Probiotics are great for gut health and building the immune system. Have you ever wondered if you can give your pooch human probiotics? Is it a good idea?
Today, we know that the benefits of probiotics apply to dogs and can help promote gut health. In fact, buying your dog probiotics is a great way to prevent health issues, improve digestive tract function, boost the immune system, and reduce stress.
Considering the concept of probiotics is universal, it is normal to wonder – are all good bacteria made the same? Do canines and humans share the same strains of gut bacteria? And finally, can dogs take human probiotics?
Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and find out everything you need to know about the potential risks of human probiotics for dogs and the importance of species-specific strains of bacteria.
Can Dogs Take Human Probiotics?
In theory, yes, dogs can take human probiotics as longs as they do not contain ingredients that are straightforward dangerous to dogs. However, probiotics formulated for humans will not be as effective as dog probiotics.
Are Probiotics for Humans the Same as Probiotics for Dogs?
No, probiotics for humans are not the same as probiotics for dogs. They differ on various levels but, most importantly, in the type and number of live cultures.
The label of a high-quality dog probiotic should feature the following bacteria names:
Lactobacillus acidophilus soothes GI upsets, increases nutrient absorption, and supports the production of vitamin B. It can also alleviate dermatitis symptoms.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is great for dogs prone to yeast growth and is effective in fighting off harmful bacteria. It can also help with food allergies or immune support.
Lactobacillus salivarius has a toxic-like activity against pathogens. This strain can help reduce intestinal inflammation and decreases the risk of GI ulcers.
Lactobacillus casei has anti-inflammatory properties and can positively affect the dog's mood and emotions.
Lactobacillus fermentum inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and protects from urinary tract infections.
Lactobacillus reuteri is perfect for dogs recovering from prolonged medication usage, particularly antibiotics.
Lactobacillus plantarum supports digestive health and improves GI function.
Bifidobacterium animalis supports healthy digestion and helps dogs to recover from illness and during the use of antibiotics.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a healthy yeast that can boost the immune system and help manage pathogen damage in the intestines.
Enterococcus faecium has immunomodulatory effects and can help with stress-triggered diarrhea.
Can I Give My Dog Human Acidophilus?
Yes, you can give your dog a human supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus. This beneficial bacteria is a great staple for human and canine probiotics. L. acidophilus is almost indestructible when traveling through the digestive tract.
Human Grade Probiotics Vs. Human Probiotics for Dogs
Human-grade probiotics are supplements made of high-quality ingredients that pass all the requirements for human consumption. The best probiotics for dogs must be made with human-grade ingredients.
Human probiotics are supplements formulated explicitly for humans. They include live microorganisms that are specific to the human GI tract and can boost digestive health.
Some human-grade pet supplements contain the same live cultures as human probiotics. For example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can be found in both pet and human products.
The Difference Between Probiotics for Dogs and Humans
The well-being of companion animals, just as their owners, depends on gut microbes. When you give your dog a probiotic supplement, you are supporting its body's beneficial bacteria.
To do this, you need a pet-specific probiotic. Let's see how human probiotics differ from dog probiotics.
The Source of The Bacteria. In human products, the bacteria strains are retrieved from various sources. Common probiotic sources for humans are soil, fungi, dairy products, human breast milk or feces, fermented foods and fruit juices, and more.
Labs test the isolated bacteria for safety and beneficial qualities. Then the end product is tested for tolerance to heat, bile, and acids, ensuring that the probiotic bacteria survive in the human GI tract.
The manufacturing process is similar for pet probiotics, and most animal probiotic brands will be human grade as well. However, since pets have different intestinal needs from their owners, sources may differ.
A study on the 'Microbiota and Probiotics in Canine and Feline Welfare' found that "probiotics of human origin appear to be among the new promising tools for the maintenance of pets' health. However, the host-derived microorganisms might be the most appropriate probiotic source." This tells us that host-sourced probiotics have the most impact.
Added Ingredients in the Probiotic Formula. Dogs can be sensitive to ingredients that are present in human supplements. For example, manufacturers sometimes add xylitol to chewable human products to improve the taste and edibility of the capsule taste. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and must be avoided.
