Similar to humans, a majority of dog’s immunity resides in the gut. As such, the digestive tract comprises the largest immune organ containing 70% of all immunity cells.
So, maintaining your dog’s gut in top shape ensures that your dog stays healthy, active, and full of life.
Dog supplements provide a convenient way of improving your dog’s digestive health. Various studies prove the beneficial properties of probiotics on a dog.
What are Probiotics?
Human probiotics are bacterial strains obtained from sources such as fungi, animals, soils, or humans. A difference exists between feed and human grade probiotics. Human grade probiotics are manufactured under regulations and standards that meet conditions for human consumable food products. Feed grade probiotics are products produced only for consumption by animals.
In this regard, medicine defines probiotics as living microorganisms that when administered in adequate quantities provide health benefits to a host. Probiotics are known to assist in the treatment of various illnesses and diseases, particularly those related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. As such, they can inhibit the activity and growth of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Clostridium perfringens as well as confer other benefits to the digestive tract.
Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs
Marcella D. Ridgway argues that dog probiotic supplements offer various benefits to dogs. In her clinical brief, she asserts that serving your dog healthy probiotics has significant impacts on GI abnormalities, liver problems, obesity, behaviour, and mood changes. Daily probiotic supplements offer subsidiary benefits such as a smooth coat and skin texture, reduced bloating, enhanced respiration, allergy alleviation, control of yeast infections, and improved bowel functions.
Types of Dog Probiotic Supplements
Dog probiotics are available in various shapes and sizes. For this reason, commercial probiotic supplements are marketed either for dogs, a range of domestic animals, or just for humans (with some in this category redirected to dog use). Some are shipped as powders, pills, solutions, or pastes.
A probiotic supplement may contain single or multiple bacteria or yeast that performs different functions. For example, Bifidobacterium helps reduce the duration of diarrhoea in dogs as well as boosting the immune system. Others, for instance, Lactobacillus helps dogs increase nutrient absorption rates and optimising the digestive system.
Which are the Best Dog Probiotics?
- Powders and cold pressed tablets: are more suitable than liquids as they deliver the most benefits to your pet’s GI tract. In addition to that, powders and tablets supply more bacteria to the gut per dose.
- Opt for formulations with no less than 8 strains: only a few strains are known to have beneficial properties for dogs. Keep it in mind that bacteria are living organisms with each strain competing for absorption and living space in a dog’s GI tract. Having more strains in the formulation dilutes valuable properties as well as reducing the effectiveness of other strains.
- Prebiotics, for instance, FOS, inulin, and acacia gum improve the functioning of natural probiotics. Prebiotics provide healthy bacteria with food for reproduction and growth.
A majority of vets endorse several different products from different manufacturers. In this regard, they often use them before arriving at a conclusion of the best probiotic strain to recommend.
Nevertheless, the following nine species are beneficial to canines.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Enterococcus faecium
- Bacillus coagulans
- Bacillus animalis
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Lactobacillus salivarius
Can I Give My Dog Human Probiotics?
With this in mind, there is no known research findings indicating that human probiotic supplements can harm a dog’s health. But veterinarians do recommend that dog owners should select probiotic supplements manufactured for dogs and have the right bacteria strains.
Due to differences in the composition of human and dog digestive systems, it is currently impossible to tell if human probiotics are effective or safe if given to dogs. For this reason, it is important to opt for products specially designed and tested for dogs.
Always keep it in mind that most human probiotics are problematic for dogs, as they do not contain Enterococcus faecalis. It is a most essential bacterium as it helps dogs maintain good GI tract faecal and flora quality. E. Faecalis also helps maintain healthy levels of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
How to Administer Dog Probiotics
It is recommended that you should administer canine probiotic supplements orally. Ideally, you should include supplements in your pet’s food or wrap them in a treat. Besides that, it is critical that you do closely follow any instructions on a product’s label. Exercise caution as improper formulation or administration of a supplement can lead to its destruction in the stomach before reaching the intestines reducing its effectiveness.
Risks and Other Factors
Generally, human probiotics are regarded as safe for canine consumption. But they can pose significant risks to puppies or dogs with extensively compromised digestive systems. How a supplement is formulated, however, can create additional problems for pets.
According to an article appearing on the Mail Online, studies reveal that most commercial formulations do not contain what they claim to offer. Given this reason, you should conduct the necessary research and consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet receives probiotic supplements from trusted and reputable manufacturers.
Before administering any probiotics, you should talk to your vet. Doing this is of particular importance as there are currently no regulations or standards imposed on the manufacture of canine probiotic supplements.
Despite human grade probiotics offering various benefits to your pet, having specially formulated dog probiotics is more beneficial in the end. Keeping the points mentioned above and knowledge in mind can significantly help you improve your pet’s digestive and immune health. Despite the lack of conclusive studies on the effectiveness of probiotics, researchers have proven the health benefits of probiotics to both humans and animals. A 2009 Irish study established that B. animals helped reduce diarrhoea’s duration from seven to four days as well as eliminating the need for antibiotics by 10%.