We do a lot for our dogs to make sure they live the best life possible. We feed them the best diet, play with them so they can get some exercise, and take them to the vet for regular checkups. 

Any good pet parent would feel like they are doing their best if they did all this. But then after doing all this, your dog may still become ill. 

So many things can make a well-taken care of dog get ill but would you believe that not having enough bacteria would be one of them? 

Well, it could be. You may think of bacteria as the thing that causes disease but there are types of bacteria that are not only beneficial but also crucial to the wellbeing of people and animals alike. 

What are Probiotics for Dogs?

Homemade Probiotics For Dogs

Probiotics for dogs are live bacteria that support the health and well-being of dogs. Bacteria are not the only type of probiotics but they form the largest proportion accounting for nearly 90% of a dog’s total count. 

Other forms include yeasts and fungi. They can be found on many body parts but the majority are found in the gut.

Probiotics Vs Prebiotics 

While these two terms sound very similar, they refer to different things. The term probiotics is used to describe the useful microorganisms living in animals. Prebiotics, on the other hand, refer to foods that are eaten to support the lives of those microorganisms. 

Prebiotic foods are usually foods that provide nutrients to the beneficial microbes living in the gut. Such foods include:

  • Fruit pulp such as beet pulp

  • Oats

  • Soybeans

  • Mushrooms

  • Dandelion Greens

  • Garlic 

You can also supplement your dog’s prebiotic intake. There are several prebiotic supplements available on the market. 

Health Benefits of Probiotics 

Some of the ways your dog will benefit after consuming probiotics include:

  • Improved immune system. The probiotics in the gut help the body fight bad bacteria. This is through producing substances that kill disease-causing germs and providing competition to them for resources for food.

  • Improved digestion. Probiotics are key to the normal functioning of the digestive system. They produce lots of anti-inflammatory substances that protect the intestines from damage

  • Relief from digestive conditions like vomiting and diarrhea

  • Improved general wellbeing. The goodness of probiotics goes beyond the gut. Other potential upsides of using probiotics are being investigated for example their role in the risk of chronic diseases.  

Different Types of Probiotics

Different Types of Probiotics

If you have tried a certain type of probiotic and it’s not working for your dog, do not give up just yet. The good news is there is a wide variety of ways you can boost the numbers of your dog’s beneficial bacteria. 

Natural Probiotics

These are a group that is naturally occurring in food. These tend to be fermented foods and even though the process may involve some human manipulation, the foods naturally contain large numbers of good bacteria. 

The most popular and common natural probiotic is yogurt but there are many other foods your dog can enjoy.

Natural alternatives are great for dogs first because they are all-natural so you don’t have to be concerned about side effects except for allergies and intolerances. 

Secondly, they are instant and require very little preparation on your part. 

Yogurt is an especially important probiotic because it is rich in a type of bacteria known as lactobacillus which plays a vital role in gut health and disease. 

Some of the other benefits of lactobacillus include improving the strength of the immune system and relief from diarrhea. 

As you may be able to tell, most of the natural probiotics are dairy products. But what if your dog is lactose intolerant or has milk allergies? Fermented vegetables are a great option and pack just as many good microbes as yogurt and other dairy products. 

Homemade or DIY Probiotics

If you are one that loves to make your dog’s meals from scratch, you will love homemade probiotics. They are easy to make, take a short while, are very inexpensive, and allow you to know what exactly is in your dog’s food. 

Homemade probiotics are also great for pet owners who prefer to limit the number of processed products in their dogs’ diet. These are not for only one type of pet owner, anyone can give them a try. 

If your dog’s diet is getting redundant and repetitive, you can switch it up by making a homemade probiotic. 

Why You Should Consider Homemade Probiotics

  • They are much cheaper than store-bought probiotics. Do you know how your homemade smoothie costs cents to make while the one at the health food store costs $13? Well, the same applies to dog food. Making your own probiotics is a great way to save money. 

  • Homemade probiotics can be helpful if you cannot access a good quality brand for example on vacation. You can also make DIY probiotics as you search for a trustworthy brand of probiotics

  • DIY probiotics allow you to know what exactly is in your dog’s probiotics. If you are concerned about fillers and additives in manufactured probiotics, you can make your own to put your mind at ease. 

  • Homemade probiotics also provide other nutrients like b vitamins, calcium, and phosphorous. They also provide all the other benefits of other types of probiotics such as strengthening the immune system. 

Probiotic Supplements

What happens if you still need an extra boost for your dog’s gut bacteria and her diet is not meeting those needs? The answer is supplements. 

Probiotic supplements are cultures of good bacteria packaged like medication. Some of the common forms of supplements include:

  • Capsules

  • Powders

  • Chews

  • Tablets 

The characteristics of supplements will depend on which brand one purchases. It is therefore very important to research and find the best supplement for your dog. 

It is especially crucial to find out the variety of strains or types of bacteria present in your dog’s probiotics. Some of the common strains you will find in supplements include:

  • Bifidobacterium Animalis

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus

  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus 

Ask your vet which strain would be best for your pet. A good balance of a variety of strains should be ideal.

Homemade Probiotic Recipes

homemade probiotics

Honeyberry Treat for Dogs

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Mason jar

  • 1 cup of organic berries, any kind. You can use different kinds in one batch. 

