Studies show that canine probiotics can help with an array of issues, including improved food intake, weight management, and a stronger immune system. They are also beneficial for managing food allergies, ear infections, and bad breath.
Keep reading as we will explain how to shop for pet probiotics and choose the best probiotic supplement for your dog’s needs. We will also answer some popular questions.
Top 5 Probiotics For Dogs
- Honest Paws – Best Probiotics for Dogs
- Four Leaf Rover – Most Options
- Zesty Paws – Best Chews
- NUSENTIA Probiotic – Best Value
- Purina FortiFlora Probiotics – Best for Digestion
What are Probiotics for Dogs?
“Probiotics are living microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” – this definition from the World Health Organization depicts the true nature of probiotics and their tribute to health.
Basically, the dog’s digestive system is inhabited by billions of microorganisms – primarily bacteria but also yeasts. Some of them are bad, and others are potential pathogens. Together these microorganisms are collectively called the microbiome, and under normal circumstances, they are in balance.
Sadly, many conditions and medications can throw this balance out of order for your dog. This is where probiotics can benefit them. They support the growth of good bacteria and prevent the potential pathogens from overgrowing and compromising digestive health and overall wellbeing.
When Should You Give Your Dog Probiotics?
You can give your dog probiotics when there is an ongoing imbalance in the gut microbiome or preventively before the imbalance occurs. In other terms, you should give your dog probiotics in the following scenarios:
- There is gastrointestinal issues that can benefit from good bacteria
- If your pup has diarrhea or you suspect it will develop it soon
- In the case of allergy-triggered skin issues and ear infections
- When the dog’s immune system needs a healthy and natural boost
- During long-term use of antibiotics
We understand that labels can be confusing and manufacturer claims often exaggerated. Therefore, we have thoroughly reviewed various probiotic supplements for dogs and selected the following products as the top five probiotics for your dog.
Summary: The Honest Paws Pre + Probiotic is a custom-formula featuring five different strains of live cultures, inulin derived from chicory root, and spinach leaf extract. The probiotic prevents bacterial imbalances in the gut and helps with bad breath, food allergies, skin issues, and weakened immune systems. It comes in pre-measured sachets, and each contains 5 billion Colony Forming Units.
- Healthy blend of probiotics and prebiotics
- No fillers, allergens, and artificial additives
- Natural roasted chicken flavor
- Contains rice hull and rice extract blend
- Relatively new product
Review: Satisfied customers say that the Honest Paws Pre + Probiotic helps with various GI tract issues, and consistent use yields more efficient results. They are also happy about the product’s taste and that the powder dissolves quickly, allowing perfect mixing with the regular dog food.
Summary: The Four Leaf Rover Protect is not a traditional probiotic since it lacks live cultures. However, it features soil-based probiotics and nutrients like blueberry powder, bentonite clay, chlorella, dandelion root, and burdock root, which support gut health. They are also suitable for slowing down mental aging, giving the immune system a boost, and removing heavy metals from the body.
- All-natural and unique ingredients
- Soil-based probiotics
- Features probiotic yeasts like Saccharomyces boulardii
- Supports the GI tract, the brain, and detoxification
- Does not contain traditional live cultures
- No measuring spoon in the package
Review: Customers are happy with the uniquely combined all-natural ingredients. They say the product is excellent for managing various digestive tract issues, and it helps improve stool quality and increase appetite. Customers also mention the black shade the dog poop gets after using the Four Leaf Rover Protect supplement.
Summary: The Zesty Paws Probiotic is the perfect blend of probiotics, dietary fiber, and digestive enzymes. The product uses pumpkin and papaya as a base and a clinically studied DE111 probiotic. DE111 is a Bacillus subtilis strain that supports the dog’s gut health and promotes a robust immune system. Last but not least, the soft chews form is straightforward to use.
- Excellent source of fiber and digestive enzymes
- Easy to give soft chews
- No artificial flavors and preservatives
- Made in the USA with NASC seal
- Relatively low CFU count (250 million per chew)
- Contains dairy, which may upset a sensitive stomach
Review: Customers say that the Zesty Paws Probiotic is fantastic for soothing the dog’s digestive tract and helping with excessive gassiness, and the improved stool quality is excellent for anal glands’ health. They are also raving about the texture of the soft chews that allows crumbling the treats for smaller dogs and pups that cannot chew properly.
Summary: The NUSENTIA Probiotic is a potent mix of six live bacteria strains from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium family and FOS (inulin) prebiotic. It supports a healthy gut and digestion, but it also helps with bad breath, skin issues, coat quality, and yeast infections. The NUSENTIA Probiotic is affordable and an excellent choice for multi-dog households.
- Several probiotics strains and a prebiotic
- Excellent cost to value ratio
- No wheat, soy, and artificial sweeteners
- Reputable and vet-recommended brand
- Some dogs can detect the powder
- The powder can get lumpy over time
Review: Happy customers say that the NUSENTIA Probiotic helps dogs with GI tract issues after as little as several days of use and that the positive impact on gut health is not limited to a specific age category. Some customers also say that the supplement proved beneficial for dogs with ear infections.
Summary: The Purina FortiFlora Probiotic was the number one vet-recommended formula in 2019. It contains guaranteed levels of good bacteria (Enterococcus faecium), vitamins, and minerals. The product is conveniently packed in single-dose sachets, and one box will satisfy your dog’s need for probiotics for one full month.
