Ah, one of my favorite topics: probiotics! What are probiotics for dogs? Are probiotics even good for dogs? And why do I love probiotics so much? How do we get some of these little guys? What are they and what do they do for us dogs? I shall do my best to answer these questions.
Are Probiotics Good For Dogs?
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What Do Probiotics Do?
Let’s start at the beginning. We, dogs and humans alike, are covered inside and out with what is called the microbiome. Most of this microbiome resides in the gut. But what is this microbiome? Well, the microbiome is made up of gazillions of tini-tiny creatures. A combination of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and other things. Don’t freak out! Most of these little guys are good.
The ones in the gut help with the breakdown of the foods we eat, so that we can use the food for fuel. They help to keep us healthy inside and out. In fact, the strength of our immune system is heavily influenced by the health of our microbiome.
Some of the microbes are not as good. If we get too many bad bugs and don’t have enough good ones then we can get sick. There are lots of things that can kill both good and bad guys in our microbiome. Vaccines, antibiotics, assorted medications, the food we eat, and even stress or the stress of our humans. All of these and more can affect our microbiome. So, how can we keep the balance between good and bad microbes?
How Can We Get More Probiotics?
Well, as I said the highest concentration of microbes is in our gut. This is where a good probiotic comes in to play. Probiotics are good little microbes that will help to grow the forces of good in the gut. Probiotics can be consumed either as a supplement or through the foods we eat. Some foods that contain probiotics include kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt with live and active cultures, other fermented food, and yes, even poo.
That’s why some of my fellow dogs eat their own poo or the poo of other creatures, an attempt to replenish the microbiome. Personally, I like goose poo. But enough about that, let’s talk supplements.
What To Look For In Probiotic Supplements
Not all supplements are created equal. First, you need to know that you do need to get your dog a probiotic created for dogs. It’s true we have a different microbiome than the humans we love, thus we need different probiotics. Also, we have some amazing tummy juices that are made to break down bone. If the supplement doesn’t withstand our stomach juices then it won’t reach the gut and won’t do us any good.
When looking at probiotics there are two main things that you will notice CFUs and the number of strains. CFUs refers to the amount of Colony Forming Units. This can be a nice thing to know, but it is not nearly as important so the number of strains.
The number of strains refers to how many different kinds of probiotics are present in the product. More is better. Think of the microbiome as a rain forest with all the different spices of plants, bugs, mushrooms, and animals. So many different things! That is what you want in the microbiome, diversity. So, a higher number of strains is better.
This is why I find that it is best to rotate between different supplements vs. taking the same one all the time. Most supplements have different probiotics in them so rotating can help.
Final Thoughts on Dog Food With Probiotics
Oh! One last thought on a probiotic supplement. Be sure to get a probiotic that also contains a prebiotic. Prebiotics are what feed the probiotics to make sure that the good guys can do their job well and make a home in the gut.
If I had to choose I think that getting probiotics from food is best, but supplements can certainly play a helpful role too. Personally, I enjoy kimchi, kefir, and a probiotic supplement on a daily basis to keep my microbiome healthy. If my microbiome is healthy then I’m healthy and my immune system is strong!