Downeast Dog News

Are Probiotics Beneficial for My Dog

By Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH | Mar 01, 2021

Q. Does my dog need probiotics? I hear a lot of talk about probiotics for people and dogs, but I don’t understand if my dog needs them.

A. Over the last decade or two, probiotics have become very popular. When we discuss probiotics, we need to also discuss prebiotics and synbiotics.

Probiotics are defined as microorganisms when taken in adequate amounts will produce health benefits to your dog. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth and activities of specific bacteria in the gut which exerts beneficial effects on your dog. Synbiotic is a balanced combination of probiotics and prebiotics used together.

The gut has millions of microorganisms and substances that benefit these bacterial in the small and large intestine. This population of microflora helps digest food, maintains a healthy intestinal lining, plays a role in your dog’s metabolism, and stimulates immune function. Today we call the collection of gut microorganisms your dog’s microbiome.

When we give our dogs antibiotics (all medication can affect your pup’s microbiome), we start seeing signs of chronic disease, such as, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, allergies, infections anywhere in the body, and a suppressed immune system. Poor diets can affect your best friend’s microbiome too.

If your buddy has had any medication or a questionable diet, adding a prebiotic and a probiotic is a good step to take. It is better to use a product that is created for dogs than using your own because the character of the dog’s microbiome is different from humans. There are good products out there made by reputable companies like Vetri Science, Rx Vitamins, Nutramax, and Purina to name a few.

Whenever an antibiotic is prescribed, talk to your veterinarian about the best product to protect your dog’s gut.

Sometimes the problem for your dog is bacterial overgrowth. This happens when the bacteria in the gut have been disrupted and some strains of bacterial take over the environment. In this case either Vitamin B12 and, or folic acid needs to be administered. There is an easy blood test to find out if this is a problem.

When the microbiome in our dog has been severely disrupted, a fecal transplant may be indicated. There is a company called Animalbiome, founded by research scientist, Holly H. Gantz, Ph.D. You buy a test kit and send a piece of poop to them. The sample is examined, and the composition of your dog’s microbiome is sent to you with a detailed description of each bacteria and yeast in his gut. A technician will go over the results with you and make recommendations. It may be as simple as adding a prebiotic, making diet changes, or doing a fecal transplant. The transplant material comes in a capsule that your dog takes daily for 25 days. Then two weeks later you send in another sample to see how the transplant worked.

The majority of our dogs have had their gut impacted sometime in their lives. Adding a prebiotic and probiotic product is beneficial. Rarely do these products cause a problem.

So, if your best friend has ever had drugs, allergies, digestive issues, yeast infections, or other chronic issues, starting him on a symbiotic product may make a big difference.


Judith K. Herman DVM, CvH

Animal Wellness Center

Augusta, ME