Just like us, dogs are dependent on a fully functioning immune system to make sure that disease-causing organisms and substances are effectively managed at the cellular levels. Now, it is a well-established fact that almost 70 percent of the major disease-fighting cells of the immune system is located in the lymph vessels that line the gastrointestinal tract or the gut. It is for this very reason that they need to maintain the optimal functioning of their digestive system. A fully functioning gut maintains the integrity of the immune system cells, helping pooches to lead healthier, more active, and definitely fuller lives.
Thankfully, you don’t have to visit your veterinarian every now and then to make sure that your mutt’s gut is up to the task. You only need to give it with probiotic supplements that are designed specifically to provide the gut with a healthy population of good bacteria to keep it healthy. As such, we’re sharing in this post the 10 best probiotics for dogs so you can also guarantee a much-improved immune system functioning for a healthier canine.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded, all-in-one product that already incorporates digestive enzymes for dogs as well as vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals in addition to a sufficient number of gut-friendly bacteria, then Purina’s ProPlan Veterinary Diets Fortiflora is an excellent option. Every bite of the Fortiflora contains 100 million CFUs of the bacterium Enterococcus faecium, a naturally-occurring living microorganism in the canine gut.
This simply means that it is very safe for your pooch to take since it is simply adding to what is already present inside its gastrointestinal tract. The other positive thing about Fortiflora is that each kibble is rich in protein, containing not less than 43% of its dry weight. It’s low in fat and fiber, too. Technically, if you’re not giving your pooch any nutrient supplement yet, then Fortiflora is a great option as it comes with the Vitamins A, C, and E to further boost the immune system of your pooch through these vitamins’ powerful antioxidant capabilities.
Excellent combination of nutrients plus live culture of gut-friendly microorganism
Enriched with powerful antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatories
High protein, low fiber, and low-fat content
All-around nutritional supplement
What is really amazing about the Pet Ultimates Probiotics for Dogs is that it doesn’t only contain a single live organism to help improve gut health and play a role in the boosting of your dog’s immune system. Unlike most products that come with only a handful of gut-friendly microorganisms, Pet Ultimates comes with 22 different species, accounting for up to 2 billion CFUs per scoop. Other products can only manage to include over a few hundred million CFUs of microorganisms per serving.
Unfortunately, Pet Ultimates does not contain the most CFUs in this list as this belongs to Amazing Nutritionals at 7 billion. Regardless, its 22-strain formulation is unparalleled. In addition to these pet probiotics, Pet Ultimates also includes the prebiotic inulin in its formulation to further enhance the health-giving benefits of these probiotic supplements for dogs. Inulin is primarily valued for its digestive health benefits as well as the ability to help improve the control of blood sugar in pooches that are predisposed to diabetes. It doesn’t have any other nutrient except for these digestive enzymes for dogs. It is thus, not surprising why Pet Ultimates deserves a spot in our list of the best natural probiotics for dogs.
22 different species of gut-friendly microorganisms
More than 2 billion CFUs per serving
Enriched with inulin for added benefits
No artificial ingredients
Comes in dog food-mixable powder form
If you think the number of CFUs of Pet Ultimates is dizzying, wait till you see just how billions of CFUs the Nutramax Proviable-DC contains. This highly recommended probiotics for dog breeds comes in at a whopping 5 billion CFUs per sprinkle capsule. And the more amazing fact is that the Proviable-DC does it using only 7 different species of healthy bacteria, not 22 like the Pet Ultimates. Another major advantage is that the Nutramax Proviable-DC comes with two probiotics to further improve the health of the digestive tract while also enhancing the ability of the canine immune system in the synthesis of its disease-fighting cells. And since it comes in breakable capsules, there really is no need for the use of any measuring spoon to provide the correct dose. Simply break a capsule and sprinkle its powdery contents into the food of your pooch and you’re done.
Contains more than 5 billion CFUs per capsule
Synthesized from 7 different species of healthy bacteria
Additional 2 probiotics
Easy to administer breakable and sprinkable capsule
One of the best dog probiotic supplement in the market today is the NUSENTIA Miracle, just don’t get confused about the 360 billion CFUs on its label as this is not on a per serving basis but rather for the whole jar of NUSENTIA which is essentially designed for about 360 servings, making the final CFU tally at 1 billion per scoop.
While it pales in comparison to the Proviable-DC or even the Pet Ultimates, it is nevertheless, more than sufficient in making sure your mutt will not suffer bad breath, foul body odor, digestive problems, and even gas. It is also sufficient in helping curb the abnormal growth and proliferation of fungal species. The NUSENTIA Miracle comes in powdered form which needs to be measured exactly in scoop-size servings depending on the weight of your pooch. It doesn’t contain any prebiotic, however. Nonetheless, it is manufactured free from any filler or unnecessary and unsafe ingredient.
