Probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics… there’s a lot of scientific words bouncing around in the world of doggy digestive health. How do you ensure everything is running smoothly in your dog’s tum when you’re not entirely sure what defines probiotics from prebiotics, or what they even do?
Probiotics and prebiotics for dogs are integral to promoting harmony in your pooch’s gut. Read on to learn about the important relationship between them both and how to incorporate their powerful gut-protecting attributes into your dog’s diet.
Probiotics and prebiotics for dogs are a nutritional power pairing. Separately, they perform quite different functions, but together they ensure a well-balanced, peaceful environment in the gut by promoting growth of the ‘friendly’ bacteria your dog needs to help digest food, absorb nutrients, prevent disease and maintain a healthy immune system. (1)
In short, probiotics are digestible, ‘good’ bacteria that help balance the flora of your dog’s gut. Dogs have plenty of probiotics already present in their body, but can often benefit from more. When fed to a dog, probiotics can come as a supplement, as high-quality wet or dry dog food, or as natural whole food. Live yoghurt is a prime example of a natural probiotics source, but vegetables such as carrots or asparagus are also packed with probiotic goodness.
Prebiotics are carbohydrate compounds that, unlike probiotics, aren’t digestible by your dog’s body - but actually act as food sources for the good bacteria already present. By supporting the growth of good bacteria, prebiotics help suppress the harmful microbes that make your dog ill, boosting their immunity and overall digestive health. Again, prebiotics for dogs can either be fed in supplement form, as wet or dry dog food, or via prebiotic-rich natural foods such as chicory root, raw garlic or dandelion greens.
When your dog has finished a nutrient-rich meal, that’s when prebiotics and probiotics are getting to work to strengthen your dog’s tum…
… Probiotics are digested, broken down and released as healthy bacteria into your dog’s gut and intestinal tract. If you think of the word ‘probiotics’, that’s exactly what these bacteria are doing - adding to the climate of ‘good’ bacteria in your dog’s digestive microbiome.
… Prebiotics, contrastingly indigestible to the body, travel unscathed through the dog’s stomach and intestines until they reach the colon. Here they convert into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and become a source of food for the ‘friendly’ bacteria living there, leading them to strengthen and grow.
Probiotics and prebiotics are a power combo for your pooch’s gut health, which is why they’re often found together in digestive supplements for dogs. How their health-positive features complement each other to benefit the body is known as synbiotics.
There are plenty of scenarios for which it’s helpful to give your dog’s gut health a boost in balancing its natural flora.
It depends on the dog, but improvements to tummy or toilet issues should start to show within a few days of introducing probiotics and prebiotics, and can even cut recovery time in half. If your dog’s digestive condition is slightly more severe, pre and probiotics could take around 4-6 weeks to take effect. If you’re using them as part of a preventative plan, it’s fine to feed your dog pre and probiotics every day.
Note that not every dog needs a boost of probiotics and prebiotics, as they may be getting enough already through diet. Pre and probiotics for dogs are highly unlikely to cause any harm, but more extensive research is needed on their effect on different dog breeds, ages and health conditions - so be sure to discuss with your vet before introducing them to your dog’s diet.
If you’d like to learn more about doggy digestive health, get in touch with us. To use the power duo of prebiotics and probiotics to get your dog’s gut into tip-top shape, check out Pooch & Mutt’s Bionic Biotic pre and probiotic supplement.
‘Microbiota and probiotics in canine and feline welfare’, 2015 - National Library of Medicine.
‘Efficacy of a Probiotic-Prebiotic Supplement on Incidence of Diarrhea in a Dog Shelter: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial’, 2017 - National Library of Medicine.