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?
Have you ever wondered if you can give your pooch human probiotics? Probiotics are great for gut health and building the immune system.
You may have reached for them when taking antibiotics as a way to support and replace the good gut bacteria in your body. For dogs, they are just as beneficial. A regular probiotic plan can solve runny stool, stinky farts, and bad breath. Great news!
Sharing medication or human supplements with your pup should always be done with caution. While mammals have similar constitutions, your probiotics are created for the human digestive system.
Buying your dog a probiotic is a great way to prevent health issues, improve digestive tract function, and it can even reduce stress. Giving your pet human probiotics won't do them serious harm, but offering your dog probiotic supplements tailored to the canine body will be more effective.
Keep reading to find out more about how human and animal probiotics differ and how you can choose an exceptional product for your one true fur love.
What are 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. Your gut flora has various species of bacteria. Some are good and keep the body healthy, while some bacteria can be damaging and lead to illness or gastrointestinal upset.
When the body is in short supply of internal probiotics, you can take supplements to replenish the billions of helpful bacteria that work hard to keep us at optimal health.
According to the World Health Organization and The Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.S., probiotic supplements are defined as "Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."
Probiotic Health Benefits
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 their body's healthy bacteria population.
The benefits of probiotics include:
A stronger immune system
Improves nutrient absorption from food
Hinders harmful bacteria
Reduces allergic reactions and inflammation, thereby decreasing allergy side effects, especially for food allergies.
Treats gut inflammation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Treats intestinal inflammation, diarrhea, and IBS
Prevents urinary tract infections
If your dog shows signs of gastrointestinal upset, it can mean anything from food intolerance to a bacterial infection. Take your dog to the veterinarian so that they can assess your pet's health. Probiotics can help in these situations, but dogs can also take them daily for wellness maintenance.
Human Grade Probiotic
When foods or medical products are labeled as "human-grade," it means that they pass all the requirements for human consumption.
Most human-grade foods can be safe for pets. Human probiotic supplements can contain strains of bacteria that are helpful for our canine companions too. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are strains that can be used for both pet or human probiotic products.
What About Natural Probiotic Foods?
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 natural products, many people may prefer to eat these foods rather than buy 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 quantities of probiotic foods for dogs to these doses:
One teaspoon daily for small dogs
Two teaspoons daily for medium-sized dogs
Three teaspoons daily for large dogs or giant-breed dogs
If your pet is lactose sensitive or intolerant, then give your dog slices of bananas. Bananas are a safe and natural probiotic for canines, with natural enzymes that can soothe intestinal irritation.
Probiotics are Not All Created Equal
Research for canine probiotics is in the preliminary phases, and there is much to be discovered. What we do know so far is that some friendly bacteria are beneficial for the canine body. Probiotic strains for animals include the following:
Lactobacillus are lactic acid bacteria. They're acid and bile tolerant and have been used for both humans and their companion animals.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a great staple for human and canine probiotics. L. acidophilus is almost indestructible when traveling through the digestive tract. It's helpful for gut upset, increasing nutrient absorption, and even produces vitamin B. If your dog struggles with dermatitis, L acidophilus can alleviate the symptoms and improve their coat conditions.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is great for female dogs or those prone to yeast growth. It's also effective in fighting off harmful bacteria. L. rhamnosus can also help with allergies or immune support.
Lactobacillus salivarius can produce toxic-like activity against pathogens. This strain can help reduce inflammation and ulcer risk in the stomach and intestines.
Lactobacillus fermentum is useful in the care of urinary organs by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.
Lactobacillus reuteri are perfect for antibiotic recovery, general wellness, immune support, stomach sensitivity.
Lactobacillus plantarum supports normal digestive function.
Bifidobacteria are one of the major strains of bacteria that make up the digestive tract microbiota in mammals. It's mainly found in the large intestine and protects the colon by removing toxins. Bifidobacterium animalis supports healthy digestion and helps dogs to recover from illness and during the use of antibiotics.
Saccharomyces boulardii has the most well-described immunomodulatory actions. It's a healthy yeast rather than a bacteria. In a study with mice, Saccharomyces were effective in treating pathogen damage and improvement of the intestine. It helps with boosting the immune system,
Enterococcus faecium is robust bacteria found in the mammal gut. They are adaptable and survive low pH levels, making it possible for them to surpass stomach bile and reach the colon and intestines. Enterococcus probiotics are effective in their impact on stress-related diarrhea.
Studies have shown that this species can even impact immunomodulatory changes and improve intestinal health. Even if your dog's digestive system is generally strong and healthy, Enterococcus-based probiotics can reduce the likelihood of diarrhea and GI distress.
Probiotic Bacillus Coagulans are effective in treating the pathogen, Clostridium difficile. Clostridium difficile is a dangerous enteropathogen known to cause damage to your dog's digestive tract. C. difficile travels along the intestine, inflicting tiny wounds on the intestinal walls.
These wounds can cause recurring infections. Bacillus Coagulans are soil-based and can survive processing, and is, therefore, a popular ingredient in dog food and baked probiotic treats.
The Difference Between Probiotics for Dogs and Humans
For pets to benefit from bacterial strains, they need to contain bacteria that support their unique digestive tract. Let's see how human-grade probiotics differ from probiotics for dogs.
When it comes to human-grade probiotics, 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 bacteria strains for safety and their beneficial qualities. Manufacturers will also test the products for tolerance to heat, bile, and acids, ensuring that the probiotic bacteria survive in the human digestive system.
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.
Dogs can be sensitive to ingredients that are present in your human supplement. Manufacturers sometimes add xylitol to chewable human probiotics to improve the capsule taste. Xylitol can cause toxicity in dogs and should be avoided.
The CFU dose is the standard of measurement in probiotics and stands for "colony forming unit." There are billions of CFUs in probiotics, and they indicate the number of living cells 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.
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. Instead, give your dog a pet-approved probiotic that contains 3-5 probiotic strains.
Shape and Form
Human probiotics can be chewable tablets, capsules, liquid form, or powders. For your pooch, manufacturers formulate probiotics that will be easy to administer.
These include probiotic treats and chews, 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 to get them to take their supplements.
Sensitivity to Bile
Your dog's pH level is lower than yours, meaning that their bile is acidic in order to protect them against bacteria they encounter in their less sanitary habits (butt licking and dirt sniffing).
Dogs and humans digest food differently for their unique nutritional needs. With this in mind, probiotic strains resistant to low pH stomach juices are necessary for your dog's digestive system.
Picking the Right Probiotic for Your Dog
When it comes to shopping for probiotics for dogs, the market can be a little overwhelming. Here's what you want to look out for:
Multiple strains combined for maximum absorption and impact.
Combined with prebiotics, the non-soluble foods that feed the dog gut probiotics.
Free of sweeteners.
No allergens, like corn, soy, gluten, or dairy.
Easy to administer - powder or chewable treat.
Lab-tested for quality with a guaranteed analysis that tells you the shelf-life of the bacteria.
Between 1-5 Billion CFU per dose. Speak to your vet about the proper dosage for your dog's weight and condition.
Caring for Your Dog's Gut With Probiotics for Dogs
Now that you have all the information, we hope you're encouraged to buy your dog probiotics. Human probiotics for dogs won't harm, but they won't be as effective as those created specifically for your four-legged friend.
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 the probiotics to change and target. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a good natural probiotic for dogs?
Bananas are a safe and natural probiotic for canines, with natural enzymes that can soothe intestinal irritation.
Can I give my dog yogurt as a probiotic?
For a lot of dogs, giving them 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.
Should you give dogs probiotics?
Yes, 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 their body's healthy bacteria population.