best range of probiotic products for dogs in Australia

Best Probiotics for Dogs

LAST UPDATED March 2024

This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarians, Dr Carla Paszkowski BVSc (Hons) and Dr Gillian Hill BVSc (Hons)

In the realm of pet health, understanding the significance of a balanced digestive system is paramount, and probiotics have emerged as a powerful ally in promoting canine well-being. Dogs, much like humans, benefit immensely from the right balance of gut bacteria, aiding digestion, bolstering the immune system, and ensuring overall vitality.

With an ever-expanding array of probiotic supplements flooding the market, choosing the best one for your furry companion can be a daunting task. There are now dozens of different probiotic supplements for dogs available in Australia, and a handful of pet foods containing probiotics also. With so many products available, many pet owners are left wondering: should I give my dog a probiotic? And if so, which dog probiotic is best?

In this article, we delve into the world of canine probiotics, exploring the science behind them, and evaluating the top contenders in the market.

Why is choosing the right probiotic important?

Given the plethora of probiotics available, it's important to arm yourself with knowledge to know which one is the best for your dog's needs. Some are best suited for general health support, some for support following a gastrointestinal illness, while others are targeted towards reestablishing the normal gut bacteria after treatment with antibiotics. There are even probiotics specifically targeted towards maintaining calm behaviour in dogs.

Three reasons why it's important to choose the right probiotic for your dog are:
  1. Digestive Health: Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption. By supporting a balanced digestive system, probiotics can alleviate issues such as diarrhoea, and help manage conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
  2. Immune Support: A significant portion of a dog's immune system resides in the gut. Probiotics help strengthen the immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies and supporting the body's defence against harmful pathogens. A robust immune system is crucial in preventing infections and illnesses.
  3. Behavioral and Emotional Well-being: Research suggests a strong connection between gut health and behavioural patterns in dogs. Probiotics can influence the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which are linked to mood and behaviour. A balanced gut flora may contribute to a calmer and less anxious demeanour in dogs.

Results:

  1. Big Dog Probiotic
  2. Zamipet Probiotics
  3. EAC Animal Care In-Sideout Pre and Probiotic Nutraceutical Supplement
  4. Pro Plan Fortiflora Canine
  5. Protexin
  6. PAW Digesticare
  7. Best for Stress: PRO PLAN Veterinary Calming Care Canine
  8. Best for Use with Antibiotics: PAW Blackmores Digesticare SB

Frequently asked questions

  1. What are probiotics?
  2. What's the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
  3. The species of bacteria in your dog's gut
  4. Are probiotics beneficial for dogs?
  5. How do probiotics work in dogs?
  6. When should I give my dog a probiotic?
  7. Can I give human probiotics to my dog?
  8. Other options: Prebiotics and foods

How We Review Our Products

Our Pet Circle Vet Squad comprises 30 vets with over 120 years of collective, independent veterinary expertise. Our Vet team use their health and husbandry knowledge, along with their own personal and clinical experiences to evaluate each product and provide detailed, informative reviews, free of any commercial bias. We then collate this information into our 'best of' recommendations.

Top Probiotics for dogs in Australia

Big Dog Probiotics for Dogs

Pros

  • Contains 4 billion CFU per gram in 6 strains of probiotic , as well as one prebiotic ingredient, as well as digestive enzymes
  • Available in a powder for sprinkling on the food
  • Australian owned and made
  • Suitable for cats also, making it useful in multiple pet households

Cons

  • Available only in one size of 150g bottle, not individual servings

Big Dog Probiotic powder is a high strength supplement, containing the highest number of colony-forming units (CFU) of our range. It contains 4 billion CFU per gram, as Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium thermophilum, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The Big Dog Probiotic also contains a prebiotic (green banana powder), as well as digestive enzymes to aid in nutrient digestion.

The Big Dog Probiotic comes in just one size - a 150g bottle - which may reduce the effectiveness of the probiotic with time, as it is exposed to oxygen. This product is ideal for multiple pet households, as it is also suitable for cats, and where it will be used more quickly once opened.

