Here’s Why Your Dog Needs Probiotics - and the Top 5 Things You Must Know When Choosing the Best Probiotics For Your Dog

March 16, 2022 9 min read

Dog Needs Probiotics

A lot of people are familiar with the benefits of probiotics for humans, and plenty has been written about probiotics and the health benefits that they bring. Health experts encourage us to eat more foods that are rich with probiotics such as yogurt or kimchi.  But the buzz around probiotics doesn’t just stop with human nutrition; it’s also caught on in the pet world.  Many dog parents are left looking for answers to the question “what can probiotics do for my dog?

If you’re a dog parent, it’s a good idea to learn more about how probiotics can help dogs, and the best sources of probiotics in dog snacks, chews, and meals.

Skip ahead to learn how specific strains can help your dog:

Before jumping into the finer details, let’s review what probiotics actually are.

1. What are probiotics?

To understand what probiotics are, it’s important to first understand the roles of good bacteria and bad bacteria in the guts of mammals. For the body to function normally, there should be a balance between good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. 

If the amount of bad bacteria exceeds the amount of good bacteria in the body, it can cause damaging bacterial infections in humans and animals.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health describes probiotics as “living microorganisms that benefit our health when consumed or applied topically.” Good bacteria make up part of the microorganisms found in probiotics, and that is why probiotic supplements are suggested for improving gut health.

For a bacterium to qualify as “good” it should meet the following conditions:

  • The bacteria must be beneficial to humans
  • The bacterium should exist outside the human body
  • The bacterium should remain in the small intestine after ingestion
  • The bacterium should be safe to consume

Although probiotics are usually associated with the gut, they also exist in other body parts like the mouth, skin, and digestive tract. You can also find good bacteria in the urinary tract of humans and animals.

There are various types of “good” bacteria in natural probiotics. Common types include:

  • Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Lactobacillus

Other types of bacteria used in probiotic supplements include Streptococcus thermophilus, Escherichia, Enterococcus faecium, and Bacillus coagulans. 

In humans, probiotics bring the following benefits:

  • Improved digestion of food
  • Aid in the synthesis of vitamins
  • Keeping bad bacteria at bay
  • Help in breaking down and absorbing medication
  • Protection for the cells that line the intestines, which help with food absorption

A lot of the probiotics we consume come from fermented foods. For example, commercial yogurt has plenty of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Other sources of good bacteria in food include:

  • Kimchi (Lactobacillus)
  • Kombucha (Lactobacillus)
  • Sauerkraut (Lactiplatibacillus plantarum)
  • Miso (Saccharomyces cerevisiae)
  • Unprocessed apple cider vinegar (Komagataeibacter europaeus)

Humans reap the benefits of probiotics through drinking and eating fermented food products. 

Can dogs enjoy the same health benefits of probiotics?

2. How can probiotics help your dog? 

Natural probiotics come with many benefits for both puppies and older dogs. 

Did you know that the immune system draws most of its strength from the digestive tract? To ensure your dog is healthy from the inside out, it’s essential that they also have a healthy gut populated with the right types of bacteria.

Probiotics are essential for supporting dog health when it comes to:

  • Supporting a dog’s immune system
  • Resolving food allergy symptoms 
  • Minimizing anxiety in dogs
  • Reducing stress in dogs
  • Improving mood and cognitive function in dogs
  • Helping dogs digest food
  • Overall maintenance of a healthy digestive tract

Probiotics and Puppies 

Probiotics are ideal for puppies because they introduce beneficial bacteria into their digestive tracts. Introducing good bacteria has health benefits like reducing constipation, diarrhea, and intestinal infections. Probiotics are part of the vital nutrients that help puppies build a strong immune system.

3. What are good sources of probiotics for my dog?

Good probiotics for dogs improve your pup's gut health by increasing nutrient absorption, lowering allergic reactions, and strengthening the immune system. There are various types of probiotic bacteria, but the following probiotics are among the most beneficial to dogs:

Enterococcus faecium for allergy relief and gastrointestinal distress

Dogs with recurring food allergies can benefit greatly from supplements that include Enterococcus faecium.

Enterococcus faecium is one of the microorganisms that help balance good and bad intestinal bacteria for optimal gut health. When balance is maintained in the digestive system, your dog’s risk of gastrointestinal issues such as cramping, gas, diarrhea, and bad dog breath decreases. Enterococcus faecium supplementation can also be beneficial for dogs with chronic intestinal distress.

