Out of so many different types of dog probiotic out there, how do you choose the right one for your pooch?
It can be tricky.
The beneficial bacteria that come in the probiotics are not just a trend. They are actually more important than ever in maintaining a a healthy digestive system in your dog. This will ultimately lead to a happier, healthier and maybe even longer life.
So what do we know about probiotics so far?
Well, we know that they are live micro organisms, also known as bacteria that form part of the good bacteria inside the digestive tract. The same principle applies to both humans and dogs. The biggest difference is of course the number and type of bacteria present. Recent research does suggest however, that our gut microbiomes are more closely interlinked than previously thought.
In dogs, probiotics work similarly to humans. They help to break down food, absorb nutrients, and combat their harmful counterparts. By contributing to a healthy gut microbiome, probiotics can significantly impact a dog's overall health and vitality.
Let's take a closer look at the benefits of probiotics for dogs.
Dog probiotic benefits
Healthier, stronger digestive system
Probiotics can help manage and prevent gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhoea, constipation, and gas. Having a strong gut microbiome also means that your dog is less likely to get sick. This is especially true after eating some food that isn't quite right or that's gone off; and we all know this is often inevitable especially when they're out and about.
It may also decrease stool odour and regulate the frequency and consistency.
Bacillus subtilis specifically was found to significantly reduce the smell of poop without there being any detrimental effects.
Stronger Immune system
70% of a dog's immune system is located in the gut. If we know this to be true, then why wouldn't we do all we can to strengthen that most important part.
Probiotics will enforce a healthy immune response, potentially reducing the frequency of infections.
And if your dog does catch an infection, they'll be more prepared to fight it and win!
Probiotics can reduce the level of histamine circulating in the body. As probiotics will strengthen your dog's immune system, they are also likely to act on making them less susceptible to allergens.
Start a regular probiotic for your dog might be now more important than ever, with the hayfever season just around the corner.
And of course, if your dog's allergies visibly affect their skin health, there's also a direct benefit:
Improved Skin and Coat Health
A well-balanced gut flora is linked to reduced skin irritations and a shinier coat.
While research continues to uncover the extent of the benefits, these supplements have already proven themselves to be a valuable part of canine health.
Types of Probiotics for Dogs
Not all probiotics are created equal, and understanding the different strains can help you choose the most beneficial one for your dog. Here are some common types of probiotic strains found in dog supplements:
- Lactobacillus: You might be most familiar with this, as it's also present in a lot of human probiotics. This particular type of bacteria is found in the dog's mouth and intestinal tract. It's very beneficial for digestion and for inhibiting harmful bacteria. It's also the one most commonly found in the gut microbiome.
- Bacillus subtilis C-3102/ Bacillus velezensis: This is the most studied probiotic in the animal industry. We therefore know that it has the most proven benefits in dogs out of all the other probiotics. It will also stimulate production of Lactobacillus, so by taking this one you're essentially getting two for the price of one.
- Bifidobacterium: This group resides in the intestines and can aid in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and fighting off bad bacteria.
- Enterococcus faecium: Supports bowel health and enhances the immune system, though less studies have shown its effectiveness. It does feature in some brands of dog probiotics though.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Probiotic for Your Dog
Selecting the right probiotic might involve a lot of trial and error at the start. You can however consider some of these factors to help you make the right choice:
- Dog's Age and Health Condition: The needs of puppies, adult dogs, and seniors differ. Look for products tailored to your dog's life stage and health issues. Some probiotics are not indicated in very young puppies, so make sure you read the label fully.
- Strain Diversity and Concentration: A probiotic with multiple strains may offer broader benefits. However, it won't help if there's only a bit of each. There should be a high overall concentration. The strength is measured in colony-forming units (CFUs). Usually the higher the CFU, the most effective it's going to be. If you can, choose a strain of bacterium that has been widely studied, such as Bacillus subtilis or Lactobacillus.
- Delivery Method: Probiotics come in various forms, including powders, capsules, and chews. Consider what would be easiest for you to administer for your dog.
- Quality and Safety: Opt for probiotics from reputable manufacturers that undergo third-party testing to ensure safety and efficacy. Also try to avoid those probiotics that have unnecessary bulkers, fillers or colours/ flavours and other additives. Your dog doesn't need those things.
- Price vs. Value: While cost is a factor, the cheapest option may not always offer the best value. Consider the quality, quantity, and recommended dosage. Often times, the prices are higher for good reason.
Purina PRO PLAN® FortiFlora Probiotic vs FETCHED Gut & Brain + Digestion
Purina, the well known dog food brand, have recently released their own probiotic in the UK. Theirs comes with Enterococcus faecium which comes in powder form, ready to sprinkle over your dog's food. They also added a bit of vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium to the formula.
Our own FETCHED Gut & Brain + Digestion probiotic contains a range of prebiotics, probiotics AND postbiotics.
We opted to go for Bacillus subtilis C-3102/ Bacillus velezensis DSM as this has been the most widely studied. As mentioned above, this particular bacteria will stimulate the production of Lactobacillus as well, which forms the majority of the gut microbiome in dogs.
Prebiotics that come from a proprietary yeast product contain mannan-oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharides and beta glucans from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. There is also a postbiotic component which has the main role of absorbing excess gas and acts as a natural binder.
We have also added small amounts of magnesium, calcium and sodium to ensure a good absorption and help supplement these minerals in your dog's diet.
Here is a direct comparison of the composition of Purine's Probiotic vs Fetched dog probiotic:
|Purina PRO PLAN® FortiFlora Probiotic
|FETCHED Gut & Brain + Digestion probiotic
|Probiotic: Enterococcus faecium SF68
|Probiotic: Bacillus subtilis C-3102/ Bacillus velezensis DSM
Prebiotics: Yeast product containing B vitamins, minerals and protein, mannan-oligosaccharides, beta-glucans from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Fructo-oligosaccharides
|Postbiotics from Saccharomyces cerevisiae
|Meat and animal derivatives
FAQs about probiotics for dogs
Can I give my dog human probiotics?
While some human probiotics may be similar so they may not harm dogs, it's best to use products specifically designed for canines. This ensures that they are getting the right strains that they can get maximal benefits from.
How long does it take for probiotics to work in dogs?
Some effects, like improved digestion, can be seen within a few days. You should also see an effect within days if you started giving your dog probiotics because of diarrhoea or stomach upset. For other health benefits such as a stronger immune system or better skin and coat health, it might take several weeks to see a difference.
Should probiotics be given with food?
Yes, giving probiotics with meals can help buffer the stomach's acidic environment. This should help more of the bacteria pass through the stomach into the intestine where they work best. This is the main reason why we prefer powder probiotics rather than probiotic treats that can be given at anytime. Their absorption and benefits just aren't the same.
Can probiotics cause side effects in dogs?
Probiotics are generally safe. If your dog's gut biome is unhealthy, he or she might experience an initial bout of gas or bloating until they adjust. These symptoms typically resolve on their own and they happen because of the change in intestinal bacteria (which is a good thing!).
Choosing the right probiotic for your dog doesn't have to be daunting. It might take a bit of trial and errors, but I'm convinced that you can't go wrong if you go for quality.
Take a look at our selection of dog supplements, including probiotics and others that can help your pooch live their life to the max!