What our customers say: "I started my dog on this about a week ago. She has been having skin problems - according to vets, allergic reaction to something causing her to scratch and scoot alot. Have taken her to vet to get anal glands expressed - but nada, empty - so I did my research and started her on probiotics - read this product has so many benefits so decided to give it a shot. 1 tsp for my very large dog. It has only been a week and wounds from licking started healing, fur started growing back and noticeable alot less scooting, scratching and licking. Didn't realise how great this is, I might start using probiotic for myself too."

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ZamiPet Dog High Strength Probiotics Plus Gut Protect

Pros

  • High strength probiotic, containing 1.7 billion CFU per gram in 7 strains of probiotic, a prebiotic along with a postbiotic
  • Available in single serve sachets
  • No need to store in the fridge
  • Made in Australia
  • Completely grain and gluten free to prevent digestive upset in cats sensitive to these ingredients
  • Manufactured in cGMP/TGA certified facility

Cons

  • Only suitable for dogs

Along with a high CFU count of probiotics, the Zamipet High Strength probiotic supplements contains inulin as a prebiotic, as well as a postbiotic. Postbiotics are the breakdown products, or 'metabolites' from probiotics, following their digestion of prebiotics. Many of the benefits of pre and probitics actually come from the actions of the postbiotics that are produced.

The Zamipet High Strength probiotics comes in single serve sachets, which avoids the risk of oxidisation and degradration associated with larger multi-serve products. It also does not need to be kept in the fridge - it remains stable at room temperature.

Suitable for use during and after antibiotic treatment, as well as for puppies from 8 weeks of age, the Zamipet High Strength probiotics are ideal for young dogs suffering from digestive upset. It is also tasteless, making it well tolerated by dogs. Not only that, but it comes in a relax and calm probiotic formulation, containing Bifidobacterium longum, a bacteria shown to help dogs cope with stressful events.

What our customers say: "Work well and easy to serve, since it's packed per dose. This is my 3rd pack."

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EAC Animal Care In-Sideout Pre and Probiotic Nutraceutical Supplement

Pros

  • Contains 350 million CFU per gram in 5 strains of probiotics as Aspergillus niger, Bacillus subtilis, Aspergillus oryzae, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium as well as 3 prebiotics
  • Uniquely contains digestive enzymes to enhance nutrient digestion, especially important in gut recovery after illness
  • May help to minimise lawn burn
  • Australian-owned business
  • Available in multiple pack sizes

Cons

  • Separate formulations for dogs and cats
  • Not available in single serve packs

EAC is an Australian-owned company committed to manufacturing science-backed nutraceutical products for cats, dogs and horses. They commit a percentage of their turnover each year to research and development to ensure they are producing the most up to date, effective products, and support innovation in the animal health industry.

The EAC Animal Care In-Sideout Pre and Probiotic Nutraceutical Supplement has been developed in conjunction with an immunologist, so the product has a significant focus on immune system support and health support following illness. It also contains Yuccaschidigera extract, which helps to bind nitrogen in urine (the culprit which leads to lawn burn), so may help to reduce those ugly brown patches on your grass!

Available in a range of pack sizes, the supplement is available as a powder suitable for mixing in or sprinkling on top of your dog's food. However, it is not available in single serve packs.

What our customers say: "Our Jack Russell recently suffered from some type of severe bacterial gut issue (Vet still unsure of exact cause). He was given a short term probiotic by Vet to assist. I bought this product to continue the good work that the probiotic has started. This has kept him in good health and his stools have never been better....has pre and probiotics, made in Australia too."

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Pro Plan Fortiflora Canine

Pros

  • Contains 100 million CFU per gram in 1 strain of probiotic as Enterococcus Faecium
  • Contains prebiotics, as well as extra vitamins for gastrointestinal care
  • Flavoured with liver for high palatability
  • Clinically proven to resolve stress diarrhoea, promote a strong immune system in puppies, improve the speed of recovery from diarrhoea and reduce flatulence in dogs
  • Single, shelf stable serves
  • Can be used to encourage appetite due to it's high palatability
  • Suitable for all life stages

Cons

  • Contains only 1 probiotic strain
  • Recommended for use under direct veterinary supervision
  • Separate formulations for dogs and cats

Pro Plan Fortiflora contains one strain of probiotic, however this one strain, Enterococcus faecium is the most studied probiotic strain in veterinary medicine, with clinically proven benefits. These benefits include improving immune function and improving vaccine response, helping to resolve stress related diarrhoea, reducing flatulence and improving the speed of recovery from diarrhoea (including antibiotic related diarrhoea).

