A child sitting on the floor and petting a dog while they eat

Why Choose Dog Food With Probiotics?

Did you know over 62 million American households own a dog? That's nearly half of all households in the United States!

Dogs bring joy and companionship, but in return, they need healthy, balanced diets to maintain their health and well-being.

One important component of a dog's diet that owners often overlook is probiotics.

Dog food with probiotics is gaining popularity among pet parents as a way to support their furry friend's digestive health and overall well-being. In fact, searches for “dog probiotics” have increased 128% over the last five years.

But what exactly are probiotics, and why should you add them to your dog's diet? Learn this and more below as we explore the benefits of dog food with probiotics.

What Are Probiotics for Dogs?

If you've eaten yogurt or taken supplements containing probiotics, you’re likely familiar with the term. Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria and yeast), often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria, that promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Probiotics for dogs work the same way — they introduce beneficial bacteria to your dog's gut. The digestive systems of dogs (and humans) are home to billions of microorganisms, both good and bad.

Probiotics help keep this community in check by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful ones. The balance between these microorganisms is crucial for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function.

Good bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, help break down food, synthesize vitamins, and protect against harmful pathogens. They produce short-chain fatty acids that nourish the cells lining the gut and support a robust immune system.

In contrast, bad bacteria, such as Clostridium and certain strains of E. coli, can cause digestive issues, infections, and inflammation when their numbers become too high or when the gut environment allows them to flourish unchecked.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy balance of these bacteria is vital for your dog's overall well-being. Dietary changes, stress, antibiotics, and illness can all disrupt this balance, leading to digestive disturbances and weakened immunity.

Probiotics help replenish and support the population of good bacteria, keeping the gut environment healthy and functional. By incorporating dog food with probiotics into your pet's diet, you can help stabilize their gut microbiome, help digestion, and enhance their overall health.

Dogs can obtain probiotics through their diets. High-quality dog food with probiotics contains live cultures of beneficial bacteria that can help support your furry friend's gut health. Probiotic supplements are also available, but it's always best to consult with your veterinarian before adding any new supplements to your dog's diet.

Common Types of Probiotics for Dogs

Probiotics for dogs generally fall into one of two groups: Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Within each of these groups, there are specific bacterial strains that are beneficial for dogs’ health. The most common types of probiotic strains found in dog food include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (found in yogurt)

  • Bifidobacterium breve

  • Bifidobacterium lactis

  • Streptococcus thermophilus

  • Enterococcus faecium

Ensure there are high quantities of colony-forming units (CFU) of the probiotics in the dog food you choose, as this indicates the number of live bacteria present. The minimum recommended CFU for a probiotic to be effective is 1 billion. Also, check the expiration date to ensure the probiotics are alive and active.

Keep in mind that each dog's gut is unique and formed by their environment. Some dogs only respond to Lactobacillus strains, while others do better with a mixed-strain approach. Your vet can guide you on which type of probiotic may be best for your dog, based on their specific needs and health status.

Probiotics vs. Prebiotics: What Dog Owners Should Know

In addition to probiotics, you may have also come across the term “prebiotics” when researching ways to support your dog's gut health. While they sound similar, probiotics and prebiotics are different but complementary components of a healthy digestive system.

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as food for probiotics, helping them to flourish. Think of prebiotics as fertilizer for probiotics. They are not live microorganisms like probiotics, but rather a source of nourishment for them.

There are two types of prebiotics: FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides). FOS prebiotics are found in ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and grains, while GOS prebiotics are present in legumes, grains, and some leafy greens.

Together, probiotics and prebiotics form a dynamic duo, often referred to as “synbiotics.” They work together to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Probiotics provide the beneficial bacteria, and prebiotics provide the nourishment they need to thrive.

Feeding your dog a balanced diet that includes both probiotics and prebiotics (like recipes from The Honest Kitchen) can help ensure their gut microbiome stays diverse, healthy, and resilient.

Why Do Probiotics Matter in a Dog’s Diet?

When your dog's gut microbiome is balanced, it supports not only their digestive health but also their overall well-being. A healthy gut microbiome promotes better nutrient absorption, which can lead to a shinier coat, healthier skin, and stronger bones and muscles.

Additionally, the gut is home to 70–80% of your dog's immune system. Probiotics help keep this vital defense system in optimal condition by promoting the growth of good bacteria that can fight off harmful pathogens.

When the gut microbiome is out of balance, it can lead to various health issues, including:

  • Bad breath

  • Bloating

  • Upset stomach

  • Diarrhea

  • Allergies

  • Weakened immune system

  • Cramping

  • Obesity

  • Sensitive skin and other skin conditions

  • Anxiety and other mental health conditions

  • Chronic illnesses and digestive disorders

Probiotics also enhance immune function by promoting the production of immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody that lines the gut and respiratory tract to protect against viruses and bacteria. They also help reduce inflammation in the gut and encourage a healthy weight.

