Are Probiotics Good for Dogs?

Are probiotics good for dogs? In a word, yes! But why are probiotics a good thing to add to the diet of us dogs? Well, let me ask you this, has your dog ever gotten vaccinated? Has he ever had to be on antibiotics? Has he ever had surgery? Has he ever come into contact with pesticides, herbicides, or cleaning chemicals? If you answered yes to any of these then it’s highly likely that your dog needs probiotics. Because all of the above things can compromise the microbiome.

Probiotics and the Immune System

Probiotics help to boost the good and healthy bacteria that live inside all of us in our microbiome. These bacteria live inside us, mainly in the gut. Surprisingly about 80% of our immune system is in the gut. So, as you can imagine if you said yes to any of the above questions it’s more than just your dog’s gut that could be messed up. It’s his whole immune system! 

With an immune system that doesn’t work very well that leaves your precious pal open to getting sick easier and staying sick longer. It can be more than just a cold too. A weak immune system can let more chronic diseases get a foothold, like cancer and diabetes. So, we need a healthy microbiome so we can have a healthy immune system for sure!

Probiotics in Food

That is where probiotics come into play. What should you look for in a probiotic and how do they come? I’m am so glad you asked. If you want to go a more natural route you can easily do that. There are lots of fermented foods that contain probiotics. Bonus points if you make them yourself! Foods that contain probiotics include kimchi, kefir, sourkrout, yogurt with live and active cultures, fermented pickles and raw goat milk, to name a few. I’ve even heard of some humans going to the extent of fermenting meat for their dogs. My people have not tried that yet… but I hope they do! I’m always ready to try new meat, yum!

What to look for in supplements

Perhaps you are looking for something a little easier and less gross though. Well, supplements can work great too. They are usually in a powder or capsule form so that isn’t gross. Supplements should be dog-specific and not made for humans. We have different guts and digestive tracts, humans, and dogs. Just compare a dog’s teeth to yours and you will see a big difference. So, it makes sense that our guts are a bit different than you humans. 

Other than a dog-specific product you also want to pay attention to CFUs (Colony Forming Units) and the number of strains. CFUs are semi-important as it will help you to have a better understanding of just how many new colonies may take up residence in your dog’s gut. I think a more important factor, however, is the number of strains. A healthy gut should have tons of different species and strains of microbes in it… Imagine it as a rainforest full of different types of plants, trees, monkies, lizards, birds, spiders, mushrooms, etc. That is what you want, not a simple potted plant with five things in it.  

There are several different types and brands of probiotic supplements. What is the best? Be sure to do your research on the brand, even rotate brands for more variety. Oh, and be sure to get a probiotic that also has a prebiotic in it. Prebiotics are the main food source for probiotics. If you really want to help your dog’s immune system then you want the probiotics to take up residence in his gut. They will be more willing to do that if they have plenty of food from prebiotics.

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