Try the New Jerky Treats! Chicken or Beef Flavored!

Shop Now
What is Probiotics for Dogs?

Probiotics in Dogs: Benefits, Types, and Side Effects

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeast that inhabit the dog’s intestines or gut. The gut contains beneficial and harmful microorganisms, which in healthy dogs are proportional and form the gut microbiome. 

The gut microbiome becomes imbalanced due to disease, stress, prolonged medication use, and malnutrition. 

Dogs benefit from probiotic supplements when the microbiome is out of balance. Probiotics for dogs introduce beneficial bacteria and yeast into the gut, preventing harmful microorganisms from proliferating. 

Pet owners are wondering, “What do probiotics do for dogs? Probiotics enhance gut health and digestion, improve stool quality, promote oral health, boost immunity, relieve anxiety, and control allergies. 

The most common types of good probiotics for dogs are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus coagulans, Bifidobacterium animalis, Enterococcus faecium, and Saccharomyces boulardii. The best dog probiotics are Honest Paws Well Pre + Probiotics. 

Consult a veterinarian before starting supplementation with probiotics. A licensed veterinarian is able to answer the “Can dogs have probiotics?” question and provide usage instructions and tips. 

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live, beneficial microorganisms (primarily bacteria and some yeasts) that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. 

The beneficial bacteria and yeasts disassemble dog food, absorb nutrients, produce vitamins, ward off pathogens, boost immunity, and interact with the gut-brain axis. 

The dog’s gut contains good and harmful bacteria and yeast. The good microorganisms in healthy dogs are generally balanced with the harmful counterparts and comprise the microbiome.   

Probiotics for dogs must not be confused with prebiotics. Prebiotics are dietary fibers that serve as a food source for probiotics. 

Why are probiotics important for dogs?

Probiotics are important for dogs because they help keep the gut in balance. Healthy dogs are able to maintain a healthy and balanced gut. Stress, illness, and malnutrition throw the gut microbiome out of sync. 

“The administration of probiotics has shown positive effects on the gut health and can alleviate some intestinal diseases and disorders in dogs and cats,” according to a study “Gut Probiotics and Health of Dogs and Cats: Benefits, Applications, and Underlying Mechanisms” published in Microorganisms in 2023. 

Consult the veterinarian if one is wondering when should dogs take probiotics and what probiotic products are best. 

How do probiotics work in a dog's body?

Probiotics work in a dog’s body by reshaping the canine microbiome. The beneficial bacteria in probiotics change the local acidity of the gastrointestinal tract and release healthy short-chain fatty acids. 

The combined effects normalize the conditions in the gort the growth of healthy bacteria. The beneficial bacteria prevent overgrowth and limit the spread of harmful bacteria when balanced. 

What are the different types of probiotics for dogs?

The different types of probiotics for dogs are listed below.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus: L. acidophilus enhances the dog’s gastrointestinal health and supports immune function.
  • Lactobacillus plantarum: L. plantarum helps minimize the adverse gastrointestinal effects of prolonged antibiotic use. 
  • Lactobacillus casei: L. casei has a bactericidal effect, which helps prevent some bacteria from developing and causing infections. 
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus: L. rhamnosus supports overall gut health and helps manage mild and acute diarrhea cases. 
  • Lactobacillus fermentum: L. fermentum is a bacterium inhabiting the colon that aids the absorption of certain nutrients. 
  • Enterococcus faecium: E. faecium supports digestion and promotes gut health when switching foods and after antibiotic treatments. 
  • Bacillus coagulans: B. coagulans aids healthy digestion, improves stool quality, and strengthens the dog’s immune system. 
  • Bifidobacterium animalis: B. animalis boosts gut health and relieves dogs with diarrhea. 
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum: B. bifidum helps the dog’s digestive tract break down food and absorb nutrients while fighting harmful bacteria. 
  • Bifidobacterium longum: B. longum is beneficial for relaxing anxious dogs triggered by environmental stimuli, such as sudden lifestyle changes or encountering strangers. 
  • Saccharomyces boulardii: S. boulardii is an immune-boosting yeast that is beneficial for dogs suffering from chronic enteropathies. 

