What Are Probiotics for Dogs? How They Help, Supplements to Get and More

By: BeChewy EditorsUpdated:

dogs eating food

What Are Probiotics for Dogs? How They Help, Supplements to Get and More

Did you know that probiotics have the same positive effects for our dogs’ pet health as they do for us?

Veterinarians prescribe probiotics for dogs all the time—not only for sick patients suffering from an upset stomach but also for overall wellness and pet health.

To understand why probiotics for dogs are so beneficial when it comes to dog nutrition and to learn the positive effects they can have, let’s discuss how probiotics work in your pet’s body.

What Are Probiotics for Dogs?

Your pet’s digestive system is home to billions of bacteria that actually keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy, says Alison Birken, DVM, owner of Victoria Park Animal Hospital.

The term “probiotics” refers to these gastrointestinal-dwelling microbes (bacteria and yeasts) that are beneficial to pet health.

These friendly microbes...

  • aid in the digestion of food,
  • fight off potential disease,
  • make nutrients and vitamins, and
  • bolster the immune system.

Probiotics for dogs are prescribed as supplements, in the form of a powder, capsule, chew, liquid or spray; however, dogs can get probiotics from their dog food as well.

These probiotics are living microorganisms that are very similar to the friendly bacteria that reside in your pet’s digestive tract.

Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs

A healthy gastrointestinal tract involves a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. An imbalance (more “bad” than “good”) can result in illness such as diarrhea, vomiting, suppressed immunity and an upset stomach. That’s why probiotics for dogs are an important part of pet nutrition.

The benefits of probiotics for dogs include:

  • Supporting the immune system: By supplementing your pet’s diet with probiotics, you are boosting the amount of good bacteria that competes with the harmful bacteria for nutrients and intestinal binding sites. This helps the immune system fight off disease. Once the “good” and “bad” bacteria balance has been restored, your pet’s clinical signs resolve, and she will start to feel much better.
  • Alleviating digestive issues: "The conditions most likely to benefit from probiotic use are diarrhea or digestive discomfort caused by stress, antibiotics or pathogen exposure," says Dr. Kelly Swanson, professor of animal and nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Probiotic use is commonly suggested when antibiotics are administered, when animals are under high stress due to travel or boarding, and also if animals are exposed to new pets in their environments," he adds.

Should You Give a Puppy Probiotics?

Both puppies as well as senior dogs may benefit from probiotics.

“Canines who are young, weaning and at older life stages are those most susceptible to digestive discomforts, so probiotic and/or prebiotic supplementation is most likely to help,” Dr. Swanson says.

Probiotic Dog Food

While daily probiotics use is highly suggested for dogs with chronic digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome and neoplasia, many healthy dogs can benefit from daily supplementation as well. Sometimes this is best achieved by including probiotics into your dog's diet.

Here are some dog foods that feature high quality probiotics for dogs in the formulation:

Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula Adult Dry Dog Food
CANIDAE All Life Stages Chicken, Turkey & Lamb Formula Dry Dog Food
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Temporarily out of stock

Probiotic Chews for Dogs

Supplement chews are another popular way to include probiotics into your dog's diet.

Of course, as with all medications and supplements, sticking to the recommended dose is important. More is not always better, so pet owners should read labels carefully. And do not supplement dogs with human probiotics as human gut bacteria is different from canine. Use a dog-specific product, like the following:

Zesty Paws Probiotic Bites Pumpkin Flavored Soft Chews Digestive Supplement for Dogs
PetHonesty Digestive Probiotics Duck Flavored Soft Chews Digestive Supplement for Dogs
Nutri-Vet Pre & Probiotics Soft Chews Digestive Supplement for Dogs

Nowadays our standards for pet care and dog nutrition are second to none. Just as we want the best nutrition, health and care for ourselves and loved ones, we want the same for our beloved fur babies.

We routinely supplement our own diets with probiotics to help boost our immune system and to feel healthy and strong. So, it’s only natural to give them to our pups as part of complete pet nutrition.

As always, your veterinarian is the best resource for the health and well-being of your pet, so be sure to contact your vet for any health questions or concerns.

Have more questions about your pet's behavior? Get expert advice through Chewy’s Connect With a Vet service, available daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.
Expert input provided by Alison Birken, DVM, owner of Victoria Park Animal Hospital; Dr. Kelly Swanson, professor of animal and nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Sarah Wooten, DVM, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado.


By: BeChewy EditorsUpdated: