Probiotics For Dogs: Why You’re Using Them Wrong

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The benefits of probiotics is they produce beneficial waste products that are extremely useful for the dog as a function of the microbes thriving in whichever part of the gut they live in...
Probiotic bottle for dogs

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At Rogue, we want to be very blunt with our readers. We want to bring a new foundation-level perspective on gut health and new information based on confirmed science for immediate application to bring positive health changes now! 

Writing about pre-biotic and probiotics is fascinating when you include the latest sequencing technology used to conduct deep sequencing reads and biological expression studies, as long as you’re staying above the waist! To really understand the nature of the relationship between microbes and their canine

host, topics get real dirty real fast. Some might even say crappy! This is because most research to find any association between probiotic organisms and any benefit deals with fecal samples, usually diarrhea. A lot of it to be exact. Not the most exciting of topics to bring up when people ask what I’m writing about.

“…Increasing gut health through Probiotics is the biggest bang for your buck! ”

– Rogue Pet Science

The Benefits of Probiotics For Dogs

What do dogs actually gain from having these good microbes in them? Is it magic or is it a mystery? The benefit of probiotics is they produce beneficial waste products that are extremely useful for the dog as a function of the microbes thriving in whichever part of the gut they live in. Sounds odd, I know, just stay with me. These microbes produce beneficial byproducts by converting fiber and plant based sugars (FOS, MOS, GOS) pulled from the dog’s diet. How beneficial can this be? The metabolic products of microbes have helped create the field of Nutrigenomics and advance pharmaceutical research on many health topics. 

These by-products are like gold to your dog’s body. No, it’s not actual gold particles nor can they make you rich, but they enrich your dog’s gut biochemistry! Such by-products are vitamins and short-chain fatty acids that your dog does not make on its own. The functional presence of the different microbe byproducts, directly and indirectly, help in the feedback mechanisms of the body organ systems, cell wall strength, and immune function support; making these metabolic byproducts beyond extremely useful….We’d go as far as to say, life dependant. 

The truth is that many probiotics can positively impact total gut health, thus total canine health, in multiple ways we currently know and in many ways, we have not discovered yet. If you think I’m attempting to sell you snake oil or puffery science claims, think again! The issue is, probiotics need a correct support system in place to actually work! To reanimate, divide and thrive to battle other negative microbes trying to unbalance the system in their favor (Think yeast species). Without the other aspects of the support system, your dog is making probiotic-rich poop! 

In the matter of gut microbe population in which micro-organisms with potential health benefits dominate in number over potentially harmful ones in an animal we call this state ‘normobiosis.’ This normal condition characterizes a composition of the gut ecosystem, in contrast to ‘dysbiosis’, in which one or a few potentially harmful micro-organisms are dominant, thus creating a disease-prone situation. (1) Think yeast overgrowth, excessive bloating, fungal overgrowth all of which occur in the GI tract itself.

What the Research Says About Probiotics

We can look to non-canine-focused research and information to give us more rollover information. In the case of gut health microbes, we gain new insights and uses since humans have a mono-gastric digestive system (as well as canines, swine, and poultry). Plus, there is more money in human and production animal research than in canines. So let’s explore what we do know. 

So, what do the well-established studies tell us about the important role of Probiotics? 

  • Prevention or alleviation of allergies and atopic diseases 
  • Prevention of respiratory tract infections (common cold, influenza) as well as treatment of urogenital infections 
  • Reduction of cancer-promoting enzymes and bacteria metabolites in the gut 
  • Increased activation of the metabolism, positive effects on fat metabolism, and stimulation of mineral adsorption 
  • Prevention and/or reduction in duration from antibiotic-associated diarrhea and lactose intolerance.
  • Beneficial effects in connection with inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (IBR), Leaky Gut Syndrome, EPI, Helicobacter pylori infection and bacterial overgrowth 

Major developments in science reveal probiotics have a bigger impact on the total health of all animal species: 

