What are the benefits and best sources of probiotics for dogs? We know that feeding dogs nutrient-rich foods is important. To ensure your dog can absorb those nutrients, it is essential to feed them foods with probiotics as well.
Probiotics can support your dog’s health on the inside and out, and this guide will outline some of those benefits.
Be sure to check out our ideas for dog-friendly probiotic foods at the end of this post!
Why is gut health important?
Your dog’s gut health influences their overall health!
- On the inside: A healthy gut will lead to a stronger immune system and digestive system and, therefore, decreased risk of infections. A healthy gut can even influence mental health.
- As we mentioned in our post about upset stomach remedies, foods that support good bacteria and gut health can help relieve digestive problems.
- On the outside: When your dog’s digestive system is functioning properly, they’re able to absorb more nutrients, and this leads to healthier skin and coat.
What are probiotics?
- Probiotics are the “good” live microorganisms (bacteria and/ or yeasts) that fight off “bad” bacteria and keep the microbiome balanced.
- As we mentioned above, having a healthy balance of gut bacteria impacts immune function and digestive health.
- These good bacteria can come from taking supplements or adding fermented foods, such as yogurt, into the diet.
What are the benefits of probiotics for dogs?
- During and after your dog has been on an antibiotic treatment it can be helpful for them to take a probiotic to restore the balance of their microbiome. As they recover from illness, this digestive system support can help minimize the duration of GI upset.
- If your dog appears to be fatigued and not their joyful self, that can be a signal to you that they need to improve their gut health.
- Because probiotics can reduce inflammation, they can benefit dogs by regulating blood sugar and energy levels, supporting brain health, and reducing stress and anxiety.
- Probiotics work best as a prevention tool to support long-term wellness and attack pathogens over time.
- It can take a couple weeks for the health benefits of probiotics to kick in, so they are not as effective in providing immediate remedy to infections.
- We recommend starting to give your dog probiotics at a young age to set them up with a solid foundation of defense.
Don’t forget about prebiotics!
- Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that feed and stimulate the growth of the good bacteria.
- Because prebiotics help probiotics thrive, the combination of both pro- and prebiotics will help build and support your dog’s gut health!
- There are many whole food sources of prebiotics that are dog friendly and will boost their probiotics to support their digestive health: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, oats, apples, etc.
What are the best sources of probiotics for dogs?
- While there are tons of dog-friendly probiotic supplements on the market, we prefer natural sources of probiotics for dogs in food!
- Humans can get probiotics from fermented foods, and so can dogs!
- Surprisingly, many fermented foods can be safe for dogs. Of course, in moderation and as long as they don’t contain salt or garlic. Check out our homemade, salt-free fermented vegetable medley and mixed berries recipes below.
- A simple source of probiotics for dogs you probably already have on hand is yogurt. Just make sure to test your dog with very small amounts at first to be sure she doesn’t have a dairy sensitivity.
- Choose unsweetened, plain, or Greek yogurt.
- As we mentioned in our post about feeding dogs milk products, Greek yogurt is a better choice for dogs because it contains less lactose.
- Yogurt has the bonus of being high in calcium and protein, so overall it is a great food choice for your pup!
What are the best recipes to incorporate probiotics for dogs?
We have so many recipes that can help boost probiotics for dogs since we love talking about real food when it comes to our furry family members. We’ll be posting the full recipes down the road but here are just a few ideas!
- Homemade, salt-free fermented vegetable medley. Although most dogs won’t eat this by itself, you can mix it in a homemade meal of chicken and oats and they’ll go to town!
- Fermented mixed berries. Again, dogs may not like this tart treat by itself, so try mixing small amounts into a homemade meal of beef, oats, and veggies.
- Frozen yogurt pumpkin treats.
- Red velvet pup cupcakes with beets and berries pack a powerful prebiotic punch.
- Spoonfuls of yogurt over your dog’s food is always a quick and easy option.
We’re working on creating more recipes that incorporate probiotics for dogs, but in the meantime check out this recipe for Blueberry Banana Frozen Dog Treats, which contains plain yogurt!