You know we’ve talked about dog probiotics as a supplement that you sprinkle on top of your regular dog food. But what about dog food that is already enriched with probiotics?

The advantage of dog food with probiotics would be that you can never forget to administer the probiotic supplement and it’s easier than tablets or capsules. Your dog would reap the benefits of a daily dose, but only when these probiotics are of good quality. And are they?

Does Probiotically Enriched Dog Food Really Contain What It Says?

I’ve found a scientific publication [1] about the contents of these types of dog food. The department of clinical studies at the Ontario Veterinary College has investigated 13 different commercial dog foods 9and 6 cat foods) that claim to be enriched with probiotics.

The overall conclusion the investigators drew from their study is that the actual contents of the diets were not accurately represented by the label descriptions.

Poor Labelling Of Probiotic Dog Food

The results also show that when ‘probiotic’ is printed somewhere on the dog food package the product does not necessarily contain live beneficial organisms as you might expect. Instead, in 12 cases only specific bacterial fermentation products are listed as ingredients. When a product contains fermentation products only, typically included as a source of enzymes, it should not read probiotics on the label. Perhaps this is a labeling issue or incorrect advertising of the ingredients.

The strain found most often was Enterococcus faecium. Although this bacteria has probiotic properties, it’s not the best one.

Lactobacillus acidophilus was not found in any of the 13 diets that listed it. Though the research paper gets a little vague here. I hope they used a positive control in their experiment.

Low Numbers Of Viable Organisms In Probiotic Dog Food

Besides not containing the species listed on the label, the probiotic foods investigated contained very low numbers of viable organisms. The reason for this is unknown. It could be an improper addition of organisms during production, perhaps the bacteria didn’t survive pet food processing or they died during improper storage. The conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that the specific commercial diets they investigated as not good sources of probiotics. This does not mean that production of a quality probiotic dog food is impossible!

[1] “Bacteriological evaluation of dog and cat diets that claim to contain probiotics” by J. Scott Weese and Luis Arroyo. Published in Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2003 March; 44(3): 212-215.

The Alternative For Dog Probiotics Enriched Food

Since you cannot always trust the pet food label – and the scientific study I quoted did not name the exact products they investigated – you’re probably better off with a separate supplement. But of course, you don’t want to hassle with tablets, capsules or anything liquid. And you want to be sure you have good viable microorganisms present; the right kinds. Here’s a probiotic supplement that you can easily sprinkle on top of your dog’s food.

Healthy Pets Live Longer

A lot of cheap probiotic products are unstable and lose their power in the stomach, attacked by acid, so they cannot deliver the goodies in the intestines. Those products are a waste of money. There is one type of probiotics that uses a patented chelated glutamine that improves stability and colonization characteristics of beneficial bacteria in your dog’s intestinal tract.

Akita Kensho

If you choose to supplement with dog probiotics, then always choose a quality product:

Chart comparing different probiotics supplements »

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