  1. Early gut microbiome development is proven to be so important to foster immune system development, that the poultry industry funds many studies to measure the effect of pre-& probiotic inoculation into embryos to better understand early animal gut microbiome development to create better food formulas and effects. (3) When have you ever heard of pet food companies putting this much interest into developing puppy dry food formulas? 
  2. Infection prevention of harmful strains of Lactobacillus species, to prevent human UTI & bladder infections. Campylobacter infection of large intestine, bovine respiratory infection from Mannheima. Salmonella infection frequency in poultry operations. 
  3. Promising oral applications have been studied showing 1.) oral immunization demonstrated 80% protection against E.coli 0157:H7 infection in mice, 2.) a probiotic infused toothpaste increases inhabitation oral infections from yeast, staph, and strep strains, and 3.) denture wearers can get relief from oral yeast infestations from mouthwashes infused with probiotics. 
  4. Researchers have even looked into the feline feces microbes’ impacts on the canine gut health. Maybe we will finally understand if cat poop is bad for dogs!

Best Probiotics Factors for Dogs Compared

What to look for

With the current state of pet care that tells people to feed a highly processed, high-preservative dry kibble as the majority of a pet’s diet, plus highly processed treats, the dog’s gut environment doesn’t stand a chance to find a positive balance for long term health impacts. To help catch pet owners up with 22 years of advanced feeding strategies, we created these rules to ensure you’re not wasting time, money, or your dog’s health. We focused on these factors during the development of Origins 5in1 to ensure it works in pet diets. 

5 Rules of Probiotic Inclusion- Focus on what “Probiotics Need” 

1. pH The food eaten is the largest controlling factor here. pH is a critical factor for the intestine tract where probiotics live. Dry dog food is not your dog’s friend in this case, because the pH shifts on the total gut environment towards a more basic pH too fast!

2. Diet – A Dry dog food-only diet fails our dogs. Species appropriateness is key! Raw meats, bones, and organs set ideal gut environment conditions, as does fermented products (yogurt, apple cider vinegar, Fermented turmeric & ginger). 

3. Pre-biotic support – Microbes have to eat if you want them to hang around. Prebiotic fibers and plant material serve as food for the microbes. Feed the bugs! 

4. Bacteria Diversity –Specifically, Lactobacillus strain diversity is key to improving total health across many health issues (skin & coat, allergies, metabolism, etc) seen in dogs. Select sporelating strains serve bigger roles as “directors” to other microbes in the gut. 

5. Potency – Numbers are important to a certain point! As in total CFU should be used as a measure to judge a product. Total CFU counts matter as the amount needed to be effective varies given the qualifier conditions presented above. This is why Origins 5in1 can have much bigger health & performance changes using less CFU. It’s the power of a systems approach! 

The Best Rules for Probiotic Use 

pH Role in the Gut Health Complex

A truth that needs to be told, yet few understand, is that probiotics need a favorable environment to work their magic. An optimal environment is required to actually have the intended benefit of why you want to feed probiotics. A much simpler way is that you’re wasting your money using probiotics if you’re feeding only dry dog food and expect this to address the correct pH needed or have available food for the organisms, IF, they try to grow. So let’s take these two points separately. 

The stomach is a tough place for probiotics due to acidic conditions. Some will die regardless of what is done. “Kill rate” is the term used to describe this effect. In Figure 1, we can see the range of pH conditions normally encountered in the canine digestive system. These differences in pH of the intestinal tract support different types of microbes, which in turn produces different health outcomes resulting from their presence. A poor diet of highly processed ingredients and preservatives shifts the ranges of pH of the small intestine all the way to the colon. Slight changes in pH mean life and death for microbes. Could a fish survive out of the water? Then, how do we expect good probiotic bugs to survive and thrive in an environment not set up for them?

Diet Focus: Beneficial Partner or Benefit Leaching Blob 

This is something that no supplement or pet food company will tell you…. A poor diet will hinder or completely eliminate any benefit from probiotic use. The

inclusion of pre-biotics is important but will be wasted if a total gut mindset is not adopted (refer to rules above). So don’t waste your money if you’re feeding a kibble-only diet. How is that? 

Kibble turns into a large non-nutrient mass inside the intestinal tract that traps nutrients, vitamins and medications. If that wasn’t enough, it also shifts pH to favor bad microbes and further promotes growth conditions for potentially harmful pathogenic organisms (E. coli, Yeast, Campy, etc.). If you need to make a kibble-based diet work, Rogue Pet Science’s Origins 5in1 supplement addresses all 5 of the probiotic rules correctly in the diet. 

