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Dog Gut Health: Benefits Of Probiotics in Dogs

by Ashkan Sadri October 05, 2021 6 min read

Dog Gut Health: Benefits Of Probiotics in Dogs

Good health is based on gut health.

The intestines are home to trillions of bacteria that are essential for digestion. Without a healthy digestive system, our bodies can't make use of nutrients efficiently. The same is true for our dogs.

Probiotics are one of the easiest ways to help your dog maintain a healthy gut, mind, and body.

In this article, we'll cover:

  • What are probiotics?
  • How do probiotics balance the gut microbiome?
  • How do probiotics work?
  • What are the benefits of probiotics in dogs?
  • How to pick the right probiotic for your dog?

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are living microorganisms that benefit your dog's health from inside out (1). In recent years, probiotics for dogs have attracted much attention from veterinarians because of their ability to improve digestion, reduce allergies, and prevent disease in dogs.

We can find probiotics all around us - even living inside of your dog!

The tricky part is maintaining a healthy population of probiotics in the gut. Since these beneficial microbes share the same diet as your dog, an unbalanced diet can leave probiotics starved and unable to aid digestion.

On top of that, we lose a significant portion of our healthy gut bacteria every time we take antibiotics.

If a colony of probiotics is lost, it can be challenging to bring them back. This makes supplementing your dog's diet with probiotics even more important.

To classify any bacteria as a probiotic, it has to meet six requirements:

  1. Survive the acidic environment of the gut.
  2. Adhere to the cells of the intestines.
  3. Grow and form a colony of probiotics.
  4. Assist the body in digestion and metabolism.
  5. Bring stability to the gut microbiome.
  6. Do not cause harm.

How do probiotics balance the gut microbiome?

Having this balance between beneficial probiotics and pathogenic bacteria (the “bad” ones) is necessary for your dog's gut to work efficiently. Sometimes, poor diet and genetic pressures can make it easy for the “bad” bacteria to compete with probiotics for resources. This causes instability in the gut microbiome and decreases the population of beneficial probiotics living there.

The most common factors that trigger gut microbiome imbalance are:

  • Usage of antibiotics
  • Stress
  • Age
  • Illness
  • Diet change

By adding probiotics to your dog's diet, we can help bring back the stability that the gut needs. In just three days, probiotics significantly increase your dog's ability to digest food and extract more usable nutrients.

How do probiotics work?

When you feed your dog probiotics, these beneficial bacteria travel past the stomach and stick to the intestinal wall. With time, they will grow and multiply - forming a colony of probiotics.

As the colony grows, probiotics compete with the pathogenic bacteria and take over more intestinal space. This is exactly what we want.

We also start to see probiotics produce novel enzymes, antimicrobials, and antioxidants. For example, Bacillus coagulans is an essential strain of probiotic that can produce α-galactosidase. This is an enzyme involved with digesting "non-digestible" sugar molecules - something your dog can't make on its own (4). Without enzymes like these, nutrients would remain inaccessible and removed as waste.

How do Lively Paws Wellness probiotics work?

To continue growing, probiotics prefer to feed on fructooligosaccharides (FOS) - a chain of fructose molecules often found in onion, chicory, garlic, asparagus, banana, and artichoke. From a nutritional standpoint, FOS also improves mineral absorption, decreases circulating cholesterol levels, and is a soluble dietary fiber (3).

By maintaining a healthy population of probiotics in your dog's digestive system, you help keep their gut efficient and capable of absorbing as many nutrients as possible.

What are the benefits of probiotics in dogs?

In addition to the digestive health benefits of probiotics in dogs, there are many more reasons to begin probiotic supplementation.

Gastrointestinal Issues and Diarrhea

Intestinal health is directly related to intestinal efficiency. In cases of diarrhea, probiotics help maintain digestive integrity and promote recovery.

Researchers have found supplementation with Bacillus bacterial strains to improve the texture and stool quality in dogs. They also noted a significant decrease in excreted ammonia, improving fecal odor as a result (5). Dog owners usually refer to this as smelly dog farts.

Allergies

The benefits of probiotics in dogs extend much further than just digestive health.
Atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema) is a skin condition that leads to dry skin and is associated with allergies. A recent study found Bacillus probiotics given orally for four weeks improved skin lesions related to an allergic response (6).

Antimicrobial Activity

Once Bacillus coagulans have colonized the intestines, the probiotic starts to produce an antibacterial compound called Coagulin.

