Probiotics are part of everyone’s lives these days. Most people take probiotics in one form or another, be it from supplements or healthy diets. A daily probiotic will promote a healthy gut, but it will also boost the immune system and maintain a healthy weight. On another note, probiotics will underline a healthy microbiome, which is critical for your health.
Now, with so many things suitable for both humans and dogs, you probably ask yourself – can I give my dog human probiotics? Believe it or not, dogs can also benefit from probiotics. They also require a proper gut functionality. However, this answer takes you to another question – do all human probiotics work for dogs?
It is important to know that humans and dogs have different immune systems. The bacteria in your dog’s immune system is not like yours. Generally speaking, it is better to give your dog specific probiotics developed for the respective specie. Human probiotics will not really harm it and some of them may actually provide lots of benefits too.
There are more aspects to take in consideration when about to make this move. You have to understand the signs that your dog needs probiotics, but you also need to train your furry friend on taking them without struggling too much.
How to tell if your dog needs probiotics
There is no evidence to determine whether human probiotics can help or harm dogs. Probiotics represent live microorganisms that can keep your dog in good health condition. From this point of view, it is important to give your dog a probiotic that will aid its specific bacteria.
How do you know if your dog needs probiotics? Simply put, digestive health problems are the most obvious ones. If your dog is scratching most of the time (no fleas or other obvious reasons), chances are it will require probiotics. At the same time, pay attention to the smell. It is not the doggy smell your pet gets from going outside, but its breath and stool.
Too much shedding is also an obvious sign that your dog suffers from digestive distress, not to mention a flaky skin, diarrhea and ear infections with no apparent reasons.
The body language will give you a few valuable hints as well. Here are some of the most common signs that your dog needs probiotics, especially when there are no obvious reasons:
- Constantly dropped or raised ears
- Reactions to medications
What are the best probiotics for dogs?
So, can I give my dog human probiotics? Some of them are likely to help, while others might be irrelevant. Three types in particular will make the difference.
Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium come together as one type. They are most commonly found in lactic products. Lactobacillus is responsible for the lactic acid, which prevents the growth and development of harmful bacteria. Do not exaggerate with it though, as it might cause aggression in some breeds.
On the same note, bifidobacterium has similar benefits and lives in the colon. It has a tight connection with immune system cells, as it clears out harmful bacteria.
Some of the most popular foods with these probiotics include kefir, yogurt and fermented vegetables.
Saccharomyces boulardii is the second type of probiotics you can give your dog. It is not a bacterium, but a yeast. It is part of the same family though and it has lots of benefits in keeping both chronic and acute diarrhea under control. It works in both people and dogs.
There is one special aspect regarding this probiotic. Antibiotics cannot kill it, so it can be taken with various treatments without losing its efficiency.
Last, but not least, the third type of healthy probiotics for dogs involve soil based organisms. They are common in water and soils and they come with more strains. They grow and develop a hard coating, so they cannot be killed by most antibiotics. They can resist heat and acids as well. Plus, they are hypoallergenic, so they work wonders in dogs with allergies – especially dairy allergies.
How many probiotics to give your dog
So, can I give my dog human probiotics? Yes, as long as you do some research and feed your pet the right ones. But now, what is the optimal dosage?
How much probiotic for dogs you feed depends on what probiotic you choose for the treatment. If you are interested in bifidobacterium and lactobacillus, you should rely on supplements with a few different strains. Single strains are not that powerful individually, so you will need a mix.
Probiotics are gone in no time in the gut, so you need a large amount of them – at least 10 billion. Check the label before purchasing a supplement. On the other hand, saccharomyces boulardii has some extra resistance, so your dog will have any colony between half a billion and three billion CFU.
Soil based probiotics are quite resistant too, but then again, they are more efficient if you get more strains at once. A billion CFU will be more than enough – more is not necessarily better.
When probiotics are completely useless in your dog
Probiotics are generally healthy, but there are certain circumstances when they will not work.
Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth can be a serious problem that reduces the efficiency of probiotics. Most bacteria will hang around the colon, while a few of them will be in the small intestine. When the small intestine gets too much bacteria, the digestion will be affected. Obviously, the system will also absorb less nutrients than normally.
Lots of people and dogs have this issue and symptoms vary widely – weight loss, gas, IBS, diarrhea, gut and skin issues. The problem has multiple causes, including drugs and diets rich in carbohydrates. If your dog seems to feel worse after getting probiotics, it might suffer from this problem.
Most of the bacteria in this area include bifidobacterium and lactobacillus species, meaning you should not give your dog probiotic. On the other hand, soil based probiotics will stay in their coats until they are needed and the environment feels healthy, so they make a good alternative.
Other than that, probiotics can be killed by antibiotics. Some of them can survive antibiotics, while others will delay the natural recovery of the microbiome. If your dog has just been through antibiotic treatment, hold on for a while. The only probiotic that can still work is saccharomyces boulardii.
If your dog’s microbiome is not in the best condition, probiotics will not solve the problem. They can help a little, but the treatment goes way further than that.
How to train your dog for probiotics
It is worth working with your dog in the attempt to convince it to accept probiotics. Sure, in the worst case, you can just chuck a pill down its throat and keep the mouth shut. It is easier to help your furry friend understand the procedure though.
You can introduce your pet to pills and even try to play throw and catch. You can use them as treats – but based on the dosage instructions, of course – or even hide them inside your dog’s favorite food.
Based on how picky your pet is, you should choose a supplement with the easiest administration method.
Frequently asked questions
Any questions? Deal with your vet. But then, here are some of the most common questions people ask when not sure about probiotics for their dogs.
What is a natural probiotic for my dog?
There are more options to take in consideration when giving your dog probiotics. Some of the natural options include kefir, goat’s milk, yogurt and cheese. Fermented vegetables are just as good – go easy on carrots and avoid onions.
Furthermore, dandelion greens, bananas, garlic, flaxseed chicory root, asparagus, apples, seaweed and chia seeds are also rich in natural probiotics.
Can I give my dog human digestive enzymes?
There are no studies to determine whether human digestive enzymes can help or harm dogs. However, there are lots of dog specific digestive enzymes out there. There are lots of supplements for dogs, so there is no point giving your dog human digestive enzymes.
Can I give my dog probiotics for diarrhea?
Probiotics balance the immune system and can prevent a series of associated issues, such as bloating sensations, gas and even diarrhea. For this reason, probiotic supplements represent a good recommendation for vets when it comes to treating diarrhea – both acute and chronic.
So, can I give my dog human probiotics? Yes and no. Some probiotic supplements are suitable to both humans and dogs. Some others have no effects on dogs, not to mention the products specifically developed for dogs. If you are not sure about something in particular, simply discuss this aspect with your vet as well.
On the other hand, if you have to choose between human and dog probiotics, go with the specific option. Dogs have different bacteria and systems, so it makes more sense to invest in a specific supplement.