Why Are Probiotics Good for Dogs?

Image of a beagle dog running on a trail with grass on either side and the sun from behind
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More and more people have become aware of the health benefits of probiotics and as a result, an increasing number of people take them regularly. As the popularity of probiotics has grown, so too has interest in probiotics for dogs and other pets.

As it turns out, many of the health benefits that people get from probiotics are similar to the health benefits that can be seen in dogs too. But why are probiotics good for dogs? That’s what we’ll take a look at in this article.

How Gut Health Works in Dogs

Just as in humans, dogs have trillions of microorganisms in their gut at any given time. These microorganisms consist of bacteria, viruses, yeasts and more, and they make up what’s called the microbiome, the scientific term for the collection of microorganisms found in the digestive system.

Some of these microorganisms are good (aka probiotics), while others are bad and can cause harm and infection in your dog. In a dog with a healthy gut, there will be a combination of both good and bad microorganisms but the good ones help to keep the pathogenic ones in check to prevent infection.

How Probiotics are Good for Dogs

Probiotics are the good microorganisms mentioned in the previous section.

Probiotics may help improve dogs’ digestion, improve gut health, and have many general health benefits such as reducing the severity and duration of diarrhea, reduction in symptoms from allergies, relief from digestive disorders, strengthening the immune system, and they may benefit heart health by lowering bad cholesterol. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Probiotics may even be able to positively influence your dog’s mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. (6) One theory for how probiotics do this is through what’s called the gut-brain axis. The microbiome sends signals to the brain and the brain sends signals to the microbiome. In other words, they communicate with each other. This relationship is very complex and isn’t fully understood but there is evidence that dysbiosis (an imbalanced, unhealthy microbiome) is associated with central nervous disorders such as autism and anxiety-depressive behaviors. (7)

Conclusion

So, why are probiotics good for dogs?

Probiotics are good for dogs because they may:

  • Improve gut health
  • Improve digestion
  • Reduce the severity/duration of diarrhea
  • Relieve allergies
  • Relieve symptoms of digestive disorders
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Lower bad cholesterol (which improves heart health)

If your dog has a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, you may notice positive results soon after giving your dog probiotics. If your dog is healthy, the effects may be more subtle but by giving your dog probiotics your dog will have better gut health, digestion, and will be happier, healthier, have a stronger immune system and live longer because of it.

Sources
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