By The Farmer's Dog | September 21, 2017

If you’ve read a health blog in the last five years, you probably know that probiotics are good for your gut. But do these live microorganisms also benefit your dog?

Here’s the basic science. Probiotics are good microbes (either bacteria or yeasts) that live in the digestive tract and help fight off the growth and activity of bad bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. In humans, they can boost our immune systems and improve gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, IBS, and intestinal inflammations. While there are fewer studies on the effects of probiotics on dogs, there are a few known strains that can help your pup with digestion and upset stomach.

If your dog is experiencing stomach troubles, your vet might suggest one of two alternatives: prebiotics work with the good bacteria already living in your dog’s colon to nourish it and promote growth, while probiotics nourish and combat any bad bacteria that might have infected your dog. Consult with your vet on the best option for your pup.

Many pet owners supplement their dogs’ diets with probiotics when they are experiencing gastrointestinal issues, many of which are caused by a highly processed diet of dry kibble. Fresh, lightly cooked food, on the other hand, is notoriously easier to digest than commercial pet foods, and most dogs on a fresh diet do not require any additional probiotic supplements.

Still, adding probiotics to your dog’s diet isn’t any more harmful than your midday kombucha habit. Probiotics for dogs come in various forms, from powders to chews and capsules. Mixing yogurt or kefir with live cultures into your dog’s food is also an easy option, assuming you don’t mind sharing your breakfast.

Have probiotics helped your pup?

Image: @milletandlara