What Sources Can I Give My Dog As a Probiotic? 

Probiotics for dogs come in several supplementary forms, such as pills, freeze-dried powders, and some food-based options. Some dog foods companies even have added prebiotics as marketing hype. 

It’s critical to read labels and find a probiotic form that is easy for your dog to take. You might want to consider: 

Probiotic Dog Food

This might be fortified dog food with a probiotic or a food topper that contains the probiotic. But be wary that this probiotic may lose potency from packaging and the storage environment after leaving the facility. Dog Food companies are not bragging how their probiotic dog food is changing lives…or you would have been seeing it in their marketing!

Probiotic Treats

One of the easiest ways to give your dog a probiotic is a soft treat. Be aware that some treats may contain additives and other ingredients that might render the probiotic ineffective. So remember to research before you buy. 

Probiotic Pills

A probiotic pill is easy to hide in your dog’s food or inside a treat. But be watchful. Some dogs can’t swallow pills and spit them out.

Probiotic Powders

It is easy to store live probiotics as a powder because the packaging can control air and moisture, but administering the powder to your dog may take some creativity. The 5 pillars of gut health have to be addressed. 

Natural Probiotic Food

These are some natural foods that contain live probiotic cultures. Kefir and other fermented foods contain residual probiotics. However, not all-natural foods with probiotics are good for dogs. Commercial yogurts and goat milk have no probiotics in them, dispute what people tell you. 

Is It Okay to Give My Dog Probiotics Daily? 

Yes, You can. Be sure a well-balanced supplement with the gut health complexes is included. If you want a stand-alone probiotic, you should talk to your veterinarian about how often you should give your dog a probiotic because they will be able to accurately dose your dog’s breed and size. 

It can take several weeks of a daily probiotic to take effect. That’s why being proactive in giving your dog a probiotic becomes so essential to fortify against and reduce any digestive issues. Want to boost your dog’s overall health? Rogue Pet Science offers Origins Canine 5 in 1 Supplement that promotes positive gut health through natural foods.

Pre-biotics – Foundation Fertilizer for Probiotics

“ If you can’t keep Probiotics alive, you can’t keep them around.” 

– Rogue Pet Science

Are you ready for the most advanced feeding strategy you will never hear in the dog world?

This advanced strategy summed up is, we need to feed the microbes in the gut. Does that sound odd? Yes, in that this has never been talked about except in advanced production animal facilities and some leading research scientists. They too have a nutritional need! 

Nutrition only focuses on the animals’ nutrient needs and for good reason. Production animal research scientists and producers are looking to raise healthier animals using fewer antibiotics by managing the total gut microbial population with specific pre-biotic nutrients. If you can’t keep them alive, you can’t keep them around. This is seen in all of the dog research work on probiotics by way of a drop in detection of microbes once supplementation of spiked probiotic(s) was stopped. Environmental pH condition is one factor due to less than ideal food sources for the dogs, let alone the microbes. (8,9). 

Below is a chart of prophetic sources and the additional breakdown of their structure categories. I bet you didn’t think there was this much science into this one aspect!

Prebiotic Review of

Probiotics – The Intestinal Rainforest

“Health begins in the gut… increase microbial diversity in the gut and you increase total health”

– Rogue Pet Science

But if we are to leverage the currently known benefits we will need to change our feeding practices. There is enormous promise in the power of these microbes to make a bigger impact on canine health than the discovery of antibiotics themselves!

Gut microbial populations should be like a rainforest, where multiple species of microbes live together and in different regions of the intestinal tract. The more the better. Why is that? 

Texas A&M researcher, Jan Suchodolski, presented in his review of canine intestinal microbials that of all the research findings reviewed, that the lack of microbe population density was a factor between sick/disease conditions versus healthy dogs. These findings are echoed across multiple disease conditions. The lack of Lactobacillus species in multiple disease states was of significance. Schmitz and Suchodolski noted that whether these partial changes in the microbe population are a cause or a result of the immune reactions, it is seen in both humans and dogs. (8,9) 

If one wanted to only include the most proven of classified probiotics, then the European Food Safety Authority would be the Holy Grail source for that decision. Given the tougher restrictions and higher standards to allow or not allow ingredient usage into finished pet food products, I regularly look to Europe to develop a standard for my own U.S. products.