One of the features of an ideal probiotic is that is survives the low pH of the stomach and bile acids, so that is arrives in the gut live and effective. The E. faecium in Pro Plan Fortiflora is microencapsulated, protecting it against temperature, moisture and abrasion and allowing it to withstand handling, manufacture and storage. The capsule resists stomach acidity, allowing the bacteria to arrive viable into the intestinal tract.

Pro Plan Fortiflora comes in single serves, which are shelf stable and do not need to be kept in the fridge. It is liver flavoured, which helps with palatability and can help to encourage appetite in fussy eaters or those with reduced appetite due to illness.

What our vets say: "Fortiflora is a probiotic supplement designed to support dogs with gastrointestinal issues and restores the normal balance of gut microflora. It is a helpful aid for dogs with diarrhoea, and is easy to use - simply add one sachet into their food each day as needed." - Dr. Michelle

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Pron8ure (formerly Protexin)

Pros

  • Liquid formulation contains 180 million CFU per mL and the Powdered formulation contains 60 million CFU per gram, in 7 strains of probiotics, as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. delbrueckii, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Enterococcus faecium, Streptococcus salivarius
  • Suitable for use in multiple pet households as it can be used in dogs, cats, horses and birds
  • Special protections in the formula help maximise the number of live bacteria that arrive in the gut
  • Available in 2 different pack sizes
  • Made in Australia
  • Does not need to be refridgerated

Cons

  • Pron8ure should not be used in conjunction with Penicillins, Cephalosporins, Tetracyclines, Avoparcin, Gentomycin, Lincomycin, Streptomycin, Tiamulin or Tylosin, but may be used immediately following these antibiotics.
  • Not available in single serve packs
  • Does not contain any prebiotics, postbiotics or additional ingredients

Pron8ure (formerly Protexin) contains 7 strains of probiotics which work synergistically for maximum effect. Special protections in the formula help maximise the number of live bacteria that arrive in the gut. It is the only probiotic registered in Australia that is suitable for use in a wide variety of animals including birds, making it ideal for multi-pet households.

Pron8ure is available through Pet Circle in a powdered formulation, as well liquid form, to suit your preference.

What our customers say: "I've been giving this to my 12 years old dog for two years, and his digestion is perfect, less rumbling from his stomach. Also, his skin is improved (he has an allergy), not to mention his overall well-being. Highly recommended."

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PAW Blackmores DigestiCare

Pros

  • Contains 30 million CFU per gram in 7 strains of probiotics as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L.delbrueckii, L.plantarum, L. rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Enterococcus faecium, Streptococcus salivarius
  • Also contains a wholefood fermented powder blend of prebiotics including grains, seeds, quinoa, spiruline and legumes
  • Can be used in both dogs and cats so ideal for multi-pet households
  • Quality tested

Cons

  • Should not be used in conjunction with penicillins, cephalosporins, tetracyclines, avoparcin, gentamycin, incomycin, streptomycin, tiamulin or tylosin, but may be used immediately following these antibiotics.
  • Only available in larger jar sizes, not single serves, which may increase risk of oxidisation and degradation of the product with prolonged exposure to air

PAW Blackmores Digesticare is a well loved and quality tested pre and probiotic supplement suitable for both dogs and cats. It contains a lower CFU count than other supplements in this guide, however, it does derive these probotics from multiple strains (thereby having multiple effects, as well as packing a punch in terms of prebiotic ingredients. It calso contains vitamins, amino acids and essential fatty acids to support gut health.

The powder is highly palatable, meaning is well tolerated and accepted by pets, and can be sprinkled on the top or mixed through the food. It can be used at double the dosage for maximum effect for the first 5 days of treatment, and is suitable for puppies as well as adult dogs (and kittens and adult cats).

What our customers say: "We look after our own guts and I never thought about my dog's until he was suffering from upset tummy, indigestion and discomfort after 2 courses on antibiotics. Have just bought my second lot of probiotics and combine it with home cooked food. Have seen an improvement of up to 90% after one course.. hope to get him to 100% soon with this second course."