What are the advantages of Probiotics?

The advantages of probiotics for dogs are listed below. 

  • Gut Health Support: Probiotics promote general gut health and prevent enteropathies. A healthy gut microflora is critical for optimal digestion, nutrient absorption, and vitamin synthesis in the gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Better Stool Quality: Keeping the gut microbiota balanced reduces the risk of diarrhea caused by infectious diseases, travel, stress, or long-term antibiotic use. Probiotics decrease diarrhea intensity or duration in some instances.  
  • Improved Oral Health: Beneficial probiotic bacteria help kill harmful bacteria in the dog’s mouth, improving dental hygiene and preventing bad breath or halitosis. 
  • Immunity Boost: The beneficial probiotics support the immune system and ensure a robust immune response against allergen triggers. The effect on the immune system is significant because the dog’s gut contains a surplus of imm. 
  • Allergy Management: Probiotics boost immunity and have anti-inflammatory properties, helping with allergies. Certain probiotic strains assist with relieving pruritus or itchiness associated with allergies in dogs. 
  • Stress Relief: Pet owners asking, “Is probiotics good for dogs?” must know that a healthy gut is critical for good mood and stress control. Probiotics for dogs benefits dogs’ moods and reduce anxiety because of an established gut-brain axis. 

Do probiotics help with a dog's immune system?

Yes, probiotics help with a dog’s immune system. A large portion of the dog’s immune system is located in the digestive tract and is affected by gut bacteria and fungi. 

Probiotics “enhance specific immune functions in young dogs,” says a study, “Supplementation of Food with Enterococcus faecium (SF68) Stimulates Immune Functions in Young Dogs,” published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2003. 

Probiotics help regulate the dog’s gut microbiome. The microbiome’s inhabitants, bacteria and fungi, interact with the immune cells. 

Probiotic treatment enhances host immunity by stimulating antibody secretion, according to a study, “Oral Administration of Compound Probiotics Improved Canine Feed Intake, Weight Gain, Immunity and Intestinal Microbiota,” published in Frontiers in Immunology in 2019. 

Are probiotics beneficial for a dog's skin and coat health?

Yes, probiotics are beneficial for a dog’s skin and coat health. Probiotics maintain a healthy gut for proper food breakdown and nutrient absorption. 

Quality digestion and high nutrient utilization positively affect the dog’s skin and coat. The healthy bacteria in probiotics boost immunity and reduce the risk of allergies, harming the skin and coat. 

Probiotics reduce pruritus or itchiness. Pruritus is a telltale sign of skin problems and harms the dog’s skin and coat health. 

Dog probiotics support faster improvements and resolution of pruritus, says a study, “A Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate the Impact of a Novel Probiotic and Nutraceutical Supplement on Pruritic Dermatitis and the Gut Microbiota in Privately Owned Dogs,” published in Animals in 2024. 

Can probiotics help with allergies in dogs?

Yes, probiotics can help with allergies in dogs. The beneficial bacteria in probiotics ease the symptoms of allergies in dogs by reducing histamine levels and gut inflammation.

The reduced histamine levels decrease sneezing, pruritus, and other allergy-related symptoms. 

Probiotic supplementation significantly decreases allergen-specific IgE, reports a study, “Early Exposure to Probiotics in a Canine Model of Atopic Dermatitis has Long-Term Clinical and Immunological Effects,” published in Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology in 2012. 

The presence of allergen-specific IgE is a clear indicator of an allergic reaction. Decreased IgE leads to reduced probiotics allergies in dogs.

What are the disadvantages of probiotics for dogs?

The disadvantages of probiotics for dogs are listed below. 