Sufficient number of CFUs per scoop at 1 billion
No unnecessary ingredients or chemicals
Veterinarian approved and recommended
Available in a palatable duck flavor that mutts will definitely savor, the PetVitalityPRO’s Probiotic Premium Plus Health Booster with natural digestive enzymes for dogs offers quite a different approach in the boosting of canine immunity, gastrointestinal health, vitality, and general wellbeing. Instead of simply manufacturing a highly concentrated form of healthy microorganisms, PetVitalityPRO incorporates other nutrients into its blend to give your dog the most amazing health benefits it truly deserves.
Alongside 5 different live microorganisms, PetVitalityPRO also includes the extracts from papaya and maqui berry as well as a proprietary blend of green super foods. The net effect is that you get 2 billion CFUs per dog chew complete with antioxidants, fructooligosaccharides, digestive enzymes for dogs, and nucleotides, bringing the total number of active ingredients to 20. PetVitalityPRO is obviously for the dog owner who prefers to supplement his or her mutt with a more well-rounded approach to general canine health. The inclusion of other nutrients that work exceptionally well with the live microorganisms is simply commendable.
Great combination of probiotics and other health-giving phytonutrients, nucleotides, and FOS
Sufficient number of CFUs per soft chew at 2 billion
Available in tasty duck flavored soft doggie chews
Formulated not only to ensure optimal digestive health for pooches, the Amazing Nutritionals Probiotic supplements for dogs also come with amazing support for canine hips and joints so your dog will be moving a lot more efficiently. It contains 4 digestive enzymes for dogs to complement the health-giving benefits of its live culture formulation featuring 7 billion CFUs in a yummy dog chew preparation. It doesn’t come with any artificial ingredient or any substance that may undermine the health benefits of these live cultures.
In addition to the healthy bacteria plus digestive enzymes, Amazing Nutritionals also managed to squeeze into its formulation 3 essential substances for optimum joint and hip health. These include chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane or MSM, and glucosamine. The dry kibble-like presentation of the Amazing Nutritionals is quite handy, too, as there is no need for measuring or for fretting over messy spills. At any rate, administering these pet probiotics should be relatively easy and straightforward.
Contains 7 billion CFUs per dog chew
Formulated with 4 digestive enzymes and 3 joint-friendly substances
Easy to administer dog chew presentation
No harmful chemicals or allergens included
Giving dogs an amazing 5 billion CFUs of healthy microorganisms per capsule, the VetriScience Laboratories’ Mega probiotic supplements for dogs feature 8 different strains of healthy bacteria that have been sourced from non-dairy products. This should help allay the fears of those who may think that live culture from dairy products can have allergenic potential. Like the other products in our list, the VetriScience prides itself of being able to help dogs achieve optimum digestive health to support the function of their immune system. A variety of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species are contained in each capsule of the VetriScience Mega and fortified with fructooligosaccharides for added benefits to canine health. If any, its capsule presentation should make administration relatively easy.
Contains 8 strains of gut-friendly bacteria from non-dairy sources
5 billion CFUs per capsule
Contains no harmful ingredients
TummyWorks is a product that contains 10 different strains of probiotics for a total of 2 billion CFUs per scoop. It also comes with protease, lipase, cellulase, bromelain, beta-gluconase, and amylase digestive enzymes for dogs. It is also enriched with prebiotics to help enhance the digestive functioning by relieving canine diarrhea, bloating, and bad breath. Plus, it can also help reduce shedding and the development of hot spots. Since its formulation comes as a tasteless powder, it won’t affect the overall taste of your pooch’s food, making it a lot easier to administer. Unfortunately, if your mutt won’t eat, then you’d have to think of other ways to administer the TummyWorks. Regardless, it remains an excellent alternative to other more expensive brands.
Contains 10 live culture strains providing 2 billion CFUs per scoop
Comes complete with digestive enzymes and prebiotics
Formulated as a powder for easy mixing with doggie food
Each tablet of the NutraPet Probiotics for Dogs contains 200 million CFUs of 4 different live cultures of digestive-friendly bacteria that include Enterococcus faecium and 3 species of Lactobacillus. NutraPet also comes formulated with prebiotics which effectively enhances the overall health of the canine gut. It’s enriched with vitamins A and E as well as the B-vitamins for a much-needed energy boost.
A closer examination of its contents reveals that NutraPet is prepared with dry chicken liver which should be appetizing to your dogs. The tablets are in chewable form so you can actually serve them as a treat. It is not unusual to look at the NutraPet as a viable alternative to the Fortiflora of Purina. However, NutraPet has more CFUs per serving and comes with 4 different species of good bacteria. The only thing that is missing in the NutraPet is its protein, fiber, moisture, and fat content. Nonetheless, the addition of prebiotics, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins surely makes up for it.
