Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that reside in the gut of all mammals. They assist in the function of the digestive system by keeping the intestinal tract healthy and disease free. These bacteria control the growth of other pathogens in the intestine. However, sometimes, the number of beneficial bacteria in the intestines deplete due to some reason. This may lead to many digestive problems as well as other diseases. Probiotics can be supplemented externally both in humans as well as animals, to restore the microflora in intestine. However, one must be well informed regarding the safety and efficacy of human probiotics when using for dogs.
Are Human Probiotics Safe for Dogs?
Dogs are very prone to all kinds of digestive illnesses. As they cannot distinguish between what is fit to eat and what's not, they often devour anything that they find attractive. Besides, they may drink water from puddles or other unhygienic sources, which make them an easy target for infections. Similarly, exposure to toxins and chemicals may cause depletion of gut flora, which exposes them to the risk of microbial infections. It is simply impossible to keep your dog away from all these hazards, hence you must take measures to prevent infections and illnesses. Restoring the gut flora is the simplest way of improving your pet's health.
However, giving any probiotic that you come across may not serve the purpose. The bacteria that reside in the gut are mostly species-specific. Meaning, the bacteria that reside in your intestinal tract are different from those residing in a dog's intestine. Understandably, probiotics meant for humans may not have the same effect on dog's health. Probiotics that are especially formulated for canine health are best for dogs.
Natural Probiotics for Dogs
Although, probiotics are mostly species-specific, some natural probiotics can work for dogs as well as humans. The practice of adding a spoonful or two of yogurt to dog food is very old. Then, yogurt was added to render shine to the dog's coat. The probiotic use of yogurt was discovered much later. Yogurt is rich in live cultures of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus. Similarly, cottage cheese also has many probiotic uses. However, one must understand that yogurt that you choose for dog food must be plain and unsweetened. Flavored yogurt contains too much sugar, which is downright harmful for your dog.
Probiotics can also be effective against stress, which is rampant in dogs. Events such as relocation, addition of a new pet or human to family, pregnancy, inclement weather, separation anxiety, etc., can cause stress in dogs. Probiotics can gently alleviate symptoms of stress such as indigestion, etc. Besides, food intolerance and allergies can also be taken care of with regular use of probiotics.
Commercial Probiotics for Dogs
Some dog foods come already enhanced or fortified with probiotics. Apart from that, there are several other probiotic supplements which you can give your dog. Commercial probiotics come in the form of pills, granules, syringes, liquid sprays, etc. You can choose any of these for your dog, but make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions on the pack for safety measures. If your dog has been put on an antibiotic course as a part of the treatment, then your vet will most likely prescribe a probiotic supplement along with antibiotics. These supplements help to replenish the gut flora, which gets killed due to antibiotics. One must note that, although probiotics can prevent digestive problems, they cannot treat existing symptoms of indigestion such as vomiting, diarrhea, etc. To treat these symptoms, you will need medical intervention only.
Thus, probiotics for dogs are indeed helpful, but human probiotics may not be able to deliver the same effect on dogs. Make sure your dog gets his daily dose of probiotics either through diet or supplements. Regular use of probiotics cuts down on the vet's bills and keeps your dog in good health.