In this guide, we will review the best probiotics for dogs in 2023 and cover the entire topic to answer questions like:
With so many options on the market, making a decision can feel overwhelming. That is why we researched for you!
Let’s dig right in.
Note: Because we discuss so much, you can use the button below to go to the list right away or use the Table of Contents to navigate the page.Jump to Number 1
Probiotics are strains of beneficial bacteria that colonize and grow in the body’s intestinal tract — in humans and animals.
They are part of the microbiome, a more extensive system of bacteria and microbes contributing to body functions.
Research has shown that these good bacteria are essential to both the digestive and immune systems.
Health problems, both major and minor, can occur when there is an imbalance in the types of bacteria in the intestinal tract.
The medical term for this is dysbiosis — when there are more harmful bacteria than beneficial.
There are three prevalent causes of dysbiosis in dogs:
Each of these decreases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Now imagine what they can do together.
When a dog has dysbiosis, it can develop intestinal permeability — more commonly known as leaky gut.
And because leaky gut allows foreign bodies to enter the bloodstream from the intestinal tract, inflammation happens.
As you know, inflammation connects to a wide range of illnesses in both humans and dogs.
These illnesses include but are not limited to:
We believe that leaky gut is the reason for many ailments in dogs today, and dog owners don’t know it.
But you suspect it, and it is why you want to add probiotics to your dog’s diet.
Because dysbiosis is an imbalance of more bad bacteria than good in the intestinal tract, adding probiotics help restore the balance.
By supplementing it, you can prevent or improve leaky gut, and get rid of any current and future ailments in your dog.
And this is why we recommend probiotics because they genuinely help dogs.
But to maximize its effectiveness, your dog should finish any antibiotics they’re on and eat less processed food.
Otherwise, the probiotics cannot do what they’re supposed to do — promote beneficial bacteria in the gut!
Probiotics support all aspects of canine health and are usually given as a supplement with food to regulate gastrointestinal functioning by ensuring more “good” bacteria than “bad” bacteria in the intestines.
All dogs will experience the following benefits from probiotics:
Are probiotics good for dogs? Without a doubt — yes!
Why give our dogs probiotics? Doesn’t dog food give them enough vitamins and minerals to keep them healthy?
Yes and no. While a well-balanced diet of protein-rich food does satisfy their nutritional needs, dogs can still suffer numerous bacterial infections resulting from wounds, being around infectious dogs and a reduced immune system response that cannot fight off opportunistic infections.
Dogs spread bacterial diseases such as kennel cough, leptospirosis and brucellosis to other dogs as well. Diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever caused by tick bites are also forms of bacterial infections that can debilitate a dog’s health.
Many bacteria-based, canine gastrointestinal illnesses are due to the strong, instinctual urge dogs have to scavenge, which naturally leads to dogs having indiscriminate appetites. Consequently, GI upset characterized by vomiting, diarrhea and constipation frequently affects dogs that spend time roaming outdoors and investigating interesting smells. Moving to a new home, dietary changes, weaning, taking antibiotics and aging can also have detrimental effects on the delicate balance of canine intestinal microflora.
Dogs have 500+ different types of bacteria in their GI tract that are meant to support healthy functioning of the gastrointestinal system. Beneficial bacteria, such as bifidobacteria and L. acidophilus, have the important job of sustaining microbial homeostasis in the canine GI tract so that harmful pathogens do not have the opportunity to colonize there and infect mucous membranes lining the intestines. These good bacteria also regulate systemic and local immune responses to inflammation, help repress precancerous activity and promote conversion of dietary nutrients into bioactive molecules.
When dogs suffer an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in their GI tract, bad bacteria won’t hesitate to take advantage of this dysregulation by proliferating, flourishing and making dogs ill. Unchecked by adequate amounts of good bacteria, harmful bacteria soon take over a dog’s GI tract and can negatively affect a dog’s general health.
Probiotics can help restore your dog’s health, energy and mood if suffering from one or more of the following symptoms typically caused by an imbalance of intestinal bacteria:
Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) commonly affects dogs that are taking antibiotics for an extended period. This is because antibiotics tend to kill all bacteria in the dog’s body while also compromising the barrier function provided by microflora in the colon. In response to antibiotics’ overreaching ability to eliminate bacteria, opportunistic pathogens such as Clostridium difficile or Bacteroides spp can easily infiltrate such a vulnerable GI tract and cause a variety of chronic infections.
