Probiotics for Dogs: Digestive Health

Probiotics for Dogs: Digestive Health

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 20.01.2020

Your pup means everything to you, so you’ll do whatever it takes to keep them happy and healthy. However, what you may not realize is the mere importance of your dog’s gut health. Poor digestive health is the forerunner of many conditions. Luckily, a healthy digestive system and healthy gut make for a healthy pup! So how can you ensure that your four-legged friend’s digestive health is at its very very best? One of the easiest (and convenient) ways is through canine probiotics. 


In today’s article, we’ll discuss the importance of a healthy digestive system and provide you a detailed and key tips for improving your dog’s health and incorporating probiotics into your dog’s diet.


1, 2, 3, canine gut health!



The word, probiotics, literally means “for life”. The word originates from the Latin derivative “pro” meaning “for” and the Greek word “bios” meaning “life”. Anyhoo, probiotics are vital microorganisms that live in various parts of your doggo’s body, like:




  • Oral cavity
  • Nasal cavity
  • Respiratory organs
  • On the skin’s surface
  • Gastrointestinal tract




Probiotics are commonly referred to as “the good bacteria”. You may be aware that not all bacteria is bad or harmful. Actually, your dog needs certain bacteria to continue to stay healthy. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria; they mimic the naturally occurring bacteria that are already present in the body. Humans can reap the benefits of probiotics too, for example, when we eat certain foods such as yogurt, cheese, or synthetically formulated probiotics. 

Regardless, it is incredibly important that there is a balance of good vs bad bacteria in your dog’s body to keep him/her healthy and happy!



Probiotics play a key role in helping your gut stay as healthy as it can. The digestive tract is one of the main players in keeping your body functioning properly. Even more, the health of the digestive tract affects almost every other process within the body. The food you eat and how your body digests and processes it can affect your mood and even your affect cognitive function. This is where probiotics come into play. Probiotics target gut health, specifically, improving digestion so the food you eat is broken down effectively, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed and metabolized.  



Probiotics are healthy and beneficial bacteria that are living organisms. Typically, they are of various species of the Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium groups. These living organisms help to balance good and bad bacteria that live within your dog’s gut (& your gut too). It may sound surprising, but it’s extremely easy for this good and bad bacteria to become out of balance in the body and cause digestive issues. Bad bacteria can outweigh the good bacteria because of an unbalanced diet, illness, or possibly because of antibiotic treatment. It’s unfortunately easy for bad bacteria to take over the gut - this is why probiotics are important!



Some pet supply companies manufacture probiotics that are specifically formulated for your four-legged paw babies. With that being said, many human probiotics are safe for canine consumption too. The dose, however, that varies. 

Additionally, many probiotics for humans come in a simple pill that can be taken orally and swallowed. If you’ve ever had to give your pup a pill then you definitely know how challenges it is. For this exact reason, many pet owners choose to purchase chewable probiotics for dogs. As always, we highly recommend consulting your vet regarding which product and doses are appropriate for your doggo’s individual needs.


Probiotics can provide your pooch with a long list of health advantages (similar to their benefits in humans). Here are some of many positives:

  • Treat diarrhea or constipation
  • Calm an upset stomach
  • Prevent urinary tract infections
  • Prevent allergies
  • Regulate moods
  • Supports immune health
  • Regulates appetite and weight
  • Alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)


Additionally, your dog doesn’t have to be facing any current illnesses in order to benefit from taking probiotics. Just about any pup can benefit from a probiotic supplement! Studies are finding that probiotic supplementation may also help aging dogs by supporting their immune system and helping to prevent the development of some illnesses too.


Most dogs don’t “need” probiotic supplements. However, as we mentioned above, just about every dog can benefit from probiotics. If your dog is currently facing an illness, your bet may recommend a higher dosage. If the bad bacteria in your dog’s gut outnumber the good bacteria, it is crucial to understand why. By simply adding probiotics to your pup’s diet, won’t entirely correct their underlying problem. Again, we recommend you talk to your vet regarding why your dog’s bacteria may be at an imbalance and work together to correct the problem.

Furthermore, if your dog has any of the following conditions below, it is very likely that your pup does need a probiotic supplement:

  • An infection or virus
  • Parasitic infection
  • Use of antibiotics or other medications that affect the body’s natural flora
  • Stress due to new environments or situations
  • Allergies to food

If you know that your doggo is going to experience some form of change that may cause digestive issues, experts recommend starting your pup on a dog probiotic beforehand. Dogs can be very sensitive animals. A probiotic supplement is a great option for managing associated stress and anxiety your pup may be facing. 


Probiotics don’t typically cause many side effects (yay)! However, too many probiotics may throw off your dog's system. If too much of a probiotic supplement is given, extreme nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting may occur. It’s important to monitor probiotic intake in your pups, especially if your dog has a weakened immune system.

Probiotics can multiply very rapidly too. This can lead to an infection or inflammation. Luckily, most issues that may be caused by dog probiotics can be prevented. 


There are a few different probiotics for your pup. Most of the time, your vet will recommend giving your dog a probiotic that’s specifically formulated for dogs. Typically, the supplement will either be in powder form or a chewable. 

Do note that each type of probiotic can help your dog in a different way. Therefore, it may be tricky choosing the right probiotic for your dog’s needs.


One of the most common strains of bacteria for dogs is known as Lactobacillus. These bacteria help with nutrient absorption, allowing your dog to recieve the most out of their meals. Probiotics that contain Lactobacillus strains help prevent digestive upsets, including nausea and diarrhea in addition to the already vitamins and nutrients your pup is getting from their food. 


Another common strain in dog probiotics is referred to as Bifidobacterium. This helps boost your dog’s overall health and support of the immune system. This is especially beneficial for dogs that are overcoming an illness, as well as those with weakened immune systems due to getting older. This bacteria is known to alleviate the signs and reduce the severity of the ailment. 

Purina FortiFlora is one of the most commonly recommended probiotics. It has been shown to meet the claims on its label too. It produces antioxidants to boost the immune system, while beneficial bacteria supports the health of the dog’s GI tract.



We recommend trying to implement probiotics in the form of natural foods too. If your dog has a healthy appetite, we suggest trying these natural probiotic options:

Kimchi and fermented veggies.

Fermented foods are already partially digested. The fermentation process helps in multiplying the good and beneficial bacteria (+ digestive enzymes).

Raw goat milk.

Raw goat milk is typically safe for your doggo (check with your vet if you aren’t sure). It contains a ton of naturally-occurring probiotics. 


Kefir is packed with natural probiotics and makes for a beneficial “cherry on top” for your dog’s balanced meal. 


At the end of the day, we know you want only the very best for your fido. 

What many pet parents don’t realize is just how important the GI tract (+ overall gut health) really is. So many conditions begin with an unbalanced gut. Luckily, adding a probiotic to your pup’s diet can make all the difference in their health. 

A probiotic is an easy and effective way to balance the good vs bad bacteria in your pup’s gut. Remember, bad bacteria will always be there, and it’s okay! As long as there is a healthy and balanced amount, you can be sure your dog’s health is at an optimal level.

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