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How do I know if my dog needs probiotics?

10 Signs Your Dog Needs Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms and yeast that enhance and maintain healthy gut microbiomes. The gut microbiome is the microbial ecosystem inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract. A balanced gut microbiome promotes digestion and nutritional absorption and lessens disease frequency. 

Probiotics help speed up recovery after an illness, making them an excellent health supplement. Probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs), which estimate the number of microbial cells in a sample. The CFUs are the quantifiable measure to assess a probiotic product's potency. The higher the CFUs, the better the product since there are more beneficial bacteria. 

Pet owners who ask, “Do dogs need probiotics?” must remember that probiotics are not substitutes for medicine. Probiotics are supplements that assist healing but do not possess medicinal properties. Probiotics are administered in conjunction with traditional medicine to address dog needs during disease periods and hasten the return of homeostasis to the body.

1. Constant Itching

Constant itching is excessive scratching of portions of a dog’s body. Itching is a symptom of underlying skin issues. Uncontrollable itching is stressful and damaging to the skin. Some dogs are unable to sleep properly due to preoccupation with constant itching. 

Conditions such as allergies, skin mites, parasites, dermatitis, and infection cause constant itching in dogs. Diagnosis is based on information such as the onset and duration of itching, diet, and environment. Laboratory tests such as skin scrapes, hair trichograms, skin patch tests, and DNA tests confirm diagnoses for constant itching. 

The goal of a probiotic for dog itching is to increase the skin microbiome and gut microbiome simultaneously. The dosage for probiotics for constant itching dogs is around 1-10 CFUs as needed. The treatment is administered daily, depending on the dog’s needs.

2. Foul Odor

A foul odor is a pungent smell emanating from the dog’s skin. An unpleasant odor indicates unhealthy skin due to poor grooming or an imbalanced skin microbiome. The skin harbors natural bacteria, fungi, and mites, and the skin microbiome is similar to the gut. The skin naturally secretes a healthy layer of sebum that serves as additional protection for the fur. 

Pungent skin odor is indicative of an imbalance caused by dermatological conditions. Yeast and bacterial infections are common causes of foul odor in dogs. Diagnosis is determined with skin tests that confirm the specific condition. Probiotics given with traditional medicine treat the cause of the foul smell.

Probiotics for foul odor aim to increase the skin and gut microbiome while simultaneously soothing inflammation. The added support hastens healing and restores healthy skin bacteria. The dosage for probiotics for constantly itching dogs is around 1-10 CFUs daily, as required. 

3. Excessive Shedding

Excessive shedding is fur loss across portions of the dog’s body. Shedding signifies a dog’s poor hair, coat, and skin health. There is marked hair loss when hair follicles are damaged, or the dog suffers from a persistent skin infection. The spots of hair loss are aesthetically displeasing and make the skin more vulnerable to secondary infection. 

Diseases such as dermatitis, mange, endocrine disorders, allergies, and dietary deficiencies cause excessive shedding. Diagnosing excessive shedding in dogs is based on crucial information such as the onset of itching, duration of itching, diet, and environment. Laboratory tests such as skin scrapes, hair trichogram, skin patch tests, and DNA tests confirm the diagnosis of constant itching. 

Probiotics for excessive shedding are administered to increase the skin and gut microbiomes. The additional support of probiotics helps restore healthy hair follicles and soothe inflammation. The dosage for probiotics for constant itching dogs is around 1-10 CFUs daily as needed. 

4. Dry and Flaky Skin

Dry and flaky skin forms dandruff-like structures on the dog’s skin that slough off from friction through scratching. Dry and flaky skin is accompanied by inflammation and irritation. Chronic dry and flaky skin is often accompanied by hyperpigmentation, hyperkeratinization, and lichenification.

Diseases such as fungal infections, mites, dietary insufficiencies, and dermatitis cause dry and flaky skin in dogs. Diagnosing dry and flaky skin in dogs involves assessing diet, environment, duration of the condition, and laboratory skin tests. 