Any substance that contains ingredients capable of effecting changes with a living organism is going to produce side effects of varying degrees. Some of these side effects won’t manifest themselves enough to be physically experienced because they occur at the cellular level. Other side effects may extend beyond the cellular level in reaction to the dog’s body chemistry, which may be abnormal due to illness, hormonal irregularities or a compromised immune system.
Probiotic supplements are complete safe to give to dogs since they contain nothing but natural ingredients, i.e., probiotic bacteria that already exist in the canine GI tract. If side effects do occur after giving probiotics to a dog, they are usually associated with digestive issues, such as excess gas, constipation or diarrhea (if you are not already treating the dog for diarrhea). In addition, the dog’s health problems may worsen a bit before completely clearing up as the GI tract adjusts to the sudden influx of “good” probiotic bacteria.
Research into lactobacillus included in probiotic supplements has found that L. bacillus may thrive too much in a dog’s immune system weakened by disease, malnutrition or even old age. Although a rare occurrence, overgrowth of lactobacillus may allow bacteria to spill over into the dog’s bloodstream and produce a systemic infection or inflammation.
Experts estimate that only one in a million dogs and people could have an allergic reaction to probiotics for reasons that have yet to be identified. Signs that a dog may be suffering an allergic reaction to one or more of the live bacteria composing probiotic supplements are intense “all over” itching, difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue and lips and unsteady gait. Dogs exhibiting these symptoms after being given probiotics should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible for supportive care.
Probiotics manufactured by inferior companies do not care about your dog’s healthy. They are only in the business to make a profit and produce cheap, unstable probiotics that quickly degrade in the dog’s stomach before reaching the intestines. Unless probiotic bacteria reach the dog’s intestines in tact and still retaining all their beneficial properties, they are essentially useless and may even be harmful to the dog once “seeded” in the GI tract.
Another problem with low quality probiotics is that they may labeled “for dogs” but are, in fact, meant for humans. Nearly all bacteria are host-specific, meaning that some bacteria are designed to exist in dogs and some specific to humans. Giving dogs human probiotic supplements may cause side effects that include vomiting, severe diarrhea and dehydration.
Canine-specific bacteria are:
Every one of these bacteria can be found in high-quality probiotics formulated especially for dogs. In addition, superior canine probiotics will offer the correct CFU, or “colony forming units”, beneficial to your dog’s health. A probiotic formula’s CFU is the total amount of bacterium in the formula. Some formulas combine all bacteria strains into one CFU count while others will list each strain of bacteria on the label, along with its unique CFU.
In addition to antibiotics causing GI tract disorders, chronic diarrhea, flatulence and appetite loss, other factors such as poor diet, stress, environmental changes and non-antibiotic prescription drugs can also deplete beneficial bacteria in the dog’s intestines. Probiotics not only promote growth of “good” bacteria in your dog’s intestines but will also:
For reasons not entirely known, the canine immune system sometimes overreacts to substances called allergens (most are proteins). Once these allergens attach to immunoglobulin antibody molecules in the bloodstream, they start targeting mast cells that exist in body tissues and force mast cells to release an inflammatory chemical called histamine. This chemical causes the classic signs of a respiratory allergy attack–itchy eyes, sneezing, swelled mucous membranes and congestion.
Once histamine enters the blood, tissues surrounding blood vessels constrict and leak fluid. This is why nasal and eyes tissues swell, water and redden. In addition, histamine stimulates production of white blood cells that attempt to expel the allergen from the dog’s body by further irritating tissues and making the dog sneeze and cough. How sensitive the dog is to an allergen coupled by how long he is exposed to the allergen determines the severity and duration of symptoms.
Soy, wheat and corn fillers are the most common culprits of food allergies in dogs. However, dogs can also suffer allergic reactions to meat and dairy products. Symptoms presented by dogs with a food allergy include:
Reverse sneezing occurs when dogs forcefully expel air through their nose and then do the exact same thing in reverse by inhaling the sneeze back into their nose immediately after sneezing.
Dogs experiencing reverse sneezing fits will snort, wheeze and sound like they are having trouble breathing. However, a fit of reverse sneezing eventually resolves itself in about 30 to 60 seconds and has no negative health effects on the dog. Veterinarians call reverse sneezing “paroxysmal respiration” and attribute this type of sneezing to allergies and respiratory infections. Dogs with long, narrow noses and narrow nasal passages (collies, Afghan hounds, German Shepherds) tend to suffer reverse sneezing fits more than dogs with shorter noses.
