The gut microbiome is an essential component of a healthy dog. It's responsible for maintaining the proper balance of bacteria in your pet's intestines and digestive tract, which in turn allows them to absorb nutrients efficiently and eliminate waste properly. The microbiome helps your dog digest food, absorb nutrients from food, and fight off infections.
Sometimes, the microbiome could use a boost to get back on track. This is generally when a probiotic is recommended, although they should be taken daily for preventative maintenance.
Probiotics can help prevent a wide range of diseases and disorders, including allergies, skin problems, diarrhea, constipation, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other infections.
Dysbiosis in Your Dog’s Gut
Sometimes things can go wrong with the gut microbiome in dogs. Dysbiosis is what happens when a dog's microbiome has become imbalanced, when there are more bad bacteria than good ones in their system, which can lead to serious health problems.
It's not easy to tell if your dog has dysbiosis. There are some telltale signs like chronic diarrhea or vomiting, but these can also be caused by other issues. To get an accurate diagnosis, you'll need to visit your vet and have them test a fecal sample from your dog.
Once you have an official diagnosis of dysbiosis and want to get on the road back to gut health, the use of probiotics is a good place to start on the path to balance.
The Benefits of Probiotics For Dogs
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help your dog's digestive system. They do this by helping your dog's body absorb nutrients from food and by adding beneficial bacteria to your dog's digestive tract.
There are several ways that probiotics can help your dog. Some of these include:
- Suppressing bad bacteria in your dog's gut
- Balancing the good and bad bacteria
- Decreasing the amount of gas your dog produces
- Promoting a healthy immune system
- Preventing diarrhea and constipation
Do Probiotics Really Work?
To be completely transparent, it can often be difficult to tell how well probiotics work in our dog’s body. If your dog was suffering from flatulence, diarrhea, or another ailment, and once you started probiotics, the ailment cleared up, that’s one good way to tell the probiotics are doing their job. But, for dogs who are healthy and begin a probiotic regimen, it can be more difficult.
Understanding the product you’re purchasing is extremely important, especially in the world of probiotics. Probiotics are highly unregulated, and not all products are created equal.
Pet supplements in general are not regulated by any organization. This allows companies to be more relaxed in their manufacturing processes. Products may or may not be what they claim. This could be why you didn’t notice any change in your dog’s digestive health while taking probiotics.
You need to be the inspector of the products you’re looking at. Two of the most important questions to ask when looking at a product include:
- Is this company completely transparent?
- Do they use a 3rd party laboratory or their own for their analysis?
Chances are, if they’re using their own company to analyze their product, it’s not what they’re claiming it to be. A third-party analysis eliminates bias and provides you with an honest answer about what’s in the product.
You should also check for the following:
- CFUs: Look for a product that contains 1-10 billion CFUs per serving. This is the number of bacteria present in the product.
- Expiration: Check the product’s expiration date. Probiotics contain live bacteria and, if provided after the expiration date, the likelihood of the product working is low.
- Manufacturer Contact: You should be able to contact the manufacturer if necessary to ask any questions.
Vet Recommended Probiotics For Dogs
S. boulardii is a one of the most researched yeasts used as a high-quality probiotic and can be found in FullBucket’s Daily Dog Probiotic Powder. The probiotic powder contains a minimum of 5 million CFUs per serving, and it’s antibiotic-resistant, which means, unlike other supplements, it will still work even when your dog takes antibiotics.
The product also contains the following ingredients, including digestive enzymes for dogs, that work synergistically to improve your pup’s overall health and well-being:
L-glutamine is an essential amino acid that dogs naturally produce, but it's also found in some foods. The body uses l-glutamine to build muscle tissue, synthesize DNA and RNA, and form the neurotransmitter glutamate. L-glutamine can also help with the body's detoxification process and keep your dog's immune system strong.
When your dog experiences stress or has a fever, his l-glutamine levels may be depleted because he needs more to maintain healthy muscle function and keep his immune system strong. This can lead to loss of appetite, as well as digestive problems like diarrhea or constipation.
Protease is a digestive enzyme that can help your dog's stomach digest food and prevent bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.
Your dog's digestive system breaks down proteins into amino acids. When your dog eats, the protein in the food is broken down into amino acids by proteases in the stomach. The small intestine absorbs the amino acids and sends them to the liver, which then converts them into glucose or fats. The body uses these nutrients to fuel itself.
Proteases are an essential part of this process because they break down protein into amino acids, which are then absorbed by the small intestine. If your dog doesn't have enough protease enzymes in their stomachs, then they might experience symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting after eating protein-rich foods like meat or dairy products.
Lipase is a digestive enzyme supplement that helps your dog digest fat. It's important for dogs to have a healthy level of lipase in their bodies, but sometimes, due to illness or old age, a dog's levels will drop below normal. This can lead to issues such as weight gain, sluggishness, and even pancreatitis.
A dog who has low levels of lipase may not be able to properly absorb calories from fats and proteins. The result is weight gain and/or malnutrition.
Cellulase is an enzyme that helps break down plant fibers in all types of foods, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. It can be added to a dog's diet to help them digest their food more efficiently. This will help prevent bloating and constipation that can occur when dogs eat foods with high amounts of fiber.
Cellulase also has other benefits for dogs. It can reduce the amount of gas they produce after eating certain foods, like broccoli or beans. The enzyme helps break down sugars from carbohydrates so they don't get converted into gas, which then needs to be expelled through flatulence or diarrhea.
Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates, which are found in many types of food. It works by breaking down the sugar called starch into sugar in the dog's digestive system.
Dogs can't produce their own amylase naturally, so they need to get it from their food. Dogs also need amylase to help them break down protein and fat in their diet.
How Long Do Probiotics Take to Work?
Some dogs may show signs of improvement immediately following a probiotic, especially if you started him on them to get rid of diarrhea. However, all dogs are different and will react differently to any new supplement. Whereas some dogs may exhibit signs of improvement quickly, others could take up to six weeks to show change.
Don’t Use Human Probiotics With Your Dog
Our gut microbiome is much different than that of our dogs, so it's important not to give your dog human probiotics. Canine probiotics are developed specifically for the canine gut microbiome. Human probiotics may also contain artificial sweeteners and other products that could be hazardous to your dog's health.
Do Your Research
Overall, it’s best to do your research prior to purchasing a probiotic supplement for your dog. To learn more about the efficacy of S. boulardii, you can review the whitepaper written by FullBucket’s Dr. Rob Franklin, DVM, by clicking here.
Remember, when you’re looking for high-quality probiotic supplements, ask yourself the questions addressed in this article. And don’t be afraid to ask the manufacturer questions. They should be willing to answer any questions you have about their product for complete customer transparency.