  • Side Effects: Probiotics for dogs cause benign and temporary side effects if introduced suddenly or given in high doses. Diarrhea, constipation, and increased gas production are common probiotic side effects.  
  • Allergic Reactions: Probiotics cause allergies in rare cases. The allergic reactions are triggered by the inactive ingredients added to the probiotic supplement.   
  • Drug Interactions: Drug interactions between probiotics, antibiotics, or antifungals are possible. The live beneficial microorganisms in probiotics are destroyed when used simultaneously as antimicrobials. 

How can you give probiotics to dogs?

You can give probiotics to dogs via commercially available supplements, probiotic-enriched dog formulas, and natural probiotic-rich foods. 

Commercially available dog probiotic supplements are easy to find and come in various forms and flavors. Popular options are powders and treats with dog-friendly taste options like chicken or peanut butter. 

Store-bought pet-specific probiotics are best for dogs requiring higher bacterial loads. Dogs with lesser probiotic needs benefit from probiotic dog foods and probiotic-rich human foods. 

Some dog food brands add probiotics to the formulas, but the live bacteria are unstable in such products and are limited in availability. Human foods naturally rich in probiotics include kefir, Greek yogurt, green tripe, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. 

How long should a dog be on probiotics?

A dog should be on probiotics for several weeks. Probiotics need several days at minimum to start working. 

Dogs with certain health conditions must be given probiotics for at least eight weeks before noticeable improvement. 

The overall length of probiotic use depends on the dog’s underlying condition. Some dogs receive occasional probiotics, and others require long-term use. 

Talk to a veterinarian to determine how long a dog needs probiotics. 

Are there specific times when it's best to give a dog probiotics?

Yes, there are specific times when it’s best to give a dog probiotics. The ideal time for probiotic supplementation is in the morning before breakfast. 

The dog’s stomach contains the least gastric acid pre-breakfast, making it suitable for receiving probiotics. Consistent use is more important than a strict dosing timeline. Consult the veterinarian to determine the best dosing time for the dog. 

Dogs receiving antibiotics or antifungals in the morning must not be given probiotics at the same time because the antimicrobials destroy the healthy bacteria in the supplement. 

Can probiotics be given to puppies?

Yes, probiotics can be given to puppies. Probiotics for puppies help boost their underdeveloped immune systems and soothe their sensitive stomachs. 

Probiotics are well tolerated with no safety concerns, reports a study, “Safety and Tolerance of Dietary Supplementation With a Canine-Derived Probiotic Fed to Growing Dogs,” published in Veterinary Therapeutics in 2010. 

The study included eleven male and nine female Beagle puppies. The puppies were six months old and tolerated the probiotic without side effects. 

What are the signs that your dog might need probiotics?

The signs that your dog might need probiotics are constant itching, foul odor, shedding, dry and flaky skin, ear infection, diarrhea, flatulence, loose stool, and digestive upset. 

Certain allergies in dogs and skin conditions indicate probiotic use. Recurrent or chronic ear infections are a signal the dog needs probiotic supplementation. The telltale sign a dog requires probiotics is stomach unrest. The upset benefits from probiotics regardless of whether it is caused by anxiety or dietary changes. 

Understanding the signs dog need probiotics is sometimes challenging, so it is recommended to speak to a veterinarian about the dog’s needs. 

The signs that a dog needs probiotics are listed below.

  • Constant Itching: Constant itching is a telltale sign of skin infections and allergies. Probiotic use greatly benefits these conditions. 
  • Foul Odor: Probiotics help with bad smells in dogs' skin, which indicate infections, and unpleasant odor in dogs' mouths, which is standard for dogs with poor oral health. 
  • Excessive Shedding: Dog probiotics regulate the skin microbiome, which helps reduce excessive shedding, whether seasonal or disease-related. 
  • Dry and Flaky Skin: Dry and flaky skin is associated with dietary problems, infections, and allergies. Probiotic use is beneficial for dry and flaky skin.   
  • Ear Infections: Chronic or recurring ear infections are widespread in dogs with food and environmental allergies. Probiotics regulate the microbiome in the ears. 
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a watery stool and is associated with medications, stress, and certain infectious diseases. Probiotics help treat and prevent diarrhea. 
  • Flatulence: Flatulence is excess gas production in the gut. Probiotics balance the good and bad microorganisms in the intestines, managing flatulence. 
  • Loose Stool: Loose stool develops after sudden food changes or is triggered by disease and stress. The good bacteria in probiotics help normalize stool consistency.  
  • Digestive Upset: Probiotics are excellent for dogs with digestive upset because they promote gastrointestinal health and support digestion.  