The goal of probiotics for dry and flaky skin is to increase the skin microbiome and the gut microbiome. The extra support helps restore the skin barrier and sebum production, hastening the return of normal skin. The dosage for probiotics for constant itching dogs is around 1-10 CFUs daily as needed.

5. Ear Infection

Ear infections are conditions causing the inflammation of the external, middle, or internal ear canals. An ear infection is a painful and irritating condition most commonly due to bacterial or fungal overgrowth. 

Diseases such as Malassezia pachydermatis (yeast infection), bacterial otitis, foreign objects, pyotraumatic injury, tumors, and polyps are common causes of ear infections in dogs. The abnormally high amounts of bacteria and fungi from these diseases further complicate the ear infection. A prolonged ear infection leads to internal damage that becomes permanent in severe cases. 

Probiotics for dry and flaky skin aim to simultaneously increase the skin and gut microbiomes. The added support helps normalize the bacterial/fungal overgrowth and resolve the ear infection. The dosage for probiotics for dogs with ear infections is around 1-10 CFUs daily as needed.

6. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the condition of wet or watery stool that persists for several days. Diarrhea is a sign of gastrointestinal upset. Persistent diarrhea is painful and uncomfortable, leading to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and nutritional imbalance. 

Diseases like Canine Parvovirus, Canine Coronavirus, Giardiasis, Coccidiosis, intestinal worms, and dietary indiscretions are common causes of diarrhea in dogs. Diagnosis of diarrhea is based on laboratory tests that check for viral or parasitic infections, with loose stool as a clinical sign. Diarrhea is best treated with traditional medication with probiotics as an added supplement. 

Probiotics are great for combatting diarrhea as they restore intestinal flora in dogs with prolonged loose stool. Beneficial bacteria that nourish and support optimal gut health and cellular repair speed up the restoration of the compromised gastrointestinal tract. The dosage for probiotics for dogs with diarrhea is around 1-10 CFUs daily as needed.

7. Flatulence

Flatulence is the excessive production of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Excessive gas is a symptom of poor digestive capacity to absorb nutrients. Flatulence causes pain and discomfort in some dogs and predisposes the dog to develop bloat.

Flatulence is caused by dietary indiscretion. Eating spoiled food or food with poorly digestible materials causes excessive fermentation and gas production. Swallowing air when eating too fast predisposes the dog to flatulence. 

Probiotics are a good supplement for flatulence due to indigestion. The good bacteria restore the natural balance within the gut flora, resulting in faster recovery. The dosage for probiotics targeting symptoms of bad gut bacteria in dogs is 1-10 CFUs daily as needed.

8. Loose stool

Loose stool refers to the watery or wet consistency of feces. Loose stool is an indication of gastrointestinal stress or disease. Loose stool is accompanied by abdominal discomfort or pain that ranges from mild to severe. Chronic loose stool causes dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and nutritional imbalance. 

Viral and parasitic diseases that cause gastroenteritis result in loose stool. Poor-quality diets, abrupt diet changes, and ingesting toxic or poisonous substances cause loose stool. The diagnosis of loose stool is based on physical and laboratory examination. 

Probiotics are best suited for relieving loose stool. Gastrointestinal conditions cause inflammation and an imbalance of the gut microbiome, which is restored with probiotics. The dosage for probiotics for dogs with loose stool is around 1-10 CFUs daily as needed. 

9. Anxiety-related Digestive Upset

An anxiety-related digestive upset occurs when the dog experiences stress-induced relief of the bowels or vomiting. Digestive unrest is a joint event the dog experiences during fearful experiences.

Anxiety-related digestive problems are due to the action of the sympathetic nervous system or the “fight or flight response.” The “flight” response induces an adrenaline surge, increasing the dog’s digestive system motility. The increased motility causes abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Probiotics help soothe gut inflammation and address any imbalances in gut flora. The dosage for probiotics for anxiety-related digestive problems in dogs is roughly 1-10 CFUs daily as needed. 

10. Digestive disturbances due to Dietary Changes

Digestive disturbances due to dietary changes are periods of gastrointestinal upset caused by dog food changes. The condition is due to a poor-quality diet, abrupt food shifting, or consumption of contaminated food. 

