Downeast Dog News

Ask the Vet, Question about Brewers Yeast

By Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH | Oct 09, 2012

Q.  My friends say I should be giving my dog brewer’s yeast. I don’t know what it is and what it does. Can you fill me in?

A.  Brewer’s Yeast is a one-celled fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae that is used to make beer.  It has also been used for years as a nutritional supplement and an aid in treating some chronic diseases.

In general, Brewer’s yeast is a good source of Vitamin B-complex, chromium, and selenium.  The B-complex vitamins in this yeast are thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid pyridoxine, folic acid, and biotin.  It does not have Vitamin B12 that is found in meat and dairy products. B-complex is used by the body to breakdown carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which provide the body with energy.  They also support the nervous system, digestive muscles, and keep skin, hair, mouth, eyes, and liver healthy.

Chromium is a mineral that has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. It may be useful in lowering the amount of insulin. More research is needed, but some studies suggest chromium supplementation may help in diabetes to control blood sugar levels.

Selenium and vitamin E are used to support and build muscles. This is true in people and dogs.

Other studies suggest brewer’s yeast may help lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol in people but not in dogs. It has been suggested to be useful in weight loss by helping reduce body fat, though exercise and calorie restriction has better results.  Brewer’s yeast is a good source of protein and is an energy boost.

There are other studies that show brewer’s yeast is successful in treating acne, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and helpful in preventing flu and colds. Some authors have recommended brewer’s yeast for “traveler’s diarrhea”.  This would be good for dogs who have diarrhea when traveling or at dog events.

From all the studies in humans, it has been found that brewer’s yeast is a great antioxidant and that applies to dogs as well.  This is beneficial in several ways. By supplementing your dog’s diet with brewer’s yeast, his coat will be healthier and shed less. It will help boost his immune system which will aid in reduction of parasites, inside and out.

When a dog is stressed or extremely hyper, brewer’s yeast may calm down Fido. The reason is the good source of vitamin B-complex. B vitamins are depleted rapidly when the dog is stressed. By adding a good source of vitamin B-complex, like brewer’s yeast, to the diet, your pooch may suffer less from separation anxiety, and other stress induced anxieties.

Brewer’s yeast is very palatable to dogs. If your dog is a finicky eater or getting over an illness, add brewer’s yeast to the food.

Some folks are concerned with giving any yeast to a dog with yeast infections. The yeast you are feeding your dog is not the same as the yeast infection in the ears or skin. That said, if your dog has a sensitivity or allergy, to yeast then adding any yeast  to the diet may make the infections worse. Some dogs are allergic to yeast, and the symptoms seen can be itchy skin and upset, bloated, gaseous stomachs.

Overall, for most dogs, brewer’s yeast is safe and beneficial. Don’t get it confused with other dietetic yeast out there. These are baker’s yeast, which will make him sick, nutritional and torula yeasts, these are low in some nutrients such as chromium.

Dosing the brewer’s yeast is variable. If using a commercially prepared brewer’s yeast for dogs, then follow the directions.  Some sources say not to exceed 1 teaspoon a day, others say 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds. Either way, start slowly.

Overall brewer’s yeast is a relatively safe and beneficial supplement. It isn’t pricey either. A lot of garlic and brewer’s yeast supplements are out there as a parasite repellent. Some of the literature says it makes the skin smell and/ or taste bad to the parasite. The jury is out on this. Some people say it reduces the number of fleas their pets have in a year; some studies say it doesn’t. What we do know is the stronger our dog’s immune system is, the fewer parasites and illnesses they get. Brewer’s yeast  has been shown to boost the immune system.

So add it to your food and your friend’s food. Be healthier and reap the benefits.


Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH

Animal Wellness Center, Augusta, ME