Probiotics can support the healthy bacteria in your dog's gut contributing to a healthy immune system, but which probiotics are best for your pets?
The short answer is yes. A more complete answer is yes, but human probiotics is not the best treatment to maintain your dog’s gut health.
Vets often prescribe canine-specific probiotics for dogs showing signs of stomach upset. And over the years various studies have confirmed that probiotics can support the healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut, contributing to a healthy immune system. Just like they do in us.
But not all probiotics are created equal. Can you give your pets human probiotics for example? Although giving your dog human probiotics won’t do them any harm, it’s unlikely to have any significant benefits for their digestive system.
Human probiotics vs canine probiotics
Both humans and dogs have good and bad bacteria in their gut. Probiotics function by supporting the good bacteria and eliminating the bad. This keeps the digestive system healthy and balanced. But the main problem with giving human probiotics to dogs is that we don’t have the same types of bacteria living in our bodies compared to dogs and cats.
Every strain of live bacteria in human probiotics is designed to strengthen our gut health, not our canine friends’. These include beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These bacteria strains can also be found in canine probiotics and evidence suggests they do help dogs with diarrhoea recover faster. But human probiotics contain other bacteria strains that aren’t relevant and haven’t been designed or tested for dogs. So there’s no way of knowing if they’ll have any positive effects.
Probiotics that are designed to improve your dog’s gut flora include Bacillus coagulans, Enterococcus faecium, Bifidobacterium animalis and Lactobacillus acidophilus. These bacteria combine to increase your dog’s antibody levels that fight against bacteria and viruses, protect against different types of diarrhoea, and reduce symptoms from common digestive problems.
You should look for these two particular strains as well as the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains when choosing a probiotic for your dog. This will ensure your dog receives the right bacteria strains that support all the good bacteria in your dog’s intestinal tract.
Signs your dog may need probiotics
The gut contains around 70% of all immune cells and is the largest immune organ in your dog’s body. So it’s hugely important you help keep their digestive system running smoothly to ensure your dog’s overall health. Here are a few symptoms of digestive distress where probiotics may help.
- Constant scratching
- A foul odour
- Digestive issues
- Bad breath
- Frequent infections
- Excessive shedding
- Dry and flaky skin
In addition your pet’s digestive health also affects his psychological well-being and behaviour as the microbiota in your pet’s GI tract can affect his moods and vice versa
Choosing the right probiotic
The bacteria in a probiotic must be live and able to reproduce in order for it to be beneficial as well as being the correct strains of bacteria beneficial for pets, not people.
Ideally, a dog probiotic will contain a variety of bacteria that all provide different beneficial functions for your dog’s digestive system and enough live organisms to colonise in the intestines. But it’s also important to bear in mind that there is no one probiotic that is most effective for certain health conditions. You may like to try a range of probiotics before settling on one that shows the best improvements in your dog.
But as a general rule, you should look for these standards to ensure you’re giving your dog a quality probiotic that’s most likely to help them. Your chosen probiotic should contain at least 20 million good bacteria per serving for the best results. The more the better! You should also look for a probiotic that contains at least 10 different strains of bacteria to give the best protection against allergies and diseases.
Finally the probiotic should also be easy to give to your cat or dog and stable under normal storage conditions
Here at Healthful Pets we have a range of probiotics and supplements to support your dog’s gut health. Dr Mercola’s Complete Probiotics provides 10 different strains and over 38 billion bacteria to help keep your dog’s digestive system thriving. It also has the ability to survive the acidic environment of your pet’s stomach
For more options, check out our range of digestion and gut health supplements, clinically proven to maintain healthy digestion and gut health in your dog (and cat).