If you have ever owned a puppy, you probably know that they sometimes have sudden issues that occur, and you have no idea where they are coming from. This could be in the form of stomach issues, skin itching, excessive shedding, etc. but what is causing these issues? The answer sometimes is bad bacteria in the gut!
Probiotics are typically the cure for any puppy that is suffering from bad gut health. Probiotics help grow what’s known as the “healthy bacteria” of the gut, which can also help strengthen the immune system!
If you are interested in learning more about probiotics, how they can help your puppy, and what the best types of probiotics are, then keep reading!
What Are Probiotics?
A lot of humans are familiar with probiotics and take them regularly. But, did you know that taking probiotics can help your puppy as well?
Probiotics can help with many things including breaking down food, strengthening the immune system, and fighting off any bacteria or infections that are not good for your puppy’s gut!
The good news is, that probiotics can be found in a variety of different human foods that puppies can have, such as yogurt; however, it is important to read the label to confirm that there aren’t any ingredients that may be harmful to your pup.
NOTE: One of the safest and most natural probiotics that puppies can have is kefir, a fermented milk drink.
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While human probiotics are very similar to those that puppies can have, it is important to not give a puppy any human probiotics unless they are a simple formula. Checking with your vet first ensures you don’t accidentally give your puppy the wrong type of probiotic, that could instead be bad for their gut.
Why Do Puppies Need Probiotics?
Some puppy owners are unsure whether or not their puppy may need to take probiotics. The truth is most puppies can benefit from probiotics even if their gut health is already great.
Puppies typically need probiotics because their gut health is not the best. Many symptoms can occur because of this.
Some issues that puppies may have that can indicate bad gut health include the following:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Yeast infections
- Bloody urine
- Kidney or Liver Disease
- Loose Stool
- Excessive Shedding
- Bad Odor (on the body or the mouth)
- Dry/Itchy Skin
- Recurring Ear Infections
- Stress (Just like humans, if a puppy is stressed, its digestion may be affected.)
- Diet Change
- Old Age
- Excessive Paw Licking
- Eye Tears
- Bloody Stool
- Weight Loss/Loss of Appetite
TIP: If your dog is prone to getting diarrhea when in stressful situations, a probiotic may be the perfect cure!
A lot of naturally healthy puppies don’t necessarily need probiotics, their gut can balance itself; however, it cannot harm your puppy if they still take probiotics, it will only make their gut even better!
Another common reason puppies may need probiotics is after finishing antibiotics or other medications. Since antibiotics and medications can kill both bad and good bacteria, your puppy may benefit from probiotics to help rebalance the bacteria in the gut.
NOTE: Probiotics can also help a puppy that is experiencing a diet change; eating a new food may cause a puppy’s gut to become upset.
Should I Give My Puppy Probiotics?
As mentioned above, giving your puppy probiotics even if their gut health is good can’t hurt them. Starting a puppy on probiotics early can result in them maintaining that healthy gut for the rest of their life.
Since puppies are born with healthy guts, starting them on probiotics immediately is a good idea! This will ensure that they are never at risk of developing that bad bacteria in their gut.
By starting a puppy on probiotics early, the chances of it developing an immune disorder also decrease.
NOTE: If you are unsure whether or not you should give your puppy probiotics, talk with your vet, they will be able to check your puppy’s gut health and determine how much, and what kind of probiotic is best for your puppy in particular.
Why Types of Probiotics Can I Give My Puppy?
While certain human foods contain probiotics safe for dogs, there are thankfully probiotics that are made specifically for puppies!
Probiotics can be given to puppies in many forms including, liquid, chews, capsules, powders, and even those that are already in the ingredients of store-bought puppy food.
Probiotics that are in chewable forms seem to be the most popular with young dogs and puppies. This may be because they can chew and digest them better. Powders are also very popular among puppies; they are super easy to sprinkle over food too!
NOTE: Puppies may be pickier about how they eat probiotics vs. adult dogs.
Probiotics are sometimes included in the ingredients list on puppy food packaging. If you notice that there are probiotics present in the food you are giving your puppy, you may want to check with your vet before giving your pup any extra probiotics in the food.
It is also important to note that different types of probiotics can be given for specific bacteria in the gut. If you are interested in learning about bacteria that may be present in your puppy’s gut, talk with your vet, they can prescribe a probiotic that will target specific bacteria!
How Long Does It Take for Probiotics to Work?
A lot of puppy owners become concerned when their dog gets no relief from their symptoms soon after beginning to take probiotics. Thankfully, this is nothing to worry about!
For puppies, it sometimes takes several days to several weeks for the digestive tract to get comfortable with probiotics. It is important to be consistent with giving your puppy probiotics so that they can experience the full benefits.
It is important to continue giving your puppy probiotics even if they experience slight symptoms at first, these issues should go away very quickly.
Can Probiotics Harm Puppies?
Just like humans, probiotics are typically beneficial to puppies even if they already have good gut health.
Probiotics will not harm puppies; however, they may experience slight side effects including digestive discomfort, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, etc.
