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A guide to probiotics for dogs

Updated 18 April 2024
Read time: 6 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham
Lead Copywriter

As advocates for doggy gut health, we at Pooch & Mutt are always flying the flag for probiotics and the endless health benefits and perks they’re responsible for. But what are probiotics for dogs? We know it all sounds very scientific, but put simply, they contribute to a healthy, heavenly dog gut. For all that entails, as well as how to get more probiotics into your dog’s diet, read on for our full guide to probiotics for dogs. 

 

poodle being fed probiotic supplement

 

What are probiotics for dogs?

 

To answer this, let’s take a direct journey to your dog’s gut! Here you’ll find all kinds of sloppy, sloshy functions taking place - but what you won’t see with the naked eye is the millions of bacteria, both troublesome and ‘friendly’, that inhabit and grow in your dog’s stomach and digestive tract. Essentially, probiotics contribute to those ‘friendly’ bacteria - the kind that promote a harmonious gut environment, enable proper digestion, inhibit the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria and boost your dog’s immune system. 

 

Though dogs produce plenty of ‘good’ bacteria on their own, there are some scenarios that can disrupt or imbalance the delicate ecosystem of the gut - a course of antibiotics, a bout of diarrhoea or ingesting some off food, for instance - that will warrant a boost of probiotics to help restore the balance and get your dog back to optimum health.

 

In these cases, you can feed your dog probiotics through natural sources such as live yoghurt or banana, or through dog digestive supplements. More on that later.

 

How do dog probiotics work?

 

When probiotics are fed to your dog either as food or supplements, they are digested, broken down and released as healthy bacteria into your dog’s gut and intestinal tract. From here, they will restore the balance of ‘good’ bacteria in your dog’s digestive system while also contributing to the breakdown and release of other helpful nutrients, vitamins and minerals that come through in the food your dog eats (1). 

 

Where possible, probiotics feed on prebiotics in order to thrive and work at their best (2) - find out more about the difference between probiotics and prebiotics here.

 

Health benefits of probiotics for dogs

 

The main health benefit of probiotics is very simple - they contribute to a healthy gut. That said, the indirect benefits of probiotics are vast, all because (you guessed it), everything health-related begins in the gut. When probiotics help break down food in the gut, they release the nutrients, vitamins and minerals linked to all kinds of health benefits. If they didn’t, these nutrient-rich foods would just come out as poop, with all the goodness wasted.

 

So, by ensuring your dog has a happy tum, you’re also ensuring they have:

  • a soft, shiny coat
  • healthy skin
  • sparkling eyes
  • more pleasant-smelling breath
  • higher energy levels and alertness
  • less stinky farts
  • a boosted immune system
  • an improved central nervous system
  • healthier and more regular bowel movements,
  • even reduced anxiety and an overall sense of calm. 

 

The list of benefits goes on.

 

Dog gut health and the ‘gut-brain axis’

 

It’s true - a healthy gut has even been proven to directly affect your dog’s mental and emotional health. Often called the ‘gut-brain axis’, this refers to the concept that what goes on in the gut and gastrointestinal tract is directly linked to the brain, and vice versa - therefore having an influence on mood and behaviour (3) (4). With this in mind, using probiotics to bring harmony in the gut is a great way to reduce anxiety in dogs, promoting a physical sense of calm and wellbeing. 

 

Canine stress and upset stomachs

 

In the reverse, it’s been proven that distressed or anxious dogs will often have stomach upsets as a symptom of panic (it applies to humans, too). As a preventative measure, feeding your dog probiotics in anticipation of a stressful event - such as a veterinary procedure, a house move or big celebration, for instance - can be a way to get ahead of your dog’s stress and help them remain calm before tummy issues occur.

 

Probiotics for dogs side effects

 

When you start your dog on a probiotic-infused diet, they might, ironically, experience some digestive issues such as diarrhoea, gas, bloating or constipation. This is usually a sign of dietary change and should get better quite quickly - but if it doesn’t improve, or if your dog experiences any changes in appetite after consuming probiotics, stop feeding them the probiotic food/supplement and discuss with your vet.

 

dog with probiotic treats

 

 

How to get probiotics into my dog’s diet

 

Probiotics are easy to administer as they’re available in a number of tasty formats; including natural food sources, specialist doggy treats and probiotic health supplements for dogs. The thing is, there’s a ton of different strains of probiotics, with each one suited to various health issues, from gassiness to diarrhoea and allergies (5) (6). Check out this article on the different types of probiotics and how they can help your dog.

