It's not only humans who experience digestive issues, our pets can too. In fact, your dog's digestive system is not dissimilar to your own insomuch as it's home to billions of bacteria. And like you, the dog needs these bacteria to help keep their gut running smoothly .
In this piece we take a look specifically at probiotics for dogs. A quality probiotic formula can benefit your pet pooch with multiple beneficial bacterial strains. Just because a dog doesn't complain of gastrointestinal issues, that doesn't mean they don't suffer with them, because they do.
Digestive Problems in Dogs
Like humans, dogs can have similar stomach upsets to us. But unlike us, they can't take themselves off to the local pharmacy and select a treatment. That means it's our job, as the owners, to take care of our cherished pets. Gastrointestinal and digestive disorders in dogs can be similar across breeds. There are, however, some conditions that are more prevalent in certain types of dog than others. The reasons for these upsets can vary too. The four most common include:
- Food poisoning
- Food allergy / intolerance
- lack of digestive enzymes
Some of the most frequent diagnosis of gut issues in dogs includes:
- Acute gastroenteritis
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
- Small intestinal malabsorption
Bowel Upsets Common in Dogs
Poor bowel health is among the top reasons why many dog owners take their pets to the vet for a checkup. A lot of traditionally trained vets don't always recognize the root cause of a dog's digestive problems. That's the bad news. The good news is that you will soon be in a position to do something that will benefit the gut health of your beloved hound. The solution to the problem is simple, that is, supplement the dog's diet with probiotics. Any holistic veterinarian will tell you that this is the way to go. They believe it's the only reliable way to help fix and maintain your pet's gastrointestinal (GI) health in the long term. They believe this because they use probiotics on dogs with GI issues all the time. If they didn't work, there would be nothing more to write about.
When a dog has a healthy GI, great changes will materialize. The main improvements include:
- Realize ultimate strength, fitness and stamina
- Enjoy optimal health and wellbeing at any age
- Gets to enjoy a rich life of companionship with the owner
Dog lovers the world over only want the best for their animals. Being mindful of your pet's gastrointestinal health, and doing something about it, is one of the best things you can do for your pet. If your vet is from the traditional line of veterinary care, you might not have much joy discussing probiotics with them. The reason is that traditional vets tend to have haughty view of probiotics in general. A bit like some of the old school doctors really.
How to Spot digestive Disorders in Dogs
Most pet owners get to know their animals very well. This means they are usually the first to know when something's not quite right with their dogs. There are certain behaviors which point to a high probability of digestive disorders. These include the following:
- Blood or mucus in the feces
- Change in appetite
- Showing signs of abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Probiotics a Waste of Money Say Vets!
Mainstream vets argue that pet probiotics are a waste of money because they're ineffective. They claim that pet probiotics don't even get to pass through the gastric juice in a dog's stomach. This is simply not true. A quality probiotic supplement has the ability to move undisrupted through the stomach and into the intestines. From the gut it then gets to eat away at disease-causing bacteria.
What we do know is that poor bowel health continues to be one of the top concerns for dog owners. This tells us that something is not working. The reluctance of traditional vets to even consider probiotics has not been good for canines. In fact, it has most likely contributed to this ongoing problem for pet dogs. It's been a long road and a hard slog to get most vets to even consider the potential of probiotic treatment for pets. At last, some vets at least are now supporting this natural treatment for digestive issues. Part of this gradual change in mindset has been thanks largely to new research which demonstrates how a complete pet probiotic can assist the following areas:
- Intestinal maintenance and health (overall)
- Quicker stimulation of gut health
- Protection from emotional and physiological stressors
- Support for pets in less-than-optimal health
Not All Probiotics for Dogs Are Equal
Shopping for probiotics for your dog is not an easy task if you're not familiar with things. There's also a lot of deception and misleading information from some companies. What they do is basically exaggerate their claims. In other words, you don't get what it says on the can. There was one study done on 19 commercial pet foods that claimed to contain probiotics. It turned out that no products contained all the organisms listed on the labels .
What to Look For in Pet Probiotic Products
It's always best to take your dog to see a holistic veterinarian whenever possible. This way the vet can accurately diagnose the problem and prescribe the right treatment. It helps too if you, as the pet's owner, know what you should look for in any probiotic product for your animal. It's important that you look for specific supplements and don't opt for pet foods which claim to contain probiotics. Probiotics are in fact sensitive to both moisture and heat. This means if they do get added to pet food, there's a good chance they'll be long dead before it even reaches your dog's digestive tract 
Here's the short list of the benefits you want:
- Product contains multiple strains of “good” bacteria for pets (not people)
- Product delivers a potent formula
- Product is manufactured to deliver live, viable organisms
- Product is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified
- Beneficial bacteria must reach and colonize the small intestine
- Good product stability under normal storage conditions
The newer vet schools today place a strong focus on prevention and not only learn how to cure. Younger vets are also more open-minded to newer, less conventional treatments for animals. Best of all is that modern teaching puts a strong emphasis on the importance of nutrition and digestion for keeping pets healthy. This is information vets can pass on to dog owners in cases where ignorance contributes to the poor health of their animals.
There's no evidence to suggest that holistic veterinarians are better than traditional ones. This is not a case of either/or. What is important is to see how the two approaches can complement each other when there's a need for it. When it comes to the health of our animals, we want what's best for them. Sometimes that means keeping an open mind and trying out new things. This is even more important when whatever treatment the dog is getting has not been working.
Ask yourself this question:
If holistic medicine could cure your pet's health condition, and with no known side effects, what would you do? Would you still opt for traditional treatment, or go with the holistic approach? Some pet owners are afraid of treatments that are not FDA-approved. Well, there's a good chance that such fear is unfounded .
Probiotics for dogs and other pets, are proving beneficial for treating and preventing gastrointestinal and digestive disorders. Unlike humans, dogs are not vulnerable to the placebo effect, which makes things a lot easier for pet owners. It means you get to notice any genuine improvements in your dog's health. If the probiotic product is ineffective, then you will see that too. Be mindful of the products and make sure you know the source and the exact contents of what you're buying. If in doubt, seek the professional guidance of a holistic veterinarian. Don't be tempted by any of the cheap probiotics on sale. These tend to be unstable and lose their beneficial properties in the dog's stomach, thus rendering them useless. And finally, stay clear of pet foods that claim to contain probiotics in their formula. Tests have proved that these are largely ineffective too.
It's true, there's still some research left to do on the benefits probiotics have on dog's health. Even so, experts agree that giving dogs the right probiotics is an exciting development. In fact, the science on probiotics for animals has been presented at lots of different veterinary conferences over the years. So far, it has all looked pretty convincing .