Vomiting, diarrhea, and indigestion result from a dog being abruptly fed a different kind of food. The gut flora takes time to adjust and acclimate to the new food. Diagnosis is based on information like the onset, frequency, and severity of symptoms. 

Probiotics help to improve gut flora and recover the natural balance. The dosage for probiotics for dogs with digestive disturbances due to dietary changes is 1-10 CFUs daily as needed. 

Do Dogs Need Probiotics?

No, dogs do not need probiotics. Probiotics are supplements used with traditional medicine when a dog is sick. Probiotics do not contain any medicinal properties and must not be used solely to treat serious diseases. Probiotics are supplements given daily as a source of extra healthy bacteria based on dog needs. Consult a veterinarian if the dog shows signs of disease, and get advice on using probiotics for the dog’s condition. 

How Much Dosage of Probiotics is Safe for Dogs?

The safe dosage of probiotics for dogs is around 1-10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotics daily. The dosage is the current recommendation for dogs according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s DogWatch newsletter of the Riney Canine Health Center. 

High CFU numbers in a probiotic product are better because they contain more significant amounts of beneficial bacteria. High bacterial loads give the probiotic product better potency. Probiotic-rich supplementation increases beneficial bacteria and decreases harmful ones. The result is an improved microbiome for fighting infection and inflammation. 

What are the Best Probiotic Products for Dogs?

Probiotics For Dogs With Prebiotics. Honest Paws’ Well Pre+Probiotics is one of the store’s best-selling products. Each pack contains 30 chicken-flavored dog probiotic powder sticks with prebiotics for healthy gut, digestive, and immune support. The product comprises prebiotics that serve as food that enrich the probiotic bacteria, supporting their function and keeping them alive. The product is added to dog kibble as a satisfying meal topper once daily or as a veterinarian prescribes.

Does Probiotics Help Dogs with Itching

Yes, probiotics help dogs with itching. Itchy skin in dogs is a commonly acquired problem caused by allergies, skin diseases, or parasites. The immune system fights these diseases by releasing inflammatory cells. Probiotics boost certain aspects of the immune system in dogs. The effect of probiotics in dogs is “enhanced the level of serum IgG, IFN-alpha, fecal serum IgA, and reduced TNF alpha,” according to the study by Xu et. al., titled “Oral Administration of Compound Probiotics Improved Canine Feed Intake, Weight Gain, Immunity, and Intestinal Microbiota”, 2019. The study concludes that the immune-boosting capacity of probiotics helps combat itchy skin in dogs.  

What are Natural Probiotics for Dogs?

Natural probiotics for dogs are food products or byproducts containing high volumes of beneficial bacteria. Fermented foods contain naturally occurring bacteria that are great for aiding digestion. Household items like yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, and sauerkraut are ingredients that comprise homemade probiotics for dogs. The foods contain live microorganisms like Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bacillus coagulans. Monitor for signs of allergens in the dog before administering natural probiotics. Some dogs suffer digestive unrest when consuming large amounts of dairy.

Do Probiotics Help Dogs with Ear Infections?

Yes, probiotics help dogs with ear infections. Ear infections are caused by bacteria or fungal overgrowth from poor immunity or infection. Probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus used in children showed that there was a “potential ability to reduce the frequency of middle ear infections, most likely due to an ability to boost the immune system and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria known to cause ear infection,” according to a study by Gasta et al., titled “Probiotics and Disease: A Comprehensive Summary-Part 5, Respiratory Conditions of the Ears, Nose, and Throat”, 2017. The anti-inflammatory action fights against illness and disease, making them beneficial for combatting ear infections. 

Are there Side Effects in Dog Probiotics?

Yes, there are side effects for probiotics in dogs. One of the most common probiotic side effects for dogs is digestive discomfort or diarrhea from introduction to new microbes. Bloating occurs due to excessive probiotic supplementation, overloading the gut with bacteria, and producing excessive gas. Itching happens when a dog is given probiotics containing allergens in the formulation. Consult a veterinarian for proper supplementation to minimize probiotic side effects for dogs.