The Number of Colony Forming Units (CFUs). The CFU dosage is the standard of measurement in probiotics. There are billions of CFUs in probiotics, and they indicate the number of living bacteria in each dose. Your dog cannot overdose on probiotics, and if they were to consume an excessive amount, it might be evident by loose stool.
Human probiotic supplements contain several probiotic strains to improve potency and effectiveness. The CFU count will also be a lot higher than for pets since we weigh a whole lot more than our furry lapdog.
According to Dr. Shawn of the Paws & Claws animal hospital in Plano, Texas, the "daily dose range for dogs is between 20 to 500 million CFUs, whereas people need between 3 and 5 billion CFUs per day."
If you were to give your dog human probiotics, then the number of probiotic strains will not provide additional benefits, but it's believed that the strains will compete for absorption. Therefore, do not get mislead by the higher number of CFUs in human supplements, give your dog a pet-approved probiotic that contains 3-5 probiotic strains.
Shape and Form of The Probiotic Supplement. Human probiotics can be chewable tablets, capsules, liquids, or powders. For dogs, manufacturers formulate probiotics that are easy to use and administer.
These include probiotic treats and pills or powder sachets that can be sprinkled over dog food. A successful probiotic plan should be effortless. You don't want to have to struggle with your pet each time it needs a probiotic dose.
The Probiotic's Sensitivity to Bile. Your dog's pH level is lower than yours, meaning its bile is much more acidic. This is a defense mechanism that protects dogs from the harmful bacteria they encounter due to their less sanitary habits (butt licking and dirt sniffing).
The food digestion process differs greatly in dogs and humans. With this in mind, probiotic strains resistant to low pH stomach juices are necessary for your dog's digestive system.
Can Dogs Eat Yogurt and Other Foods With Probiotics?
Fermented foods like sourdough, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and yogurt are popular for their ability to provide natural probiotics to the human body.
Even though probiotic supplements are also natural products, many people prefer to eat these foods rather than buy commercial supplements. In the same way, people can wonder about offering their pet probiotic-rich food.
For a lot of dogs, offering a teaspoon of yogurt is fine. But make sure you select a plain or Greek yogurt that is free of mix-ins, artificial sweeteners like xylitol, or unnecessary sugars. These added ingredients can be harmful to your pet.
Limit the amount of probiotic foods to these doses:
One teaspoon a day for small dogs
Two teaspoons a day for medium-sized dogs
Three teaspoons a day for large dogs or giant-breed dogs
If your pet is lactose sensitive or intolerant, add banana slices to the menu. Bananas are a safe and natural probiotic for canines, with enzymes that can soothe irritation in the intestines.
When Your Dog Needs Their Own Probiotics
Probiotics in the human or canine body are tiny microorganisms that live in various places throughout the body, mainly in the GI tract, oral cavity, nasal cavity, skin surface, genitals, and respiratory organs.
Therefore, when the body is in short supply of internal probiotics, you can use supplements to replenish the billions of helpful bacteria that work hard to maintain optimal health.
Here are some situations and conditions that can benefit from dog probiotics:
Compromised or weakened immunity
Problems with the digestion or nutrient absorption
Excessive body weight or obesity
Diarrhea (due to stress, intestinal inflammation, or diet changes)
Irritable bowel syndrome.
If you are not sure whether your dog needs probiotics or which supplement to choose, talk to your trusted vet.
Finally, when using probiotics on your dog, do not forget to add prebiotics to the menu. Prebiotics provide nutrients for the healthy bacteria found in probiotics. Studies show that when used together, these supplements boost each other's effects.
Our Final Thoughts on Human Probiotics for Dogs
Now that you have all the information, we hope you are encouraged to buy your dog probiotics. Human probiotics for dogs won't harm if they contain dog-friendly ingredients, but they won't be as effective as those created specifically for dogs.
It's always a good idea to check with your veterinarian if you have any questions or if your dog has specific needs that you'd like to target with the probiotics.
While you may not be able to see it, caring for your dog's gut and balancing their natural microbiome with healthy little bugs is one of the best ways that you can care for your dog.