Supporting your dog's digestive health is for more than scooping up firmer poops in the garden. When your dog is healthy, its body can absorb nutrients from its food, break the food into pieces, and use it to make its immune system stronger. 

Often, digestive supplements are needed to ease digestion problems. Probiotics are a popular choice, and what's more convenient than having the probiotics already integrated into their crunchy kibble? For pet owners, choosing good quality dog food can be a big decision. And rightly so, it's an integral part of your dog's wellness.

We chat through the various probiotic dog food options and when pet owners should consider the addition of digestive enzymes. 

Probiotics Vs. Digestive Enzymes for Dogs 

Probiotics and digestive enzymes naturally form in the canine body. Often, if there is a shortage, then you can add some digestive supplements to a dog's routine to restore balance to the digestive system. Both probiotics and digestive enzymes have benefits but serve different purposes. 

  • Dogs can take probiotics, whether healthy or ill. It's an excellent supplement for health maintenance. 

  • Digestive Enzymes are only beneficial to dogs with specific health concerns. 

Let's take a closer look at these two digestive aids.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are bacteria that form a part of the healthy gut flora of the digestive system. Billions of these tiny critters are essential for the gut's microbial balance and defend the body against harmful bacteria. Your dog's gut could be in a detrimental state due to the use of antibiotics, stress, illness, or a poor diet.

While tiny, the microorganisms have a massive impact on your and your pet's health. Not only do they impact the digestion of food, but they play a role in allergies, immune system, stress, weight, skin health, and more. 

Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial for pet care, whatever stage of life they're in. Healthy dogs, itchy dogs, and dogs that struggle with tummy trouble can see improvement of these conditions with probiotics. 

Probiotics can help your dog in the following ways:

  • Modulation of the immune system

  • Stress maintenance and can reduce stress symptoms

  • Protection from infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites

  • Control of allergic disorders and their symptoms of skin inflammation or dermatitis.

  • Obesity avoidance and weight control

  • To reduce signs of intestinal disorders (colonic dysmotility), such as irritable bowel syndrome

  • Can ease gastrointestinal upset – diarrhea, loose stools, cramping

  • Can prevent Urinary Tract Infections.

What are Digestive Enzymes?

Digestive enzymes break up food particles in the body. 

Your dog's pancreas releases three different digestive enzymes: Lipase, Amylase, and Protease. This is necessary so that nutrients, vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates can be removed and absorbed into the body. Digestive enzyme supplements can provide Pancreas enzymes but often include plant-based digestive enzymes like Bromelain, Papain, Betaine, and Cellulase.

Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are most beneficial to dogs struggling with Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) or other health issues that affect correct digestion and nutrient absorption of foods. 

Digestive Enzymes can support your dog's health in the following ways:

  • To form part of the treatment for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, which is when the pancreas has limited ability to produce digestive enzymes. 

  • Pancreatic enzymes can treat Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), which can cause damage to the small intestine due to overgrowth of bowel bacteria.

  • Can form part of the treatment for Chronic Pancreatitis, a painful condition when the pancreas is inflamed and has impaired exocrine function. 

  • To support the absorption of nutrients during digestion

  • Reduce discomfort and inflammation in the bowel

  • Boosts the immune system.

If your dog is constantly hungry, but losing weight and experiencing diarrhea and GI upset, digestive supplements can help. Speak to your vet about whether they will be beneficial for your pet's unique needs.

Sometimes as dogs age, their pancreas under-functions. Dog food with digestive enzymes can support the breakdown of its food for adequate nutrient and protein absorption.

Are All Dog Foods Created the Same?

Of course not! Are you a pet parent who has tried numerous products to find the right fit for your dog? Maybe your pet has a specific food allergy, and even the top brands have caused adverse stomach issues in your pet. Enough is enough, right? 

Food with probiotics or digestive enzymes may help your dog's digestive system work better than ever before. A healthy dog can also benefit from probiotics in their food to support gut bacteria activity and microbes.

Dog Foods with Digestive Enzymes

A dog food formula may include digestive enzymes like protease to aid in the absorption and breakdown of proteins. Similarly, alpha-amylase breaks down starches, and cellulase breaks down plant fibers, scientifically known as cellulose. 

