How a Dog Probiotic Can Elevate Your Canine’s Health

cute red-haired puppy of the corgi dog lies on a natural green meadow surrounded by lush grass and flowers of pink fragrant peonies and happy of smiles

Key Points

  • A dog probiotic allows your pup's digestive tract to function optimally.

  • Find a dog probiotic your pet enjoys, whether a powder, capsule, spray, or chewable.

  • Making your own probiotics at home, such as yogurt or kefir, is easy.

Your dog's digestion takes a hit anytime they eat something that upsets their stomach. Whether the issues arise from low-quality food, table scraps, foreign objects, or an underlying illness, you want to correct them so your pet doesn't have messy accidents in your home or disrupt couch time with smelly gas. One reliable solution is a dog probiotic.

A dog probiotic is a supplement your pet takes to restore balance within their digestive tract. You probably don't know where to start if you're new to the probiotic world. Probiotics come in many strains and forms; the key is finding a formula or product that works best for your canine.

What Is a Probiotic?

Probiotics are live organisms such as bacteria or yeast that benefit your pup's body. The tiny bacteria in probiotics are like little soldiers going into battle against the harmful bacteria in the gut that cause your dog's digestive issues.

You may be familiar with probiotic supplements you find on the shelves of your local health food store. These supplements contain probiotics distilled from fermented foods or grown in a lab. Both sources are beneficial and effective for both pups and humans.

Dr. Greg Sunvold, Ph.D., tells Pupford why your dog's gut is one of the most important aspects of their health:

"It starts in the gut because we're finding from research, many, many different pieces of research, both in the human literature, as well as some in the dog research, that other systems of the body, for example, joint mobility, can be affected by what's going on in the gut. Our joints are inflamed. Our dog is a bit gimpy; it's obviously in pain, gets slow, or stumbles when it gets up. Well, there's pain there; there is inflammation. And the gut houses the largest immune system in the body, the gut-associated lymphoid tissue."

Many dogs benefit from taking probiotic supplements. They've become a popular tool for easing digestive ailments and aiding many other conditions.

In fact, as reported in SciTechDaily in May 2023, probiotics support not only human and dog health, but they may also protect coral from a deadly disease. There's so much probiotics can do! Bacteria are everywhere, and healthy, beneficial bacteria are essential for all living creatures.

Cheerful Asian woman giving her small white and brown dog a treat.

How Often Can You Give Your Dog Probiotics?

Every dog responds differently to supplements; the same is true for probiotics. Probiotics are safe for your dog to consume daily in healthy amounts, but always take your time introducing this supplement into their routine. Space out the initial doses by a day or two to see how your dog reacts. If they react with stomach issues, lay off until the symptoms abate. Lower the dose, give them one capsule instead of two, or give them about half as much powder as the first time.

Continue doing so every few days, and if they don't react negatively, give them the probiotics daily. After a while, work your way up to a standard dose so they don't experience any ill effects.

Always consult your veterinarian before putting your dog on a new supplement. Just because they have skin issues, allergies, or GI problems doesn't always mean a probiotic is what they need to heal.

How Long Does It Take Probiotics To Work?

Your dog's physiology determines how fast probiotics work for them. What symptoms does your pup currently have? How long since the symptoms started? If your dog's symptoms just recently popped up, it might not be long until they start feeling better.

More extreme symptoms, or those that have been around for a while, may take longer to resolve. The key is to give your dog the probiotics regularly. If you don't administer the dose consistently, your dog's microbiome remains unbalanced, and the harmful bacteria thrive. You see results within a few weeks to a couple of months with enough consistency.

Probiotic Powder

Does your furry friend struggle to take pills or tablets? You might need to opt for a unique form of probiotics to get your dog to consume them. Lucky for you, probiotic powders exist! Powders contain all of the wonderful bacteria your pup's gut needs, concealed in easily hideable dust. Sprinkle the powder over your dog's food and watch as they enjoy their probiotic supplement without knowing it's there.

Some dogs may not like having extra powder on their kibble; if that's the case, mix the powder into wet dog food. The wet consistency allows the powder to dissolve, disguising it even further.

Advanced Probiotics & Enzymes
$24.99

by NaturVet

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NaturVet's advanced probiotics and enzymes supplement is a great choice for pup parents new to these supplements. The added enzymes break down food which causes less stress on your dog's stomach. This supplement contains PB6 technology, enabling beneficial bacteria to travel throughout your pet's entire GI tract.

NaturVet Advanced Probiotics and Enzymes for Dogs and Cats

Photo source: NaturVet

The Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs

While probiotics aren't a cure-all, there are still plenty of reasons they benefit your pup. If your dog struggles with immune system complications or behavioral issues, see if a probiotic alleviates their symptoms.

Probiotics improve gut health and, in turn, boost the immune system. This is especially helpful for dogs with skin issues and seasonal allergies.

Probiotics for Skin Issues

If your dog has skin issues, a probiotic may be just what they need to find relief. A common cause of skin issues in dogs is allergies. A dog's immune system weakens when foods and environmental factors cause it to act out of whack. Their immune system recognizes allergen proteins as invaders and creates physical reactions to remove them.

Skin issues such as inflammation, rashes, sores, and itchiness are common with allergies. One way to combat these symptoms is to use probiotics. Apply probiotics directly to your dog's skin to relieve their symptoms quickly.