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Best for Stress: PRO PLAN Veterinary Calming Care

Pros

  • Contains 1 billion CFU in 1 strain of probiotic as Bifidobacterium longum
  • High strength supplement to reduce anxiety
  • Clinically proven to reduce anxious behaviours such as barking, jumping, spinning and pacing, as well as reduce cortisol levels and lower heart rates
  • Highly palatable, liver flavoured
  • Single serve sachets

Cons

  • May take up to 6 weeks to see results
  • Separate formulations for dogs and cats
  • No added prebiotics or additional ingredients
  • Suitable for use only under the guidance and supervision of your veterinarian.

Pro Plan Veterinary Calming supplement is a innovative probiotic designed specifically to help reduce stress and anxiety. It has been shown to help dogs cope with external stressors like separation, unfamiliar visitors, novel sounds, and changes in routine and location. It has also been shown to blunt the cortisol response to anxious events.

Available in shelf stable, single serve sachets, the Pro Plan Veterinary Calming Supplement is easy and practical to feed, and tastes great (my own dog can attest to that!), which is helpful in increasing the appetite of anxious dogs.

This product is backed by research and clinical trials, however it should only be used under the guidance and supervision of your dog's treating veterinarian.

What our vets say: "Gut health plays a vital role in a pet's overall health and well-being but did you know the gut also shares a connection to the brain? For dogs who struggle with anxiety, Pro Plan have come out with a unique probiotic formulated to help in managing stress, anxiety, and fear. The Pro Plan Calming Care contains the bacteria, Bifidobacterium longum, which have been shown to lower anxiety-like behaviours and reduce cortisol response to anxious events. It comes as a delicious liver-flavoured powder in convenient sachets for easy dosing." - Dr. Tony

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Best for Use with Antibiotics: PAW Blackmores DigestiCare SB

Pros

  • Contains 10 billion CFU per gram in 1 strain of probiotic yeast as Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii)
  • Suitable for use alongside antibiotics to reduce the duration of antibiotic related diarrhoea
  • The only probiotic available in the Australian veterinary market not affected by antibiotics
  • Also ideal for use in dogs diagnosed with symptoms or chronic gastrointestinal disorders and require long term probiotic administration

Cons

  • Safe use in pregnant or lactating animals has not been established
  • Only suitable for use under direct veterinary guidance and supervision

PAW Blackmores Digesticare SB is a veterinary product suitable for use alongside antibiotics, to reduce the duration and occurrence of antibiotic related diarrhoea by helping to reestablish the normal beneficial gut microbiome. It contains a high strength probiotic yeast which is unaffected by antibiotics.

While this product provides excellent gut support, it is not an alternative to veterinary treatment in acute gastrointestinal conditions, and we would always recommend a check up with your vet if your dog is experiencing gastrointestinal illness.

What our customers say: "Our dog has a sensitive digestive system and is prone to upsets. Our vet gave us these for her and they seem to help a lot. She gets the other Digesticare probiotic + whole food powder daily, and these capsules added when she has an upset. She's much better than she was previously."

What our vets say: "Antibiotics are the only way to effectively treat bacterial infections in our beloved pooches but they can have a deleterious effect on the good microbes in the digestive system. PAW by Blackmores Digesticare SB contains Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic yeast and is the only probiotic available in Australia that is not affected by antibiotics. I recommend using PAW by Blackmores Digesticare SB with antibiotics as directed by your veterinarian to maintain good gut health." - Dr. Maree

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What to look for in Probiotics for dogs

There are several things to look for when it comes to choosing the best probiotic for your dog.

Safe, registered and approved strains

Look for products that contain clinically proven strains of probiotics that are specifically beneficial for the effect you're seeking.

Mix of pre and probiotics

A mix of both pre and probiotics can be beneficial, as not only are you introducing beneficial probiotics, but also feeding them at the same time, which will result in greater effect.

High Colony Forming Unit (CFU) Count

It's generally recommended to choose probiotics which have a CFU count of 100 million or more.

Protected strains

In their processing, some probiotic products add a protective coating to the strains. This helps them to survive the low pH of the stomach and bile acids, allowing them to have more effect in the intestinal tract where they are of most benefit.

