Digestive problems are no fun for humans or dogs. When your dog has a problem associated with the digestive tract, they’re going to be miserable – just like you would be. What can you do, as an owner, to help your pup? The simple answer: give your dog probiotics.
Probiotics have become a popular supplement for humans to take, and now many people have turned to a probiotic supplement to help support their dog’s digestive health. Here’s some information on doggie diarrhea, a common digestive issue that affects dogs, and how bolstering their supply of good bacteria could help.
Doggie Diarrhea: A Digestive Nightmare
One of the most common digestive problems that affect dogs is diarrhea. An attack can come out of nowhere (and it always seems to happen at night…) and creates a horrible mess. But as difficult as a diarrhea cleanup can be, don’t be upset at your dog. Diarrhea isn’t a pleasant experience for anyone, human and canine alike. Your pooch didn’t mean to have an accident and probably already feels lousy.
Could Foul Food Be The Cause?
Many dogs don’t really care a whole lot about what they eat, which includes garbage. Naturally, when they consume spoiled food or trash filled with bacteria, digestive issues are likely to follow, including vomiting and diarrhea.
Garbage aside, diarrhea can also result from something as seemingly minor as changing to a new food. Imagine eating the same meal three times a day for years, and then all of a sudden, switching to an entirely new meal. The taste of something new might delight you, but your body might not react so well… and the same is the case for your dog. So, if you’re planning on switching up your dog’s diet, start out slowly. Sprinkle a little bit of the new food on top of the old for the first couple of days. Then mix half of the new food with half of the old in his or her bowl. After about three days of this half-and-half mix, start feeding your pup only the new food.1
Other Culprits of Doggie Diarrhea
But there are other reasons that dogs develop diarrhea. Other common culprits include allergies, parasites (usually from contact with contaminated soil or food), or stress (typically from loud noises such as fireworks). Medications and bacterial infections are other common causes. There are even some cases where diarrhea could be the result of a serious disease.2
Home Remedy Help
If your dog has diarrhea, try a few home remedies before you seek medical attention for your beloved companion. Don’t give them anything but water for 12-24 hours – and give water sparingly. Limit water intake to small amounts spaced throughout the day. This should help clear up whatever’s wrong with your dog’s digestive tract.
But you need to be careful when keeping food away from your dog – especially if your pet is small, elderly, or still a pup. Talk to your vet first to make sure it will be safe to withhold food. Once it’s time for your dog to eat again, limit them to a bland diet to get their stools back to where they should be. Stick with foods like canned pumpkin or white rice. Boiled chicken will also work. Just make sure you remove the skin before giving to your pooch.3
Getting Medical Help
Unfortunately, there are instances where home remedies won’t work, and you’ll need to get to the vet. If you notice any vomiting, or if your dog has a fever or blood in their diarrhea, get medical attention as soon as possible. You’ll also need to be able to tell your vet things such as how many bowel movements your dog has had in the last few days, since diarrhea began, and what those bowel movements look like.
It will then be up to the vet to figure out the cause of the attack and determine the best plan of action.
They will probably look at your pet’s medical history first. This means looking at what medications your dog might be taking, as well as checking your pet’s medical history. Tests will then be needed in order to determine whether the problem is a virus, a parasite, or some sort of harmful bacteria.4
The cause of the problem will determine the treatment plan. If your dog’s diarrhea is chronic, meaning it happens frequently, then your vet may suggest changing the food they eat. If harmful bacteria are to blame, your dog might start an antibiotic regimen. If a parasite is causing your dog’s diarrhea, then the vet will recommend medication. Parasites can be difficult to eliminate, so your dog might need to take medicine for an extended period of time.5
How Dog Probiotics Works
A dog’s digestive tract – just like the human gastrointestinal tract – is filled with beneficial and harmful bacteria. When the “bad guys” outnumber the “good guys,” that can lead to diarrhea and other digestive issues.
One of the ways you might be able to prevent digestive problems, such as diarrhea, is to give your dog probiotics. You’ve no doubt heard of probiotics for people. You might not know that probiotics can be used for dogs as well.
There are several kinds of dog probiotics. These include powders, chews, and capsules. But they all have one thing in common: They’re filled with beneficial bacteria that are found in a dog’s digestive tract. A probiotic supplement is designed to supplement those bacteria that are already in your dog’s gut. As a result, probiotics help to balance the “bad” bacteria, and other microbes, that can cause digestive problems.
Research indicates that a probiotic supplement could help your dog. In one study, a group of dogs with chronic diarrhea received either a probiotic or a placebo. The dogs receiving the probiotic only suffered symptoms for four days, compared to the seven days their attacks typically lasted.6
Benefits of a Probiotic Supplement for Dogs
There are other benefits associated with dog probiotics. They help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, keeping them from accumulating in your dog’s digestive tract. One theory holds that probiotics do this by reducing intestinal pH. Probiotics also help provide nourishment to intestinal cells.7
Research also indicates that a probiotic supplement could have a positive effect on your dog’s immune system. In one study, researchers gave one group of young dogs a traditional diet. They gave the other group food containing a good bacteria known as Enterococcus faecium. Before the study began, they measured how many distemper antibodies that were in each puppy’s system. An antibody is a type of protein that provides protection against antigens or harmful intruders.
The researchers once again tested the antibody count of each puppy five months later. They found that the dogs receiving the probiotic had the same amount of antibodies they had at the beginning of the study. The puppies who continued to receive the traditional diet, on the other hand, saw a decrease in antibodies.8
What Type of Dog Probiotics Should I Get?
Before you buy any sort of probiotic supplement, do some research. Look into the products you’re considering, to make sure they’ll be safe for your pet’s digestive system. Unfortunately, there are a lot of products on the market that don’t have enough beneficial bacteria to help your dog. Even worse, there are some products out there that could actually be harmful.
You’ll find important clues regarding the quality of a probiotic supplement on the label. If it doesn’t tell you the strains of good bacteria included in the product, look for something else. Typically, the higher the number of beneficial microbes, the better job that product will do when it comes to protecting your dog from bad bacteria.
Look for products that have these strains of beneficial bacteria:
Lactic streptococci 9
The label should also tell you how many good bacteria are in each serving. Look for the number of “colony forming units,” or CFUs. Some probiotic products contain millions of CFUs per serving, while others contain billions. The more CFUs a product has, the better the chances that enough bacteria will survive their trek through your dog’s stomach to get to the large intestine. This is where they’re needed the most, because this is where they can do the most good for your dog.10
Can’t I Just Give My Dog Yogurt?
Yogurt might offer some probiotic benefits for you, but when it comes to your dog, it’s not that much help. In fact, it could even harm your dog’s digestive system.11
One of the main reasons why yogurt doesn’t work for a dog is that it doesn’t contain enough good bacteria strains for a dog’s digestive tract. They might work well in a human, but not in a pooch. In addition, yogurt contains lactose. Dogs don’t have enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose. That’s why a dog will usually throw up yogurt if you try giving it to them. In addition, yogurt contains calcium, sugar, and other ingredients that may harm dogs with digestive sensitivities.12
Wrapping it Up
You need to speak with your vet before giving your dog probiotics. They’ll know which products provide the most benefits, and which ones aren’t worth the money. Your vet will also have a very good idea as to whether or not your dog will be able to tolerate the products you’re considering. If your vet gives the green light, give dog probiotics a try to help your pup’s digestion.