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Dog owners today know there is more they can do for their dog’s health than simply providing food, water, and proper vaccinations. Research into canine digestive and immune systems is helping us keep dogs healthier. And anyone who has tried to pick up diarrhea with a poop bag is all for healthy digestion. Many humans use probiotics on a daily basis, and we are now learning they may be the secret to proper health for our dogs, as well.
What Are Probiotics and What Do They Do?
Canine digestive systems have bad and good bacteria in them. Probiotics are good bacteria and yeasts that a body needs in order to balance out the bad bacteria. While researchers are constantly learning more about exactly what they do, we do know that probiotics are the same as, or very similar to, the good bacteria housed in the digestive tract and are necessary for a balanced system. If the system has too many bad bacteria and not enough good, it can cause all kinds of problems, including diarrhea, constipation, weight gain, skin irritations, and even urinary tract issues.
An important benefit is that probiotics help prevent outside bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, from causing your dog to get sick. This means probiotics can work proactively to keep his digestive system on track. This is especially important for dogs being fed raw, since raw food is more likely to contain these bad bacteria.
Outside of the digestive tract, probiotics also play a role in immune system health. Based on recent research, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approves probiotics for dogs as both a digestive and immune system support supplement.
Giving Your Dog Probiotics
So now you may be thinking, “Great, my dog and I can share my probiotic pills.” But humans and canines are not the same species, or even the same size, in most cases. Great Dane owners might weigh about the same as their dog; Chihuahua owners definitely not. For these reasons, veterinarians recommend giving your dog canine probiotics that are formulated for his size and digestive system.
Since traditional probiotics come in powder or pill form, getting your dog to take probiotics daily can be a challenge. Powders can be messy and often have a taste that you will have to mask to get your dog to eat them. Pills, of course, can be difficult to get dogs to swallow –- some are very skilled at eating around them!
Some canine probiotics on the market only have a few strains in their formula. Since each strain does different things, the more variety the better. For example, bifidobacterium is known to help stop diarrhea, while lactobacillus helps increase nutrient absorption. The more strains a probiotic has, the more support you are providing your dog’s digestive and immune systems.
So, choose a high-quality, multi-strain dog probiotic supplement that your dog will accept to take that proactive daily step towards improving your dog’s digestive health and immune support.