The Ultimate Guide to Probiotics for Dogs: Benefits, Uses, and Tips

You’re probably familiar with probiotics through yogurt commercials or instructions from your doctor after taking a round of antibiotics. If you’ve ever eaten yogurt or drank kefir, you’ve taken probiotics. Well, did you know that dogs can take probiotics too? Dog’s have microbiomes in their guts just like we do, so dogs can benefit from taking beneficial bacteria the same way we can. This is similar to how both humans and dogs can take CBD oil, with all its many potential benefits.

Probiotics can help dogs who are sick, stressed, and aging, in addition to supporting overall health. In this article, we’ll discuss what probiotics are and how they can help your dog.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are friendly, beneficial bacteria that live in your gut, your dog’s gut, and the guts of other mammals. There are billions of them in your dog’s stomach and intestines. They help your dog’s body fight off infections, strengthen their immune system, digest and absorb food, and also participate in the production of vitamins and minerals. This group of friendly bacteria makes up your dog’s microbiome or bacterial ecosystem. Your dog needs a healthy microbiome to be well. Here are some of the common probiotics for dogs.

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus

  2. Lactobacillus casei

  3. Bifidobacterium breve

  4. Enterococcus faecium

  5. Bifidobacterium lactis

What Are the Benefits of Probiotics?

One way probiotics are commonly used is to treat diarrhea in dogs, especially when it is caused by stress. A 2009 study done in Ireland discovered that giving dogs the specific probiotic bacterial strain Bifidobacterium Animalis shortened how long they had diarrhea by three days. It also had a beneficial immune impact on about 10% of the dogs in the study. They didn’t need to take follow-up antibiotics to treat diarrhea.

There is also a lot of anecdotal evidence, and many pet owners swear by probiotics. Many veterinarians use probiotics and recommend them to their patients.

There have also been studies done on dogs and two specific probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These probiotics can help your dog to:

  1. Keep yeast growth at a healthy level

  2. Help the immune system stay healthy

  3. Help reduce your dog’s stress

  4. Affect and improve your dog’s overall mood and emotions

  5. Improve diarrhea and food allergies

Knowing When to Introduce Probiotics to Your Dog:

english bulldog eating prebiotics and probiotics out of a red dog bowl for gut and overall health

One way to use probiotics with your dog is if your dog is prone to diarrhea in stressful situations. You can start her on probiotics a few days before the big trip or a vet visit to support her intestinal health.

Another way to give probiotics to your dog is by noticing if or when their microbiome seems out of balance. Signs your dog needs a dose of healthy bacteria include:

1. Allergies

Allergies, whether it’s a runny, stuffy nose, watery itchy eyes, or irritated skin are indications of an immune response. Since probiotics support the immune system, they might be able to help with allergic responses.

2. Obesity

Since probiotics are a key piece of how your dog digests his food, and support general health overall, scientists are excited to learn how probiotics affect dogs and cats struggling with obesity.

3. Gas

Gassy dogs are no fun to live with. You might want to try probiotics and see how introducing friendly bacteria impacts your dog’s gas. Many pet owners say they’ve seen (or smelled) an improvement in their dogs after using probiotics.

4. Cramping

Cramping is no fun for your dog and could indicate they’re having trouble with their digestion. Since probiotics help break down food, they may be able to help ease cramping in your dog.

5. Bloating

Bloating can also be a sign of digestive issues and could be helped by the use of probiotics.

6. Poor health in general

Giving probiotics to your dog could strengthen their immune system, and support their health if they seem to be a little under the weather.

7. Upset stomach

Probiotics may be able to help if your dog has an upset stomach. Poor appetite and vomiting could be signs of an upset stomach. However, if the issues continue for more than a day or two, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dog’s vet.

8. Bad breath

Bad breath can be a sign of poor digestion. Since probiotics help to break down your dog’s food, they could support her digestion to be more effective and potentially eliminate or lessen the poorly digested food which is causing the bad breath.

