Did you know that there are good and bad bacteria? Some types of bacteria can make your dog sick, while others are actually essential to your pet’s health. The good bacteria, known as beneficial bacteria are known as probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that live inside your pet’s body and help boost their immune system, helps aid their digestive tract, and produce vitamins and nutrients. Talk to your Brook Farm Veterinarian to learn more about how probiotics might help your pet.
What Are Probiotics?
The word "probiotic" means “life promoting.” It refers to a class of bacteria that often live inside of our pets naturally and play a role in maintaining and improving their overall health. Other types of microorganisms, such as yeasts, can also be probiotics.
It’s important to understand that different types of probiotics have different positive effects on a dog’s body. Probiotics for dogs are often the same as the bacteria that naturally live in their digestive systems. Some of those bacteria included are called:
- Bifidobacterium animalis
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Enterococcus faecium
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
Each type of beneficial bacteria plays a specific role and has certain effects on the health of your dog. Our Brook Farm veterinarians can help you choose the right strain of good bacteria to give to your dog, based on their health and medical history.
How Can Probiotics Help Your Dog?
If your dog is prone to having issues with their digestion, with episodes of gas and diarrhea, probiotics may be the cure! Certain strains of bacteria, known as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis, are known to be able to reduce diarrhea and help improve stool quality in dogs.
In addition to helping improve digestion, probiotics can also help improve your dog’s mood, fur and skin appearance, and reduce stinky bad breath.
When your dog takes an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection, the medicine often kills off all the different types of bacteria—both good and bad—that were living in their system. As a result, some dogs can experience diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues when they take medications. Probiotics can help restore positive bacteria in these cases to aid our pet’s gut and reduce the unpleasant side effects of medications.
Types of Probiotics
Probiotics are available in a wide variety of forms and types. Some probiotics are in the form of a capsule or pill, others are in the form of a chewy treat, and some even come available in powder form. To be honest, some of the dog food on the market today contains probiotics, because of how beneficial they can be to our pet’s overall health.
The type of probiotic that works best for your dog will depend on their personality, size, and preference. Some people find it easy to give their pet a capsule or pill, while others have dogs who absolutely won’t take pills. The dosage of a probiotic pill might not be adequate for larger dogs.
Probiotic chews might be the most appealing to your dog since they are essentially like getting a healthy treat. What dog doesn’t enjoy treats, right? In case you happen to have a dog who is not fond of the treats we can offer pill or capsule form as well as powder. Please keep in mind that the number of probiotics in a treat might not be enough to provide full benefit to your dog.
We recommend mixing probiotic powders into your pet’s food to make it easier for them to get their recommended dose. While powders do have their benefits, some people find it more difficult to have to measure out the correct amount and stir it into their pet’s food. We will let you determine what works best for you and your dog.
Another source of probiotics you can share with your pet is yogurt. Simply put a dollop of yogurt on your dog’s food to boost the levels of beneficial bacteria in their gut. Since some ingredients can be harmful to pets, it’s always a smart idea to check with your veterinarian before you start feeding your pet yogurt regularly.
How to Choose Probiotics for Your Dog
At the end of the day you know your pet’s preferences better than anyone else. So if your dog doesn’t like to take pills, you likely know the probiotic capsule won’t be the best fit.
Not everything comes easy, it’s important to remember that it might take some trial and error when it comes to choosing the right type of probiotic for your dog. If you try one formula and it’s not helpful, another might be better suited for your dog. Always talk to your dog’s vet before trying a new type of probiotic and inform them of the reason you’d like to switch.
One last thing to remember when deciding on a probiotic for your pet: Make sure the probiotic contains live bacteria. Most packaging should state how many bacteria will be alive by the end of the product’s shelf life. Also look for a use by or expiration date to make sure the probiotic will still be viable and safe for your pet.
Usually, probiotics should be kept cool so that the bacteria doesn’t die off so we recommend storing in the refrigerator.
When to Give Your Dog Probiotics
Probiotics can be helpful to dogs in specific situations. For example, if your dog tends to have gastrointestinal issues from stress, by giving them a probiotic when they are experiencing stress can actually help reduce their digestive discomfort. Stressful times might include times when your dog needs to be boarded, when they go to the groomer, or if they have a vet visit coming up.
You might also give your dog probiotics if their diet has recently changed, and they seem to be having trouble adjusting to the transition.
If you’re not sure whether probiotics will help your dog or not, or if you’d like guidance choosing the type of probiotic that will provide the most benefit, our team is always here for you. Schedule an appointment for your dog at Brook Farm Veterinary Center to learn more about probiotics and to see if they’re a good fit for your pet.