Probiotics are all the rage among humans concerned about gut health and proper digestion. They’ve become so common, in fact, that some humans want to spread the love and give them to their precious pups.
Do you have questions like, “Can I give my dog probiotics?” or “What types of probiotics are best for dogs?”
If so, keep reading. This guide has all the answers you need.
What Are Probiotics for Dogs?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeasts. These microbes live in animals’ digestive tracts (also known as the gut or gastrointestinal system). They support proper digestion, strengthen the immune system, and make essential nutrients and vitamins. By giving probiotics to dogs, you would be supporting their gut health.
Benefits of Dog Probiotics
Probiotics contribute to a balanced gut microbiome (the collection of microbes in the digestive tract). A balanced gut microbiome offers a whole host of benefits, including:
Reduce Digestive Issues
A healthy microbiome allows for better digestion. With the right balance of bacteria and yeasts in the digestive tract, your dog will have an easier time breaking down food and absorbing nutrients.
These may include:
Minimize Medication Side Effects
Some medications, such as antibiotics and steroids, cause digestive-related side effects. Giving dogs probiotic supplements alongside these medications may help minimize their side effects.
Sometimes, a dog’s physical health can impact their behavior. If your dog doesn’t feel well, they may be more reactive or exhibit behaviors like excessive licking. Supplementing with probiotics might improve these issues.
Support the Immune System
Probiotics also support your dog’s immune system. When the digestive system functions optimally and dogs can absorb sufficient nutrients, it’s easier for them to fight off infections and stay healthy.
Improve Dental Health
The mouth is actually the first component of the digestive tract. It has its own microbiome, which probiotic supplements can help balance.
Probiotic supplements may combat issues like bad breath, gum inflammation, and periodontal disease, which is expensive to treat and can contribute to other health issues, like heart disease.
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Can You Give Human Probiotics to a Dog?
Technically, you can give human probiotics to a dog.
Nothing harmful will happen if dogs consume human probiotic supplements. However, human probiotics are also not as beneficial as dog-specific probiotics.
Simply put, humans and dogs have different digestive systems and probiotic needs.
Dogs will experience better outcomes from dog-specific probiotics, and humans will notice better effects from human-specific probiotics.
Can Puppies Take Probiotics?
Yes, probiotic supplements are safe for dogs of all ages, including puppies.
Probiotics can be particularly beneficiary for puppies because they encourage the development of healthy, balanced intestinal bacteria.
A balanced gut microbiome supports a healthier immune system. It also reduces puppies’ risks of experiencing common digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation.
When Should I Give My Dog Probiotics?
You can administer probiotic supplements in many situations. The following are some of the most common times when pet parents give their dogs probiotics:
Have you ever noticed your dog struggle with issues like diarrhea or constipation after a stressful event, like a move or a trip to the vet? If so, probiotics may help.
Stress can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestion and microbiome health. Supplementing with probiotics provides extra support and may minimize stress-associated digestive symptoms.
Recent diet changes
If you’ve recently had to change your dog’s diet, consider adding a probiotic into the mix.
For example, if you’ve switched them to a new brand of dog food, you can use probiotics to help them adapt faster.
Probiotics may reduce digestive symptoms if your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have (such as spoiled food).
Alongside certain medications
If your dog has to take antibiotics or steroids to deal with another health problem, you might also want to give them probiotics.
Probiotics help prevent digestive side effects linked to these medications while ensuring your dog gets the desired outcomes.
Older dogs sometimes need a little extra digestive support.
If you’ve noticed that your dog’s digestion isn’t as good as it once was, giving them a probiotic supplement could help. Not only will these supplements improve digestion symptoms, but they might also help your dog absorb more vital nutrients from their food.
Parasites or bacterial infections
When dogs develop parasitic or bacterial infections (ear mites, leptospirosis, etc.), probiotics can strengthen their immune system, work alongside other medications, and help them fight off the infection faster.
Types of probiotics
Probiotics offer plenty of benefits. How are you supposed to know which probiotics are suitable for your dog, though?
Billions of bacteria and yeasts live in your dog’s digestive tract. The following are some of the most well-known probiotic strains that support healthier digestion:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Bifidobacterium animalis
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Enterococcus faecium
- Pediococcus Acidilactici
For the best results, look for supplements containing one — or a mix — of these strains.
Types of dog probiotic supplements
Probiotics for dogs come in several forms, from capsules and pills to chewy treats and powders you can sprinkle on your dog’s food. So, some brands also infuse dog food with probiotic supplements for easier dosing and convenience.
Do Dog Probiotics Have Side Effects?
Fortunately, dog probiotics do not come with many side effects. Sometimes, in dogs with digestive issues, symptoms like diarrhea, gas, or constipation get worse before they get better.
If these symptoms persist or your dog experiences a change in appetite after starting probiotics, you may want to contact your vet.
Find Safe Probiotics for Your Dog Today
It doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about using probiotics to address a specific issue or want to use them as a preventative tool for better digestive health. It’s always best to consult a licensed vet before investing in dog probiotic supplements.
If you’re still curious on your dog’s digestive health and you’re not sure where to start? Schedule an instant video consultation with our veterinarians and get tailored advice on probiotics immediately.