Confirming a case of a respiratory allergy is done by a veterinarian performing one of two tests: the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test or the RAST (radioallergosorbent) test. Both tests detect allergen-specific antibodies in the blood if the dog is allergic to something but the ELISA test provides more accurate details about specific antibodies in the dog’s bloodstream.
Intradermal tests may also be indicated if the dog is having allergic reactions but the exact cause of the allergy is not know. A patch is applied to the dog’s skin and the veterinarian will then inject possible allergens into the dog’s blood until the patch reacts to one or more of the injections.
Humans and dogs need sufficient amounts of “good” bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts to properly digest and release food nutrients into the body. Illness, dietary changes, stress, medications and systemic disorders can upset the balance of “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria in the intestines, creating a wide variety of chronic health problems for dogs–including allergies.
Probiotics are bacteria living in the canine gastrointestinal tract that maintain healthy digestion and facilitate the production of vitamins and minerals from food. Probiotics also promote production of lactic acid, a chemical that helps increase intestinal acidity. Many disease-causing bacteria cannot exist in GI tracts with high acidity levels.
When you use probiotics, a dog’s allergy symptoms diminish or disappear altogether as levels of “good” bacteria rise rapidly in the GI tract. Probiotics not only have positive effects on the dog’s overall health but also directly promotes optimal functioning of the immune system to suppress its over-reactivity to allergens. Unlike antihistamines and cortisone injections, probiotics do not cause side effects because they do not contain anything but naturally occurring bacteria that gently and safely restores your dog’s health and stops allergy symptoms from reducing the dog’s quality of life.
Skin yeast infections in dogs are one of the most common types of infections treated by veterinarians every year. Did you know:
Canine yeast infections are produced by colonizing fungal microorganisms that emerge from an imbalance of “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. In dogs, yeast skin infections begin when the Malassezia pachydermatis fungus outnumbers beneficial bacteria and produce symptoms of otitis (ear infection), seborrheic dermatitis (skin infection), or both. Yeast pathogens thrive in moist, warm, dark conditions such as those found in the ears, armpits and between the toes. If an affected dog does not receive effective medication like probiotics for dog’s yeast infection, sites will enlarge, spread and infect other parts of the dog’s body quite rapidly.
Canine yeast infections commonly target the dog’s ears, between their toes or under their armpits where hair is less thick and moisture remains. Dog with deep folds and wrinkles in their skin (bloodhounds, Shar-Pei’s. basset hounds and cocker spaniels) are also vulnerable to developing itchy, painful yeast infections. Unless a reliable, quick-acting treatment such as beneficial bacteria is administered, the infection will spread, become intensely irritating to the dog and causing them to scratch and chew frantically at the yeast infection.
Possible triggers of a yeast infection include:
Yeast cells normally live on dog skin without causing health problems. Veterinarians aren’t sure exactly why yeast begins reproducing and budding uncontrollably but suspect these triggers play an important role in the development of canine yeast infections.
When internal or external stressors overstimulate a dog’s hair follicles, skin oil production increases significantly and exacerbate yeast infections. Bathing dogs too frequently or using incorrectly formulated shampoos can irritate hair follicles. Dogs suffering psychological problems, especially nervousness and anxiety stemming from a change in owners or residence, may also contribute to the development of a yeast infection.
Canine ear infections are yeast infections that require immediate treatment. Signs of a possible ear infection in dogs include:
Dogs with floppy ears (cocker spaniels, poodles and Labrador retrievers) or hairy, inner ear canals (schnauzers) are susceptible to suffering chronic ear infections. Once yeast cells take over in the moist, dark areas of a dog’s ears, the ensuing ear infection continues spreading into the inner ear and eventually causes fluid build-up behind the eardrum. Unless treated, the eardrum can burst from fluid pressure and irreparably impair the dog’s hearing.
Veterinarians examine a skin sample under a microscope for evidence of yeast cells, bacteria, mites or anything else that may be causing the skin or ear infection. A direct impression of the infection can also be taken by simply pressing a microscope slide or piece of acetate tape onto the sore. A vet will also take seepage and wax samples from dogs with ear infections. When veterinarians suspect food allergies are causing a yeast infection, they will order food allergy trials to determine which foods are disrupting the dog’s immune system.
