If you haven’t yet read our overview on probiotics, take a few minutes as a refresher. Then come back and read this post, of course!
Which Probiotic Should I Pick?
Today, we can find pup probiotics in dog foods, as capsules, and in powder or liquid form. Naturally, this begs the question: Which probiotic is the best option for my pooch? There are a number of factors to consider. The product label may be intimidating to review, with ingredients like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Difficult to pronounce, but important for healthy digestion.
Certainly, we recommend consulting your veterinarian to make the most informed decision, but here are some important variables to consider:
Balance of probiotic strains
As you browse online, read with a discerning eye. Remember that "Top 10" lists can be skewed, even paid for, and price should not be the only (or most important) factor when deciding on a product for your dog. After all, we all want what’s best, from their toys to their probiotics.
1. Processing Methods
Probiotics are bacteria, and therefore, living organisms. We often see “live active cultures” on our own yogurt labels, and the same concept applies to our pup probiotics. These helpful bacteria thrive in certain environments, and adverse conditions can be detrimental to their efficacy.
Probiotics lose effectiveness at temperatures above 110 °F. Some dog foods include their probiotics in the form of a spray at the end of their cooking process. However, if the food is still cooling down after being cooked, this could kill or significantly reduce the efficacy of the added probiotics.
If possible, inquire about how your pup’s probiotics are specifically manufactured. This information may not be readily available, so be prepared to do some research across products.
2. Balance of Probiotic Strains
Most probiotic foods and supplements contain lactic acid bacteria derived from fermented milk, hence the “lacto” prefix of these strains. Most common are the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species we mentioned earlier. Sometimes they are abbreviated with their first letter, shown as B. or L., so be on the lookout for ingredients such as B. Longum or L. Acidophilus.
Lactobacillus casei - Considered part of the gut-brain connection, helping stabilize mood and emotions
Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus rhamnosus - Can help build up the intestinal wall and can decrease diarrhea caused by antibiotics
The Bifidobacterium species also produce lactic acid, but we don’t classify them as a lactic acid bacteria. (We’ll spare you that rabbit hole of an explanation.) These bacteria live in the intestine and can help crowd out harmful bacteria, boosting your pup’s immune system.
Bifidobacterium bifidum - Aids in the resolution of diarrhea and boosts immunity
Bifidobacterium longum - Can help reduce signals of stress in some dogs
If your dog has a dairy allergy, these may not be for them. You can look for probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii (a beneficial yeast), which can help treat acute and chronic diarrhea. In addition, you can look for soil-based, spore-forming probiotics whose names begin with Bacillus. These hypoallergenic bacteria can form a hard, protective coating that shields them from heat, stomach acids, and most antibiotics.
Probiotic concentration is measured in Colony Forming Units or CFU. This represents the number of bacteria present in a dose. Many probiotics are lost in the stomach, so you want to look for a large CFU, typical for products containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
A high concentration helps ensure probiotics pass through the acidic, digestive environment of the stomach. Then they must adhere to the walls of the intestine, colonize, and produce antimicrobial properties to qualify as a probiotic. One of the best-studied probiotics in human medicine, the Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain, was evaluated for use in canines. In this study, the strain showed the ability to adequately survive intestinal transit in dogs, and therefore, potential for the treatment and prevention of canine gastrointestinal disease.
Based on our research, we recommend 1 billion CFU per 15 pounds of weight as a general rule of thumb when evaluating probiotics for your dogs.
4. Shelf Life
Good things don’t last forever. Probiotics lose efficacy over time after they have been added to a product. For maximum benefits, you want to use probiotic as soon as possible after buying, noting the expiration date printed on the label. The food or supplement you purchase may not be harmful after this date, but its efficacy can no longer be guaranteed.
Many products have a “Term of Validity,” or how long they will last timeframe. (Most K9 Power products last about 18 months, starting from the production date on the label.) You can also look for a “Best by” date on your product’s packaging.
Why K9 Power?
As a company, we have over 25 years of experience researching & developing premium pet supplements for health-conscious dog enthusiasts, breeders, trainers, competitors...really, all dog lovers! We believe our supplements combined with a balanced diet, can greatly improve any dog’s quality of life.
If you are looking for a digestive aid for dogs, K9 Power offers a supplement called Digest Forte. We designed Digest Forte to enhance your dog’s digestive system with a proprietary blend of active probiotics and digestive enzymes. These can help establish and maintain a healthy balance in their digestive tract, making your pups feel better overall.
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