The Health Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs

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Probiotics can aid your dog’s digestive system.

A chocolate Labrador puppy sitting for a probiotic treat.

Most of us have heard about probiotics and their potential benefits for the digestive system. Every time you take a probiotic supplement, you’re supporting the good bacteria in your GI tract and helping your immune system. But what you might not know is that probiotics can benefit dogs, too.

Why Does Your Dog Need Probiotics?

Probiotics can help keep the bacteria in your dog’s gut balanced, support the protective layers of the intestines and assist with normal digestion and nutrient absorption.

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract in both humans and dogs is essentially one long tube that includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. What’s more, about 70% of a dog’s immune system is associated with their GI tract. The small and large intestines house the good bacteria that are important for your dog’s health.

When Should You Give Your Dog Probiotics?

Dogs can take probiotics on a regular basis to promote everyday digestive health and well-being.

However, there are several situations that may disrupt the healthy bacteria and microbiome in your dog. These circumstances include:

  • Stress (from travel, going to the groomer, life changes, etc.)
  • Deworming
  • Antibiotics
  • Eating from the garbage can
  • Age
  • Dietary changes or food allergies

Consult your veterinarian about probiotic supplements specifically formulated for dogs. The supplement you choose should be labeled with the NASC Quality Seal, which identifies products from companies committed to quality, vigilance and continuous improvement.

Probiotics for dogs are available in a variety of forms, including soft chews, oral gels, pastes and powders. They can be given as a treat or mixed in food.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Probiotics for Dogs?

While probiotics are a common supplement pet owners give their dogs, there may be potential yet rare side effects, including vomiting and diarrhea. To avoid these side effects, talk with your vet about how to best introduce probiotics to your dog. Consider starting out slowly with a lower dosage, but always make sure to carefully read the label.

What About Prebiotics for Dogs?

It’s not a typo — there is a difference between probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics typically include multiple strains of live beneficial bacteria that support good GI health. In contrast, prebiotics are a type of fiber that feeds the good bacteria in the gut to help them flourish. Many probiotics come with prebiotics in them to leverage the benefits of both.

Probiotics and prebiotics may not be critical to your dog’s health, but they can support intestinal well-being and help maintain a healthy microbial balance in dogs.

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