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?
So many things can make a well-cared dog get ill, but would you believe that not having enough bacteria would be one of them?
You may think of bacteria as the thing that causes disease, but there are good bacteria that are beneficial and crucial to the well-being of people and pets.
In this article, we will explain how to mix some dog-friendly ingredients rich in good bacteria into tasty and health-boosting homemade probiotics.
Understanding the Science of Probiotics for Dogs
Probiotics for dogs are live bacteria that support a healthy gut and general 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.
Different strains of probiotics have different benefits for dogs. For example, probiotics:
Help with digestion and soothe the upset stomach
Prevent inflammation and infections
Promote optimal body weight
To boost the efficacy of probiotics, you should also supplement your dog with prebiotics. While these two terms sound very similar, they refer to different things. Namely, prebiotics are fiber-rich foods that provide nutrients to beneficial bacteria. Such foods include:
Fruit pulp such as beet pulp
Even though dogs can receive many health benefits from probiotics, it is still important to give them appropriately.
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 the best dosage of probiotics. If your dog reacts negatively to a probiotic, stop the therapy and see your vet if signs and symptoms persist.
What is Healthy Bacteria for Dogs?
As mentioned, there are different strains of bacteria with beneficial properties for pets. Here are some examples of healthy microorganisms for dogs:
Ask your vet which strain would be best for your pet. A good balance of a variety of strains should be ideal.
DIY Probiotics, Supplements, or Natural Canine Probiotics
If you love preparing your dog's food from scratch, you will love homemade probiotics. They are easy to make, take a short while, are very inexpensive, and allow you to choose the ingredients.
Homemade probiotics are also great for pet owners who prefer to limit processed products for smoother digestion.
Here are several reasons why you should consider homemade probiotics for your dog:
They are much cheaper than store-bought probiotics. 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 exactly what is in your dog’s supplement. If you are concerned about fillers (soy, grains, wheat) and additives (artificial sweeteners) in manufactured probiotics, you can make your own to put your mind at ease.
Homemade probiotics also provide other nutrients like B vitamins and minerals (calcium and phosphorous). They also provide all the other benefits of other types of probiotics, such as strengthening the immune system.
Are DIY Probiotics Safe for My Dog?
Yes, when carefully and correctly made, DIY probiotics are completely safe for your pup. You should, however, maintain a high degree of caution while preparing dog probiotics:
Maintain a high level of hygiene while working
Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water
Use clean dishes and equipment while working
Store the homemade probiotics in a clean jar
Different Types of Probiotics for Dogs
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 that there is a wide variety of ways to boost the numbers of your dog’s beneficial bacteria.
Dog 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:
The characteristics of supplements will depend on which brand one purchase. It is therefore very important to research and find the best supplement for your dog.
Natural Probiotics for Dogs
Natural probiotics are, in fact, probiotic-rich foods. 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 that support the gut flora.
The most popular and common natural probiotic is yogurt, but there are many other foods your dog can enjoy, including:
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 immune system's strength and providing diarrhea relief.
But what if your dog is lactose intolerant or has milk allergies? If your dog lacks the digestive enzymes for breaking up dairy, fermented vegetables are a great option and pack just as many good microbes as kefir milk and yogurt.
Homemade Probiotic Recipes for Your Dog
With everything explained for homemade probiotics, it is time to start mixing the right ingredients. Here are four simple recipes for DIY dog probiotics.
Pumpkin Peanut Butter Yogurt Drops
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
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.
Frozen Cranberry Pupsicles
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
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.
Honeyberry Treat for Dogs
Ingredients and Equipment
1 cup of organic berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries - you can use different kinds of berries 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
A small pinch of salt
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.
Refreshing Yogurt Treats with Parsley and Carrots
1-⅓ cups yogurt plain
⅓ cup fresh parsley chopped
⅓ cup carrots finely shredded
Add all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Mix them well and spoon into an ice cube tray or a silicone mold.
Freeze for a couple of hours.
Storing Your Dog’s Probiotics
Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria, and they have to stay to support gut health. If they die, they are of no use to the body. Therefore, it is important to provide a conducive environment for probiotics to survive and multiply.
As you can see from the recipes above, freezing does not affect probiotics. Placing food in the freezer will sustain the good bacteria and prevent the multiplication of bad bacteria.
This doesn't apply to refrigeration. While probiotics are safe in the fridge, so are the bad bacteria. In the fridge, bad bacteria can multiply and exceed the probiotic numbers. This is the reason why yogurt can go bad in the fridge.
Finally, you must never under any circumstances heat probiotic foods. Heat kills bacteria, whether good or bad. Heating your dog’s food with probiotics will render it useless that instant.
Our Final Thoughts on Homemade Probiotics for Dogs
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.