- Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN
Probiotics | Benefits, Sources & Comparisons
Updated: Jul 12, 2022
“What are probiotics, and do I need to add them?”
Probiotics is a widely used term in the nutrition world. But if it’s your first time hearing this word or even if you are somewhat familiar and need a refresher, here is what you need to know.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
Probiotics are part of a bigger picture. There are trillions of microorganisms in the body, including bacteria, viruses, fungi (yeasts), and protozoa, and every organism has a unique gut microflora. The good bacteria in the gut are essential for protecting the body from harmful bacteria. Good bacteria (probiotics) in the gut have many benefits, such as aiding the immune system, obesity issues, etc. It has a significant influence that an imbalance of bacteria can lead to health issues such as leaky gut or yeast.
Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria (microorganisms) found in foods and supplements that provide health benefits. Dogs have hundreds of different bacteria families in their GI tract, but most fall into Firmicutes, Bacteroides, Fusobacteria, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria. But not all probiotics are the same as different strains have different effects.
Dairy-based probiotics are from fermented dairy. Yogurt, kefir, and fermented goat milk are common dairy-based probiotics. This type can be problematic in dogs with yeast problems or dairy sensitivities/allergies.
Soil-Based Organisms (SBOs) are bacteria naturally found on earth. SBOs are spore-forming, which means they create a resilient outer shell to withstand harsh conditions such as temperature and stomach acid. Therefore, withstanding the digestive tract until it reaches the colon. SBOs are naturally found in the soil, wild ferments, or other foods like natto from Japan.
S. boulardii is a yeast-based probiotic and highly resilient. This strain is very effective in treating various gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea. S. Boulardii can cause constipation, so discontinue if stools are hard and dry. S. boulardii has also been studied on its effects to help with the symptoms correlated with antibiotic use.
Whole Food Sources
∙ Fermented Goat Milk
*soil-based, +yeast based
∙ Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics
∙ Adored Beast, Love Bugs | Pre & Probiotics [use “GSDSTORMY15” to save!]
∙ Adored Beast, Fido's Flora | Species Appropriate Probiotic
∙ Doggy Biome+
∙ NOW Saccharomyces Boulardii+
What To Look For
When searching for a commercial product, look for ones specifically made for canines and with a high amount of Colony Forming Units (CFUs). CFUs correlate to the number of live microorganisms in one serving of probiotic. Look for around 100 million CFUs per dose.
In the United States, dietary supplements do not undergo testing, unlike drugs. This makes the company responsible for making sure their claims on the label are factual. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the type of bacteria on the label is in the bottle. Looking for companies with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) can aid in finding a quality product. GMP are regulations requiring manufacturers to take proactive steps to create a safe, potent, & pure product. GMPs may not always be on the label, so information-digging skills may be needed. It is also helpful to rotate brands and whole food sources of probiotics to deliver multiple different types of strains.
Probiotics are not essential to feed, so there is no need to feed abundantly. But certain animals will benefit from the addition. They are especially beneficial if the dog is a kibble eater, transiting onto raw food, has GI issues, is on medication, or is yeasty.
Although not essential, probiotics are a small but mighty addition to the bowl. Appropriate probiotic additions can create a more diverse and healthy microbiome from the inside out. I hope you learn something new today & Always Keep Exploring!