Our dogs need to maintain a good and balanced lifestyle. While keeping a healthy diet is one of the best ways to achieve such goal, it should be noted that there are other ways in which a dog can reach a balanced lifestyle.
Pet owners can urge their dogs to commit to a regular exercise. They can also groom their canine friends to keep the latter clean and free from disease-causing parasites. Owners should also ensure that their pets have adequate social wellness in order to keep them sane all throughout.
However, unknown to some pet owners is the need to provide their dogs with supplements that would help their digestive system perform well. Here enter probiotics.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when taken in adequate amounts, could help keep the balance of the microflora or the organisms present in the intestines. Ingesting probiotics regularly can improve one’s gastrointestinal health.
Some studies show that probiotics have helped humans treat several problems in their stomach and intestines including diarrhea and cramping brought about by antibiotics. Probiotics may, likewise, help replace the bacteria lost due to an intake of antibiotics.
In humans, probiotics are being studied for its effects on more severe gastrointestinal diseases, including colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
What are probiotics for dogs?
Similar to probiotics taken by humans in terms of function, probiotics for dogs also contain good bacteria which provide a myriad of benefits to dogs. Probiotics may help inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms in a dog’s intestines including E. Coli and Salmonella sp. It should be noted that the probiotics that humans take are different from those that dog need to take in. There may be harmful repercussions if you feed them with human probiotics.
Several veterinarians have noted that probiotics may provide extensive effects to dog’s gastrointestinal health as it helps prevent or treat problems such as loose bowel movement (LBM) and diarrhea.
It should be noted that probiotics for dogs are considered more as food supplements rather than an actual meal. So it should be noted that probiotics should not replace dog food. A real meal should still comprise your dog’s diet for him to attain a healthy lifestyle. As pet owners, you still have to ensure that your dog avails of the best dog food.
Are probiotics safe?
While it is true that probiotics contain live bacteria, probiotics are generally safe for consumption. Most probiotics contain microorganisms which are already present in the dog’s digestive system.
Probiotics have been used extensively in a variety of ways since time immemorial, including fermentation of food products. It is observed that there were no reports of side effects caused by intake of probiotics.
Where are probiotics usually found in your dog?
Like the human body, your dog contains trillions of microorganisms scattered across different parts of his body. Many of these minute organisms are probiotics, and they contribute to the defense and immunity of your dog. As many as 80% of these are found in his gastrointestinal tract: from your dog’s mouth and teeth, to his anus.
Good bacteria keep your dog’s mouth healthy. They are your pet’s first line of defense against harmful bacteria and viruses. They also reside in your dog’s pharynx where they keep it free from pathogenic bacteria which could cause pharyngitis and other inflammatory diseases.
Probiotic bacteria are also present in organs which play significant roles during digestion. These bacteria have to survive from the acid, enzymes, and bile coming from the stomach, pancreas, and gallbladder, respectively. A lot of bacteria are also present in your dog’s small intestines where the absorption of minerals takes place.
Much of the dog’s probiotics are found in his colon. This is where the probiotics unleash their beneficial effects. They also replenish the good bacteria that aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients.
The anus also houses a lot of good bacteria. Probiotics help remove the toxins present in the anus, hence assisting in the detoxification process of the body where millions of microorganisms leave the body through ingestion or defecation.
What benefits do dogs get for taking in probiotics?
Several studies suggest that probiotics offer many benefits when taken in by dogs. These research studies are backed by an increasing number of vets across the world. The concept of probiotic use is still somewhat new in the canine community, since traditional vets may still have qualms on the effects of such.
However, modern and holistic vets have agreed that there really are effects or benefits of taking probiotics. Primarily, probiotics for dogs help boost the functionality of their immune systems, decreasing the likelihood of problems such as diarrhea, obesity, and liver disease. Probiotics also help ease gastrointestinal abnormalities, further regulating your dog’s bowel movement.
Many of the veterinarians also suggest that a regular intake of probiotics would provide your dog a better skin and coat appearance. Such supplement may also reduce allergy diseases and yeast-associated disorders.
Finally, probiotics are observed to have positive effects on your pet’s moods and behavior. Many of the new dogs arriving in shelters are given an ample probiotic supplement in order to cope with the abrupt change in lifestyle and environment.
How do probiotics work?