Plus, if you’re thinking of changing your dog’s diet, Enterococcus faecium is perfect for helping your dog with the transition. This probiotic can help prevent your dog from experiencing the gastrointestinal distress that sometimes comes with switching to a different diet.

Another benefit of Enterococcus faecium to dogs is allergy relief. Some skin allergies in dogs are caused or worsened by an imbalance in digestive tract bacteria. Supplementing your dog's diet with Enterococcus faecium helps replenish beneficial bacteria, which in turn will reduce your pup's vulnerability to skin and coat allergies.

Bacillus coagulans for anti-diarrheal support and reduction of IBD symptoms

Bacillus coagulans is a beneficial bacterium that helps fight diarrhea caused by antibiotics or viruses in dogs. In addition, Bacillus coagulans is helpful for reducing symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome in dogs.

Dogs that are suffering from ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease can also benefit from supplementing with Bacillus coagulans. The probiotic helps reduce colonic inflammation caused by colitis, diarrhea, abdominal pain caused by Crohn's disease.

In pet medicine, Bacillus coagulans even act as a benchmark for vets to detect underlying diseases in the GI tract. By examining the live cultures of Bacillus coagulans, vets can accurately diagnose and treat specific pathogens affecting a dog's gut health.

Bifidobacterium animalis to reduce diarrhea and inflammatory activity in the gut 

Bifidobacterium animalis is a vital microbiota that reduces inflammatory activity in the gut. This probiotic is also crucial in resolving symptoms of infectious diseases that trigger canine diarrhea. Many vets recommend Bifidobacterium animalis supplements to treat acute diarrhea in dogs.

Bifidobacterium animalis bacteria attach to epithelial cells which form a protective lining in a dog's digestive tract. By protecting the integrity of the stomach lining, your dog can better digest and absorb food.

Lactobacillus acidophilus to restore balanced gut health

After antibiotic treatment, it is advisable to supplement your dog’s diet with Lactobacillus acidophilus to replenish beneficial bacteria in the gut. Lactobacillus acidophilus recolonizes the digestive tract with good bacteria to restore the balance between good and bad bacteria. 

Also, Lactobacillus acidophilus protects your dog from bacterial infections like salmonella poisoning. And if your pup does contract a salmonella infection, this probiotic will reduce the severity of the resulting symptoms like stomach cramping, fever, and diarrhea.

Another benefit of Lactobacillus acidophilus for dogs is cholesterol level regulation. Minimizing unhealthy fats helps both puppies and older dogs gain healthy weight. 

Lastly, Lactobacillus acidophilus helps resolve diarrhea caused by reactions to antibiotic medication.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus boosts gut health and immune response

Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a beneficial bacteria that strengthens gut health in dogs. It is one of the vital probiotics that help clear mild and acute diarrhea in dogs. In addition, Lactobacillus rhamnosus improves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and reduces allergic reactions in dogs. In puppies, this healthy bacteria also appears to improve a puppy's response to vaccines. 

Lactobacillus fermentum helps regulate cholesterol, reduce symptoms of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, reduce lactose intolerance, improve mood and cognitive activity

Lactobacillus fermentum has many health benefits to dogs. As one of the most vital probiotic strains, Lactobacillus fermentum helps regulate cholesterol levels in dogs. When dogs supplement with this probiotic, this promotes a significant reduction in blood cholesterol, lipoproteins, and triglycerides. Because it helps regulate cholesterol and fat levels, Lactobacillus fermentum can be very helpful for pups who are trying to lose weight.

Moreover, Lactobacillus fermentum bacteria reduces the symptoms of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. When added to pet food, Lactobacillus fermentum can improve your dog's ability to absorb minerals like calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. 

Another benefit of Lactobacillus fermentum is reducing inflammation in dogs. In a study conducted on mice, scientists discovered that Lactobacillus fermentum bacteria reduced inflammation in the small intestines of mice. In dogs, this probiotic strain can increase the helpful response to inflammation caused by gastrointestinal infections like ulcerative colitis. 

