Bacteria and yeast tend to get a bad rap, but sometimes they have amazing health benefits in the form of probiotics for dogs. Probiotics are considered to be the “friendly bacteria” of pets (and people, too).
If you’ve ever consumed yogurt when taking an antibiotic or added a probiotic supplement, you might have wondered whether it’s OK for dogs to take them, too. In most cases, the answer is yes. For example, VetriScience Entero Flora Pro Probiotic support healthy immune function and digestion in dogs and cats.
No two probiotics are the same, so we’re breaking down the facts, benefits, and our selections of the best probiotic supplements for dogs.
What Are Dog Probiotics?
Probiotics contain live, beneficial microorganisms, including bacteria and/or yeast, to support and replenish your dog’s body. Many traditional and holistic veterinarians recommend a probiotic for regular and occasional use in their canine patients.
Probiotic supplements are generally used for gut health, to help restore healthy gut flora after taking antibiotics, for stress-induced events, and overall immune system support. Trends in the consumer marketplace often spill over into the pet space, and probiotics are commonly used in millions of pets every day.
The prefix pro- is Greek for promoting, while biotic means life. There are several formulations depending on your dog’s personal preference and needs. Probiotics are available in capsules, chews, powders, pastes, and even pet foods.
Several pet food brands add probiotics to their diets, which some pet parents prefer for ease of administration. However, the type of probiotics in the food matters as does the way the dog food is made and stored. For these reasons, probiotic supplements for dogs are often the better choice and are what we’ll focus on in this article.
- Overall Best Dog Probiotic Recommended by Vets: Visbiome High Potency Probiotics for Pets
- Best Probiotic Capsules for Dogs: Nutramax Laboratories Proviable DC For Cats and Dogs
- Best Probiotic Powder for Dogs: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Fortiflora Probiotic
- Best Tasteless Probiotics for Dogs: VetriScience Entero Flora Pro Multi-Strain Probiotic Supplement
4 Best Vet-Recommended Probiotics for Dogs
Overall Best Dog Probiotic Recommended by Vets
Visbiome Vet formula is a high-potency probiotic for dogs that contains eight strains of live bacteria in a high concentration of 112.5 billion CFUs per 0.475 grams. The easy-to-use pull-apart capsules are packaged in an “advanced technology” Activ-Vial to absorb ambient moisture, since moisture can affect live bacteria. Made in the USA and dosed according to the weight of the pet.
- Non-GMO and gluten-free.
- Shipped in an insulated container with ice packs and a temperature monitor sensor.
- Visbiome is a member of the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council).
- Supports normal inflammatory responses in the GI tract.
- Helps maintain gut flora and normal kidney function.
- May help reduce occasional loose stools from stress or dietary changes.
Things to Consider
- Visbiome Vet should be refrigerated but not frozen.
- Available for purchase from many veterinarians or direct from the company.
Best Probiotic Capsules for Dogs
From the company behind Cosequin and Dasuquin joint supplements comes Proviable DC capsules for dogs or cats. Each capsule contains seven strains of beneficial bacteria, each with its own unique set of properties. Each strain has a higher potential to colonize versus a single strain probiotic product. Capsules are designed to give as-is or sprinkled over food.
- Helps reestablish intestinal health with live microorganisms.
- Designed for long-term support to help a dog’s digestive system get back on track.
- Contains seven key probiotic species with billions of live microorganisms per capsule.
- One capsule per day administration.
- Helps dogs with digestive upset due to antibiotic use, dietary indiscretion, food sensitivities, stresses due to travel and kenneling, weaning of puppies, metabolic disturbances, immune system-related gastrointestinal conditions.
Things to Consider
- Proviable DC is available from many pet supply retailers, but advanced formula Proviable-Forte is available from veterinarians only.
- Some reviews note diarrhea continued in their dogs while taking Proviable DC, but every experience is different.
Best Probiotic Powder for Dogs
Designed for usage in puppies and adult dogs with diarrhea, FortiFlora is touted as the number one probiotic brand recommended by veterinarians. Each packet contains a liver flavor and dried Enterococcus faecium probiotic to promote normal intestinal microflora. The liver flavor is designed to enhance palatability when sprinkled over the dog’s food. A separate feline probiotic formula is available in powdered packet format.
