fbpx

Best Probiotics for Dogs: The Path to a Healthier Canine Gut!

Hearts and paws icon

Dog Health By Ben Team 8 min read June 17, 2020 2 Comments

best probiotics for dogs
vet-fact-check-box

Believe it or not, your dog’s digestive system harbors a veritable ecosystem of bacteria and other microorganisms!

While some of these cooties (forgive the technical language) are capable of causing illness, many of these are helpful and play a role in the digestive processes. These beneficial bacteria perform a variety of different biochemical roles, and help to break down some of the things your dog eats.

But sometimes, this bacterial ecosystem can get knocked out of balance, and harmful bacteria can begin outcompeting the good bacteria. This can reduce your dog’s ability to digest her food and result in intestinal upset.

Probiotics — commercially produced versions of beneficial bacteria — are often used to help restore balance to the intestinal flora.

What Types of Symptoms Do Probiotics Help?

Probiotics have been studied somewhat thoroughly in human medicine, and they have been demonstrated to provide a number of tangible benefits. There haven’t yet been a great deal of studies specifically examining their use in canines, but a few studies have seemed to support their use.

More research is needed before scientists and veterinarians can develop a comprehensive understanding of the way probiotics function in dogs. It is always wise to speak with your veterinarian before initiating a course of probiotics, but probiotics are largely considered safe.

Some of the things probiotics may help treat include:

  • Bad Breath – Your pup’s breath is affected strongly by the microorganisms living in his digestive tract, and there’s some evidence (in humans) that probiotic therapy may alleviate the problem. So, it’s possible that probiotics will help improve your pup’s breath too.
  • Diarrhea and General Intestinal Upset – Perhaps the most common symptom for which probiotics are used, dog diarrhea can be caused by a variety of things. Those caused by harmful bacteria are most likely to respond to probiotic use.
  • Excessive Gas – Gas can result from a poor bacterial balance in your dog’s intestinal tract, so by providing beneficial bacteria, you may be able to alleviate problems with frequent gas.
  • Low Energy – Probiotics may help improve the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract, which can ensure that your dog has access to the calories, vitamins and minerals he needs to feel his best.
  • Infections – Some probiotics are thought to potentially help support the immune system. So, they may help dogs to avoid contracting bacterial infections and fight off any that they are battling.
  • Atopic DermatitisSome research has shown that probiotics may help control atopic dermatitis. So, if your canine struggles with itchy skin, you may want to ask your vet if probiotics could be helpful. 

Additionally, probiotics are often used in conjunction with antibiotic regimens to help replace the beneficial bacteria some antibiotics kill. This can help alleviate antibiotic-caused diarrhea, and help your pooch feel better much more quickly.

Keeping Canine Cultures Alive and Well

It is important to remember that probiotics are living organisms. Because they have evolved to live inside your dog’s digestive system, they may die when forced to inhabit a jar or box sitting in your cupboard.

If you want your dog to benefit from probiotics, you’ll have to keep them alive.

To some extent, good manufacturers help you accomplish this. They may package the substance in small, single-dose amounts, which prevents you from having to repeatedly expose the bacteria to oxygen, as you would with a large container of the material.

Oxygen will kill these bacteria, as your dog’s gut is an anaerobic, or oxygen-free, environment.

Other manufacturers encapsulate their probiotics in some type of shell, which protects the bacteria from our oxygen-rich atmosphere. Additionally, these shells can also help protect the bacteria from the harsh acids in your pet’s stomach, enabling them to remain viable and intact until they reach the intestines, where they typically set up shop.

High temperatures can also cause the bacteria to die at a rapid rate. Anything above about 100 degrees can cause trouble, so just try to keep your pet’s probiotics in a cool, dry place. Some products are designed to be refrigerated, but we didn’t include any of these on our list.

You should also consult the product label, which should provide some information about the number of bacteria present in the product (typically expressed in CFUs, or colony-forming units).

This is helpful, but realize that a significant portion of the sample will be dying over time. Accordingly, it is more helpful to note the guaranteed number of CFUs present at the expiration date.

To review, when purchasing dog probiotics, be sure to:

 Keep your dog’s probiotics in a cool, dry place.

Don’t open probiotics until you are ready to use them, and consider opting for single-use packaging.

Discard expired products, as they are unlikely to contain a significant number of live CFUs.

Try to stick to brands that provide protective shields for their probiotics, so more bacteria reach your pet’s intestines intact.

Opt for brands that explain the number of live CFUs at the time the product expires.

5 Best Dog Probiotics: Reviews on Healthy Gut Help!

The following five probiotics are among the best-rated by dog owners. Consider the differences between them carefully before making a decision.

1. PRO-Pets Probiotics

About: Pro-Pets Probiotics are time-released probiotic pills (Pro-Pets calls them “pearls”), that are designed to shield the fragile bacteria until they’ve passed through the stomach and reached the intestines. According to the manufacturer, this helps more of the bacteria to survive transit, thereby making the pills 15 times more effective than other products.

Features:

  • Beef flavored pearls make administering these beneficial bacteria easy
  • Long shelf-life and no refrigeration required
  • Made with prebiotics to further support intestinal colonization by the bacteria
  • Made in the USA

PROS

Several owners reported that their dog showed increased energy after a few days of being on the PRO-Pets Probiotic regimen. Additionally, many reported that the product helped alleviate problems like chronic diarrhea and gas. Some even noted an improvement in their dog’s breath.

