Probiotics for Dogs
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Millions of these bacteria live in the gastrointestinal system of many animals, including dogs. These beneficial intestinal microorganisms balance the internal environment to prevent disease and promote our dog’s health.
“As in humans, probiotics also exert beneficial effects in dogs”
What are probiotics for dogs?
Dog care is very important to keep our pet always healthy and energetic and the administration of probiotics is one way to achieve this.
Probiotics, as defined by the WHO, are live microorganisms that when consumed in adequate amounts confer healthy effects on the host. These microorganisms, mainly bacteria, coexist in the intestine of the healthy dog in a symbiotic and balanced way.
Dogs also have a digestive system that, although different from that of humans, also has a microbiota whose balance is fundamental not only for their digestive system but also for their immune system and disease prevention.
The intestinal microbiota of the dog is made up of thousands of different microorganisms, although one of the most studied is Enterococcus faecium DSM 10663.
The most common strain in probiotic supplements is Enterococcus faecium DSM 10663 / NCIMB 10415.
What are the benefits of probiotics for a dog health?
As in humans, probiotics also have beneficial effects in all dog breeds.
Although they are very different digestive systems, the function of the intestinal flora or microbiota in dogs is similar to that of the microbiota in human health.
Among these beneficial functions, the most important is to facilitate the absorption of nutrients from food by producing certain substances such as short-chain acids (SCA), lactic acid, some vitamins and to strengthen and maintain the dog’s immune system.
Likewise, a balanced microflora prevents the presence or proliferation of other invasive species that can cause intestinal diseases, and thus we will have a healthy dog.
How do probiotics work in dogs?
Regardless of breed, probiotics for dogs have a mechanism of action similar to that in humans, modifying and normalizing the intestinal microbiota or flora, improving the digestibility of nutrients, strengthening the intestinal wall, reducing gastrointestinal disorders and regulating the immune system.
When to give probiotics to the dog?
Although, the contribution of a food supplement with probiotics to a dog should be prescribed by a veterinarian, the most common situations that may require the administration of probiotics are usually all those that generate alterations or imbalances in its microflora:
All these situations and the consequent alterations of the microflora give rise to intestinal diseases, problems in the digestive tract, diarrhea, accumulation of gases, etc., which can improve or remit with the administration of probiotics.
Can puppies take probiotics?
Yes, there are studies(1) demonstrating the efficacy of probiotics with Enterococcus faecium (SF68) in strengthening the puppy’s immune system.
In addition, puppies can go through situations that affect their microbiota, such as moving to a new residence, adaptation to feed, etc.
In any case, the best thing to do is to go to your veterinarian and ask him to recommend the best probiotics for your puppy.
Can dogs take human probiotics?
The answer cannot be generalized. It depends on the particular probiotic we are talking about.
For example, if we are talking about probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus coagulans or Bacillus subtilis, these are very common microorganisms among probiotic supplements designed for humans, but which also have studies of their benefits in dogs. In this case, we could administer these probiotics to both humans and dogs.
But we can also find other types of Lactobacilli or Bifidobacteria that are common in the human microbiota, but are not common in the microbiota of the dog, or there are simply no studies carried out in the dog with these probiotics. In these cases, obviously, we should not administer these probiotic supplements to our pet.
But we can even find the opposite case. For example, the probiotic strain Enterococcus faecium NCIMB 10415, which is by far the most common among probiotic supplements for dogs and with a large number of studies performed on them, does not appear in any probiotic supplement designed for humans. At least, I have never seen them.
In summary, the ideal is to administer to our pet probiotic supplements specially designed for dogs, since they are those that have demonstrated benefits in the canine organism. Anyway, the fact of administering an inadequate probiotic should not cause more discomfort than some intestinal alterations that should disappear in a few days, but I insist, we should avoid administering these probiotic supplements if they are not strains especially suitable for them.
Can we give yogurt to our dog?
Yogurt is food derived from milk that contains two bacterial species, specifically Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. What these bacteria do is to ferment the lactose in milk, producing a series of very beneficial components for the dog’s health, in addition to the components that milk itself contains.
However, the administration of yogurt should be done with caution to avoid the effects of lactose intolerance, although in theory, this intolerance should be small, since the lactose is “consumed” by the bacteria during fermentation.
Apart from yogurt, there are other fermented foods that do not contain milk. This is the case of kefir, which is prepared with water and kefir grains that provide a large number of microorganisms. In this case, as kefir is a dairy-free product, the risk of possible lactose intolerance is eliminated.
What is the difference between Probiotics and Prebiotics?
Although by name they only differ by one letter, the reality is that conceptually they are very different. A probiotic is one or a group of microorganisms or bacteria, while a prebiotic is a component, generally fibers and carbohydrates, that the dog’s organism cannot digest, but its microflora can.
In a way, we could say that prebiotics “are the food” of probiotics.
What are the best probiotics for dogs?
Obviously, these probiotics for dogs are made from microorganisms identified as indigenous to their gut and which have generally been extracted and identified from dog stool samples.
Numerous bacterial species have been identified as living naturally in the dog’s gut. Most of them are species of the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, although other beneficial bacteria for dogs have also been identified, such as Bacillus subtilis or Bacillus coagulans.
But one of the most commonly used probiotics in dogs are those containing the species Enterococcus faecium DSN 10663 / NCIMB10415 as this is the species with which most studies have been carried out in dogs and which is present as a single component or sometimes together with other probiotics and/or prebiotics forming what is called a symbiotic.
This species has, among the benefits, that of stimulating the immune system against infections (1) and a significant effect on acute diarrhea, reducing its duration and thus avoiding further veterinary attention (2).
Pharmacist – Complutense University – Madrid – Spain
Diploma in Ophthalmic Optics and Optometry – Univ. of Barcelona – Spain.
Other Types of Probiotics