How do you choose a safe probiotic supplement for dogs?

The instructions on how to choose a safe probiotic supplement for dogs are listed below. 

  1. Choose a Reputable Brand. Always buy probiotics from trustworthy pet brands. A reliable brand is transparent about its ingredients and manufacturing practices. Read reviews from other customers to learn more about the brand.  
  2. Look into Specific Strains. Choose a multistrain probiotic supplement unless otherwise advised by the veterinarian. Single-strain probiotics help with specific problems, while multistrain products are best for general wellness. 
  3. Check the CFUs. The number of good bacteria in the probiotic supplement is expressed in colony-forming units or CFUs. Quality dog probiotics have many CFUs to ensure they deliver a therapeutic dose. 
  4. Read the Ingredient List. Carefully analyze the ingredient list. High-quality probiotics are enriched with prebiotics, enzymes, or antioxidants. Low-quality probiotic supplements feature artificial ingredients and potential allergens. 
  5. Pick a Suitable Form and Flavor. Dog probiotics are available as powders, treats, and capsules in various flavors, such as chicken, bacon, or peanut butter. Choose a combination that is easy to use and palatable for the dog. 

What should you look for in a probiotic supplement for dogs?

Look for probiotics supplements for dogs that contain a combination of beneficial bacteria strains, such as Bacillus, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Enterococcus

Products featuring multiple strains offer various benefits. Dogs with specific conditions sometimes require a single-strain supplement, but the standard rule is to pick probiotics with multiple strains for general use. 

Different strains of good gut bacteria are associated with unique health benefits. Consult the vet if unsure which strains are best for the dog’s needs. 

What are the side effects of probiotics in dogs?

The side effects of probiotics in dogs are stomach upset, bloating, allergic reactions, and medication interactions. 

Stomach upset includes mild and transient diarrhea or constipation. The bloating is the result of excess gas production, which is temporary. 

Allergic reactions to probiotics are infrequent, and potential medication interactions must be discussed with a veterinarian. 

The risk of side effects of probiotics in dogs is higher when the supplement is introduced to the daily regimen abruptly or given in excess amounts. Low-quality dog probiotics are more likely to cause side effects. 

The side effects of probiotics in dogs are listed below.

  • Stomach Upset: Stomach upset, manifesting with vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, is expected when dogs start new supplements. The stomach upset resolves once the dog adapts to the probiotic. 
  • Bloating: Changes in the gut microbiome cause the bacteria to temporarily produce excess gas, which accumulates and makes the dog bloated. 
  • Allergic Reactions: The inactive ingredients in certain probiotic supplements cause allergic reactions in sensitive dogs in rare cases. 
  • Medication Interactions: The most common dog probiotic interaction is with antibiotics or antifungals. Antimicrobials must not be given with probiotics because they destroy the live microorganisms.  

Are there any dogs that should not take probiotics?

Yes, there are dogs that should not take probiotics. Probiotics are not recommended for debilitated or sick dogs. 

Probiotics must be used with caution and under veterinary supervision in immunocompromised dogs. Dogs with severely weakened immune systems are unable to handle high bacterial loads, including nonpathogenic bacteria. 

Dogs allergic to certain inactive ingredients used in probiotic supplements must not take them to avoid allergies and unwanted reactions.  

Should you consult a vet before starting probiotics for your dog?

Yes, you should consult a vet before starting probiotics for your dog. Probiotics are safe, natural supplements suitable for dogs of all ages. 