CONS

There are very few negative experiences reported, however a few owners stated their dogs wouldn’t voluntarily consume the pearls.

Bacterial Strains Included:

  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus reuteri

2. Bene-Bac Plus Probiotic Pet Gel

About: Bene-Bac Plus is one of the older probiotic supplements on the market, and pet owners have been using it for decades. Made from seven different bacterial strains, Bene-Bac’s manufacturer claims that it not only helps crowd out harmful bacteria, but also improve your dog’s appetite and provide quick energy.

Features:

  • Gel form allows for very easy administration, and Dial-a-Dose mechanism makes dosing quick and easy too
  • 1-year date code guarantee provides peace of mind
  • Comes with 1 gram travel tube so you can treat your pets while traveling
  • Provides 20 million colony-forming units per dose
  • Made in the USA

PROS

Most pet owners who try Bene-Bac appear to be very satisfied with the gel. Many report that it firmed their pet’s stools, and helped alleviate other digestive problems too. Most dogs appear to like the taste.

CONS

There were very few negative reviews of Bene-Bac, but some customers indicated that their pet did not like the taste. Most other complaints were about shipping problems, and had nothing to do with the actual product.

Bacterial Strains Included:

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Lactobacillus fermentum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Pediococcus acidilactici

3. Purina Fortiflora Canine Nutritional Supplement Box

About: Purina Fortiflora Canine Nutritional Supplement is not only a probiotic, it is a general nutritional supplement that also provides some of the vitamins and antioxidants your pet needs. A powdered supplement, Fortiflora is easy to administer by simply sprinkling it on your dog’s food.

Features:

  • Fortified with Vitamins A, C and E to help support your pet’s overall health
  • Requires no refrigeration; store in a cool, dry place
  • Tasty powder that dogs love
  • Made in the USA

PROS

Most owners who tried the product reported that Fortiflora helped alleviate their dog’s intestinal issues, and many also commented on improvements in their dog’s energy level and coat health.

CONS

The only major drawback to FortiFlora is its high price. But, it’s also worth mentioning that, it did not prove effective for all dogs.

Bacterial Strains Included

  • Enterococcus faecium

4. Nutramax Proviable Health Supplement

About: Nutramax Proviable Health Supplements are packed with seven different bacterial strains as well as prebiotics to help support the bacteria and give them a good chance at establishing themselves inside your dog’s body. According to the manufacturer, Nutramax Proviable supplements are suitable for long-term use.

Features:

  • Small capsules can be directly administered, or you can open them and sprinkle the powder on your pet’s food
  • Capsules designed to protect the bacteria during transport through the stomach
  • 5 billion colony-forming units per capsule

PROS

Most owners report fantastic results from Nutramax Proviable supplements. It appears to treat temporary diarrhea, as well as more chronic problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

CONS

Some complained of increased flatulence after providing the supplement to their dog, although such complaints were relatively few in number.

Bacterial Strains Included

  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Enterococcus thermophilus
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum

5. Advita Probiotic Nutritional Supplement

About: Advita Probiotic Supplements are probiotic powders that contain four different beneficial bacteria strains and the prebiotic inulin to help encourage colonization of your pet’s intestines. Made with micro-encapsulation technology for superior stability.

Features:

  • Fortified with Vitamin A, C and E to help support total health
  • Advita Probiotic supplements do not require refrigeration
  • 200 million colony-forming units per packet

PROS

Most customers who tried Advita noted that it helped improve their dog’s digestive issues – particularly those brought upon by a food transition or course of antibiotics. Most dogs appear to find the supplement palatable.

CONS

Like most other probiotics in our review, this one didn’t work in every case. Additionally, some dogs did not like the taste, but this was the exception, rather than the rule.

Bacterial Strains Included

  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Bacillus coagulans

***

Have you ever put your dog through a course of probiotics? Perhaps you use them as a regular, long-term supplement. If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

calcium supplements for dogs
Recommended For You

The Best Calcium Supplements for Dogs

Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

Dog

Join our pup pack!

Get tons of great dog training advice and tips about gear!

Mailbox

2 Comments

Leave a Comment

Name
Email Address
Comment
Carrie Watts

I have been using Pro-Pets by Hyperbiotics for about 6 months now for my 10 year old Papillion. I just got a new English Mastiff puppy who just turned 4 months old. When I brought her home I immediately started her on it as well. I love this product and they love taking their “pearls.” It helps them have smallish, hard poops and I feel good knowing their guts are healthy. It hasn’t helped with my small dog’s allergies (which I had hoped it would), but I still love the product. It’s $20 for a month’s supply (that’s for both dogs… 60 pearls) so I think that’s a good deal considering the price of others on the market. I put them in the freezer although they don’t require refrigeration. I will continue using this product.

Reply
aronn

Probiotics and vitamins can help improve health for dogs but some dogs don’t usually like it. I guess for me it’s ok to try supplements but make sure to consult your vet first. I’ve read something similar on this blog. https://ultimatepetnutrition.com/can-dogs-take-human-vitamins/ Well, thanks anyway.

Reply

Also Worth Your Time