Benefits of Choosing Dog Food with Probiotics

If your furry friend tends to get sick often, has digestive issues, or is on antibiotics, probiotics can help boost their immune system and support a healthy gut. Top reasons why your dog needs to take probiotics include:

Improved Digestive Health

Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria into the gut, restoring balance and supporting better digestion. Dogs with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diarrhea, or constipation can benefit from probiotics.

These digestive issues occur due to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, and probiotics can help promote a healthier balance and alleviate symptoms.

While probiotics are beneficial for all dogs, high-potency probiotics may not be right for some dogs and can cause diarrhea. If your dog is new to probiotics, start with a lower potency and gradually increase it over time.

Enhance Immune Function

A dog's immune system is their first line of defense against illness and disease. With constant attacks from harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, it's essential to keep your dog's immune system strong and functioning at its best.

Probiotics support the growth of good bacteria that can fight off harmful pathogens and produce antibodies to strengthen the immune response. This helps protect your dog against infections, allergies, and other illnesses.

Better Nutrient Absorption

Proper nutrient absorption equals better health and vitality for your dog. Probiotics promote a healthier gut microbiome, which helps with food breakdown and the absorption of vital nutrients.

This means your dog can get more essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from their food, supporting healthier skin and coat, stronger bones and muscles, and improved energy levels.

How To Choose the Right Probiotic Dog Food

While probiotics are an essential part of a dog’s diet, the rest of the ingredients in their food are equally important. So you want to choose a dog food that is high-quality, balanced, and nutritious and also contains the right type and quantity of probiotics. When selecting a probiotic dog food, consider the following factors:

Quality of Probiotic Strains

The most important aspect of a probiotic is the efficacy and quality of its strains. Look for dog food with high-quality, research-backed probiotic strains such as:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus: Prevents and treats diarrhea, improves lactose digestion, and boosts immune function

  • Bifidobacterium animalis: Reduces intestinal inflammation, improves digestive function, and enhances immunity

  • Bifidobacterium lactis: Reduces allergies and supports healthy digestion and immune health

These strains have been extensively studied and proven to have numerous benefits for dogs. Avoid foods that only list “probiotics” without specifying the strains and their quantity, as they may not be as effective.

Probiotic Quantity and Viability

The quantity and viability of probiotics in pet food is essential for their effectiveness. Always check the label to ensure that the product contains live and active cultures. Dog food with at least 1 billion CFUs per serving is recommended for maintaining a healthy gut.

Also, ensure the food has guaranteed shelf stability and packaging that protects the live probiotics from heat, light, and moisture to maintain their potency.

Ingredient Quality

Finally, ensure that the dog food contains high-quality, natural ingredients. Avoid artificial preservatives, fillers, and by-products, as these can disrupt the gut microbiome and cause digestive issues.

Instead, opt for dog food with high-quality ingredients like lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. A balanced and wholesome diet promotes overall health and supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Why The Honest Kitchen Is an Excellent Dog Food Option

The Honest Kitchen is committed to providing high-quality, human grade dog food made with whole, nutritious ingredients. All of our recipes are naturally rich in prebiotics and free from artificial preservatives, fillers, and by-products.

Many of our foods, supplements, and treats also contain high quantities of live probiotics, including:

  • Blueberry and Vanilla Goat’s Milk N' Cookies: These delicious treats contain goat's milk, a natural probiotic. The addition of juicy blueberries and sweet vanilla adds a boost of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Instant Goat's Milk with probiotics: This easy-to-prepare, highly digestible dehydrated goat's milk contains 1.25 billion active probiotic cultures per serving. It helps support digestion, immunity, and overall health.

  • Whole Grain Chicken Clusters Dry Dog Food: In addition to real chicken and prebiotic-rich oats, this nutritious kibble alternative is full of probiotics from slow-roasted and gently dehydrated carrots and pumpkins. It’s an excellent option for all life stages.

With The Honest Kitchen, you can trust that your furry friend is receiving the best nutrition possible, along with a healthy dose of prebiotics and probiotics.

Boost Your Dog’s Health With Probiotic Nutrition

Probiotics are a powerful tool for promoting your dog's health and well-being. They help maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut, boost immune function, and support nutrient absorption.

When choosing a probiotic dog food, focus on high-quality strains, sufficient quantity and viability, and wholesome ingredients.

The Honest Kitchen offers a wide variety of human grade dog foods, treats, and supplements full of live probiotics and prebiotics to support your dog's digestive health. Give your pup the gift of optimal gut health and overall wellness with The Honest Kitchen.

Explore our full  adult dog food  collection, all made with wholesome, thoughtfully selected ingredients.

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