Debunking Myths About Dog Gut Health Products

May 26, 2024

When it comes to gut health products for our dogs (or us humans, even!), separating fact from fiction is the name of the game. The market is so full of products that claim to have incredible benefits for your dog’s digestion, and they’re often backed by terms like “all-natural” and “clinically proven.” But let’s be real—while the packaging may be green, not all that glitters is gold when it comes to the science behind these claims. So, when it comes to dog gut health myths, what can you really believe?

As smart pet parents who want the best for our dogs, and in a world where it’s so easy to ‘say’ anything is natural and holistic, it’s honestly important to have a healthy dose of skepticism and demand the evidence for claims made about dog digestive health. That’s what WE do when we create products for our own dogs–we use the most researched, effective ingredients out there, even if they’re not the ‘popular’ ones. We want clean and effective ingredients for our dogs, and that’s what we want for yours. When it comes to gut health, we are not just looking for quick fixes; we want sustainable health solutions for our dogs that are backed by solid research, and not just marketing hype.

So, how do you make the best-informed decisions about your dog’s gut health? Start with learning what’s true and what’s just a myth.

Dog Gut Health Myths And The FactsPhoto: A medically accurate 3d rendering of a dogs small intestine.

  1. Myth: Any probiotic will benefit a dog’s gut health.
    Fact: Not all probiotics are created equal when it comes to surviving the harsh conditions of the stomach. Probiotics that can form spores, such as Bacillus coagulans and Bacillus subtilis, are particularly effective because their spore-forming nature allows them to withstand extreme environments, including stomach acid. This characteristic is crucial for ensuring that the probiotics reach the gut where they can be beneficial​. Because only high-quality probiotics that are proven to survive the harsh stomach environment can significantly benefit a dog’s gut health, it’s important to choose formulations that ensure live bacteria reach the gut where they can be effective. 
  2. Myth: Fiber supplements are unnecessary if a dog is already eating a balanced diet.
    Fact: Even with a balanced diet, additional fiber supplements can help (and are often necessary) for optimal digestive health, helping to regulate digestion, support beneficial gut bacteria, and prevent issues like constipation and diarrhea in dogs. While a balanced diet is foundational, it might not always provide adequate fiber, especially the specific types that cater to the individual health needs of dogs. Fiber supplements can be essential for optimal digestive health, helping regulate digestion, supporting beneficial gut bacteria, and preventing issues like constipation and diarrhea. Specific fibers like miscanthus grass, flaxseed, and pumpkin offer unique benefits such as weight management, bowel regularity, and essential nutrient provision. 
  3. Myth: All fiber is the same, no matter the source.
    Fact: The type of fiber matters. Fiber is divided into two main types: soluble and insoluble, each serving unique functions in the digestive system.
    Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the intestines. It’s known for its ability to help regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. Soluble fibers are also highly fermentable, which means they feed the good bacteria in your dog’s large intestine (probiotics), and short-chain fatty acids that are beneficial for colon health. This type of fiber can help manage conditions like diarrhea by absorbing excess water and slowing digestion​.
    On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Instead, it adds bulk to the stool and helps promote regular bowel movements by speeding up the passage of food through the stomach and intestines. This type of fiber is helpful in preventing constipation and can be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight, because it leaves your dog feeling fuller without adding extra calories.

    Both types of fiber are essential for overall gut health, but the balance between them can vary based on your dog’s specific health needs and conditions. In general, fiber is a regulator and a moderator, and good dog fiber supplements have both. 
  4. Myth: Fiber supplements are just for relieving constipation.
    Fact: As we said, beyond helping with regular bowel movements, fiber supplements play a pivotal role in nurturing gut flora (when it ferments and feeds the probiotics), enhancing nutrient absorption, and can even help manage weight your dog’s weight by helping them ‘feel’ fuller longer, and not need or want to eat as much. 
  5. Myth: Probiotics are only necessary for dogs with digestive issues.
    Fact: Regular supplementation with probiotics can benefit all dogs by maintaining a healthy microbial balance in the gut, enhancing immune function, and preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Giving your dog probiotic supplements is a holistic, preventative approach that supports their overall health and may help ward off systemic issues before they even start.
    Photo: A happy black and white dog sits in a field of dried twigs.
  6. Myth: Probiotics should only be given during antibiotic treatment.
    Fact: Although it’s so beneficial during and especially after antibiotic use, we want to repeat that regular probiotic supplementation can prevent issues before they start by maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora. 
  7. Myth: Probiotic and fiber supplements are interchangeable for gut health.
    Fact: While both probiotics and fiber supplements support gut health, they do so in different ways. Probiotics replenish the gut’s beneficial bacteria, while fiber ferments and can feed these bacteria and help maintain a healthy gut lining. All too often, it’s misunderstood that supplementing probiotics alone will ‘fix’ gut health issues or supplementing with fiber can ‘fix’ digestive issues in dogs, but the truth is, you need to both to help repair and maintain gut health as well as remedy digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation. 
  8. Myth: Natural diets provide enough prebiotics, making supplements unnecessary.
    Fact: While natural diets do offer some prebiotics, adding specific prebiotic supplements can support and build your dog’s gut health even more. Research suggests that prebiotics like inulin can increase beneficial short-chain fatty acids in the gut. These acids are crucial for maintaining a healthy colon and overall gut function. Inulin is found in ingredients like chicory root, and not only supports beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut and improves overall digestion.​ And, even though natural foods provide prebiotics, they might not always deliver them in the amounts or varieties needed for optimal health. Supplements like mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) have been shown to improve the balance and activity of gut bacteria, leading to better fecal quality and reduced harmful fermentation in the gut.​

    Another valuable prebiotic is xylooligosaccharide (XOS), known for its ability to selectively nourish beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacteria. XOS is efficient even at low dosages and can significantly improve the gut microbiota balance, which supports digestive health and enhances a dog’s immune response.
    So, of course, natural diets are a good start, but supplementing with specific prebiotics like inulin, MOS, FOS, or XOS ensures that your dog gets the right amount and type of prebiotics to maintain a healthy and effective digestive system.

When we began looking for supplements for Bernie’s gut health, we turned to the experts in dog science and nutrition to break through the myths of what helped good gut health in dogs and what didn’t. We took the best of the best and put it in Bernie’s Perfect Poop. It’s full of premium ingredients that science backs, and nothing that’s just in there for myth’s sake. We only want the best for our dog, and we only want to offer you the best, most researched and effective ingredients out there. After all, healthy dogs live the happiest lives!

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