Thanks to the recent explosion of yogurts packed with probiotics on the market, the term ‘probiotic’ is becoming more of a household name, and for good reason.
So should you be giving your healthy dog probiotics?
Let’s find out what the research says.
What Are Probiotics Anyway?
Our guts (and our pet’s guts) have a mix of healthy bacteria that’s good for us, and some not so healthy bacteria floating around causing trouble. Now, although the idea of bacteria in your gut sounds off-putting, it’s actually normal and necessary for optimal functioning.
The key here is that the good and bad bacteria must be in balance. If you have too much bad bacteria in your gut, you’re likely to experience stomach upsets and digestive issues. On the flipside, you don’t want to kill off all the good bacteria by getting rid of all bacteria completely.
That’s where probiotics come in.
Probiotics are strains of healthy bacteria and yeast that help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Essentially, when you ingest them, they work to keep the healthy bacteria flourishing and the bad bacteria in check (instead of multiplying out of control).
Why Would a Healthy Dog Need Probiotics?
In a recent study, 31 dogs with diarrhea were examined and 13 of them were given probiotics as the course of treatment. As a result, researchers noticed that dogs recovered 40% faster when they were given the probiotic; recovery time only took four days instead of seven days.
The researchers also concluded that the stomach upsets could be connected to an out-of-balance bacteria count (too much bad bacteria). So by taking the probiotics, the healthy balance of both good and bad bacteria was restored.
Now, just like with humans, you don’t actually need to be sick to reap the benefits of probiotics. In fact, you should still be consuming them even if you’re healthy.
When dogs take probiotics daily, they’re less likely to experience stomach upsets since the probiotics maintain a constant balance of healthy and bad bacteria. Essentially, the bad bacteria never have a fighting chance to thrive to the point of making your dog sick.
The Final Verdict:
Before you start feeding your dog probiotic yogurt, you should know that although these options are safe for humans, they’re not always the best for dogs. See, these yogurts tend to be high in sugar and flavorings which are both things your dog doesn’t need in his diet.
Your best bet is to find a canine-specific probiotic since these are safer for dogs and usually contain the exact strains that have been studied to have the most positive effects on dogs.
You’ll want to look for the following strands in your dog’s probiotic:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium animalis
- Enterococcus faecium
- Bacillus coagulans
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus (effective in both humans and pets!)
Unfortunately, the same results have not been found in cats so you’ll want to avoid this route altogether for your feline companions.
If you’re interested in giving probiotics to your dog (and you should be!), speak with your vet for the best recommendations for your dog’s diet, just in case. You may be surprised to see a noticeable difference in the health of your dog while on probiotics; from healthier stools to higher energy levels.
Craig Davis, CEO and Chief Happiness Officer at www.vet-organics.com
Craig is the founder of Vet Organics, where he and his team share additional pet-related articles on the company’s blog. Vet Organics is an eCommerce provider of EcoEars and an array of premium natural products dedicated to the health and wellness of pets.