Dr. Rose, M.D. (researcher)
Evan Jerkunica (writer)
Just as the modern human diet has changed over the years, so too has pet food. While food makers strive to create a balanced diet, they use many preservatives, fillers and other ingredients that may compromise your pet’s health. Factor in soil depletion and food processing, and your dog may not be getting everything it needs for good health.
In addition, many dogs are allergic to wheat, grains and even some common proteins. If your dog is suffering from poor digestion, compromised immunity, itchy skin, hot spots, bad breath and/or joint pain, probiotic and enzyme supplementation may help–either for short- or long-term treatment.
Although many of the commercially available probiotics contain a variety of digestive enzymes, superfoods, vitamins and minerals, the primary consideration when selecting a probiotic should be the probiotic content. Generally what you’re looking for is quantity and variety: how many colony-forming units (CFU) and the variety of bacterial strains.
The strains are important for several reasons:
I’ve selected a range of commercially available probiotic formulae that are popular with dogs and their owners. Our ranking is not scientific, but focuses on the probiotic microorganisms in each. Note too that every dog is an individual, and a probiotic blend that improves gut health for one dog may not be ideal for another. It may be necessary to try a couple different probiotics before you find the ideal choice–so pay attention to the guarantees available.
Finally, breed, age and general health are all issues to consider, which is why I suggest that that you consult your veterinarian.
I’m a fan of Doctor Jeff’s Daily Canine Care for it’s shear volume of microorganisms (20 billion CFU) and the variety (10 strains) including Bifidobacterium animalis. I also like that Jeff Werber is a practicing veterinarian. The inclusion of L-Carnitine may be a benefit if your dog has a weight problem or is at risk for developing diabetes. Ascophyllum nodosum is a kelp that is good for dental health,
I can’t argue with the volume and range of probiotics in Dr. Mercola’s probiotic. At 38 billion CFU with 14 strains (including Bifidobacterium animalis), it’s a highly recommended probiotic. In fact, the only reasons I gave it the second spot on my list are that it is 1) not dog specific and 2) formulated by a company better known for its human supplements.
Independent reviews for ZuvaPet are very positive. But while this supplement includes 20 probiotic strains, each dose only offers 5 billion CFU, and no Bifidobacterium animalis.
As you read through the ingredients, you can quickly see that PetHonesty Allergy Probiotics contains a lot more than probiotics. While there is nothing wrong with these other ingredients, you need to decide if your dog needs more microorganisms and fewer enzymes, vitamins and minerals for digestive health. Also worth considering is the fact that the probiotics are all Lactobacillus strains. This may be ideal for some conditions, but not necessarily for others.
While Nutramax caters to the veterinarian, Proviable DC is available over the counter. This supplement is designed for both dogs and cats and includes 5 billion CFU in 7 strains–both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, but no Bifidobacterium animalis.
Probiotic Premium Plus contains many good ingredients, including papaya, superfoods, and antioxidants. I’m less satisfied, however, with the probiotic blend–only 4 billion CFU and only Lactobacillus strains. This may be just what the doctor ordered for some dogs, but not necessarily all.
These chews offer another largely Lactobacillus probiotic choice. While a quality product with papaya, pumpkin and flaxseed, if diarrhea is a problem or your dog needs a immunity boost, Zesty Paws may not be the best choice.
Petaxin Daily Probiotic contains 3 billion CFU per serving, with five Lactobacillus strains and one Bifidobacterium strain. It is available in two flavor choices–chicken and cheese–which may be an important consideration if you have a fussy eater. After all, no probiotic is beneficial if your pet refuses to eat it.
PETUltimates offers an interesting choice. Although each dose includes just 2 billion CFU, the variety of probiotic bacteria is by far the greatest with 22 strains, including Bifidobacterium animalis.
Although Blue Biology’s Canine Probiotic only contains 2 billion CFU per serving, I like the variety among the 8 probiotics included.
The final five supplements in our list of canine probiotics take a somewhat different approach. In each case, the manufacturers are using enzymes, fiber, AND probiotics to treat digestive issues. Why enzymes? Digestive enzymes can help your dog break down and process food ingredients and nutrients.
If I wanted to choose among these supplements rather than a predominately probiotic supplement, I’d probably go with Fur Belly’s Probiotic Digestive Health or PremiumCare. Both have about twice the volume of probiotics (2 billion) as the others in this group–although predominately Lactobacillus. So not as much variety as I’d prefer.
The biggest difference between the other three supplements is the choice of probiotics: Bernie’s Perfect Poop and Nexpaw add Bacillus coagulans and Bacillus subtilis while ThomasLabs uses Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium lactis.
I haven’t mentioned Bacillus coagulans before, but it is considered beneficial in fighting antibiotic and infectious diarrhea, ulcerative colitis and IBS.
When selecting a probiotic supplement for your pet, pay close attention to the ingredients…as well as what’s not in your supplement. Look for non-GMO, all-natural ingredients, no corn, wheat or soy.
In most cases, the varied probiotic strain and CFU volume per serving. At the same time, you may want to consider a blend of probiotics and enzymes. Finally, look for good customer service and money-back guarantees so you can test supplements until you find the best solution for your pet.
Want to buy the best probiotics for you and your health? Then you should click here to download the Probiotics Buying Guide.