Probiotic Itch Relief Spray
$14.99

by SKOUT'S HONOR

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
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Skout's Honor has a powerful probiotic spray that relieves itchiness in dogs and cats. The probiotic blend offers a handful of beneficial bacteria that combat the harmful bacteria or yeast in your dog's skin irritation. One of this product's key ingredients is oatmeal, known as an emollient. Oatmeal locks in moisture, softens the skin, and protects it from further damage caused by dryness.

Spray the formula directly on your dog's skin and gently massage it as needed. It soothes your pup's face, legs, and tail and is suitable for dogs of all sizes and ages.

Skout's Honor Probiotic Itch Relief Spray.

Photo source: Skout's Honor

Probiotics for Seasonal Allergies

Did you know seasonal allergies don't just occur in humans? If your dog has watery eyes, sneezes excessively, or has a troubling cough in the spring or summer months, they might have seasonal allergies too.

Unlike food allergies, seasonal allergies are more difficult to combat. Over-the-counter antihistamines calm your pup's immune system so they don't react as strongly to the allergens. Your vet can also prescribe medication to ease the symptoms.

A probiotic supplement is an excellent way to reduce seasonal allergies or allergies in general. About 70 percent of your dog's immune system is in their gut! That means their immune system can't function properly without a healthy gut.

Since the immune system affects your dog's allergies, it's essential to strengthen their immune health. A probiotic supplement heals your pup's gut biome and supports their immune system. While a probiotic may not be enough to completely overcome your dog's allergies, it's a great supplement to add to their allergy regimen.

Red Irish Setter in field of yellow flowers during spring.

Can Dogs Have Fermented Foods?

Yes, dogs eat fermented foods! It's best to give them both fermented foods and supplements, so they have a full spectrum of probiotics.

A little fermented food goes a long way. If your dog experiences digestive issues, give them sauerkraut, beets, carrots, kefir, and ginger. These are just a few examples of the delicious fermented treats that are dog-safe.

Buy a high-quality product if you use food sources to supplement your dog's healthy gut bacteria. Low-quality fermented foods don't contain enough probiotics to be beneficial. Also, ensure these products don't contain harmful ingredients. Excess sodium, sugar, or spices may be too much for your pup.

Start with a small amount of fermented food in your dog's daily meal. If you give them too much, they may experience uncomfortable digestive issues such as gas or diarrhea. Too many probiotics cause a die-off effect in the body, which then aims to release all of the unbeneficial bacteria quickly.

Give your dog a bit of fermented food and gradually increase it each day until you see their symptoms improve.

Homemade Probiotic Ferments

Make your own fermented foods at home! Home ferments are easy to make and a great way to always have bacteria-rich foods on hand. The ferments don't have to only be for your pup. Why not take care of your gut health alongside your canine's?

Ferments have a long shelf life in the fridge and are an inexpensive way to introduce healthy bacteria into your dog's diet. You also have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what your dog consumes when you make probiotics in your own kitchen.

What kinds of foods contain probiotics? Kimchi and sauerkraut are ferments that are delicious and simple to make! These foods are rich in probiotics. Add them to your dog's diet in small amounts.

Yogurt and kefir are also two foods that are easy to make at home and rich in probiotic qualities. Make a few portions for your pup and save the rest for you and the family.

Some dogs won't tolerate kefir or yogurt well. If your dog already has extreme digestive issues, you may not want to include homemade probiotic foods that contain dairy in their diet. Instead, opt for a high-quality supplement that is easier on their digestive tract.

Probiotics Vs. Antibiotics

Both probiotics and antibiotics affect your dog's microbiome. An antibiotic kills off bacteria in your dog's body but doesn't specifically target the harmful kind. You use antibiotics for infections or ailments that need a strong intervention to prevent them from worsening.

It's important to take care of your dog's gut health after they undergo a round of antibiotics. After their treatment, their gut biome is low on beneficial bacteria. That's where probiotics come in. Introduce a probiotic as soon as possible and start filling your pup's digestive tract with the lively bacteria they need to be healthy.

Antibiotics and probiotics are not interchangeable; always consult your veterinarian if your pet has a serious infection or illness.

Corgi puppy sitting in a sunflower field on a sunny day.

Probiotics Vs. Prebiotics

The environment in your dog's gut must be in a state that allows healthy bacteria to thrive. If you only supplement probiotics, you may find that your dog's symptoms don't completely disappear. If that's the case, it's time to introduce some prebiotic foods into their diet.

Certain foods either support healthy bacteria or support unhealthy bacteria. The harmful bacteria thrive if your dog only eats low-quality food or ingests something that negatively impacts their GI tract. Prebiotics are foods or supplements that support a healthy gut environment by ensuring the healthy bacteria in your dog's body have nourishment. Sweet potatoes and pumpkins are excellent examples of healthy prebiotic foods.

No Time for Toots

White Swiss Shepherd dog sits in a white and red flower meadow.

Whether your dog has itchy skin, runny stools, or excessive gas, a probiotic supplement is here to help. Ask your vet about introducing probiotics into your dog's routine. Your pup doesn't have to take these supplements forever, but they may need them for a few months until their conditions improve.

Play around with the different forms of probiotics and see what works. If your dog doesn't like the powder and has trouble getting capsules down, try a chewable or home ferment! No matter your dog's needs, you'll find the right probiotic product for them.

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