Whether your dog is suffering from digestive issues or you simply want to improve his overall gut health, dog probiotics contain billions of beneficial bacteria that can have a wide range of positive effects on canine health.
When choosing the right probiotics for your dog, you'll need to consider a range of factors, including the formulation, the type and concentration of bacteria, and any additional ingredients. Our top choice comes from Purina; we selected in because of its palatability and effectiveness at addressing canine digestive problems. Read on to learn more about dog probiotics and what they can do for your best friend.
Considerations when choosing dog probiotics
Dog probiotics can be found in tablet, power, and chew form. Probiotic tablets are easy to feed, as you don't need to weigh or measure them, but dosages can be too large for small dogs, and they're not ideal for dogs who won't take tablets.
With probiotic powders, you can easily adjust the dosage according to the size of your dog, and you can mix them with food to make them more palatable. However, some people find measuring out the powder to be one chore too many.
Probiotic chews are essentially dog treats with added probiotics. While they're appealing to dogs and sound like a great idea, in reality, they tend not to be as effective as pills and powder.
Different canine probiotics contain different strains of bacteria, and not all of them do the same job. Enterococcus faecium, for example, can effectively replace good bacteria that's been destroyed by bad bacteria, while Bifidobacterium animalis is helpful for dogs suffering from diarrhea. Lactobacillus acidophilus is particularly useful after a course of antibiotics. The best dog probiotics contain more than one type of bacteria.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in your dog's digestive system. While they're not the same thing as probiotics (which are live bacteria), some probiotic supplements for dogs also contain prebiotics for a more holistic approach.
Probiotics won't do your dog any good if she won't eat them. As such, they must be palatable enough that your dog won't reject them. Powders can generally be disguised by mixing them with food, but it works much better with wet food than with kibble. Chews need to be tasty enough for your dog to accept them as treats. Pills must either be palatable or small enough to hide inside a piece of food.
The concentration of beneficial bacteria in a serving of probiotic is measured in colony forming units (CFUs). Ideally, your dog probiotic should contain between five and 10 CFUs. Any product containing less than one billion CFUs can't technically be classed as a probiotic.
Q. Do all dogs need probiotics?
A. Dog probiotics aren't just about digestive health or getting over stomach upsets. Although we don't have all the answers yet, recent studies suggest the health of the bacteria colonies in the digestive system has a much larger effect on the immune system and overall health (in canines and other mammals) than we once believed. As such, probiotics can be beneficial for all dogs.
Q. Can my dog have probiotics designed for humans?
A. Human probiotics shouldn't be harmful for dogs, but they're unlikely to be helpful, either. Stick to dog probiotics for your canine companion.
Q. Can I feed my dog probiotics if she has a pre-existing health condition?
A. If your dog has a chronic health condition or is on any medication, consult your veterinarian before you start her on probiotics.
Dog probiotics we recommend
Our take: A mixture of probiotics, vitamins, and animal digest designed to help dogs get over a bout of diarrhea.
What we like: Highly palatable -- simply sprinkle it over food, and your dog will eat it up. Suitable for use after a course of antibiotics.
What we dislike: Fewer CFUs than pure probiotics.
Best bang for your buck: PetVitalityPRO Probiotics for Dogs
Our take: These palatable chews give your dog a probiotic boost at an affordable price.
What we like: Helps boost immune system and tackle digestive issues. Tasty enough to be fed as treats.
What we dislike: Chews tend to feature a larger amount of dead bacteria than pills or powders.
Our take: The powdered form of this probiotic supplement makes it easy to tailor the dose to your dog.
What we like: Mixes into food, which is great for tablet-averse dogs. Works out to be extremely affordable per serving.
What we dislike: Some buyers complain of receiving short-dated tubs.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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