It's worth noting, though, that a report by the Journal of Nutritional Science states that for most dogs, the pancreas makes enough digestive enzymes, and a supplement containing additional digestive enzymes is nonessential. 

"The supplementation of a maintenance canine dry diet with recommended doses of exogenous digestive enzymes, plant or animal origin, does not result in improvements of digestibility of protein, fat or energy in healthy adult dogs. Thus, the routine use (of digestive enzymes) in healthy pets is not recommended."

Digestive enzymes are effective in the treatment of dogs or cats with EPI or other pancreatic illnesses. Suppose your vet has diagnosed your pet with malnutrition or insufficient release of digestive enzymes. In that case, you can try some Holistic Select Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, which contains Protease, Alpha-amylase, and Cellulase.

Human Food with Natural Digestive Enzymes

Raw food diets for dogs are rich in digestive enzymes and can be a natural way to support your dog's wellness. Uncooked organ meat and certain non-GMO, organic fruits (papaya or pineapple) can also be great digestive aid snacks for your dog or cat. Just make sure you know which human food to avoid. 

Dog Food with Probiotics

Probiotic supplements come in all shapes and forms. From a probiotic food spray to capsules, powders, or dry dog food with added probiotics. Choosing the right product for your pet is all about finding a product that uses a combination of probiotic cultures with a high colony-forming unit count. 

Dog food with a specially formulated probiotic supplement takes the guesswork out of dosing your pet as it becomes part of their daily food portion. There are many different probiotic cultures, with most probiotic dog foods incorporating Bacillus Coagulans or Lactobacillus (lactic acid) bacteria strains. 

If you would like to help your dog digest food properly while boosting its immune system, probiotic-enriched dog food is a great choice. For the healthy, the allergic, the ill, or the dog with a sensitive tummy, probiotics are a wonderful thing for any pet and their human. 

Why Buy a Dog Food with Probiotics?

Your dog deserves the very best food. Offering them something cheap and poorly made will only damage their body and lead to health issues down the road. Veterinarians have many reasons for suggesting the addition of probiotics for dogs. Have a conversation with your vet to assess which probiotic brand will be best for your dog's health needs. 

Here are the top two reasons why you'd be wise to reach for a dog food brand that has added probiotics to its unique formula. 

Ensures a Balanced Diet for Your Dog

A balanced diet rich in nutrients and organic ingredients will impact your pet's health. Add some probiotics, and you have a formula made in heaven. 

Here are some top dog food brands that include probiotics and a well-balanced ingredient list for optimal pet care:

Wellness CORE 

Dog parents love Wellness CORE grain-free dry dog food for being rich in wild game proteins such as duck, lamb, wild boar, and rabbit. Its number one goal is to provide your dog with whole-body health.

The recipe has incorporated omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine (which supports bone health and mobility), prebiotics, and probiotics. The probiotics used are lactic acid bacteria with a count of +80million CFU per pound. 

Purina ProPlan

Full of live probiotics, Purina ProPlan offers "everyday excellence" for your pet and has the highest count of probiotics when compared to the other products on this list. The formula includes prebiotic fiber, omega-six fatty acids, and boasts a range of vitamins and minerals.

There is also a good protein-to-fat ratio for weight management. Bacillus Coagulans probiotics in this Purina food will support your pet's digestion with +600 million CFU per pound. 

Instinct Raw Boost

The Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free dog food contains freeze-dried raw pieces of food. It has omega 3 and 6 fish oils to boost your pet's skin and coat health. This rich antioxidant food will boost your pet's immune system, further supported by prebiotics and probiotics (Bacillus Coagulans, 60 million CFU per pound).

Helps Your Dog Digest Food Better

If your dog is prone to diarrhea, loose stools, or smelly gas, probiotics will help. Probiotics will also amplify nutrient absorption. Here are some top dog food brands that include probiotics to aid digestion:

Holistic Select 

Holistic grain-free, dry dog food incorporates natural fibers (prebiotics) and live yogurt cultures (probiotics). This meal plan option has also added some natural digestive enzymes for those needing a little more digestion support. The probiotics in this food are lactic acid microorganisms (1 billion CFU per pound) and Bacillus organisms (7 million CFU per pound). 