Smaller size packs

Exposure to air, humidity and light can cause oxidisation and degradation of probiotic strains over time, so choose smaller pack sizes that your dog will consume more quickly.

What to Know about Probiotics for Dogs

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are the "friendly" bacteria and yeasts that live in the gastrointestinal system. This population of microbes in the gut is also known as the 'gastrointestinal microbiome' or 'gut microflora'.

All animals (including dogs) have billions of "good bacteria" in their gut microbiome. These bugs help fight infections, strengthen the immune system, digest food, and produce nutrients for absorption. A healthy microbiome should have a varied and diverse population made up of a mix of different microbe species - this healthy mix is also known as 'biodiversity'.

Probiotic supplements (and some probiotic foods) provide live species known to be beneficial directly into the gut. Probiotics may help restore the natural balance of the microbiome, and are particularly beneficial after illness or a course of antimicrobial medication.

What's the difference between Prebiotics, Probiotics and Postbiotics?

Probiotics desposit live good bacteria directly into the gut. This helps establish populations of known beneficial bacteria in the gut by providing organisms directly.

Prebiotics deposit 'food' for the good bacteria - usually fibre - into the gut. This food helps the microbes thrive and grow. Prebiotics are selectively fermented fibres that the microflora feed on, including disaccharides (lactulose, tagatose), oligo- or polysaccharides [fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), mannan oligosaccharides (MOS), or long-chain prebiotics like inulin.

Postbiotics are the bioactive compounds produced by probiotics as a result of their digestion of prebiotics. Many of the health benefits of pre and probiotics are actually due to the production of postbiotics. Postbiotics include:
• short-chain fatty acids
• lipopolysaccharides
• exopolysaccharides
• enzymes
• cell wall fragments
• bacterial lysates (a mixture made from bacterial components)
• cell-free supernatants (a mixture of compounds produced by bacteria and yeast)
• various other metabolites such as vitamins and amino acids

What bacteria species are in your dog's gut?

Dogs have a number of species of friendly bacteria in their gut. Each section of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon) house different populations of dominant bacteria, with the large intestine harbouring the most dense and diverse.3 The species present also varies greatly from animal to animal. But in general, most identified species fall into five phyla: Firmicutes, Fusobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria.4

The most common beneficial bacterial species in the dog gut are:

  • Lactobacillus spp.
  • Bifidobacterium spp.
  • Enterococcus spp.

But rather than worrying about which microbe species are present in the gut, it's important to focus on establishing a stable, biodiverse population with a good balance of beneficial species. When the microflora is unbalanced and the diversity of the population is out of whack - this misbalance is also known as 'dysbiosis' - problems can ensue.

What are the Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs

Probiotics offer a number of benefits for pets. By helping the "good" microbes thrive, they promote the health benefits that are naturally offered by these bugs.

Specifically, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium species can help to:
• Reduce diarrhoea and gas
• Reduce the symptoms of food allergies and food responsive diarrhoea
• Manage yeast or harmful bacteria overgrowth
• Restore the balance of microbes after a course of antibiotics
• Bacillus species can also support the immune response

Bifidobacterium spp. have also been shown to prevent anxiety and reduce stress, and both Bifidobacterum spp. and Lactobacillus spp. had beneficial in vitro effects on pathogenic bacteria taken from the gums of dogs with dental disease, so these probiotic strains may also help to reduce dental plaque.10

Enterococcus faecium may shorten the duration of acute, antibiotic and stress related gastroenteritis resulting in diarrhoea, as well as parvovirus enteritis in puppies. It has also been shown to significantly increase the faecal bacterial richness and diversity of dogs with IBD, which became more similar to healthy dogs.10

While there is no definitive evidence as yet as to whether probiotics are beneficial for dogs experiencing environmental skin allergies, the microbiome does have an important role in skin health and immune support, so probiotics may be of benefit in these cases also. The microbiome can simultaneously function as pro- and anti-inflammatory, maintaining a balance to stop excess inflammation while still responding to infections.1

The microbiome can even impact brain function. Around 90% of the body's Serotonin - the 'happy hormone' - originates from the intestines, and the production of this hormone is directly influenced by the gastrointestinal microbiome.2

What causes the gut microflora to become unbalanced in dogs?