Of all the microbes studied, Lactobacillus strain species, often referred to as LABs, are the most globally researched probiotic strains. Peer review scientific publications number >3,000 for this class of microbe. As seen in Chart 2 below, Lactobacillus acidophilus is the most researched strain for probiotic usage, thus giving EFSA the data their working group committees needed to make a determination call.

European Food Safety Authority Approved Probiotics List.

Taking a broader view of all scientific publications on probiotics, we find a larger number of microbes that could also serve as probiotic species. Chart 3 represents a list of alternative microbes with proven probiotic use. With the new advances in sequencing combined with ever-decreasing costs to do such gene expression studies, data linking the microbe presence of beneficial function in the host is becoming a hotbed of activity. Investment in probiotic research and commercialization of products is being developed for both humans and animals. This is an exciting development for proactive health care, in my opinion.

How Can I Add Prebiotics to My Dog’s Diet?

There are two ways to add a prebiotic into your dog’s diet: supplement or natural food. Most supplements utilize common microorganisms, but you’ll want to research the supplements because quality can vary. You can add supplements to your dog’s meal or as a treat, depending on how much your dog likes the supplement.

Natural foods you can add as part of their meal or as a snack. There are lots of natural foods that contain prebiotics that promote healthy digestion:

  • Chicory Root
  • Dandelions
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Apples
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Konjac Root
  • Flaxseeds
  • Yacon Root

Other natural foods contain prebiotics like bananas, onion, garlic, and cocoa, but these foods can be toxic or disruptive to your dog’s digestion.

What are the Best Natural Foods Containing Prebiotics for Dogs?

While lots of natural foods contain prebiotics, some of these foods are not great 

for dog digestion. That’s why it is important to check labels on dog food, supplements and treats for harmful ingredients. If you prefer adding natural foods to your dog’s diet, these are the best natural foods that contain beneficial prebiotics for dogs when not over fed

Fermented Turmeric & Ginger (avoid regular powder turmeric) ● Sweet Potato 

Steamed Asparagus (raw asparagus can be tough on some dog’s digestion) 

  • Apple slices 
  • Organic Pumpkin (avoid skin & seeds) 
  • Sprouted Barley 
  • Fermented Mushrooms 
  • Chicory Root
  • Burdock Root 
  • Dandelion Greens 

These foods taste good to dogs, won’t be hard on their digestion, and promote a healthy gut. Mixing these natural foods with your dog food is an easy way to add prebiotics to their diet. You can also find these ingredients in high-quality, natural prebiotic supplements for dogs.

Is Pumpkin a Probiotic for Dogs? 

Raw, canned pumpkin contains lots of fiber and vitamins A, E, and C that promote healthy digestion. The fiber in the canned pumpkin acts as a prebiotic, but it is not a probiotic. Pumpkin is an excellent stimulant for probiotics

Proactive Use of Prebiotics and Probiotics is Essential 

By proactively giving your dog a prebiotic and probiotic, you can preempt many gastrointestinal problems and promote a healthy immune system. It’s much harder and will take longer to correct GI upset when your dog’s digestion is poor. 

Adding a prebiotic and probiotic supplement is critical for puppies and senior dogs because they have weaker immune systems. New puppies have vulnerable immune systems when born and rely on their mother’s milk for antibodies. By supplementing with a specially formulated probiotic, your puppy will get the extra boost it needs. 

For older dogs, a prebiotic and probiotic are critical because they need the added nutrition and gut boost as their bodies and systems deteriorate. Older dogs need added digestive assistance to avoid GI problems and diseases. 

