Probiotics For Dogs Are Alive And Kicking

Probiotics (also known as Direct-Fed Microorganisms or DFM’s) are actual living organisms with a good attitude that are administered orally; either as liquid drinks or as nutraceutical ingredient in dog food. It has a positive effect on the intestinal flora where many different bacteria reside. The gastrointestinal tract of your dog (well, yours too as you are both mammals) contains over 400 species of microorganisms (bacteria but also yeast, fungi, and protozoa).

Did you ever hear about good bacteria or do you think all bacteria are just bad and you need to clean, kill and get rid of them?
It is a fact you need bacteria for good health and the same is true for you tail-wagger.

Benefits Of Direct Fed Micro-Organisms For Dogs

Probiotics For Dogs Bring Your Canine 3 Major Benefits

Akita dog running

  1. “Good bacteria” provide easy-absorbable energy. They help your pooch digest his food and absorb the nutrients.
  2. When the large intestine is colonized by these so-called good bacteria, there simply isn’t any room left to be occupied by the bad types that want to make your dog sick. This way the intestinal flora forms a natural protective barrier which keeps opportunistic pathogens (like Salmonella and Escherichia coli) from proliferating.
  3. Probiotics for dogs activate the canine immune system (increased antibody levels and increased macrophage activity).

Bacterial Strains

Two strains of direct fed microorganisms can currently be used in dog food:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus and
  • Enterococcus faecium.

As these are living bacteria, the products containing probiotics become ineffective when heated and it is best to keep these refrigerated.

Specialized probiotic supplements often contain different strains of bacteria. There are many brands to select from and you need to start somewhere to find out which supplement fits your individual dog best.

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When Is The Time To Buy Probiotics For Dogs?

Speedy Recovery After An Antibiotics Treatment

When your dog has had an antibiotics treatment, supplementing his dog food with DFM’s helps to establish intestinal balance more quickly. This is because antibiotics do their job rather a-specific and not only kill the bad guys, but also the good guys. Probiotics help to replenish the beneficial bacteria resulting in a quicker return to a balanced intestinal microflora. Since probiotics and antibiotics have opposite effect you should not give them together but rather leave at least 4 to 5 hours in between.

Give The ‘Good Bacteria’ A Head Start In Colonization

Everybody that arrives in this world does so with a sterile intestinal tract. This applies to both humans and dogs.

As there are no known adverse effects you could decide to daily supplement probiotics as a preventative measure. Dogs with large numbers of “good” bacteria are better equipped to fight the growth of the “bad guys”.

When you provide DFM’s to newborn puppies they will have a head start because of the beneficial bacteria that will colonize their intestines. Also at weaning when they make the transition from mother’s milk to puppy dog food, probiotics can help the young animal’s digestive system as it is not fully developed at that time.

Stressful Events Open The Door To Disease

Generally speaking all stressful events in your dog’s life can be a good excuse to supplement his dog food with these helpful bacteria strains. Events like vet visits, shipping, grooming, vaccinations, surgery, relocations, being left alone often, and even weather changes or stress due to biting insects. You know your dog best! And as you may have experienced yourself: stress opens the door to disease. When he is stressed he may have reduced appetite, eat less and lose weight.

Dog Food Digestion Problems

Probiotics are especially helpful when your dog experiences problems digesting his food or when he is recovering from clinical enteritis (bacterial infection of the small intestines).

Probiotics Reduce Internal Gas And Flatulence In Dogs

Probiotic supplements can help put a stop to diarrhea, stimulate firm stool and help in case of Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). As DFM supplements reduce internal gas they also reduce flatulence and help prevent of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), better known as bloat (a life-threatening swelling and twist of the stomach that can kill your dog in less than an hour, so when you suspect your dog is experiencing bloat then hurry to the vet!).

Dog Food Supplemental Products Containing DFM's

A few examples of supplements for dogs are (note this is not an exhausting list and examples are given in no particular order).

contains different strains of beneficial bacteria as well as prebiotics and glutamine. It is sold as a dry powder which is easy to use.

Healthy Pets Live Longer

Want To Find The Best Probiotics For Dogs?

Chart comparing different probiotics supplements »


As a cheap alternative, you can also add live culture yogurt on top of your dog's food, though the amounts of helpful bacteria (the Lactobacillus acidophilus strain) are much lower.

For prevention live culture yogurt is fine, but when you are dealing with major stresses (like after an antibiotics treatment) you may want to go for a more concentrated form of these "good" bacteria.

So choose wisely! 🙂 Besides, some dogs cannot tolerate yogurt very well (because of a lactose intolerance) and get diarrhea.


Probiotic supplements DIRECTLY increase the number of beneficial bacteria that populate your dog's GI tract. You can increase intestinal health in different - more INDIRECT - ways, such as by supplementing prebiotics. Several substances contribute to the balance in your dog's intestines in different ways. You can read more about the novel ingredients and alternatives to canine probiotics here.

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