Dysbiosis may occur after a course of antibiotics, a change in diet, a parasite infection, food poisoning, when weaning off puppy milk, or during times of stress. Disrupted microflora can lead to signs including diarrhoea, vomiting, gas, bloating, and a reduced immune system.

With this in mind, it makes sense that establishing and maintaining populations of desirable bacteria in the gut is an important part of treating gastrointestinal diseases in our pets.

How do probiotics work in dogs?

The health benefits listed above are all thanks to 3 main functions of good bacteria:

1. They compete with harmful germs and knock them out of the way! Probiotic microbes can compete with potential pathogens (like Salmonella) by taking their place on receptor sites and preventing them from adhering to the intestinal lining and being absorbed.5

2. They can act as a natural antibiotic. Some species of probiotic microbes produce antimicrobial substances; such as fatty acids, lactic acid and acetic acid.6 Some Lactobacillus species can also decrease the amount of toxins production by harmful bugs including Salmonella, E.coli or Clostridium perfringens.

3. They kick-start the immune system of the host animal. This is particularly strong in the cells of the intestinal lining. As discussed above, when bacteria consume fibre, they produce postbiotics like short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which includes acetate, proprionate, and butyrate. These short-chain fatty acids produced by probiotic microbes support immunity by in a number of different ways:

Short-chain fatty acids produced by probiotic microbes help support immunity by:

  • Feeding friendly bacteria and discouraging the growth of harmful bacteria
  • Helping to form the protective mucus layer in the gut
  • Strengthening tight junctions between cells (ie, preventing leaky gut)
  • Decreasing glucose levels, which protects against metabolic disease and obesity
  • Building important T-cells in the immune system, which helps reduce chronic inflammation
  • Helping the body absorb important nutrients including calcium, magnesium, and iron

When should I give my dog a probiotic?

Any dog who has recently been treated with a course of antibiotics may benefit from a probiotic supplement. Additionally, you may wish to give a probiotic for ongoing maintenance for any chronic gastrointestinal, skin, or allergic condition.

Anecdotally, probiotics are often reported to assist dogs with chronic gastro condiitons such as a sensitive stomach, recurrent diarrhoea, vomiting, food sensitivities, bloating and gas, as well as those with chronic allergies. It's possible that these dogs are also treated with courses of antibiotics more frequently than other dogs, which may be the reason for the noticeable improvement. But regardless of the reason for the success, many believe that probiotics are worth a try - and they certainly can't do any harm.

Can I give human probiotics to my dog?

A probiotic that is safe for humans isn't necessarily also safe and effective for dogs. The World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) has specific guidelines on probiotics which state that safety in any product must first be established, and then the bacteria must also demonstrate a beneficial effect. If a product has been evaluated as safe and effective for humans, but not for dogs, then it is not guaranteed to work in their species.

Other options: Diets, Foods, and Natural Prebiotics

Aside from dog-specific probiotic supplements, there are plenty of ways to promote the health of your dog's microflora. Certain fermented foods that us humans take to promote a healthy gut are also safe and beneficial for dogs, and there are even special dog foods designed with prebiotic and/or probiotic blends to promote the health of gut microbes, such as Pro Plan, Wellness Core, K9 Natural, Hills Perfect Digestion and Prime100.

Hill's Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome is a dog food designed specifically to support the gut microflora without the use of additional supplements. It is currently the only diet on the market which has been created for this purpose. It contains unique ActiveBiome+TM technology - a special blend of prebiotic fibres that works with and feeds the bacteria present in your dog's microbiome to support better digestive health.

Probiotic Foods that are Safe for Dogs

Yoghurt and Kefir

Fermented dairy products like yoghurt and kefir have long been known to provide probiotic benefits. Thanks to the lactic acid-producing bacterial cultures used in their fermentation (namely, Lactobacillus and Streptococcus species), fermented dairy can promote a healthy gut microflora and provide powerful anti-pathogen and antiinflammatory properties.7

Some will advise against giving dairy products to pets, because cats and dogs do not digest lactose well. However, fermented dairy products contain very little lactose due to the bacterial cultures and their ability to feed on the sugars (including lactose) and produce lactase. This is why people with lactose intollerance can usually tolerate yoghurt and kefir well.8 However, if your dog is allergic to dairy protein (remember, being allergic to dairy is different to being lactose intollerant), yoghurt and kefir are not suitable.

