Probiotics for Dogs 101: What Pet Parents Need to Know
When your dog doesn’t feel well, it may be time for a gut decision. Roughly 70 percent of a canine’s immune system is in their digestive tract, which means that a healthy gut can play a big part in the health and wellbeing of your beloved best friend.
Every pet parent wants to raise a happy, healthy dog. Fortunately, there’s a simple way that you can support your dog’s gut without much fuss: probiotics.
What are Dog Probiotics?
Probiotics have been a known entity since the 1900s, but scientists have recently learned more about their benefits. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that reside in the small and large intestines of various mammals. There are hundreds of strains of probiotics, some of which are especially helpful for canines. These strains include:
- Bifidobacterium animalis
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Bacillus subtilis
What do probiotics do, exactly? Probiotics for dogs help balance the good bacteria in your dog’s gut. If the gut is unhealthy, it can result in digestive issues and even illness. That's where probiotics come in to give your dog's gut some extra help.
What are the Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs?
The various types of probiotics support several different gastrointestinal functions that are key for your furry friend's overall health. These benefits come in multiple forms:
- Probiotics help your dog’s body digest food and treats.
- Probiotics work to keep bad bacteria in check and fight against potential illnesses.
- Probiotics help your dog create vitamins that support his immune system.
- Probiotics add extra support to the cells that line your dog’s gut to prevent bad bacteria from leaving the digestive tract.
- Probiotics offer support in helping your dog break down and absorb any medications.
Maintaining a healthy balance of friendly bacteria plays a major part in helping your four-legged friend live a healthy, active life. With the right probiotics, your canine companion's gut will be better prepared for the future.
Can Dogs Use Human Probiotics?
Like dogs, probiotics can help support digestive health in humans. While both people and pooches can benefit from probiotics, that doesn’t mean that you and your best friend should use the same strains of probiotics.
The reason why human probiotics are not the best solution for dogs is simple – humans and canines have different biological needs. Those differing needs mean that probiotics tested for humans aren’t necessarily right for your dog, and vice versa. Moreover, human probiotics may come with other ingredients that are not healthy for dogs. As a result, make sure your furry friend only gets probiotics that were made with him in mind.
When Does My Dog Need Probiotics?
In a way, probiotics are like reinforcements for your dog’s gut. Probiotics are one way to help your pup replenish his good bacteria and get a boost to his immune system. It's a good idea to give your dog some probiotics when your dog displays any signs that he's dealing with various digestive issues. Possible warning signs can include:
- Bad breath
- Loose, runny stool
- Stomach sensitivity
While there are signs that your dog is dealing with some bad gut bacteria, probiotics don’t have to be a reactionary tool for digestive health. You can be proactive and add probiotics to your dog’s diet even without any signs of digestive issues.
By being proactive, you can help your dog keep a better balance of good bacteria at all times. This approach can be extremely helpful because you can’t always predict when your best buddy will decide to eat something he found in the park or lick something he shouldn’t. It will also help him age gracefully and enjoy every meal without worrying about digestive issues.
What are the Different Forms of Probiotics
There are a variety of ways that you can support your dog with probiotics. Probiotic supplements for dogs come in a variety of different forms. These include:
Some of these options have downsides that can make them more difficult to use. For example, powders can be messy and both pills and capsules can be hard for your dog to swallow. One of the easiest ways to give your dog probiotics is a probiotic food spray like BreakThru Biotics Digestive Health & Immune Function Formula. This easy-to-spray product allows you to easily pump 12 strains of healthy probiotics on your dog’s food once a day in a tasty spray your dog will love.
Another way to give your dog probiotics is through his food. Special probiotic dog foods are made to support the digestive and immune systems of dogs. For example, every bag of Bil-Jac Sensitive Solutions Digestive & Immune Support is guaranteed to have at least 80 million CFUs (colony forming units) of canine-specific probiotics per pound of food. This type of solution means your dog not only gets a tasty meal, but also the advanced nutrition and probiotic support for his gut.
What Should I Look for in Dog Probiotics?
It’s important for pet parents to realize that not all probiotics are created equal. Both the strains themselves and the way that they’re stored will have a direct impact on how well they’ll support your best friend. As such, you’ll want to take a close look at available options and protect those beneficial strains.
When it comes to probiotic strains, you should always inspect product labels for a few key details. First, you’ll want to spot the specific strains identified in a product and look for some of the probiotics listed earlier in the post. You’ll also want to find the “best used by” date and a guaranteed analysis of the total live bacteria found in that product at the end of that product’s shelf life. Probiotics can die off over time, so this analysis will let you know the amount that is guaranteed.
Finally, you’ll want to see instructions for product use and storage. Some probiotics require refrigeration, so you’ll need to identify if a product is shelf stable or not. With this information, you can store your dog’s probiotics properly and get the most out of every container.
BreakThru Biotics should not be refrigerated and can be kept on the counter where you feed your dog. Having it be readily available during feeding time will serve as a reminder to add it to your dog’s food and will make it convenient for you to do so. Meanwhile, you can store Sensitive Solutions Digestive & Immune Support like you would other dry dog foods, in a cool, dry place. If you need some tips on how to store dog food, check out our post on storage best practices.
Digestive Support for a Happy, Healthy Life
Gut health is a big deal for your dog, and probiotics can help you give your furry friend a good boost to be healthy inside and out. To learn more about what you can do to support a healthy lifestyle for your best friend, join our Best Friends Club to receive more articles about caring for your dog, training tips, members-only discounts on Bil-Jac products and other pup-friendly perks.