurt
Kefir is also fermented food with natural probiotics. You can use it as a topping on the food or serve it separately. Kefir is a great option as it’s rich in minerals and amino acids that help the body heal naturally. Besides, it’s really rich in vitamins, calcium and magnesium which are all really important for a healthy nervous system.
Just make sure you’re buying unsweetened kefir, as additives are very bad for dogs. Of course, you can make your own kefir and be creative with various kefir recipes. You can also make kvass,a beverage full of probiotics.
4. Raw Goat Milk
Goat milk is a much healthier option than cow milk for dogs, as it’s not that rich in lactose which is a good thing for dogs. Besides being low in sugar, goat milks contains natural probiotics so it can be a great, natural way of providing your dog with probiotics.
Can I Give Human Probiotics To My Dog?
Although taking a bit of human probiotics probably wouldn’t do harm to your dog, it is much better to give your dog the probiotic supplements designed for dogs. This is because the bacteria in your dog’s immune system differs from yours, and the bacteria that you need to keep your gut in balance, isn’t the same one your dog will need.
Probiotics literally means “for life” and they’re the so-called good bacteria in the body. Both our body and our dog’s body contains good and bad bacteria and probiotics are a way of boosting the good bacteria.
Even though research on probiotics is far from finished, they have proven to be really beneficial in many situations. They’re mostly famous for keeping the digestive tract healthy and they tend to help a lot with gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea. Besides, probiotics keep the entire immune system well, they produce fatty acids and they can also help with urinary tract infections and allergies in some cases.
Nowadays, there are a lot of probiotic supplements to buy and it can be difficult to choose the right one. Make sure to consult with your vet before you buy supplements of some kind as he or she will be able to give you good advice. Apart from supplements, you can make sure your dog gets probiotics naturally, by feeding it kefir, yogurt, goat milk, fermented vegetables or something else that’s rich in probiotics. This is a much cheaper option and good if you want to feed probiotics on a regular basis, not only to solve a problem.
So, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to give probiotics regularly or only when needed, but it’s great to know that dogs too can benefit from this good bacteria!