You have seen the ads on television and magazines, for various probiotic foods and supplements that claim to help your digestive system, and you may have wondered if there is any truth to the representations that are made. Actually, there often is. Yogurt, for example, is a naturally probiotic food, and some brands contain added probiotics as well. Sourdough bread is another food that is probiotic. Essentially, anything that contains a live culture is probiotic, and probiotics are known to help digestion.
If you are not incorporating many probiotic foods into your diet, you can always take a probiotic supplement. Supplements usually come in capsule or powder forms, and although they have no nutritional value as such, they will deliver the same benefits as probiotic foods.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are helpful bacteria that live in the digestive system. There are several different species, including Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Some species, like Bifidobacterium, occupy the large intestine, while others, like Lactobacillus, live mainly in the small intestine.
Probiotics and Your Dog
Now, what about your dog? Can these helpful bacteria also support your dog’s digestive health?
Yes, they can. Probiotics will not harm your dog in any way, and most dogs can benefit from the way that probiotics help with digestion and regulate the immune system. They do this by producing SCFAs (short chain fatty acids) that discourage the growth of unfriendly bacteria like Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella and E. Coli. In additions to the benefits provided to the digestive and immune systems, probiotics are also believed to be effective in treating intestinal inflammation, irritable bowel and diarrhea. They may also reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions by decreasing the permeability of the intestine, and controlling inflammation.
Certain strains have been shown to benefit dogs. They include Bacillus coagulans, Enterococcus faecium SF68, Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7, all of which lessen the time it takes for acute diarrhea to go away. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is used to prevent and treat diarrhea, and Lactobacillus acidophilus improves stool quality.
Choosing a Good Probiotic for Your Dog
Probiotic supplements for your dog may contain a single probiotic, or several strains. Whatever type of probiotic you choose for your canine friend, make sure to read the label carefully – some products need to be refrigerated, and if not properly stored, the probiotics may not make it through the dog’s stomach acid into the rest of the digestive system. You will also want to determine whether your probiotic is of the type that will colonize, or whether you will have to continually offer the supplement.
With non-refrigerated probiotics, it is more likely that you will need to re-offer the supplement. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, since it means that you can always be sure that your dog has enough of the helpful bacteria. Of course, be sure to check the expiration date, and replace any product that has reached its “best before” date in order to ensure maximum benefit.
When you are using probiotic supplements that are specifically intended for dogs, you should always follow the suggestions on the label. Too much of the product could cause diarrhea, and if you are administering the probiotics in order to help with your dog’s digestion, this is the last thing you want. Also, if you are using them to aid digestion, you should offer them with meals, and also a good drink of water to help the organisms move into the digestive system. If you are using them to boost the immune system, then in order to gain the maximum benefit, they should be given between meals.
You can, if you like, use probiotics that are intended for humans, in which case you should give the maximum recommended to dogs that weigh 40+ pounds. Reduce the dosage somewhat for smaller dogs, or if your dog’s stool appears to be loose.
When to Give Probiotics
You can give probiotics any time. If your dog has always had digestive issues, then you will probably want to make probiotics a regular component in his or her diet. Probiotics can also be very helpful in easing the gastric discomfort that can result if your dog has been taking antibiotics.
One product that I particularly like is Pet Ultimates Probiotics for Dogs. It is available from Amazon in a 137-gram size, and right now you can get a great deal – it is just $35.95, reduced from $69.95, and is also eligible for Prime shipping. Even better, Pet Ultimates Probiotics for Dogs is backed by a 90-day money back guarantee. If you are dissatisfied for any reason at all, just return the unused portion for a full refund.
This is a pleasant-tasting product that contains an amazing two billion bacteria that are proven to aid in regular digestion, promote healthy skin, and give your dog a boost of energy. It guards against inflammation and yeast infections as well. Additional benefits are less gas, firmer stools, less shedding, and improvement in allergic symptoms like scratching, itching and hot spots. All it takes is a scoop each day, spread on food. The probiotics contained in this supplement include Inulin (prebiotic), Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus paracasei, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactococcus lactis, Alpha-galactosidase, and magnesium stearate.
Just as probiotics help with human digestive issues, they can also offer significant benefits to your dog. Since it is generally not advisable to feed your dog significant amounts of dairy products, probiotic yogurt may not be the best source of helpful bacteria for your dog. This doesn’t mean that you can’t offer probiotics, though – there are a number of supplements available in capsule or powder form that can give your dog the probiotics that will improve digestion, boost the immune system, ease allergies and result in a healthier coat. Be sure to read the label carefully, though, so you can be sure that you are getting the right probiotics for your dog.