Green Tripe

Tripe is the muscle tissue from the stomach of animals like pigs, cows, and sheep. Green tripe - the raw, unbleached, uncooked variety - is becoming very popular in natural dog foods, particularly the ranges from Ziwi Peak and K9 Natural. Green tripe is available in different forms including raw, freeze-dried, wet food, and treats. Shop from our range of products containing tripe for dogs here.

Raw green tripe contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, a type of bacteria that originates in an animal's gut. This is a lactic-acid producing bacteria - which as we discussed before, may improve gut health by controlling populations of harmful bacteria and promoting better gut immunity.

Many people like the idea of giving tripe as a probiotic, because it stays true to their dog's ancestral 'whole prey' diet. The idea goes that wild dogs would naturally consume the intestinal contents of prey animals, which contain fermenting fibrous vegetable matter and copious levels of bacteria-rich tripe.

Fermented Vegetables

Sauerkraut and kimchi are made from fermented cabbage, and may incorporate other vegetables such as carrots and fennel. Sauerkrat can produce up to 10 trillion colony-forming units (CFU) - to compare, many probiotic supplements only provide around 10 billion CFUs.

However, it's always important to check the ingredients and ask your vet about an individual product before giving it to your dog. Many sauerkrat products are safe as they are made with cabbage or cabbage-carrot mixes, however some products may contain onions or garlic, which are toxic to dogs. Kimchi often contains garlic and can also contain chilli which dogs are sensitive to.

Prebiotic-rich Fruits and Vegetables

Certain vegetables have natural prebiotic properties thanks to their fibre type and content. Examples include artichokes, pumpkin, asparagus, bananas, flaxseed, and chicory root. You may wish to incorporate these into your dog's diet, but always make sure that vegetables are well cooked (as this helps with their digestion in the dog's shorter gastrointestinal tract) and that sugary fruits are given in moderation.

Psyllium Husk

Usually taken for it's bulk-forming, anti-constipation effects, psyllium husk is also a powerful prebiotic. Psyllium has been demonstrated to increase microbial diversity and numbers, as well as their associated digestive enzymes.9 (Plus, it can help if your dog has anal gland issues!)

When giving your dog psyllium husk, always make sure to select a natural, unflavoured variety free from flavourings. Give one teaspoon per 10kg bodyweight, sprinkled on the food daily, and adjust the dose as needed.

In Conclusion

All in all, probiotics are a safe and simple way to promote the everyday health of your dog - and may be particularly beneficial for any dog with allergies, gastrointestinal problems, or chronic diseases. Whether you choose to purchase an daily supplement or introduce prebiotics into their diet, every dog can benefit from a bit of extra care for their microbiome.

Further Reading

Does grain free dog food cause heart disease?

What makes a 'quality' pet food?

Raw Diets for Pets: The Risks and Benefits

Causes of Diarrhoea in Dogs

References

1. Tizard IR, Jones SW. The microbiota regulates immunity and immunologic diseases in dogs and cats. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. (2018) Vol 48: 307-22.

2. De Vadder F, Grasset E, Manneras Holm L, Karsenty G, Macpherson AJ, Olofsson LE, et al. Gut microbiota regulates maturation of the adult enteric nervous system via enteric serotonin networks. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. (2018) Vol 115: 6458-63.

3. Garcia-Mazcorroa J.F, Minamotob Y. Gastrointestinal microorganisms in cats and dogs: a brief review. Arch Med Vet. (2013) Vol 45, 111-124

4. Pila A, Suchodolski JS. The Role of the Canine Gut Microbiome and Metabolome in Health and Gastrointestinal Disease. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. (2020). Vol 6: 10.3389

5. Collado M.C., Grzeskowiak Ł. & Salminen S. Probiotic strains and their combination inhibit in vitro adhesion of pathogens to pig intestinal mucosa. Current Microbiology (2007a). Vol 55, 260-265.

6. Saarela M., Mogensen G., Fonden R., Meatto J. & Mattila-Sandholm T. Probiotic bacteria: safety, functional and technological properties. Journal of Biotechnology. (2000) Vol 84, 197-215.

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