Supplementing your dog’s diet with Lactobacillus fermentum can also be helpful if they are lactose intolerant. In yet another scientific study of Lactobacillus fermentum on cow milk, scientists concluded that the probiotic was effective in breaking down the gene responsible for causing lactose intolerance in mammals, αS1-casein.

One other remarkable benefit of Lactobacillus fermentum is improved mood and brain activity in dogs. In a study on the effects of L. fermentum on the brain activity of mice, scientists found that supplementing with Lactobacillus fermentum helped resolve cognitive impairment caused by antibiotics. Lactobacillus fermentum helps with the mental effects of antibiotics by reducing anxiety and grogginess caused by pet antibiotics. 

Lactobacillus casei helps to reduce diarrhea from various causes

The Lactobacillus casei probiotic is effective in strengthening gut health and reducing diarrhea in dogs. Vets often recommend this probiotic to dogs that are experiencing diarrhea caused by food poisoning, antibiotic medication, or an immune response to infectious diseases. 

In addition, Lactobacillus casei can help resolve traveler’s diarrhea in dogs as well as diarrhea caused by ulcerative colitis in dogs. 

Prebiotic inulin

Prebiotics are different from probiotics but are just as important! While probiotics are beneficial bacteria living in live cultures, prebiotics are the plant fibers that feed these good bacteria. The prebiotic inulin promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in your dog's gut.

The prebiotic inulin helps maintain an optimal environment in your dog's gut for good bacteria to thrive. Also, inulin is essential in improving mineral absorption and reducing unpleasant smells from your pup’s anal glands. 

4. What about digestive enzymes? What is the best digestive enzyme for dogs? 

The best digestive enzymes to give your dog will depend on your dog and what areas they need more support with. Common digestive enzymes recommended for dogs include amylase, lipase, and protease. 

Though probiotics are different from digestive enzymes, the two work together to keep the bodies of humans, dogs and other mammals healthy. The main job of digestive enzymes is to break down food into molecules and probiotics that nourish the body.

The enzyme amylase is important for the digestion of starches. Starch is broken down into glucose, which provides the body with energy. Protease breaks down proteins, converting them into amino acids required for the growth and development of dogs. Finally, the enzyme lipase helps in food digestion by breaking down food into healthy fats and helping ensure that your dog does not feel bloated from consuming fatty foods.

Digestive enzymes help provide the nutrients and energy required for the optimal function of good bacteria.

5. How long should dogs be on probiotic supplements? 

Supplementing your dog’s diet with probiotics and prebiotics can improve their digestion and soften their stool for easier, more comfortable elimination. Support with good bacteria can also strengthen a pup’s immune system and soothes their tummy, especially for dogs experiencing gut issues from dietary changes.

Every dog is different when it comes to determining their optimal probiotic dosage. Letting a vet evaluate your dog's health and offer guidance around ideal probiotic dosing is always a great idea. For example, a dog recovering from gastrointestinal diseases may require a higher probiotic dosage than a healthy dog. Additionally, while many bacteria strains are generally safe for dogs, there are some strains that are not actually beneficial to your dog. Consult your family vet on the specific probiotics your dog needs to make sure that your pup is getting the correct type and amount.

Dogs with gut health issues do best on high-quality probiotic supplements made without unnecessary additives, artificial dyes and allergens. Positive results of probiotics can take 4 weeks to become evident. It may take some dogs at least two months to experience the full positive effects of probiotic supplementation. 

Why Choose Puppington’s Probiotic Soft Chews?

Probiotics are great for both puppies and older dogs. Adding natural probiotics to your dog's food strengthens your pup's immune system, improves their digestion, speeds recovery from gut health issues, and protects their digestive tract from diseases. Plus, probiotics like Lactobacillus fermentum can help improve your dog's mood and manage their anxiety.

At Puppington, we are committed to improving the health of your dog. Puppington probiotic soft chewsfeature a special 6-strain probiotic blend. Our probiotic blend Pup Snax™ Daily Immune Plus Probiotic for Dogs is comprised of the best strains for dogs including Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.

Our probiotic-blend soft chews are veterinarian-formulated and manufactured in an FDA-approved facility. We only use organic and toxin-free pet-friendly ingredients in our probiotic soft chews and always avoid artificial sweeteners and other harmful fillers in our products. Check out our Pup Snax™ Daily Immune Plus Probiotic for Dogs here!

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