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All-around nutritional supplement packed with vitamins and minerals
Enriched with antioxidants and prebiotics
Chicken liver flavor dogs love
Easy to administer chewable tablets
Most powdered forms of natural probiotics for dogs need to be mixed with food. FurryPals goes a step further by making sure that its probiotic supplement for dogs can also be mixed with your canine’s drinking water. This is accomplished by making sure the FurryPals is tasty enough to be very appealing and enticing to any dog. It is made with a mild meaty formulation to help ensure dogs will ingest it regardless of whether it is mixed with their food or dissolved in their drinking water. A scoop of FurryPals provides 2 billion CFUs that are provided by 6 species of bacteria that are considered to be natural residents of the canine digestive tract. It also includes inulin as its prebiotic ingredient. FurryPals is one of those highly recommended probiotics for dogs that is slowly gaining the trust of hundreds of very satisfied pet owners.
Contains just the right number of bacterial strains
Mixable with food or water
2 billion CFUs for every scoop
With so many products to choose from it is not difficult to understand why some dog owners end up choosing the wrong product for the right reasons. With terms like CFUs, strains, and live cultures baffling the mind it is easy to get overwhelmed, leading you to make incorrect choices. Don’t worry as we’ve got you covered. We’ve prepared something to help you gain a better understanding of what these products are and what they bring to the table. We’ll also show you how to choose the most appropriate probiotic for your dog and why you cannot give the product that you may already be using.
Just as probiotics have been providing us with exceptional health benefits by improving the overall functioning of the different structures of the digestive tract, live cultures of good bacteria given to pets can also spell the same amazing benefits. But do they really need it? This question is often asked by those who are relatively new to pet parenting. Before we explore the different reasons why you should give your pooch a probiotic, let us first understand some basics.
Probiotics are essentially live microorganisms, bacteria to be more specific, that are cultured in the lab and then packaged into what we now call as probiotic supplements for dogs. You may wonder why we need to introduce bacteria into the canine gut. It has something to do with balance. It’s about the Yin and the Yang, the Black and the White, the Good and the Bad. The point is that there are countless bacteria in the body, especially the gastrointestinal tract. What many don’t realize is that majority of these bacteria are actually residents of the gut. These are the microorganisms that secrete certain substances that aid in the more efficient digestion of food, as well as help, modulate the responses of the immune system.
Now, we did say that the majority of the microbial flora in the gut is “useful.” This also means that there are some that are quite pathogenic. Many of these ‘bad bacteria’ are not inherently evil. Unfortunately, in the process of their growth, they tend to secrete substances or metabolic byproducts that significantly lower the pH levels of the gut, making it more “ideal” for other pathogenic microorganisms to settle in. These can come from contaminated food or even from other sources introduced into the gut when dogs swallow something.
The good thing is that the good bacteria are known to synthesize and release short-chain fatty acids or SCFAs. It is these fatty acids that help inhibit the activity as well as the growth of harmful or “bad” bacteria. The important thing to understand is that these bad bacteria are essentially rendered harmless and effectively flushed out by the colony of good bacteria. So, it is this case of good triumphing over evil that optimum digestive health is achieved.
Sadly, there are instances when the number of bad microorganisms is sufficiently greater than the population of good bacteria. This leads to a crowding out of the SCFA-secreting microorganisms, leading to a reduction in the inhibition of growth and activity of harmful bacteria. This is often characterized by the following clinical manifestations.
So, the main point is that the population of good bacteria is overwhelmed by the population of bad bacteria that can include Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella species, among others.
Probiotic supplements for dogs essentially “add” to the population of good bacteria in the gut to reestablish balance and enable these microorganisms to release more SCFAs to fight and inactivate the bad bacteria. Manufacturers of these supplements have to be very careful in the formulation of their products, though, as introducing more than a sufficient number of strains could potentially result in the different good bacteria fighting against each other. That is why the American Kennel Club strongly recommends putting only a few strains of beneficial bacteria in any given product to help prevent such a phenomenon.
Some of the more common good bacteria that are often included in such products include the following.
There are other beneficial bacteria that can be ‘re-introduced’ into the gut of our canine friends to help reestablish balance. What you need to remember is that your dog simply cannot have all of these microorganisms at the same time as the risk of “infighting” among these species can undermine their effectiveness.
Now, it is through this activity of probiotics that their benefits can be obtained. These benefits can include the following.
Since one of the essential causes of intestinal inflammation as well as irritable bowel syndrome is the presence of toxins that somehow irritate the intestinal and colon lining, introducing live cultures of beneficial bacteria can help suppress if not totally eliminate the activity of offending microorganisms. Again, this is done by increasing the number of colony-forming units that produce SCFAs.