Many pet brands offer different probiotics for dogs and not all are of the same quality. Consult the veterinarian and ask for vet recommended probiotics for dogs to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness. 

The veterinarian explains how to use the probiotics and when it is advisable to discontinue the use. Dogs with autoimmune disorders require close veterinary monitoring during probiotic use. 

What are the Best Probiotics for dogs?

The best probiotics for dogs are Honest Paws Well Pre + Probiotics for Dogs and Cats. The pet supplement is a health-boosting blend with a highly palatable chicken flavor. 

The probiotic contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria enriched with high-quality sources of dietary fiber. The product contains over 5 billion CFUs. 

The probiotic supplement for dogs comes in a powder form and pre-measured, individually packed sachets for easy dosing and use. 

Honest Paws Well Pre + Probiotics is one of the best probiotics for dogs. It is made with quality ingredients, safe, efficient, and straightforward. 

The best probiotics for dogs are listed below.

  • The Honest Kitchen Instant Goat’s Milk with Probiotics: The product is made with premium goat milk, probiotics, and digestive enzymes, making it highly palatable. 
  • PetLab Co. Probiotics: The probiotic blend is available in pork-flavored chews and enriched with antioxidants and superfoods like salmon oil, honey, and agave. 
  • Vet’s Preferred Probiotic Supplement for Dogs: Vet-formulated blend of healthy bacteria and fiber that comes as a powder packed in pre-measured single-dose sachets. 
  • Open Farm Probiotic Supplement Chews for Dogs: Crafted with 100% traceable and functional ingredients, the probiotic powder is deliciously flavored and simple to use.  

How can you make homemade probiotics for dogs?

The instructions on how you can make homemade probiotics for dogs are listed below. 

  1. Choose a Probiotic Source. Select the ingredients and ensure one is a probiotic source. Foods with natural probiotics for dogs include Greek yogurt, kefir, green tripe, and sauerkraut. Broccoli, berries, and bananas contain prebiotics that feed the good bacteria in the dog’s gut and pair excellently with probiotics. For example, choose Greek yogurt and berries. 
  2. Combine the Ingredients. Mix the probiotic-rich ingredient with a prebiotic-rich fruit or vegetable and add other dog-friendly foods, like peanut butter or oats, to add texture or create a smooth paste. For example, mix the Greek yogurt, berries, and peanut butter with a spoon. 
  3. Prepare the Probiotic Treats. Probiotic treats for dogs are prepared raw, refrigerated, or frozen, depending on the recipe. Baking is not advised because high temperatures destabilize the sensitive good bacteria in the recipe. For example, use a spoon to transfer the paste to a silicone mold or ice cube tray and place it in the freezer.  
  4. Store the Homemade Probiotic Treats. Homemade probiotics for dogs are preservative-free with a limited shelf life. Prepare small batches and store the probiotic treats in clean jars or airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on the type. Low temperatures, unlike heat, do not destroy the good bacteria in the treats. 

What is the difference between human and dog probiotics?

The difference between human and dog products is the type and number of bacteria and the added ingredients. 

Humans benefit from different strains of bacteria compared to dogs. Bacteria must be present in higher numbers of colony-forming units (CFU) in human supplements. Dogs need between one and ten billion CFUs, and certain human probiotic supplements contain up to 50 billion CFUs. 

Probiotics feature added ingredients for improved palatability. The most troublesome ingredient is xylitol, which is present in human supplements and highly toxic to dogs. 

The differences between human and dog probiotics are listed below.

  • Type of Bacteria: The dog’s microbiome differs from a human’s. Some microorganisms overlap, but most are species-specific, meaning human probiotics are less effective than dog probiotics for dogs. 
  • Number of Bacteria (CFUs): The number of bacteria and yeasts in human probiotics is too high for dogs. Human supplements feature 50 or 100 billion CFUs, while dogs need between 1 and 10 billion CFUs.  
  • Added Ingredients: Certain human probiotics have ingredients that are dangerous to dogs. The most common example is the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to pets.