  • Water, enough to submerge all the ingredients. For more flavor, use coconut water. 

  • 1 teaspoon of culture starter

  • 1 tablespoon of Honey

  • Salt, a small pinch 

  • Fermentation weight 

Directions

  • Mix the honey, water, salt, and culture starter in a bowl.

  • Mash the berries in a jar with a clean spoon.

  • Pour the mixture over the berries till they are completely submerged in the water. A fermenting weight may be added.

  • Place the jar on the counter away from direct sunlight for 24 hours.

  • When ready and fully fermented, the treat should have a tart taste. 

  • Top your dog’s meals every day with this delicious probiotic treat.

Frozen Cranberry Pupsicles 

Ingredients 

  • 3 tablespoons plain kefir or coconut kefir

  • ½ cup raw goat’s milk

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt

  • ¼ cup fresh or frozen cranberries or any other dog-safe fruit 

  • 1 small pinch of parsley

  • 1 daily dose of a fish oil supplement

Directions 

  • Add the plain or coconut kefir, raw goat’s milk, Greek yogurt, cranberries, parsley, and fish oil to a blender.

  • Make sure that everything is well blended together. Check the mixture for solid chunks.

  • Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or ice cube trays and there you have it, a healthy probiotic treat for dogs in less than 10 minutes. 

Pumpkin peanut butter yogurt drops

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of yogurt

  • ¼ cup of peanut butter

  • ¼ cup of pumpkin puree. Mashed sweet potatoes work great as well. 

  • A pinch of turmeric

Directions  

  • Grease a mini muffin pan

  • Place the yogurt, peanut butter, turmeric, and pumpkin puree in a food processor

  • Mix until the ingredients are well-combined

  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin pan and place in the freezer until solid. 

Homemade kefir

Ingredients 

  • Milk kefir grains, 5 tablespoons

  • Whole milk, 1 cup

Directions

  • Mix the kefir grains with milk.

  • Ensure that the mixture of kefir grains and milk is stored in a place with warmth to allow the fermentation process to take place.

  • After 24 hours, you will have probiotic-rich kefir.

  • Serve the kefir as it is or use it to top other dishes. 

Storing Your Dog’s Probiotics

Storing Your Dog’s Probiotics

Probiotics are living organisms and they have to stay that way to provide to do any good in the body. If they die, they are of no use to the body. It is therefore important to provide a conducive environment for probiotics not only to survive but to multiply as well. 

As you can see from the recipes, freezing does not affect probiotics. Placing food in the freezer will sustain the bacteria present and also prevents the multiplication of bad bacteria. 

This doesn't apply to refrigeration. While probiotics are safe in the fridge, so are bad bacteria. In the fridge, bad bacteria can multiply and exceed the probiotic numbers. This is why yogurt can go bad in the fridge. 

You should never under any circumstances heat probiotic foods. Heat kills bacteria whether good or bad. Heating your dog’s probiotic will render it useless that instant. 

Probiotic Dosage 

Even though dogs can receive many health benefits from probiotics, it is still important to give them in appropriate amounts. 

Unlike humans, dogs cannot have as much probiotic-rich food as they want without side effects. It is advisable to start with a small dose and increase as needed over time.

If your dog is sick, it is best to consult your vet on what the best dosage would be. If your dog reacts negatively to a probiotic, stop the therapy and see your vet if signs and symptoms persist. 

Are DIY Probiotics Safe for My Dog? 

If carefully made in the right conditions, DIY probiotics are completely safe for your dog. You should, however, maintain a high degree of caution while preparing dog probiotics. Ensure to maintain a high level of hygiene while working. 

Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Use clean dishes and equipment while working. Finally, use a clean jar to store the final product. 

Are DIY Probiotics Safe for Pups?

Yes, you can totally give your pup some of the probiotics you made from home. Not only are probiotics safe for pups but they will also help them develop a strong gut microbiome from a young age. Pups, however, require smaller doses than their older counterparts. 

Our Final Thoughts

In conclusion, probiotics are key to the well-being of a dog at any age. They benefit the body in so many ways by improving the number of good bacteria in the gut. If an otherwise healthy dog shows signs of digestive discomfort, probiotic supplementation may help to resolve the issue. 

Homemade probiotics are great for dogs. If you cannot access the manufactured varieties or just prefer to make your dog’s food, feel free to make your own at home. Plus, they are cheap, very easy, and quick to make. 

Always consult your vet before starting your dog on a new probiotic. Your vet should be able to give you an overview of the best probiotic to use, if your dog needs one in the first place, and the dosage to give. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good natural probiotic for dogs?

There are many natural probiotics for dogs including yogurt, kefir, goat milk, sauerkraut, and buttermilk. 

What probiotic foods can I give my dog?

Probiotic foods for dogs include yogurt, fermented vegetables, buttermilk, kefir, and goat milk. 

Can I give my dog yogurt as a probiotic?

Yes, yogurt is an excellent probiotic for dogs. Other milk products such as kefir, buttermilk, and goat milk are excellent as well.

Is human probiotic food safe for dogs?

Yes, most human probiotic foods are safe for dogs. Some of them include yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. You should however always confirm if a specific human food is safe for your dog before giving it.