- Designed specifically for dogs with diarrhea.
- May reduce flatulence.
- Easy-to-administer packets.
- Also available in chewable tablets.
- Created in conjunction with nutritionists, researchers and veterinarians.
- Designed for all canine life stages.
- Simple to use under the direction of your pet’s veterinarian.
Things to Consider
- Can be given as a preventative measure but check with your pet’s vet first.
- Some dogs may be averse to the liver flavor.
Best Tasteless Probiotics for Dogs
This tasteless, odorless, multi-strain probiotic formula safely and effectively eliminates common pet health concerns, including diarrhea, constipation, and other gastrointestinal woes. Simply shake before using and sprinkle the powder on your pet’s food and let the highly-concentrated blend of eight carefully selected strains of live beneficial bacteria get to work. Perfect for daily dosing, this universal formula can help both dogs and cats enjoy more vitality, plus a shinier coat and healthier skin, thanks to a healthier digestive tract and immune system.
- For dogs and cats of all sizes
- 10 billion CFUs per gram
- Fortified with prebiotic Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) fibers to support good bacteria
- Approximately 120 servings per jar (depending on size of dog)
- Dairy-free, gluten-free, no animal proteins
- Veterinarian recommended
Things to Consider
- Pets six months and younger should use a half dose
- May not help some pets, depending on the underlying cause of the symptoms
Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs
“Probiotics are used to help promote the good bacteria forming in an effort to avoid poor gastrointestinal health,” according to Dr. Adam Christman, chief veterinary officer at MJH Life Sciences. “There’s a thought on probiotics supporting the gut microbiome, a collection of billions of bacteria in the intestinal tract.”
Some of the many benefits include immune modulation and increased adhesion to intestinal walls. This means helpful bacteria in probiotics may benefit dogs in the following ways:
- Reduce diarrhea and flatulence
- Improve oral health and help bad breath
- Improve skin health and reduce allergies
- Fight ear infections
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Combat weight gain and obesity
- Help control intestinal worms
Probiotics for Dogs: Buyer’s Guide
Pet parents should be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recognize dietary supplements for animals as a special category.
Christman shares these tips before administering probiotics to your dog or cat:
- Do not give a human product to dogs or cats, as their intestinal flora is different from that of a human.
- Look for a product backed by solid research.
- Ensure the probiotic contains a source of live, viable naturally occurring microorganisms, antibodies (IgY), and even antioxidants.
- Some probiotics may contain prebiotics (a healthy fiber), which include D-mannose, beta-glucans, and galactosamine.
When looking for a specific probiotic for your dog, talk to an expert. Consulting with a canine nutritionist, your dog’s veterinarian, and/or a holistic vet you trust is essential in selecting the right combination. Not every probiotic is appropriate for every dog, so what works for one pet may not have the same results on another.
Most probiotics for animals contain a variety of species and strains, such as Bifidobacterium animalis or Lactobacillus acidophilus. Labeling includes CFUs in the product, which means “colony forming unit,” and indicates how many live bacteria cultures are active and can divide so the helpful colonies form. Always check with your pet’s vet before starting any new supplements or medications.
Probiotics Vs. Digestive Enzymes: What’s the Difference?
There is a difference between digestive enzymes, such as Pancrezyme powder, and probiotics for pets. Christman explains that Pancrezyme is given to an animal who is unable to digest his or her food due to an insufficiency. Probiotics for dogs and cats, on the other hand, contain live microorganisms that provide health benefits to the host when ingested in adequate amounts.
Probiotics for Dogs: Tips and Advice
“Veterinarians support products that are safe and effective for their patients,” says Christman, adding that probiotics are available at pet retailers, online, and directly from veterinarians.
Always follow safe storage instructions found on the probiotic label. Because probiotics for dogs are considered to be supplements and not drugs, their efficacy varies. A positive impact should occur within the period of time listed on the product’s label, but tends to take a few days.
Probiotics aren’t a cure-all, but they can be safe and effective when used under the guidance of your pet’s veterinarian. It’s an exciting time to share life with a dog, so be sure to consider probiotics for digestive and immune health in your canine family members.