Consisting of beneficial living microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract of dogs (and humans), probiotics play an essential role in keeping dogs in excellent health and preventing yeast infections from developing on the skin and ears. The “good” bacteria in probiotics colonize, overwhelm and eliminate “bad” bacteria existing in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract by producing SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids). SCFAs stop the growth of harmful pathogens, such as clostridium perfringens, E. coli and Malassezia pachydermatis, the most common cause of canine yeast infection.
Using probiotics for yeast infections also means dogs do not need to suffer the undesirable side effects caused by prescription medications. In addition, probiotics not only treat and eliminate yeast infections but can also help prevent fungal skin and ear infections by significantly improving and maintaining the general health and well-being of dogs who take probiotics regularly.
Even the healthiest dogs will experience diarrhea at some point in their lives. With a gastrointestinal system similar to humans, dogs experience many of the same kind of health problems humans do, from stomach aches and flatulence to nausea and, unfortunately, diarrhea. While some incidences of diarrhea in dogs clear up on their own within a day or two, other cases will require additional treatment, such as probiotics for dogs and puppies with diarrhea symptoms, a safe and natural way to restore intestinal health, prevent dehydration and improve overall well-being of dogs.
Some things to keep in mind when treating dogs with diarrhea include:
Dogs that have only one or two loose stools generally do not exhibit other symptoms. When dogs experience diarrhea for more than two days, the risk of dehydration dramatically increases. Although a dog with diarrhea may continue to drink water, the amount of fluids lost is greater than the fluid taken in. Signs of dehydration and other complications resulting from untreated diarrhea include:
Veterinarians diagnose the cause of dog diarrhea by:
With the emergence of serious clinical research over the past decade into the natural, restorative effectiveness of probiotics, dog owners have found that probiotics also provide a safe, healthy alternative to fasting or antibiotics for treating dog diarrhea.
A type of natural, living bacteria that supplement the beneficial bacteria within your dog’s system, probiotics are ingested orally and begin colonizing in a dog’s intestinal tract within minutes of ingestion. As they colonize, they start readjusting the bacterial imbalance in the intestines that causes dogs to have diarrhea while reducing bacteria motility and increasing the amount of “good” bacteria for rapid relief from diarrhea.
Supplementing a dog’s diet with probiotics can reduce the likelihood that the dog suffers diarrhea due to stress, chewing on outside debris or having an older, less vital immune system.
One of the most common questions about dog probiotics is — can I give my dog human probiotics?
The answer is that you can.
If you ask yourself, should I give my dog human probiotics? The answer to this question is no.
Human probiotic supplements are not harmful to your pet but they’re not beneficial either. This is because your dog needs probiotics specific to them.
The digestive tract is the largest organ that your dog has. You want to make sure that your pet is benefiting the most from their probiotic supplement. The bacteria in these supplements help your canine. There are specific strains of bacteria that you should look for in a dog probiotic to help your pet and include:
The bacterial strain Enterococcus faecium is beneficial to pets. A study conducted showed an improvement in gut flora. An increase in levels of an antibody created in their intestinal lining also occurred. This antibody defends them from bacteria and viruses. It’s called fecal secretory IgA.
Bacillus coagulans is another strain of bacteria that is beneficial to canines. This strain can help protect dogs from different types of diarrhea. It also minimizes common digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) etc.
Selecting the top 5 probiotics for dogs was not an easy task.
To help us pick the best ones from a wide selection, we defined a set of must-haves that each dog probiotic needed.
Those requirements were:
We do not recommend giving your dog probiotics meant for humans mainly because human probiotics can contain ingredients not meant for them.
We also removed any probiotics marketed for both dogs and cats.
We noticed a pattern of brands marketing all-in-one supplements with probiotics as one of the last ingredients or digestive enzymes marketed as probiotics.
We want a dog probiotic that does one thing very well — promote good bacteria!
With dogs having a variety of food sensitivities, these probiotics needed to contain few ingredients.
It was a bonus if they were free of gluten, lactose, and other problematic fillers.
A higher number of colony-forming units (CFUs) in each probiotic, the more colonies that can form in the intestinal tract, the more beneficial bacteria can grow.
You know this, and other dog parents do too — giving your dog medicine can be tricky!
They will sense and sniff when there is something in their food. These probiotics should not make your life harder than it needs to be.
Using the rules above made it easier to pick the best from the bunch.
The list of pros for each brand also contains additional benefits that we thought were worth mentioning.
Now onto the actual list of the best dog probiotics!
If you are the type of dog parent who cares about what goes inside your dog, as we do, then this is the one for you.