9. Infection

Any kind of infection means stress on the immune system. Probiotics support the immune system and may help the body fight off harmful bacteria. They’re also essential for replenishing your dog’s microbiome if he needs to take antibiotics.

10. Stress

Stress can lead to diarrhea and other intestinal upset, so try giving your dog probiotics a few days before a stressful event or regularly during a stressful period, like a move.

11. Changes in diet

Since probiotics are so supportive of the digestive tract, they can be helpful while your dog transitions over to a new food.

12. After eating rotten food

If your dog goes dumpster diving, help her body fight off any potential pathogens she picks up after eating rotten food. This also goes for dogs who find all the dead birds in the park.

13. Aging

Support your aging dog’s digestion and immune system with probiotics.

14. Medications

Certain medications can damage the health of your dog’s microbiome. Give your dogs probiotics after a round of antibiotics and if your dog is taking steroids long-term.

15. Parasites

If your dog is struggling with parasites, try probiotics. Probiotics may help support a healthy immune system, which will help your dog fight off any parasites.

How Can I Effectively Give My Dog Probiotics?

There are two basic ways to give your dog probiotics. One is with a probiotic supplement, the other is with foods that naturally contain probiotics. There are pros and cons to both methods, but both are effective. Supplements can be pricey, and potentially difficult to give your dog. However, they do contain more probiotics than foods, and you can purchase a probiotic supplement specifically tailored for a dog’s digestive system.

Here are some foods that contain probiotics.

  1. Plain yogurt

  2. Kefir

  3. Sauerkraut

Give small dogs one teaspoon, medium dogs two teaspoons, and large dogs three teaspoons per day of these foods.

You must look for unsweetened, unflavored varieties of these foods. Some yogurts and kefirs might contain xylitol, a sweetener, which is toxic to dogs. So, be sure to read the ingredient labels carefully.

Probiotic supplements are very sensitive to light and heat, so be sure to store them quickly in your refrigerator after purchasing.

What About Prebiotics?

Now that we’ve covered probiotics, let’s take a look at prebiotics. What are they, some sort of bacterial precursor? No, prebiotics are particular plant fibers that feed and nourish healthy intestinal flora, or probiotics. Prebiotics come from plant carbohydrates that your body can’t digest. The healthy intestinal flora in your lower digestive tract doesn’t have this issue and can use that indigestible fiber as food. This supports their growth and the overall health of your internal microbiome.

brown dog eating a red and green apple for prebiotics in pair with probiotics to promote gut healthYou’ll find this indigestible fiber, or prebiotics in fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

Here are some food sources that contain prebiotics.

  1. Apples

  2. Artichokes

  3. Asparagus

  4. Bananas

  5. Barley

  6. Berries

  7. Chicory

  8. Dandelion greens

  9. Flaxseed

  10. Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and kale

  11. Legumes, which are beans, lentils, and split peas

  12. Oats

  13. Tomatoes

  14. Wheat

Sweet potato, which is a perennial favorite of dogs, has some prebiotics. Prebiotics are just one of the ways that eating a high-fiber diet is so beneficial to your health.

Harnessing the Power of Prebiotics and Probiotics for Optimal Dog Health:

While using just probiotics for your dog is effective and helpful, combining your probiotic with a prebiotic can increase the growth and establishment of the friendly bacteria you are giving your dog. You can purchase a prebiotic supplement in powder or pill form and give your dog a dose before they take their probiotic. Or, you could feed your dog some prebiotic food before giving him probiotics.

Supporting Your Dog’s Digestive Health with CBD:

Just like probiotics, CBD may help aid in reducing your dog’s occasionally loose stools due to environmental stress or changes in her diet. Because CBD works so closely with your dog’s nervous system, which is responsible for regulating the entire body, CBD is thought to have a positive impact on the overall health of your dog’s digestive tract. CBD might be able to help with digestive upset and other tummy troubles.

Pet Releaf makes high-quality CBD that you can trust. You can be confident that you’re giving your pet the best CBD on the market, which is free from any contaminants and only contains the goodness of American, sustainably grown hemp.