If you know anything about pronouns, you know that the opposite of pro- is anti-, right? So it seems like it might be weird to give your dog probiotics if your veterinarian prescribes them antibiotics. But that’s exactly what often ends up being the case, and it’s usually by doctor’s orders. Why is it that you’d give dog probiotics and dog antibiotics together?
Why do dogs take antibiotics?
It’s not unusual to hear that one’s dog is on antibiotics these days. While antibiotics will NOT help battle viral infections, they WILL battle bacterial infections. For everything from ear and upper respiratory infections to Leptospirosis, Bordetella and E. Coli, to name a few, antibiotics are usually your veterinarian’s first choice in helping your dog fight. When your dog suffers from bacterial infection, harmful bacteria have invaded your dog’s body and are trying to take it down. They’re responsible for everything from pneumonia to gastroenteritis, and when they go unchecked? These microscopic one-celled organisms multiply at an alarming rate and can make your dog pretty sick.
So that’s when the vet will call in an antibiotic. An antibiotic’s job is to work against the harmful bacteria and to prevent the bacteria from continuing to multiply and do more damage. Sometimes an antibiotic will work by simply preventing the infectious bacteria from constructing cell walls as it tries to reproduce. Sometimes an antibiotic will starve the bad bacteria and prevent it from turning glucose into energy. Without being able to do this, living cells, which even harmful bacteria are, just can’t reproduce and grow. And while theoretically an antibiotic will be able to leave your dog’s healthy body cells intact, the same can’t be said for the helpful bacteria, or probiotics in your dog’s gut. Being bacteria as well, an antibiotic, especially a powerful one given for serious issues, will wipe them out. Antibiotics are created to protect canine body cells, but they’re designed to destroy bacteria. Sadly, the good bacteria in your dog’s microbiome fall prey to antibiotics.
What happens when an antibiotic destroys good dog bacteria
Your dog’s gut is the center of his immunity. Research continues to show that good dog gut health leads to good overall immunity. The same is also said of humans, for the record, so take good care of your gut health too.
When your dog takes an antibiotic, a lot of things can happen. One of the worst is that antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria, or the probiotics, in your dog’s gut because it doesn’t really discriminate between the helpful bacteria and the harmful bacterial infection. So instead of your dog’s gut bacteria balance being about 80% good and 20% bad? Your dog’s left with little good bacteria at all in the name of killing the bad off. This means that your dog can suffer from secondary infections, lowered immune system function, high white blood cell counts and even urine in their blood because the imbalance of good-to-bad bacteria in their gut means they’re more susceptible to UTIs. The bottom line is that when your dog is on an antibiotic, it’s not discriminatory. It kills the vast majority of your dog’s gut flora (the good and bad). If any harmful bacteria that’s left takes a stronghold before the good guys can repopulate, it could leave your dog with a terribly unbalanced gut.
That’s the main reason your veterinarian will suggest you give your dog probiotics while he’s also taking antibiotics–so you can continue to keep his gut health in check as best you can.
Why give my dog probiotics while taking antibiotics?
Your vet knows how important good dog gut health is. If you give your dog probiotic supplements while he’s taking an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, the probiotics will help restore and replenish and maintain the good bacteria in their gut. This means that you’re also helping improve their immune system, and that’s what will continue to fight off infection. Probiotics are nothing but good, beneficial bacteria. They’re the warriors against bad bacteria, and they’re necessary when an antibiotic kills off any bacteria in the name of killing harmful bacteria. When you give your dog probiotics while they’re taking a prescribed antibiotic, you’re likely to help prevent gastric distress issues and you’re also helping promote their digestion. This means they’ll absorb more vitamins and minerals from their food, and that’s important for fueling your dog at a cellular level. That’s especially important when he’s fighting infection. It’s also just as important after the antibiotic is done so you can replenish his dog gut health. That said, it’s always wise to talk with your veterinarian about probiotics if your dog is on an antibiotic.
We believe you should supplement dog probiotics every day. Doing so helps keep their immune system in balance all the time, and less of an environment in which a harmful bacteria infection could invade and take over.
When you combine probiotics with prebiotics (to feed the probiotics!), premium fiber and digestive enzymes, you’re giving your dog a powerful combination that will lead to good dog gut health. The fiber Bernie’s Perfect Poop uses is Miscanthus grass. It helps get food through the digestive system as it should, and as it breaks down, it creates short-chain fatty acids that help feed and the probiotics in your gut. Prebiotics also add to that process of encouraging a thriving dog microbiome, and digestive enzymes allow food to be broken down to a cellular level that allows for maximum nutrient absorption.
And all those ingredients come in the form of tasty flakes your dog can’t help but scarf down.
So yes, by ALL means, give your dog probiotics when taking antibiotics. But also consider giving him good gut health EVERY day by giving him Bernie’s Perfect Poop with each meal. Then you’re REALLY preparing his immune system to fight bacterial infections and maybe preventing the need for more antibiotics in the future!