Good Dog Gut Health: What do Probiotics do for Dogs?

May 10, 2022

It may seem like we can’t praise the benefits of probiotics for dogs enough, and that’s true. We can’t. Because probiotics for dogs are so beneficial to not only their gut health, but their mental health and overall health too! Want to work on good dog gut health for your dog? Check out the answer to “What do probiotics do for dogs?”!

In a gut-shell: What do probiotics do for dogs?

Just like they do in humans, probiotics aid digestion and help modulate the immune system in your dog. Probiotics for dogs produce short-chain fatty acids, and that helps your dog’s gut crowd out harmful bacteria and pathogens that are always trying to take it over.

Additionally, probiotics can help the symptoms of tons of different conditions that plague dogs: diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, irritable bowel, bad breath, stinky farts, anxiety, allergies and more.  Science continues to find more things that probiotics do for dogs, and the consensus is that giving your dog daily probiotic supplements may help improve their immune system and their overall health.

What are probiotics for dogs?

Probiotics are actually bacteria! Well, a mixture of live bacteria and/or yeast that live in your dog’s gut. Not all bacteria is harmful, and that’s why probiotics are so important–they’re the good bacteria that fight against and battle the ‘bad’ bacteria that is harmful. They help keep your dog’s gut healthy and strong, which in turn helps his immune system bet stronger and healthier too.

Billions and billions of probiotic bacteria live in your dog’s gut (that’s a good thing!). They’re vital to helping ward off disease, virus and harmful bacteria they may pick up as they eat from the cat’s box or lick their butt or drink out of that nasty puddle outside.

But probiotics for dogs do more for dogs than just balance their gut.  They help keep your dog’s digestive system an optimal place for food to be broken down and that means your dog will be able to absorb all the nutrients and vitamins he’s supposed to. Optimal nutrient absorption means your dog is fueling every cell of his body so he can live his best and healthiest life!

But really—do dogs need probiotics?

YES! Dogs do need probiotics! More and more research continues to prove there’s a huge connection between gut health and overall immunity and we want the best health and immunity we can give our dogs!

Not only are probiotics important for helping ease the symptoms of all those icky things that make our dogs’ tummies hurt, they’re key to helping them be strong every day.

You see, it’s not hard to disrupt the microbiome of your dog. He can be stressed because you had to go to work. He may catch a cold. He may not be getting the most from his food and he’s undernourished. He may not drink enough water. He may have a chronic condition. He may take medicine that throws the gut balance off. You may even be giving him probiotics but they’re not strong enough to withstand the harsh stomach acids of your dog and they basically do nothing for him (more on that later!).

Supplementing with probiotics for dogs is essential because they’ll help ensure his gut flora is balanced and he’s got the healthiest gut he can have.

What do probiotics do for dogs?

Probiotics do lots for dogs! Vets prescribe probiotics to help battle the effects of antibiotics they’ve prescribed. Probiotics balance your dog’s microbiome and keep his immune system supported. They can help fight off yeast overgrowth and they can help reduce symptoms of allergies or virus.

And, you may not know it but probiotics for dogs can even bring benefit to their mental health and mood!

What types of probiotics for dogs are out there?

Well, that’s the thing…there are lots. And lots of them aren’t always good for your dog. In fact, poor quality probiotics just can’t withstand the harsh conditions of your dog’s stomach and they may never even make it there to bring any benefit. Womp, womp—money pooped out, literally.

The truth is that some probiotic strains simply are better than others. You want to be sure the strains are host-specific, meaning they find a dog gut preferable. You want to be sure they’re gram-positive (they have thick cell walls and stand up to lots of ickies in your dog’s gut) and you want to be sure they’re spore-producing so they’ll colonize your dog’s gut quickly and fully for the best protection. CFU stands for colony-forming-units, and that’s an important thing to look for.

We’re just going to be honest. Not every dog probiotic is the same quality and to be super honest? Not every pet company is concerned about your dog’s health–well, not as much as they are concerned about profit. They’ll produce cheap, unstable supplements with low quality bacteria strains that don’t have the ability to make it anywhere near your dog’s intestines before they’re destroyed by digestive juices and stomach acids. Basically, you think you’re giving your dog something great for him but unless those probiotics get to your dog’s intestines, you’re wasting money, really. Additionally most bacteria are ‘host-specific’. This means that they have preference of host, and many dog probiotic companies will use less expensive human probiotic strains–which do NOTHING for your dog. In fact, they could harm your dog and make him vomit, have diarrhea or dehydration. A quality probiotic supplement (like Bernie’s Perfect Poop!) will have the right colony forming units (CFU) to actually be beneficial to your dog’s gut. They’ll also be probiotic strains that are hardy and offer benefits to dogs.

Do probiotics for dogs have side effects?

Rarely will probiotics have ‘traditional’ side effects, but as your dog’s gut builds a healthy colony of good bacteria, you may find they experience some symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, gasvomiting or even constipation. Your dog’s digestive system may seem to ‘get worse’ as it is in the process of getting better because there’s really a battle going on between the good and bacteria in their gut. That’s gonna take a toll, but rest assured—if your dog does experience any side effects, they’re likely to be mild and temporary. Always consult your vet if you believe they’re not!

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