Made with minimal ingredients and containing a proven strain of beneficial bacteria, Probiotics for Dogs from Tails ‘N’ Tummies takes the top spot on our list.
Allow us to emphasize this point — finding a probiotic with the fewest ingredients possible is no easy task!
Because it only contains a few, we think it is the best choice for dogs with food sensitivities as it doesn’t have problematic ingredients.
Your dog will have no gas, bloating, cramping, or any other side effects that generally come with probiotics.
The tablets are small and mix easily with food, so giving them to your dog should not be a problem.
Because the tablets are time-release, only one dose a day is needed to work around the clock.
The only negative we found was that you would need two bottles for a month’s supply if your dog weighed over 50 pounds.
But at the lower-end price of $24.95 per bottle on their website, this may not be an issue.View Website Reviews View Amazon Reviews
Picking the runner-up on our list came down to Daily Probiotic from Petaxin and Probiotic Support from NomNomNow.
Ultimately, we picked Petaxin over NomNomNow because dogs prefer soft chews over powder, and it’s easier to give.
We love the fact that this dog probiotic contains prebiotics, although studies haven’t shown dogs need it, and the chews come in a cute heart shape.
Although it’s a good product, we did not place this at number one because it contains ingredients that can be problematic for your dog.
Chickpeas can cause gas, abdominal cramps, and bloating. Potato flour and cane molasses are carbohydrates that may be unnecessary, especially if your dog is overweight.
Lastly, if your dog has any lactose intolerance, the cheddar cheese may cause issues.
It’s also worth mentioning that the chews contain chicken flavor, and it may be best to avoid it if your dog is allergic to chicken.
If your dog has no food sensitivities at all, Daily Probiotic is a great choice, and they sure love eating it!View Chewy Reviews View Amazon Reviews
Like Probiotics for Dogs from Tails ‘N’ Tummies, Probiotic Support from NomNomNow contains minimal ingredients.
As mentioned above, probiotics that contain few ingredients are great for dogs with food sensitivities.
It makes it easy for the probiotics to do their job inside of your dog’s intestinal tract.
However, Probiotic Support’s strength may be its weakness because it may be too bare minimum for dogs and their owners.
It has no flavor at all, and it comes in powder form that you have to add to your dog’s food.
You may know this — it’s not easy to give dogs powered medicine, and they may stare at their food suspiciously.
But you will have to determine how picky your dog is and if they will be receptive to it.
If you want to make it work, a favorite trick among dog parents is to add it to peanut butter to disguise it.
NomNomNow makes good products, and this probiotic is no exception.View Website Reviews View Amazon Reviews
Another probiotic in powder form, Pet Ultimates, is a solid choice to give your dog probiotics.
It’s very similar to Probiotic Support from NomNomNow in that it contains minimal ingredients and no flavor.
But unlike Probiotic support, this one contains inulin as its first ingredient for prebiotics.
You will often hear that prebiotics is necessary for probiotics, but no study has shown this to be the case in dogs.
Too much inulin can cause gas, bloating, and abdominal cramping in dogs.
It is unclear the exact amount of inulin in this formula, and it may not be something to worry about but something to keep in mind.
This dog probiotic is an excellent choice by a reputable dog brand.View Chewy Reviews View Amazon Reviews
Rounding out our list is FortiFlora from the well-known dog brand, Purina.
If you have done any prior research on probiotics for dogs, you have probably come across it.
It is probably the most familiar probiotics for dogs product on the market, and for a good reason because it works.
Unlike the other two powdered form probiotics on our list, this one contains liver flavoring, which can be more palatable for dogs.
However, unlike Probiotic Support from NomNomNow and Probiotics from Pet Ultimates, this one is not minimal in ingredients.
Except for yeast, which is known to cause some issues in dogs, all the other ingredients are acceptable.
One packet a day in your dog’s food is all they need to get the beneficial bacteria in their bodies.View Chewy Reviews View Amazon Reviews
We hope that our list of the best probiotics for dogs this year helps you determine which dog probiotic to give to your furry friend.
Just like vitamins, we recommend giving your dog probiotics for as long as possible to maintain healthy levels of good bacteria in their body.
With stress, antibiotics, and processed dog food being ever-present factors, it is crucial to supplement your dog’s diet with it continually.
Your dog’s health and immune system will thank you for it.
Discuss this list of recommended dog probiotics with other dog parents below and let us know what you think!
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