Probiotics for Dogs: Are they Safe

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Using probiotics for dogs is a somewhat common practice, particularly when your dog regularly experiences gastrointestinal problems.

What are Probiotics for Dogs?

Probiotics for dogs are much like probiotics for humans, foods, and supplements that can promote the growth and strength of beneficial bacteria in the gut. There are billions of bacteria in the gut of dogs and humans, which can help to more efficiently break down food, prevent bacterial infections, and smooth the digestive process. When those bacteria are damaged or diminished, such as during an illness, they need to be replenished. Probiotics are microbes that can be directly consumed in various food products that will then inhabit the gut. One such probiotic food includes Greek yogurt, which can be given to a dog in modest amounts. [1]

While there are many probiotic foods for humans, they are not all appropriate for dogs. There are numerous products and supplements that have been approved for canine use, including specific yogurt and kefir products, capsules, probiotic dog foods, and specially designed probiotic powders. For probiotics to be effective, you want to match the bacterial strains with those often found in a dog’s gut, which is not the same as humans. Generally, it is not recommended to give dogs an excess of “human-grade” probiotics, although some human probiotics can help to clear up symptoms of diarrhea in dogs. [2]

A white and brown dog running in the garden

A dog is indeed a man’s best friend Photo Credit: Shutterstock

There are also many strains of probiotics, some of which include the following:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Bifidobacterium breve

Probiotics for Dogs Benefits

The major benefits of probiotics for dogs include their ability to do the following:

  • Weight loss or treating obesity
  • Preventing bad breath
  • Resolving behavioral or mood disorders [3]
  • Treating liver disease
  • Reducing excess flatulence
  • Fewer allergic reactions
  • Boosting immunity
  • Treating inflammation
  • Reducing oxidative stress
  • Promoting healing
  • Skin care
  • Improving brain function
  • Reducing cholesterol

Probiotics can also help as your dog ages and can help to fight against foreign pathogens. If your dog has ingested something toxic or is experiencing food poisoning, probiotics can speed up the healing process.

How to Give a Dog Probiotics?

  • The best ways to give a dog probiotics is in approved forms that are designated as canine-grade, which feature three additional bacterial strains that are rarely found in human probiotics.
  • These probiotic supplements can be administered orally and can be wrapped in a treat or mixed into their food. [4]
  • Each brand will be of a different strength, so be sure to read the directions carefully and speak to your veterinarian about your canine companion’s specific needs.

Probiotics for Dogs Side Effects

As is true when humans use probiotics, there can be some side effects for your pup, particularly when they first start taking them, or when too high a dose is given. These side effects typically include the following: [5]

Your dog may appear sluggish, or their digestive systems may worsen in the first few days of using these specialized foods. There is also the chance of allergic reactions, so it is important to always get high-quality probiotics from trusted sources. If any serious side effects appear, stop using them immediately. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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