Published: September 2020 | Updated: April 2023

Everyone knows that dogs are a man’s best friend. For many of us, they are true members of the family, and we want to do anything we can to make them as happy as they make us. 

Unfortunately, although we have the best intentions, sometimes our attempts to make them happy may not be the best choices to keep them healthy. 

This is common when it comes to feeding companion animals. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy to provide our dogs with tasty food, plenty of treats, and the occasional human meal too. So, while you are hopefully not actually feeding your dog Twinkies, you may be providing them with food that isn’t necessarily optimizing their intestinal tract and immune system. 

The good news is, there is no time like the present to make a change for the better!

Why Can’t Dogs Eat Twinkies? 

Although some of us enjoy the occasional Twinkie, they aren’t really good for us. And, they’re especially not good for our dogs. If you think about a Twinkie, it’s basically cake wrapped around a ton of sugar filling. 

The sugar that is found in a Twinkie is not the same kind of sugar found in something your dog CAN eat, like an apple, for example. 

Fruits contain a sugar called fructose. And, fructose is healthy for your dog in moderation. Don’t go crazy feeding your dog a bowl full of sliced apples or other fruit, but a sliver or two is more than acceptable.

Twinkies are high in carbohydrates, which, if you’re a health guru, you know contributes to obesity. And, dogs don’t possess the enzyme, amylase, to consume carbohydrates, meaning the carbs get stuck to their teeth, resulting in poor dental health.  

As a side note, commercial kibble is high in carbohydrates as well. Some kibbles contain up to 50% carbs, which is why a large number of pet parents are switching their dogs to raw food or homemade diets.

How To Improve Dog Gut Health 

Obesity is an increasing problem among companion animals in the United States. Interestingly, there is a correlation between dog gut health and obesity, as well as a number of other medical conditions.

A recent study showed that dogs who ate high protein, low carbohydrate diets had an improved gut microbiome with less imbalance. Further, this study showed that obese animals actually had a greater response to diet intervention than their lean counterparts, which gives us hope that it is possible to make a positive impact through a change in diet. 

While we now know the dog’s gut microbiome can be altered by the type of diet they are eating, one of the best ways to ensure your furry friend has a happy digestive system is through the use of probiotics for dogs. 

Prebiotics and probiotics for dogs are utilized to provide the animal with good bacteria strains that can then live in the GI tract and aid in proper digestion, among other benefits. 

Additionally, probiotic supplements for dogs can be provided when antibiotics are being utilized in order to protect the beneficial gut bacteria and ensure that the infection-causing bad bacteria are the only ones wiped out. But, take note here, most probiotics won’t work effectively when your dog is taking antibiotics.

Fortunately, S. boulardii, the yeast-based strain found in Daily Dog, continues to be effective even with probiotics. This means that even if your dog is taking antibiotics, your dog’s gut is more likely to remain balanced while using this strain. 

Beyond obesity alone, an optimized gut promotes your dog’s overall gastrointestinal and immune health and is helpful in preventing metabolic diseases, cancer, and neurological dysfunction in dogs. 

Choosing the Best Treats for Dogs (i.e. NOT Twinkies!)

The best treats for dogs are ones that are safe, healthy, and delicious. Here are some options:

  • Natural treats: Treats made with natural ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and meats are healthier for dogs than those made with artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. Examples include dehydrated meat, like beef jerky or turkey strips, or freeze-dried single-ingredient fruits like apples or bananas.
  • Dental treats: Treats that help promote dental health are a great option. They can help clean teeth, freshen breath, and reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Examples include dental chews, dental sticks, and bones that are designed to be chewed and digested safely.
  • Training treats: Small, bite-sized treats that are low in calories are perfect for training and rewarding good behavior. Look for treats that are high in protein and low in fat, and break them into smaller pieces as needed. Examples include soft, chewy treats or small pieces of cheese or cooked chicken.
  • Homemade treats: Making your own treats at home can be a fun and rewarding way to provide your dog with healthy snacks. Just be sure to use dog-friendly ingredients and avoid any that are harmful to dogs, such as chocolate or onions.

Remember, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily diet, and you should always consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog's diet or nutrition.

The Research Continues

Gut microbiome research in animals is still limited; however, in humans, an imbalanced gut microbiome can lead to issues such as cardiovascular disease, immune disorders, and liver and brain diseases.

While there is still plenty of research to be done in regards to the gut microbiome in companion animals like dogs and cats, the evidence is clear that proper gut health (and loads of beneficial bacteria!) are integral to your dog’s overall health.  

So, next time, rather than treating Fido to a Twinkie when he’s being an extra good boy, consider giving him something healthy like a CBD treat or a piece of sliced apple. Don’t forget to add the best probiotic for dogs to their meal later in the day and rest easy knowing you’re contributing to a long, healthy life for your best friend.

Read More: 

How a Dog's Diet Shapes its Gut Microbiome

The Role of the Canine Gut Microbiome and Metabolome in Health

The Unknown Sugar in Pet Food

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