Probiotics aid in bringing your dog’s gut bacteria into a healthy balance by introducing beneficial bacteria which would reside inside his gastrointestinal tract. When the harmful bacteria are outnumbered by the good bacteria, the former would not be able to flourish and function well.
To be able to carry out their function, probiotics produce short-chain fatty acids which may be able to prevent the growth and harmful bacteria such as Salmonella sp.and E. coli.
Furthermore, probiotics may help inhibit allergens from passing through the gut into the blood vessels where they can cause widespread infections in the body. This is done by strengthening your dog’s gut membrane.
With a healthy gut as a result of probiotic intake, your dog will be able to produce specific vitamins which would keep him sharp and revitalized. Furthermore, vegetable fiber will be highly utilized.
It is essential to note that beneficial bacteria rely on the dog’s diet in order to function well. By taking in carbohydrate-rich food, you run the risk of increasing harmful bacteria in your dog’s gut. As pet owners, you should also take into consideration the diet of your dog. In order to help the probiotics perform their function well, you should invest in the best dry dog food for your pet. These are healthy dry food which provides the essentials to keep your dog alert and healthy.
Can Dogs Be Given Probiotics for Humans?
While there are no robust studies on the ill effects of giving probiotics meant for humans to our canine friends, it is strongly recommended by veterinarians that pet owners should only give probiotics explicitly intended for dogs to their pets. In this way, you have ensured that such probiotics for dogs contain the bacteria strains which are needed by your dog’s gut.
There are various differences in the biological makeup of humans and dogs, specifically their gastrointestinal tract. It is safe to provide your pet with probiotics designed for dogs, rather than run the risk of feeding him with a product meant for humans.
How Much Probiotics do Dogs Need?
Probiotics may vary depending on the number of microorganisms present, and the type of bacteria strain. The higher the amount of its colony forming units (CFU), the more efficient the probiotic supplement is. Therefore, it is a must to look for a probiotic with high bacteria colony count or high CFU, and the probiotic with several strains. This will guarantee you that your dog will receive enough probiotics.
It is essential to look at the label of each product so that you will be directed on the proper dosage. If ever you observe certain side effects, including the development of loose stools, try to reduce the dosage of the probiotics.
How Do Owners Handle a Probiotic Supplement?
Since probiotics are eaten, it should be treated like any food your dog eats. Hence, it is crucial to follow certain ways in order to handle these probiotics properly.
Primarily, you would not want to expose the probiotic product in an environment with high temperature because this would most likely kill the microorganisms present in the product. Be sure to store it in a cool place and immediately refrigerate it once you have arrived home.
Furthermore, exposure to moist and air would also affect the viability of the probiotics. This is why proper management of the probiotics is essential in order to contain its efficiency until you feed it to your pet.
Also, it is vital to check the expiration date of the probiotic supplement. This will ensure that your dog receives live and active strains of microorganisms.
What are the Best Strains of Dog Probiotics?
There are many strains of probiotics which carry different functions. However, there are specific strains which are found to be essential to dogs.
Primarily, the Bifidobacterium animalis is a bacteria which protects the digestive tract. It has been known to reduce the time it takes for acute diarrhea to resolve in dogs. Furthermore, Lactobacillus acidophilus helps improve the quality of your dog’s stools. Lactobacillus rhamnosus, on the other hand, aids in the defection of your pet. This strain also helps stabilize your dog’s intestinal microflora by flourishing out pathogenic bacteria.
These are just some of the many strains which are present in dog probiotics. Be sure to check the label in order to identify the strains present.
How Will You Give Your Dog Probiotics?
Probiotic products may be taken by dogs orally. It can also be included in their food or mixed with a treat. Each product has its own instructions, hence the need to read the label correctly before administering a probiotic to a dog. Without proper administration of the probiotic, the product may not perform its function well.
Pet owners should also consult their veterinarians before administration of the probiotics. You should consider the advice of their vet with regards the manner of giving the probiotics, and the quantity of the product. Your vet may provide the ideal perspective with regards probiotics for dogs.
Types of Probiotics for Dogs
Best probiotics for dogs come in different types like
- Probiotic powders
- Yogurt or kefir fortified with live cultures
- Probiotic chews
- Dog foods containing probiotics
- Probiotic Capsules
Risks and Considerations of Probiotics for Dogs
Probiotic supplements are generally considered safe for dogs and there are not many known serious side effects either. In rare cases, side effects can happen, but these are mostly allergic reaction and the symptoms include:
- Increased itching
- Swelling of the lips or tongue
- Difficulty in the breathing, etc.