There is another reason why probiotics are well-regarded when it comes to ensuring optimum canine well-being. Along the entire length of the digestive tract are massive tracts of lymph vessels which are primarily known for carrying a variety of disease-fighting cells. These cells act on pathogens present in the gut which can include bacteria and even viruses. However, they can only do this if the integrity of the intestinal lining is maintained. Beneficial bacteria help improve the integrity of this lining to help boost the functioning of the lymphatic cells. This is what helps improve the immune system functioning of pooches.
We mentioned above that beneficial bacterial preparations can help boost the immune system by strengthening the interface between the gut and the lymphatic vessels. This helps prevent the entry of viruses and bacteria from the gut and into the lymph where these can be drained into the general circulation. And since blood circulates through the kidneys, these harmful microorganisms can attach to the urinary tract where these can initiate an infection. Preventing these from occurring is made possible by the addition of probiotic supplements to your pet’s diet.
The inhibition of the activity of offending microorganisms can also lead to a reduction in allergic reactions which is further strengthened by a fully functioning immune system. Technically, this is ensured by the reduction in intestinal permeability as the probiotics strengthen the lining of the intestines, lessening the contact between allergens in the gut and hyper-reactive immune system cells in the lymph vessels.
Aside from these, probiotics are also known to reduce the occurrence of bad breath by reducing the number of pathogenic microorganisms in the gut. It also helps improve the appearance and health of your dog’s coat and skin while also reducing the formation of gas. Some studies also point to the potential benefit of probiotics in the reduction of incidences related to yeast or fungal activity.
So, does your dog need a probiotic? Based on what we have discussed so far, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
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Now that you know the importance of giving probiotic supplements for dogs as well as their benefits, it’s time to get right down to the business of selecting the correct product for your mutt. Unfortunately, there are no clear guidelines on what constitutes the ‘ideal’ probiotic in dogs. However, you can always look at the following things if you’re on the prowl for the most appropriate beneficial bacteria preparation for your pet.
All probiotic products come with different numbers of colony forming units or CFUs. Some come in the hundreds of millions while others boast of billions for each serving. This can be quite misleading since getting a product that says it contains 400 billion CFUs can be easily interpreted as very exceptional. However, you need to read between the lines as this value often encompasses the entire product and not a single serving. For example, you may have a 400-gram jar saying it contains 400 billion CFUs. What this means is that the entire 400 grams are equivalent to 400 billion CFUs or simply 1 billion CFU per gram.
The main issue is not really in the number of CFUs these products contain, but rather the lack of knowledge of just how much our pooch needs. There really is no way for us to determine if 1 billion CFUs is sufficient to produce the much-desired benefits from our pets or if 100 million is already enough. Given that we have no idea about just how much our dogs’ colony of naturally beneficial bacteria is present in its gut, it is often wise to start with a smaller number of CFUs, say 100 million. If there are no effects within a given time frame, then you can try to increase the dose to 200 million and so on and so forth. The idea is to establish a minimum number of CFUs that desirable health benefits can be readily observed.
We already said that putting in too many bacterial strains in any given product may have the opposite effect of what you desire. That is why the AKC recommends starting off with fewer strains then gradually work your way up. However, it is often a must that the product should contain a good mix of both Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli species as these two have been extensively studied for their effects.
In our example above, does the 400 billion CFUs effective from the time of first use or from the time it was produced and packed? The reason for this is that these products come from living microorganisms that tend to decay and lose its potency over time. This is a very important consideration.
Related to the guarantee of potency and shelf stability is the transparency of the labeling. Products should disclose all of their ingredients. And, if they can provide a guaranteed analysis of these ingredients, then this would be even better. Just make sure that they have also a listing of the different irritants or harmful ingredients or substances that they did not include in their formulation.
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You might be inclined to think that the Lactobacillus casei present in our favorite probiotic drink can also be beneficial when given to our pooches. While it is true that these human products have not been proven to be harmful to dogs, it should be noted that the digestive system of humans is inherently different from that of dogs. There are differences in digestive enzymes, stomach fluid acidity, and even the unique features of the gut. Human probiotic products have never been formulated and tested to work specifically on dogs. As such, it is a lot safer to just stick with probiotic supplements for dogs.
Probiotics for dogs are exceptionally useful microorganisms that provide a host of benefits for our dogs including a boost in their immune system, the reduction of many gastrointestinal complaints, the improvement in their coat and skin, and so much more. It is thus, imperative that you look into the products’ number of CFUs, various strains, potency guarantee, and clarity of labeling to help you choose one that is specifically intended and right for your furry friend.