A lot of times puppies will experience these discomforts for a short time before the relief kicks in. (It typically will take the puppy at least 3 probiotics before symptoms go away.)
Since all probiotics are very similar (even human probiotics), puppies can take the same probiotics as adult dogs; however, there may be slight changes in nutritional value, amount per bag, and the size of the probiotic (if in chewable or capsule form).
Here is one of the most popular puppy-specific probiotics: Doggie Dailies Growing Puppy Probiotic Chews
If you are interested in giving your puppy probiotics in their food, be sure to read the label of the food you are buying. If there are already probiotics in the food, there is usually no need to add even more probiotics to it.
There should be information about how much probiotic is contained in the food. Here is a good example of puppy food that already contains probiotics: Purina Pro Plan Puppy Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula with Probiotics
NOTE: It is important to talk with your vet first to make sure you aren’t giving your puppy too much, or too little probiotics.
Do Puppy Probiotics Cause Allergies?
Some owners are concerned that their puppy currently has or will develop allergies after starting to take probiotics for the first time.
Puppies are oftentimes prescribed probiotics to rid of allergies. Some dogs are cured from symptoms such as dry/itchy skin and paw licking after beginning to take probiotics. However, sometimes their allergies may get worse after starting the probiotics.
While it isn’t super common for a puppy’s allergies to get worse after starting probiotics, it is important to watch your pups’ symptoms to see if they get worse or better.
TIP: Start your puppy on probiotics slowly, and then increase the amount they are receiving while also keeping track of their behaviors, symptoms, reactions, etc.
How Often Should I Give My Puppy Probiotics?
Some dog owners worry whether or not they are giving their puppy too much, or too little probiotics to keep their gut healthy.
The number of probiotics that a puppy needs depends on many factors such as their breed, height, weight, diet, health conditions, etc. Giving puppies probiotics daily is not unusual.
A lot of dog owners state that they give their puppies probiotics once a day with a meal and by doing this, they have noticed that they have never seen their puppy(s) have diarrhea or constipation and that they tend to have great gut health!
What Dog Breeds Need Probiotics Most?
While most puppies can benefit from probiotics certain breeds are known for having worse gut health and more digestive issues than others.
Most breeds that experience stress, dietary restrictions, and other health problems are more likely than other breeds to require probiotics in their everyday lives.
It is more common that a larger breed puppy will have a higher chance of having digestive problems compared to a smaller breed. This is caused by the amount of fiber in the puppy’s diet.
If a puppy doesn’t receive the correct amount of fiber, it will be more likely to develop constipation and intestinal issues, probiotics are oftentimes a great fix to this problem.
Here are the breeds that are most likely to develop digestive problems:
- German Shepherds
- Irish Setters
- Golden Retrievers
- Basset Hounds
Best Probiotics Brands for Puppies
While there are many great probiotic brands out there for adult dogs and puppies, most dog owners agree that there are some that rank higher than others.
Some of the best probiotic brands, according to puppy owners, include CHEWY, Purina Pro Plan, and Zesty Paws.
The most popular puppy probiotics tend to come in chewable or powder form, here are some of the most popular and best-rated probiotics for puppies, according to puppy owners:
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements – Fortiflora (Comes in both chewable and powder)
This unique probiotic comes in both a chewable and powder form. This brand of probiotic seems to be the most popular amongst puppy owners and is voted #1 by Veterinarians. The Chewable tablet provides puppies with antioxidants and is great for puppies with diarrhea.
The powder version has all of the same great benefits but is easier for the puppy to consume, just pour it right over their food!
PetVitalityPro – Probiotics for dogs with natural digestive enzymes
This probiotic comes in chewable format and is great for puppies with diarrhea, upset stomach, gas, allergies, itching, hot spots, and bad breath!
Zesty Paws – Probiotic bites with natural digestive enzymes
This brand is very popular among dog owners, these probiotic bites help support the bowels and the immune system.
Zesty Paws – Probiotic bites with natural digestive enzymes
Zesty Paws is also a very popular brand because of the variety of options they have. Along with their chewable probiotic, they also offer this liquid digestive supplement!
PetLabCo. – Probiotic Chew
This probiotic chew is great for puppy’s seasonal allergies! They can help stop itching and are great for all dogs and puppies, even the smallest ones!
Nusentia – Probiotic Miracle Powder (Both probiotic and prebiotic)
This probiotic powder not only helps the typical digestive tract problems and health, but it also works to improve your puppy’s mood and overall wellbeing! This probiotic powder can be used for both dogs and cats!
CHEWY (Doggie Dailies) – Growing puppy probiotic chews
As mentioned previously, probiotic chews and powders are the best option for puppies. These chews are great for maintaining your puppy’s gut pH, while also coming in a unique pumpkin flavor that your pup will love!
There are many probiotic options out there for you to choose for your puppy, if you are unsure about which one is best for your pup in particular, ask your vet, who can make sure your puppy has the best gut health possible!
While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.