If you’ve been around dogs long enough you have heard a trainer, groomer, or veterinary refer to probiotics or prebiotics for your precious pet. The term refers to beneficial or “friendly” gut-dwelling microbes (bacteria and yeasts). There are billions of them in the gastrointestinal system of all animals, and they aid in the digestion of food, fight off potential pathogens, make nutrients and vitamins, and bolster the immune system. The word itself is derived from the Latin word “for” (pro) and the Greek “life” (bio). Probiotics for dogs are a nutritional tool to consider for the health of your best friend.
Sometimes beneficial microbes are damaged or destroyed, and that can cause stomach upset and a general decline in health. If your dog is suffering from diarrhea or related stomach issues, or seems to get sick more than other dogs for no apparent reason, your sweet pup may suggest using a probiotic or prebiotic to boost beneficial bacteria. It also isn’t just loose stool or throwing up. Sometimes gut health issues can cause dandruff, dry skin, itchy skin, and biting of the hip or paws. A dog’s entire immune system is based off of their gut health so starting there can almost always aid or even solve any minor issue you’re seeing in your beloved pet.
These products come in several different forms, including:
- Yogurt or kefir with live cultures – Keep in mind that not all yogurt cultures are created equal. Some of the cultures were used for the manufacture of the product, but are not probiotics. Only offer your dog unsweetened, plain yogurt and read labels carefully to avoid all artificial sweeteners.
- Dog foods – Most dog kibble does not include probiotics or prebiotics, but some do which can naturally support healthy gut digestion.
- Capsules/Powder – This is the most effective & positive result option. Adding powder to their kibble every day puts the live cultures directly into their body with almost immediate results.
- Chews – This method is not usually advised as the process to make the chew reduces the potency of the cultures & is essentially just giving them a tasty treat.
When Are Probiotics Used?
Probiotics are most often encouraged for maintaining a “desirable intestinal microbial balance”. When an animal is stressed or sick, the balance between the healthy and disease-causing microbes may be disrupted. This can lead to diarrhea, gas, cramping, bad breath, skin issues, & itching.
Some of the triggers for such digestive disorders include:
- Infection or bacterial imbalance
- Stress: As in humans, changes that cause emotional stress, such as boarding, moving, or losing a home, can result in colitis. That’s one reason why many dogs in shelters & boarding facilities can suffer from diarrhea as well as parasites. Also, emotional stress in the home can cause issues for a dog too as they are very perceptive to their owners mannerisms & behaviors. Some studies have suggested that probiotics work as well as antibiotics in clearing up diarrhea in dogs.
- Diet: This can include abrupt changes in the menu, or eating food that is spoiled or that just doesn’t agree with the dog. This also includes an excess of treats or a non-nutritional diet for a dog.
- Old age: As a dog ages they can become deficient in gut health & need a boost.
- Medications: Antibiotics and long-term steroids are known culprits in causing diarrhea by killing good bacteria.
- Parasites: Parasites such as coccidia or giardia can sit active on many surfaces. When a dog has a healthy gut they can usually fight them off, but when they have a compromised immune system or gut health they are susceptible.
We suggest still giving your healthy dog a probiotic to maintain overall gut vitality & health. Some families choose to have their dog on it all the time. While others chose to do a probiotic regimen for 30-days every quarter or semi-annually. Also, if you start seeing loose stools then adding them back in is always a good idea.
How to Purchase a Probiotic Product That Works!
There are many products out there. Everyone claims to have active microbes, live cultures, & will work on your precious dog right away. The reality? Many are just marketed treats with such little live cultures & microbes to make any effect. We have tried countless probiotics & prebiotics in our over 20-years of breeding. Many have been disappointing. However, we have found one product that we use consistently! All of of breedings dogs & puppies are on this amazing product while they are with us. Gastro Pro Plus by PawTree is an amazing product! You start seeing the results almost immediately in their stools, their skin, & their overall health. If you are considering both a Probiotic & a Prebiotic we put our full recommendation behind this product!