Probiotics are essential not only to maintain the overall health and well-being of your dog, but also addresses specific health issues such as digestive disorders, lowered immunity, lack of energy, etc. While there is a great range of products available in the market.
Probiotics for dog skin allergies
Depending on what type of allergy is causing skin irritation, veterinarians usually prescribe antihistamines, hydrocortisone, cortisone or a combination of medications. Unfortunately, these drugs only treat the symptoms and not the source of the allergy–a poorly functioning immune system and GI tract.
Skin allergies may be exacerbated if the dog’s digestive system is not functioning as it should be. Having a healthy GI tract is essential for dogs because this is where all food nutrients are absorbed and assimilated by the body.
What are the Best Probiotics for Dogs?
There are several probiotic supplements products available in the market. Many of them have been had praises for their quality, yet a lot of them seem to have lots of lapses in terms of their efficiency. To give you a guide on which to buy, here is a rundown on some of the best probiotics for dogs which are sold in the market
1. Purina Fortiflora
Perhaps the most sought-after dog probiotic, Purina Fortiflora is known for its effect on the digestive health and immune system of dogs. Aside from its bacteria content, the probiotic contains essential minerals, including vitamins A, C, and E, and antioxidants. Since this is a powdered product, it has to be sprinkled on your pet’s usual meal once a day. Purina Fortiflora comes in sachets, so there is no need to measure the right dosage.
It should be noted, however, that certain dogs may not eat their food with the powder, especially when they are eating dry food. Pet owners should also consider the price of the product since it is quite expensive.
2. Nusentia Probiotic Miracle
Nusentia Probiotic Miracle is another dog probiotic with stellar reviews in terms of its efficiency. Odorless and organic, this probiotic aids in overall digestive health. Known for catering to food sensitivities of pets, Nusentia Probiotic Miracle aids in clearing up the skin, and the eyes. It has also been reported to have improved yeast conditions and joint inflammation issues.
In terms of administration and dosage, the powdered product should be added to your dog’s regular meal once a day. However, if the said supplement is stored incorrectly, it may check and may become ineffective for dogs.
3. VetriScienceVetri Mega Probiotic
Affordable and effective, the VetriScienceVetri Mega Probiotic is another probiotic product which is great for more sensitive dogs who may have issues with dairy products. As it is a non-dairy product, many veterinarians recommends this for lactose intolerant dogs. The VetriScienceVetri Mega Probiotic comes in capsules, so you have to open it and sprinkle its powder on your dog’s meal.
It does not contain any flavor, so it would not be an issue for most dogs to take it with their food. It should be noted that the probiotic may not be ideal for dogs with sensitivities to grain food.
4. Nutramax Proviable DC
Known for its flexibility, the NutramaxProviable DC is a probiotic product helps in treating severe cases of diarrhea. With seven strains of bacteria, including Bifidobacterium bifidum and Enterococcus faecium, you are ensured of its effectiveness in maintaining the overall gastrointestinal health of your dog. For those with severe cases of diarrhea, a short-term paste is provided as a medication to your dog for a few days.
For a general boost in overall health, the NutramaxProviable DC may be fed to your pet or sprinkled into their regular meal. You may want to consider the fact that overuse of the paste may cause constipation. You should talk to your vet first before administering the probiotic.
5. Amazing Nutritional Probiotic Joint
The Amazing Nutritional Probiotic Joint is an organic probiotic for dogs, especially those with food sensitivities. It comes in tablet form, so the product should be chewed by the dogs for its effect to kick in.
The company has stressed the fact that if you see no improvement within 60 days, you may refund your money back, guaranteed. Although efficient and affordable, some dogs may not prefer the taste of the product. Others may not like the sensation of chewing the tablets.
Probiotics are essential for the overall wellness of your dogs. Such product offers a lot of benefit for your pet, especially to their gastrointestinal health. It should be noted, however, that much attention should be put into the administration and dosage of the probiotic products to avoid any side effects.
Cost of Probiotic Supplements in Dogs
The cost of probiotic supplementation for your dog will depend on the foods and products you select, and could range from as low as $10 per month to $50 or more.
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