Nulo Freestyle

Is your doggy needing low-fat food? The Nulo Freestyle, grain-free food, offers a balanced diet that includes L-Carnitine to support the metabolism of fats. With Bacillus Coagulans probiotics (80 million CFU per pound) and chicory root prebiotics, this food is an easily digestible choice. 

Castor Pollux ORGANIX

The ORGANIX grain-free recipe is made in the United States with a blend of organic, superfood ingredients. Prebiotics and probiotics are added for your pet's GI tract benefits, offering 90 million CFU per pound of Bacillus Coagulans.

How to Choose a Dog Food with Probiotics

First and foremost, your dog needs different probiotics than your cat. Do not share dog food with your cat, and vice versa. Choose a food formulated for your doggy and their life stage. 

Here are some of the determining factors to choosing good food for your pup:

High CFU Count

When choosing a probiotic dog food product, you want large "colony forming units" (CFU). You can find out this information by checking the product label to see what their CFU count is. A product with high colony forming units is more likely to be effective when compared to a product with low CFU levels.

Weight Control

Your dog's weight is an essential factor in their health journey. Obesity can trigger a range of health issues like diabetes, arthritis, and heart problems. You want food for your dog to keep them fuller for longer and sustain them for the day. If you are looking for food that will aid weight loss, speak to your vet. 

Good Ingredients

Next, pet parents want a dog food that has good, organic ingredients. Diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, or allergy symptoms are unwelcomed, not to mention messy and smelly. The best foods are rich in protein, sometimes even using alternative protein sources for pets who do not tolerate certain meat. 

A good product will be free of grains, dairy, meat by-products, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, or fillers. 

Vitamins and Minerals

The addition of vitamins and minerals is a big plus for food products. Your pet needs a healthy menu that will support their normal development, energy, and unique needs for their life stage. Good food will do more than fill their belly; it will encourage healthy joints, a lush coat, and strong bones and teeth. 

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the partner for probiotics. Prebiotics are foods that are fibrous and non-digestible. They survive transport to the colon so that probiotic microorganisms can eat them and break them into small chain fatty acids. 

Prebiotics are important for the excellent function of gut bacteria. Food that includes a prebiotic fiber may be more effective in balancing the bacteria colonies. 

Dogs like it!  

It may seem obvious that the dog should like their food, but if you have a fussy pooch, then you know that that is not true for every furbaby, pooch, or hound. Some dogs will turn down a bowl of good food simply because it has a strong smell. Does your furry friend like chicken or beefy flavors? Choose a flavor that your pet likes. If they like more than one, alternate your purchases for variety. 

The dog kibble size is also a determining factor for many pet owners. Some dogs prefer smaller kibble for ease of eating, and others prefer larger dry dog food bits for a fun challenge and more chewability. 

Do Your Research

Keeping all this in mind is important when choosing food for your pet. Browse some reviews and find out what other owners are saying about various brands. There are many great products out there, but they all have pros and cons, some of which are simply personal doggy preferences.

Pet Care with Probiotics for Dogs

Coming up with a good health care plan for your dog can be a little overwhelming. It's a good idea to have a conversation with your vet to assess which dry dog food probiotic brand will serve your dog's health needs. 

You can add probiotic supplements to your dog's diet to help restore harmony in the gut community. When you browse dog foods again, remember to look out for high CFU counts of probiotic bacteria. The correct formula can see pleasing results, including healthier poos, a boosted immune system, and general wellness. 

Happy menu, happy dog!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best probiotic dog food?

Full of live probiotics, Purina ProPlan offers "everyday excellence" for your pet and has the highest count of probiotics when compared to the other products on this list (600 million CFU/lb).

What foods have probiotics for dogs?

Many dog food products contain probiotics for your pet: Wellness CORE, Purina ProPlan, Instinct Raw, Holistic Select, Nulo Freestyle, Castor Pollux Organix, and more. 

Is probiotic dog food good for dogs?

Probiotic supplements can be added to your dog's diet to help restore harmony in the gut community. 

What is the best dog food for gastrointestinal problems?

Any dog food with added probiotics can help ease digestive issues and gastrointestinal upset.