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What are Probiotic Supplements?

Probiotic supplements are becoming increasingly well known for their use with digestive issues in both humans and pets. You will find probiotics in yogurt, an assortment of drinks, packaged products on your grocery shelves, and dozens of supplements. But did you know that your furry friend can benefit from them as well? Dogs, like people, need probiotics for digestion and to help boost their immune system. Supplementing to boost the presence of these microbes that have been destroyed or have diminished is a way to aid both digestion and immunity. For instance, probiotics for dogs with reactions to food, diarrhea (including stress diarrhea) and colitis, and for those on long-term medications like steroids are an essential part of the wellness package. Understanding what pet probiotics are, what their health benefits are, and where to get them is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. 

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Probiotic Supplements Procedure in Dogs

Probiotic bacteria are very fragile and if not processed and stored properly, the bacteria can end up inviable. In many cases, probiotics need to be kept refrigerated to keep the bacteria alive. Many foods and supplements claiming to have probiotics come to the consumer with the bacteria already dead or greatly reduced. For this reason, it is important to find tried and true sources or brands known to have the highest number of live bacteria. Speak with your vet for a recommendation on the best probiotics for dogs, specific to your pet's individual needs. It is important to note that probiotics are not meant for puppies as their not yet matured intestinal systems could become overloaded with bacteria, leading to digestive issues.

Dosages can be difficult to determine, but are typically set by weight. Commercial probiotic supplements should provide dosage information. You can ask your vet to help you decide what will be the best probiotic if you are uncertain. Supplements may come in chewables, paste or powder form, which can be added to your dog’s regular food.

Efficacy of Probiotic Supplements in Dogs

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live and grow in the gastrointestinal system of all animals. They help digest food, they help produce nutrients and vitamins (most notable of which is vitamin K), they help keep “bad” bacteria in check (such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens), and they strengthen the immune system by increasing the activity and numbers of immune cells. Probiotics can be used both as a treatment for certain conditions and as a supplement to help keep your dog healthy. 

How they are used, however, plays a big part in how well they work. If you plan to buy a probiotic food for your dog, you are wise to consult the vet. Some processes in food preparation remove any of the benefits listed on the bag. The veterinary team or nutritionist can advise on which foods really provide the advantages that are stated on the label.

Probiotic Supplements Recovery in Dogs

Probiotics are administered as dietary supplements in the form of a paste or pill, within commercial dog food, or via naturally probiotic-rich foods. The consistent use of a probiotic in the proper formulation is key, as is using the right probiotic for your dog's specific requirements. Expiration date awareness and storage considerations are important because there is no point in giving your dog a probiotic that is no longer viable.

Cost of Probiotic Supplements in Dogs

The cost of probiotic supplementation for your dog will depend on the foods and products you select, and could range from as low as $10 per month to $50 or more. Adhering to the advice of your veterinarian or registered nutritionist will keep the costs down; together you may decide that the administration of the probiotic can be stopped at certain times of the year, or when your dog's health improves.

Dog Probiotic Supplements Considerations

Supplementation with probiotics is generally safe and healthy for all dogs. However, it is important to seek the advice of your vet before starting any care regimen at home, particularly if your dog has shown symptoms of disease or disorder. Ruling out underlying health conditions with your vet can help ensure you provide the best possible diet and supplementation at home. For example, if your dog is suffering from skin conditions, diarrhea, and low appetite, the vet should be consulted. After an investigation, they may prescribe the best probiotics for dogs with allergies or recommend the most suitable probiotics for dogs with stress-related digestive issues. 

Every case must be assessed one by one. There are many strains of bacteria or yeast in the various products, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus for dogs who need a boost in nutritional health, or Bifidobacterium longum which can aid in a case of diarrhea. The veterinarian can help you wade through the names and usages of the strains. There is no "one fits all" dosage when it comes to supplementing.

Probiotic Supplements Prevention in Dogs

Like any other pet owner, you want your dog to be their healthiest. Probiotics can help keep your pet’s digestive system healthy and, in turn, give them the best defense against disease. Probiotics are one of those supplements that all dogs can usually benefit from. Just remember to involve your vet, especially if your dog is sick, and look for the best possible supplement you can find to ensure your dog gets maximum benefit.