You’ve likely read about how important the human microbiome is to your own health; therefore, if you have a furry friend at home, you may not be surprised to learn that your dog’s microbiome health is essential to their overall health too. Just like humans, where each of our microbiomes is as unique as our fingerprint, your furry best-friends microbiome is as unique as their pawprint.

A healthy gut microbiome can impact your pup’s metabolism, help protect against pathogens, support the immune system, and more. Your dog’s age, diet (both high starch and high fat), plus other environmental factors may play a role in the health of their microbiome. Since it’s easily set off, supplementing with a probiotic made just for fido is important to their overall health and well-being.

Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs

Studies have shown that certain species of probiotics may have specific benefits for dogs. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to support the immune system, improve diarrhea and food allergies, and may help prevent anxiety, reduce stress and support a healthy mood. Interestingly, low numbers of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been linked to anxiety. Studies have shown that probiotics can provide the following benefits to your dog:

• Supports Healthy Digestion and Helps Your Dog Digest Food
• Benefits The Immune System
• Helps Crowd Out Bad Bacteria
• Supports Healthy pH Level in the Gut
• Produces Key Vitamins (like vitamin K and B vitamins), Short-Chain Fatty Acids (substances that support the intestines), and Enzymes
• Helps Decrease Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel, and Intestinal Inflammation
• Helps Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
• Helps Reduce Allergic Reactions

In fact, a 2009 study found that a Bifidobacterium animalis strain provided to beagle puppies reduced diarrhea from seven to four days, also eliminating the need for antibiotic treatment over placebo, with no safety concerns.

When Should Dogs Take a Probiotic?

Dogs know how to follow their noses. Therefore, they may ingest things during walks that alter the delicate balance of their microbiome such as eating items on the ground like garbage and drinking water from streams, puddles, ponds or lakes that may harbour unfriendly bacteria. When this happens, the unfriendly bacteria can begin to crowd out the good bacteria, leading to an imbalance in gut bacteria which could cause a parasitic infection. Considering how dogs clean themselves, it is actually quite common for dogs to pass a parasite along to their humans.

While regular probiotic supplementation is beneficial to your dogs health, if you notice that your dog has any gastrointestinal incidents such as loose stool, diarrhea, or more gas than usual, a probiotic supplement could help.

Additionally, probiotics can help your pup during times of change or disruption in their routine that could cause stress. Instances where a probiotic can be beneficial for your dog are:

• Boarding
• Moving
• Travel
• Any change to their diet (e.g. a new food)
• Food Intolerances
• Antibiotic Use

Which Probiotics are Best for Dogs?

While it is generally safe for dogs to take probiotics made for humans, not all of the strains contained in a human probiotic will provide optimal benefits to your dog. It is more beneficial to find a probiotic made just for them. There are a few different forms of probiotics for dogs to choose from. You may even see probiotics in the list of ingredients in your dog’s food. While probiotics in your dog’s food can be beneficial, they’re often not strong enough; therefore, it is a good idea to look for a quality probiotic supplement for your dog. You can find dog probiotic supplements in powder, capsule, or chewable form. You may find that a powder form is easiest to give your pup, by simply sprinkling it over top of their food.

Which Probiotic Strains are Best for Dogs?

Probiotic species to look for include Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Some probiotic manufacturers will also add specific pet probiotic strains to the formula like Pediococcus acidilactici, which can easily survive the trip through your pet’s digestive tract, as well as ingredients that are soothing to their digestive tracts such as flax or glutamine.

Some formulas will have digestive enzymes added to provide your pup with well-rounded digestive support.

How Many Probiotics Should I Give My Dog?

The right probiotic dose for your dog depends on your dog’s size and weight. Generally speaking, a medium to the large-sized dog could benefit from 10 billion CFU and the dose could be increased to up to 50 billion CFU if your dog has digestive or immune problems. Overall it is recommended to always follow dosing recommendations from either your vet or manufacturer's label.

Can Probiotics for Dogs Cause Diarrhea?

Probiotics for dogs are safe and side effects are rare. When starting probiotics, some dogs may experience diarrhea, digestive discomfort, bloating, gas, or constipation, which should go away within a few days. To lessen these side effects, you can start off with a lower dose and slowly increase to their recommended dose over a period of a few days.

Keeping your dog’s gut microbiome healthy not only helps your dog stay parasite-free but lessens the risk of your dog passing a parasite to you. We all want the best for our furry friends so supporting your dog's gut health will not only keep them healthier but happier too.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.

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