 

Dog treats with probiotics

 

Many probiotic dog treats will be packed full of probiotics that promote overall gut balance in dogs as well as aid digestive issues, while others will focus on specific health concerns. At Pooch & Mutt we’ve created three delicious probiotic dog treats that are meaty and nutritionally powerful. 

  • Shrimp & Coconut - A flavoursome, Thai-inspired treat that promotes a healthy skin and coat for your dog.
  • Turkey & Hemp - With hemp, L-tryptophan and Valerian root to help anxious dogs to relax and unwind.
  • Duck & Rosemary - A traditional flavour combo packed with ingredients to balance the gut and improve dental health.

 

Probiotic supplements for dogs

 

As mentioned, most probiotic dog supplements will likely prove a reliable all-rounder for your dog’s gut and digestive health, and contain a smorgasbord of probiotic power. Pooch & Mutt’s Bionic Biotic is a great option; as it’s packed with natural ingredients to promote solid stools as well as healthy digestion, skin and coat.

 

Are human probiotics good for dogs?

 

There are some probiotic-packed human foods that can be fed to dogs - such as live yoghurt (without sugar), and pickled foods like sauerkraut and kombucha. When it comes to supplements however, it’s best to stick to canine alternatives. This is because they’re more likely to contain the Enterococcus Faecium strain of probiotics, which is better suited to dog health (by the way, our Bionic Biotic contains these).

 

Natural probiotics for dogs

 

Lots of natural food sources contain probiotics - such as live yoghurt, sauerkraut and kombucha (mentioned above), cottage cheese, kefir, broccoli, banana and sweet potato. These can be safely fed daily to your dog to boost their probiotic intake. 

 

Be aware that if your dog eats lots of these foods, they may be getting enough probiotics in their diet already and will have no need for supplements. Though getting more probiotics is unlikely to cause any harm, keep an eye on your pooch’s behaviour, feeding and toilet habits during any period of dietary change.

 

Get your dog a health-packed boost of probiotics with our natural probiotic supplements, meaty probiotic treats, or range of dog foods to aid digestion. To discuss any further nutritional issues regarding your dog, get in touch with us at Pooch & Mutt. 

References

  1. ‘Microbiota and probiotics in canine and feline welfare’, 2015 - National Library of Medicine.
  2. ‘The Utilisation of Prebiotics and Synbiotics in Dogs’, Italian Journal of Animal Science, 2014 - Taylor Francis Online
  3. ‘Effects of Lactiplantibacillus plantarum PS128 on alleviating canine aggression and separation anxiety’, 2019 - National Library of Medicine.
  • ‘The gut microbiome correlates with conspecific aggression in a small population of rescued dogs (Canis familiaris)’, 2019 - 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.
  • ‘Safety and tolerance of dietary supplementation with a canine-derived probiotic (Bifidobacterium animalis strain AHC7) fed to growing dogs’, 2009 - National Library of Medicine.

 

Comments (6)

What a very helpful and informative article, thank you so much.

Deborah - Jun 13 2023

This has been informative. How can probiotics help with constant yeast/mite population in her ears? We’ve cleared it up but now, pregnant, the mites are back.

Thoughts? Facts?

With thanks,

Kristina

Kristina - Jun 13 2023

Hi I have tried several probiotics and they don’t seem to make a difference. Lilly has dreadful gut problems. Scratching and licking being the worst. Because she has dry food I need something other than powder but I’m going to try her in yoghurt and see how she goes. Any thoughts please.

Judi - Jan 10 2024
Pooch Admin

Hi Judi,
You can absolutely try the yoghurt and see how she gets on with this. You can also look at adding salmon oil to the dry food, before adding any powder supplements and this can help the powder stick to the dry food easier. :)

Team Pooch - Jan 10 2024

We do canned pumpkin 100% pumpkin, (not pie filling) fresh boiled or baked sweet potato,and some drained sauerkraut trying to get some salt out of it. We do salmon oil daily on all 3 dogs.

All in small amounts.

Clayton - Feb 08 2024

Hi, my 2yr old border collie has had gut issues since a puppy. Now leading to behaviour problems. I often give him natural yogurt or keif on his biscuits.
Also likes a bit of banana. Have tried a couple of prebiotic, with some success. Would like to keep things as natural as possible. His main diet is fish based, but can have small amounts of other meat. Any other ideas are appreciated.
Thanks

Sue - May 21 2024

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