Benefits of probiotics for dogs

probiotics for dogs

When it comes to the benefits of probiotics for dogs, especially puppies, there are many.

The health of a pet’s digestive system has a remarkable influence over the health of the rest of the body, and probiotics play an important role in keeping it healthy.

The digestive system is responsible for taking in food, digesting it and turning it into absorbable nutrition. It is also an integral part of the immune system, forming a physical barrier to invading pathogens, as well as acting as a source of information for immune cells to respond to as needed.

Given these and many other important roles the digestive system plays, it stands to reason that to optimise general health, our pet’s digestive system and gut health needs to be in tip top shape and that’s where the benefits of probiotics for dogs comes in.

The role of probiotics for dogs

Probiotics are microorganisms that thrive in the digestive system and have a positive benefit on the health of the host organism. They are also known as good bacteria.

There are more probiotic bacteria living in the digestive system than there are cells in the body and these microorganisms have a remarkable influence over how the body functions and overall health.

The benefits of probiotics
  • Protecting the digestive system from invasion by pathogenic bacteria
  • Sending signals to the immune system to begin to mount an immune response when required
  • Helping repair the digestive lining via secretion of protective short chain fatty acids
  • Producing important vitamins including some B Vitamins and Vitamin K
  • Assisting in the symptomatic relief of digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhoea
  • Assisting in recovery from gastric illness and vomiting
  • Helping to maintain healthy immune system function, keeping the immune system healthy and ready to respond to pathogens as well as assisting in immune system regulation and some immune-mediated health issues (such as certain skin conditions)
  • Assisting in restoring the balance of good bacteria in the digestive system which can be compromised after a course of antibiotics
Probiotics for puppies

Puppies have a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in their digestive system, and the balance can be easily disrupted by the stress of dealing with many new and challenging situations that puppies have to deal with early in life.

Being transported to a new home, and meeting new people, and other animals can certainly cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

Then there’s vaccinations and dietary changes that also have an impact and can lead to an inflammatory response that can throw out the balance and impact on gut health.

That’s why it’s so important to slowly transition them across to a new diet, for example if you are moving them away from a dry food and introducing a complete and balanced raw food into their diet to improve their gut health.   You can read more about that HERE.

Probiotics and other supplements that support healthy gut microbiome can be particularly beneficial for puppies as they can help to restore the balance and can also boost their immune system, which reduce the risk of digestive issues that cause diarrhea and vomiting.

How to integrate probiotics for dogs into their diet

In the wild, dogs would have ingested probiotics as they consumed their prey, some people source and feed their pets green tripe for this reason. A convenient, readily available option is a healthy raw food diet with added probiotics. Another convenient option is probiotic and gut health supplement.

The key with probiotics is to ensure ingestion quickly after serving. Probiotics are live organisms and whilst they are freeze-dried and dormant when purchased, they are quickly activated by heat and moisture.

For this reason, when serving probiotics sprinkled over / mixed into your pets’ meal, make sure they eat their meal in one sitting and don’t leave it lying around for hours. This may reduce the potency of the probiotic by the time it is ingested.

Key times to introduce probiotics for dogs

You should look to introduce probiotics into your pet’s diet if they requires a course of antibiotics, to help keep the balance of the digestive microclimate optimal.

Any digestive issues like gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea can benefit greatly from probiotics.

They can also improve immune system function, which makes them helpful when a pet is suffering from any immune-related issues, including some skin issues.

To maintain general health and wellbeing, there is no reason probiotics cannot be a part of your pets’ daily routine.

When not to prescribe probiotics

Probiotics have a wide safety window and are generally accepted as safe. There would be a few instances where probiotics may not be suitable and it’s important to discuss the suitability of all pet supplements with your trusted pet health practitioner of choice before supplementing. Be cautious of probiotics in severely immunocompromised pets or those taking immunosuppressant drugs.

What to look out for in a probiotic product
  • The probiotic supplement should be species appropriate, meaning formulated specifically for dogs or cats containing host bacteria that is unique to their digestive system.
  • The supplement should be therapeutic strength, meaning formulated with good bacteria levels in the billions to ensure a tangible health benefit will be observed.
  • Correct storage of probiotics out of direct heat and sun and within the storage conditions on the label is important to ensure the viability of these delicate live bacteria.
  • The addition of other ingredients that promote optimal digestive function and good gut health including digestive enzymes to assist in the digestion process, as well as prebiotics which feed the probiotics and boost their efficacy and lifespan in the digestive system.


Check out the Big Dog Pet Foods Probiotic range, including Natural, Stress & Anxiety and  Sooth and Support HERE.

About the Author:  Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service. 

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