Dog probiotics are a new healthy trend in the dog and pet industry right now. The truth is, probiotics for dogs are an essential, natural supplement. While we don't fully understand why they help, the evidence is clear that they are very beneficial for dog health. It appears now that a host of brands are adding probiotics to their food and new probiotic supplements for dogs are showing up all the time at PetSmart and online. We wanted to know which dog probiotics we could trust.
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Problem #1: Not all probiotics are alike. Many cheap probiotics are unstable and lose their beneficial properties in the dog's stomach before the probiotics can reach the intestine. The intestine is where the probiotics need to plant in order to seed the dog's intestinal tract with healthy flora. Some probiotics are already unavailable (dead) when you purchase the product.
Problem #2: Many probiotic formulas that claim to be made for dogs are really just human formulas marketed for pets. Bacteria is host-specific, giving your dog a random multi-strain probiotic may be a mistake.
(read: Understanding Probiotics for Dogs: CFU and Strains)
Check the label for the recommendation. But note, a probiotic that requires refrigeration may not be stable. Probiotics are live cultures and are generally unstable at temperatures over 70 degrees fahrenheit in their active state (i.e. yogurt, kefir, or liquids containing probiotics). A significant amount of bacteria die-off can occur when the materials are exposed to extreme conditions or moisture.
Dry probiotic powders and tablets (in the inactive state) should be stored at a room temperature below 75 degrees fahrenheit unless otherwise indicated, and, should be kept in a dry place. We do not recommend storing dry probiotic powders in the refrigerator due to potential moisture contamination. Bottom line, read the label for instructions.
Dry powders are the most stable type of probiotic for dogs since they contain healthy bacteria in their inactive state. In this dry inactive state, these probiotics can be stored for over a year from the manufacture date if kept free from contaminants.
Further, dry powder supplements for dogs are more desirable over probiotic chews, treats, or dog food with probiotics because the process of including probiotics in these types of products often kills the living organisms. (If you desire a probiotic in tablet form, choose one that is cold-processed since heat processing would naturally destroy the viability of the supplement.) (4).
Dry probiotic powders do not require refrigeration and will not react the same way to temperature change as a liquid probiotic. The way it works is this: the dry bacteria is reconstituted (brought back to life) naturally in your dog's stomach. They thrive in this acidic environment, and then move to the intestines. In the intestines the probiotics multiply hundreds of times over.
"CFU" is the count of living bacteria in the supplement. Clinical research indicates that somewhere between 2-6 billion per day is enough for basic GI wellness. Dogs have more efficient GI systems than humans, so a super-loaded formula may be contraindicated for dogs.
Science has backed about nine species of probiotics that show benefit to dog digestive health, but you shouldn't necessarily combine them all in one shot. Probiotic species that have been studied for canines include:
Note: Even though there exists positive research on Enterococcus faecium and Bacillus coagulans, we prefer to avoid them due to the controversy of their potential pathogenic activity (1, 2).
Some clinical studies go as far as identifying specific "strains" of a species as beneficial, but there are very few of these studies.
A "strain" is specific identification of characteristics of a bacterial species. For example, a dog is a dog, but a labrador dog and a pitbull dog have different characteristics. Just like there are innumerable breeds of dogs, there are innumerable strains of each probiotic species.
Some strains are marketed as more beneficial than others. Big money goes into developing research for these specific strains by manufacturers, but we suggest you don't get caught up in the details. We find that these "super strains" are driven more by marketing than science and may cost you more just for the designer label.
Read the canine probiotic reviews. Dogs are not subject to placebo effect, the probiotic either works or it doesn't. Keeping in mind that all dogs are different and no product will ever have 100% positive feedback, the best rated canine probiotic will have consistent positive feedback.
The market is flooded now with cheap, low quality, unstable products, or products that are really intended for humans. After reviewing almost all dog probiotics on the market we have come to conclusion that certain products do measure up to the stability and quality standards necessary to help our dogs. User reviews support our research.
After months of testing and after reviewing we compiled a small list of our favorite dog probiotic products. These probiotic products are tried & tested and produced great results for our dogs. All of the products are made in the USA, offer discounted prices, volume discounts, as well as a discount with the provided code below and 100% product satisfaction guarantee.
Note: Users reported that this coupon worked when placing their orders from the manufacturers below, however not on Amazon. When you buy these products, please let us know that the code has worked so we may update our site. (see reader comments below)
Probiotic Miracle® is one of the highest consumer rated dog probiotics we found on the market with the best value per dollar. Probiotic Miracle® is researched specifically for dogs and cats and has years of tried and true results with pets. Probiotic strains include: B. animalis, L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. salivarius, L. plantarum, L. reuteri, Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS, prebiotic), at 2 billion per dose.
MiracleZyme® is a cold-pressed chewable dog probiotic with the added benefit of digestive enzymes. Users who wanted a probiotic supplement that combined a digestive enzyme in preferred this product mostly for the sake of convenience. MiracleZyme® probiotic tablets are cold processed and were found to have a high level of stability and effectiveness in combating yeast problems such as skin rashes, gas, loose stool, excessive shedding, yeast overgrowth, and bad breath.