This series is brought to you by our partner, Nulo.
In an uncertain world, there’s one thing you can count on: Your dog will always brighten your day. And in turn, you try to give your pup an epic life: You let him chase the occasional squirrel, bring him along on the trail, and even let him gnaw on the occasional leftover steak bone. So, if there was something you could do to relieve some of your pet’s health woes, you would, without a doubt, right? Of course, you would! Trouble is, according to Dr. Abby Huggins Mowinski of Intown Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, most owners don’t realize there’s an easy-fix for symptoms like loose stools, constipation, patchy fur, skin irritation, and more: pet probiotics.
Get wise on what exactly pet probiotics are and why they’re beneficial. Trust, with slobbery kisses and continued adoring affection, your buddy will thank you.
What Are Pet Probiotics?
A probiotic is a probiotic, whether it’s getting popped into your mouth or your pup’s. “Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the GI tract, comprising something called the gut microflora, which helps keep both dogs and humans in tip-top health,” says Huggins.
Sometimes gut microflora get out of whack, which causes some not-so-fun symptoms like diarrhea, constipation and more. Taking probiotics consistently can right the ship before there’s a health crisis. “Probiotic supplements prevent not-so-good bacteria from setting up camp, which help maintain the gut microflora balance,” Huggins says.
The Benefits of Pet Probiotics
Given the buzz on these bugs, you’ve probably heard that probiotics offer humans tons of benefits. And guess what? Emerging research suggests that these guys offer many of the same benefits for your hound.
One recent study found that probiotics are beneficial in managing diarrhea in dogs and cats, lowering cholesterol in dogs, improving growth and vaccine responses in puppies and more. The researchers add that probiotic use may be aid prevention against “diverse disease conditions including allergy, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and mental disorders.”
Huggins suggests probiotics for any pet struggling with constipation, diarrhea, anxiety or stress, viral infection, or seasonal allergies. And because antibiotics can mess with a dog's digestive tract and cause stomach pain and diarrhea, she puts pups on probiotics when prescribing antibiotics. “When animals are on antibiotics there is also an increased risk for yeast infection, which probiotics help prevent,” she says.
How is it possible that probiotics offer so many benefits? Huggins hypothesizes: “Likely, the benefits are so far-reaching because the gut houses the immune system, so by keeping a pet’s gut healthy, their immune system is able to function optimally as well.” Pretty neat, right?
How to Give Your Pet Probiotics
While probiotics are available in fermented foods, that’s not your best bet. As Huggins says, “I don’t know how many pet owners are dishing out kimchi and sauerkraut.”
Some companies offer a probiotic supplement you can hide in your pet’s chow, but opting for a kibble that’s already formulated with a probiotic is your easiest option. “That way you don’t have to think about it, you simply keep scooping out their food at mealtime,” Huggins says. No sneaky serving schemes necessary.
Nulo, a pet-care brand that specializes in nutrient-dense kibble, purees and treats for felines and canines that are all formulated with a probiotic, is Huggins top brand-pick. “Nulo is formulated with a patented GanedenBC³⁰ probiotic that can withstand the heating process required in the making of kibble.” Not all brands can say that, she says. You can learn more about Nulo here.
Curious how long it will take between your canine chowing down the probiotic-rich food and reaping the benefits? It’s quite quick! “Usually, you’ll see results in four days to a week,” according to Huggins.
The Pet-Probiotic Takeaway
Really, there’s no reason not to switch to grub that contains probiotics. “The benefits of giving your pet a probiotic are so extensive,” says Huggins. “The way I see it, there’s no downside.”