Studies have found Coagulin to be effective against pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract, exerting a bacteriolytic effect that leads to cell destruction (7).

How to pick the right probiotic for your dog?

If you search for "Best Probiotics For Dogs", you'll find a lot of products.

It's essential to look at the science behind probiotics and determine which bacterial strains are the most beneficial. At Lively Paws, we've gone ahead and done this for you.

Working together with veterinarians to formulate our Wellness Dog Probiotic, we've decided to include only two active ingredients:

1. Bacillus coagulans

The Bacillus coagulans strain of bacteria is "the king of probiotics" (2). This comes from the fact that this strain is highly resistant to stress.

For a probiotic to provide any benefits in the first place, it has to make it through the acidic environment of the stomach and colonize the intestines. Instead of becoming damaged, Bacillus coagulans is activated by the stomach acid and begins forming spores.

Studies have found that 92% of these spores survive and populate the intestinal tract (2). Without the survival of these spores, Bacillus coagulans wouldn't be able to colonize the gut and promote healthy digestion.

Unlike Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotic strains, Bacillus coagulans is also stable in both warm and cold temperatures (2). This versatility allows our Wellness Probiotics to increase shelf-life and stay effective for longer.

2. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)

Probiotics rely on quality food.

In this case, that's FOS.

Some probiotics only provide the active bacterial strains in each capsule and rely on the owner to supplement their dog with a diet suitable for the probiotic.

We’ve added 200 mg of FOS into each Wellness chew to keep things simple for dog owners. This way, Bacillus coagulans has the fuel it needs to improve intestinal health (3).

Final Thoughts

Probiotics have a proven track record when it comes to improving digestive health. We've also seen the benefits of probiotics in dogs extend much further than digestion alone - including allergies, diarrhea, and antimicrobial effects.

By creating our Wellness Probiotic, we bring dog owners a convenient solution that helps keep their loved ones healthy. Our formula is made with stomach sensitivity in mind, so they’re also safe for dogs currently facing digestive issues.

Our Lively Paws team of animal nutritionists and veterinarians are here to answer them if you have any questions. Contact us today!

Until next time!

 

Sources:

  1. Adami A, Cavazzoni V. Occurrence of selected bacterial groups in the faeces of piglets fed with Bacillus coagulans as probiotic. J Basic Microbiol. 1999;39(1):3-9. PMID: 10071861.
  2. Zhou Y, Zeng Z, Xu Y, et al. Application of Bacillus coagulans in Animal Husbandry and Its Underlying Mechanisms. Animals (Basel). 2020;10(3):454. Published 2020 Mar 9. doi:10.3390/ani10030454
  3. Sabater-Molina M, Larqué E, Torrella F, Zamora S. Dietary fructooligosaccharides and potential benefits on health. J Physiol Biochem. 2009 Sep;65(3):315-28. doi: 10.1007/BF03180584. PMID: 20119826.
  4. Aulitto M, Strazzulli A, Sansone F, Cozzolino F, Monti M, Moracci M, Fiorentino G, Limauro D, Bartolucci S, Contursi P. Prebiotic properties of Bacillus coagulans MA-13: production of galactoside hydrolyzing enzymes and characterization of the transglycosylation properties of a GH42 β-galactosidase. Microb Cell Fact. 2021 Mar 18;20(1):71. doi: 10.1186/s12934-021-01553-y. PMID: 33736637; PMCID: PMC7977261.
  5. Schmitz S, Suchodolski J. Understanding the canine intestinal microbiota and its modification by pro-, pre- and synbiotics - what is the evidence?. Vet Med Sci. 2016;2(2):71-94. Published 2016 Jan 11. doi:10.1002/vms3.17
  6. Ă–zdemir Ă–, Erol AY. Preventative and therapeutic probiotic use in allergic skin conditions: experimental and clinical findings [retracted in: Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:965213]. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:932391. doi:10.1155/2013/932391
  7. Hyronimus B, Le Marrec C, Urdaci MC. Coagulin, a bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance produced by Bacillus coagulans I4. J Appl Microbiol. 1998 Jul;85(1):42-50. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2672.1998.00466.x. PMID: 9721655.
Ashkan Sadri
Ashkan Sadri

Ashkan Sadri is a Canadian veterinary student studying abroad in Croatia, with special interests in animal nutrition, large animal medicine, and surgical procedures. He is also the creator of Vet Abroad - an educational resource for future veterinarians who are considering studying abroad!