- Vet-recommended beneficial bacteria
- Microencapsulated formula for maximum stability
- Quick and encouraging results
- Dog-friendly liver flavor
- Contains only one probiotic strain and no prebiotics
- More expensive than most products
Review: Satisfied customers say that the Purina FortiFlora Probiotic supplement is a miracle worker. According to them, a single dose offers relief and improvement for various GI issues, including loose stool, gassiness, and diarrhea. Customers also say that the powder is easy to use, and even picky eaters like its flavor.
How to Choose the Best Probiotic for Your Dog
Which probiotic is best for your dog depends on its unique needs. Different probiotic strains come with different health perks. Therefore, it might be best to get a formula that involves various strains, including some of the following:
- Enterococcus faecium helps manage stress-triggered diarrhea and has an immune-stimulating effect in young pups (protects from common pathogens like Escherichia coli and Salmonella).
- Bifidobacterium animalis supports a healthy gut and intestines and is perfect for managing idiopathic canine diarrhea. It also helps dogs recover after prolonged use of antibiotics.
- Lactobacillus casei has strong anti-inflammatory properties and a proven bactericidal effect against potential pathogens. It is also beneficial for mood improvement.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus provides immune support, helps manage food and skin allergies and their symptoms, and prevents unwanted yeast overgrowth.
- Lactobacillus plantarum is a highly resistant microorganism that survives the conditions in the dog’s digestive system, manages diarrhea, and promotes liver health.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus supports the digestive system on various levels and helps with dermatitis symptoms and managing allergic reactions to food.
- Lactobacillus fermentum has an inhibitory effect on certain bad bacteria and provides symptomatic relief from urinary infections and various gastrointestinal issues.
- Bacillus coagulans is a spore-forming bacterium that helps with different forms of diarrhea, including traveler’s and antibiotic-triggered. By forming spores, it protects the lining of the intestines.
- Saccharomyces boulardii is a healthy yeast robust for managing chronic enteropathies and antibiotic-triggered diarrhea. It also has immune-boosting features.
Probiotic Benefits in Dogs
The benefits of probiotics are diverse and promising in canines. Depending on the strains of bacteria included in the product, probiotics can help with:
- GI tract health and improved digestion. Probiotics help manage and prevent various digestive tract issues, improve the digestion processes, absorption of nutrients, and vitamin synthesis.
- Better stool quality. Probiotics are the ideal anti-diarrhea supplements as they reduce both its duration and intensity. They can even reduce or eliminate the need for antibiotics for diarrhea management.
- Decreased risk of intestinal worms. Studies suggest that probiotics can be used to control hookworm infestations and are currently studies to examine their effect on other parasites.
- Oral health and better breath. Certain probiotic strains help prevent common oral issues, and others have proven antimicrobial effects. This leads to better oral hygiene and prevents bad breath.
- Stronger immune system. Probiotics have powerful immune-boosting features. When given to pregnant dogs, they can increase the immune power of the colostrum.
- Skin issues and allergies. Probiotics offer a novel perspective for managing dermatological conditions. They can relieve the symptoms linked with food allergies and atopic dermatitis.
- Ear infections. Probiotics can help dogs with ear infections because they release anti-inflammatory substances and can relieve skin itchiness.
- Better mood and relaxation. The presence of a gut-brain axis gave birth to the so-called behavioral probiotics or specific strains of bacteria that can improve the dog’s mood and prevent anxiety issues.
Potential Side Effects of Probiotics
According to a study, probiotics are “well tolerated with no safety concerns.” However, same as any other supplement, they can cause side effects in overly sensitive pets. Luckily, the side effects are mild and transient and usually revolve around GI tract upsets – loose stool or constipation, bloating, and gassiness.
The chances of developing side effects are higher when introducing new strains or switching probiotic brands. Side effects are also more likely to occur if the supplementation includes high doses, sudden implementation, and low-quality products.
How to Give Your Dog Probiotics
First of all, we should note that some commercial dog food formulas contain added probiotics. However, if your dog needs an additional boost, the number of live cultures in the dog food is not enough.
In such cases, you need to consider supplements. Luckily, there are different forms of probiotic products – powders, capsules, liquids, soft chews, and treats. This gives you the freedom to choose which option is best for you and your pup.
You can also use some natural sources of probiotics like yogurt and kefir. For optimal results, add a supplement product to your dog’s regimen and occasionally enrich its meals with a natural probiotic.
Our Final Thoughts on Probiotics for Dogs
When it comes to probiotics, gut health is just one of the areas they can benefit from. A high-quality probiotic brings various health perks – from boosted immune response and improved breath to better mood and lesser skin and ear infections.
However, to ensure maximum benefits, you need to do more than purchase a probiotic – you need to find the best probiotic. By best, we mean made of premium quality ingredients, easy for you to use, and tasty for your dog.
All of the prebiotic products in our list check the boxes for quality, safety, and efficacy. Just pick which product is best for your canine and start supplementing your dog today.
Evaluation of graded levels of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 on apparent nutrient digestibility, stool quality, and intestinal health indicators in healthy adult dogs | Journal of Animal Science | Oxford Academic (oup.com)