Probiotic Poisons 

What To Avoid:

Our dogs are continually exposed to processed food, toxins, and stressors, which kill the good bugs and eliminate the positive probiotic effect. Watch out for these: 

  1. Reducing substances that can destroy or bind probiotics rendering them useless is one of the best strategies for a longer quality of life for pets. 
  2. Preservatives – most dog treats, dry foods, and cooked bones 3. Unnecessary medication or over the counter drugs 
  3. Chemicals – beware of liquid supplements for joints, fish oil products, and weight gainer supplements. Liquids have to be preserved!
  4. Feed species-appropriate diets to help balance their gut ecosystem to support probiotic survivability (i.e. Nutrition toppers, freeze-dried proteins, raw components). 
  5. Grain glutens – pet foods & processed treats & chews are filled with fillers and moisture modifiers to keep them soft. 

Now that you have the right prebiotics and probiotics, and have steered clear of toxins, how do you manage this fresh gut network? 

Probiotics for Dogs: Usage, Dosage and Choices

There are two major ways to modify the probiotic composition of your dog’s gut microbe population.

1. One way is to take probiotic supplements or feed fermented foods, which will get you good bacteria from outside. A good example is the feeding of plain yogurt products. As dog owners, we have to feed plain yogurt to help with loose stools and other signs of digestive stress. 

2. The other way is to properly feed the microbes (think fertilizer!) with pre-biotics, to encourage probiotics to grow and to thrive for normal activity. The inclusion of prebiotic inclusion is ideal because it ensures a successful long-term plan for healthy probiotic populations. It also allows your dog’s own bacteria to grow normally and promotes biodiversity. 

Before You Give Your Dog Probiotics 

There are a few things you need to research and consider before giving your dog a probiotic or prebiotic: 

Probiotics are very sensitive

Probiotics can be destroyed or ineffective from temperature and moisture. Live liquid probiotics generally need to be refrigerated to live and have potency. Freeze-dried powders are stable at room temperature and don’t require cold storage. You’ll want to be mindful of how the probiotic is packaged and stored or it might be a waste of money. 

A few words about dog-to-human ratios

Prebiotics and probiotics are best given together. Follow label instructions when using products made for dogs. When using products made for humans, adjust the dosage based on the size of your dog compared to an adult human (e.g., give about half the human dose to a dog weighing 50 to 60 pounds, or one-quarter the human dose for a dog weighing 25 to 30 pounds). If using a fiber-only supplement, start with low doses and increase gradually. Decrease the amount or switch to a different product if you see signs of gas or diarrhea. 

Avoid single-use products

Don’t be fooled with single-use products of pre-biotics or probiotics. The costs will be too high. Partly due to them not being the source of the product and being diluted. Additionally, once you stop feeding them the probiotics will disappear from the dog’s body because they are only transient and do not stay. It takes a strategy to actually address this and Rogue Pet Science has built the answer in their Origins 5in1 supplement to battle this foolish marketplace to bring meaningful change! 

Pre-biotics are not for every dog

For a dog with a seemingly fit digestive tract, probiotics probably won’t do any harm. But many pets today have varying ranges of GI conditions of IBD, IBS, leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) that experience varied or reduced symptomatic issues.

The only way to fix a poor gut microbe density and repair the damage our modern world inflicts is to eliminate the factors that encourage a bad gut environment and start using “Active Nutrition” based actions that include pre-biotic support with proven probiotics to allow them to work their magic as intended. 

Origins Canine 5in1 Adds Probiotics & Nutrition That is Lacking in Commercial Dog Food 

Origins Canine 5in1 is designed to add the nutrition lacking in commercial dog food. Includes vitamins, minerals, fish oils, and more to support canine hips, joints, skin & coat, allergies, and gut health. We can do this because we believe in being a real solution for all dog owners by putting dog health before money to earn your trust. We invite you to try Origins Canine 5in1 supplement because we truly believe it is the best supplement for dogs on the market. Our products have the first-ever 100% No Bull Sh*t Guarantee. The only risk is not seeing your dog thriving at its very best!

References:

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  6. European Food Safety Authority. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/aboutefsa
  7. California Dairy Research Foundation. http://cdrf.org/home/checkoff-investments/usprobiotics/
  8. International Scientifics Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. http://isappscience.org/prebiotics/
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  10. Blake and Suchodolski. Importance of gut microbiota for the health and disease of dogs and cats. Animal Frontiers. vol6. no3, July (2016), doi:10.2527/af.2016-0032
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