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Selecting a Good Probiotic for Dogs, Cats

Not all probiotics sold for dogs and cats are affective or safe for your companion animal.  Probiotic supplements for dogs and cats are not considered a drug – as such, in many countries, including Canada and the USA probiotics are not regulated. 
Manufacturers are free to do as they please and many do – cutting corners to increase profit leaving ethics far behind. Impurities can make their way into product and that the product may not even contain live, or enough species and strains of viable bacteria to have an beneficial efficacy. Attractive labels are not an indication of quality, nor is price. To protect your dog and spend your dollars wisely you need to know how to select a truly good product. So let’s take a look at what you should be clearly identified on the product label or available through inquiry with the manufacturer…
 
Species/Strains 
You need to know what probiotics are included in the product. Each species and strain should be noted. So you know what to look for here is an example – remember a good supplement should have at least 10 such strains.
For this example we will use Lactobacillus acidophilus. 
  • Lactobacillus is the genus;
  • acidphilus is the species, and; 
  • DDS-1 is the strain.
The product should include at least 10 of the above examples. The more strains the better as diversity will ensure that the good flora in your dog’s GI tract is varied enough to protect against all of the bad strains of bacteria. Research has shown that to achieve truly beneficial results the presence of at least 10 strains is required.

Here are a few examples of why diversity in strains is so important…
  • L. plantarum fights viral infections, cancer;
  • L. salivariusfights fungal infections such as candidia; helps the digestive system break down undigested protein and detoxifies the GI tract, may prevent colon cancer;
  • Lactic Streptococci protects against colitis and IBD (irritated bowl disease);
  • Lactobacillus caucasicus fights diarrhea;
  • Lactobacillus GG (L. rhamnosus), protects against respiratory illnesses, treats candida, colitis and diarrhea, reduces stress and anxiety.
 
CFU (Colony Forming Units)
The label should identify:
  • The number of CFUs (live microorganisms) per gram;
  • The number of CFU’s per serving;
What Are CFUs?
CFU is an acronym for colony-forming units, which are a scientific measurement of the viable microbes (bacteria) in a probiotic. .
Affective CFUs per Gram
Make sure that the supplement you purchase contains at least 20 million CFUs per gram – a product that contains billions of CFUs is however more desirable.
Probiotics (good bacteria) live and provide their beneficial function in the large intestine. In order to reach the large intestine the bacteria must pass through the very acidic environment of the stomach and small intestine. During this journey some of the bacteria die, but most do survive. In order to ensure that enough of the bacteria make it to the large intestine a dog needs to ingest billions of viable (intact and fully functioning) bacteria. The number of live bacteria is measured as the number of colony-forming units – commonly noted as CFU per gram of probiotic.
If the product labelling lists the CFU’s in scientific lingo you may see this:
One million CFUs/gram will be noted as 1 x 106 CFU;
One billion CFUs/gram will be noted as 1 x 109 CFU.
Suggested daily serving/dosage size
The label should clearly provide directions regarding daily serving/dosage of the product.
Health Benefits
An explanation of what the product can do for your dog
Best Before Date or Expiration Date
If the product label does not have an expiration date do not purchase it. Viable live bacteria do have a shelf life and you need to know when the product is no longer at maximum efficacy. If no expiration date is provided it is a pretty good indicator that the probiotics in the supplement are not really probiotic!
Required Storage Conditions
Where the product should be stored to ensure maximum survival of the probiotic
Corporate Contact Information
Who manufacturers the product;
Who to contact for additional information.
Does The Product Meet or Exceeds GMP Requirements
Just because a manufacturer says the product is probiotic does not mean that it is a probiotic. Some products labelled ‘probiotic’ do not include any clinically validated strains. Tests carried out on multiple products have revealed that many manufactures and retailers are selling probiotic supplements that do not include ingredients as noted on the product label and/or include dangerous contaminants. To make sure you are purchasing quality, look for products that meet or exceed the ‘Good Manufacturing Products’ (GMP) ISO Requirements. This may not be noted on the label, so you may have to contact the manufacturer or look on-line. 
Shown below is an example of a product that does meet all of the requirements explained above…the product is Dr. Mercola’s probiotic supplement for dogs and cats…
And One More Thing That You May Want To Consider… 
Avoid purchasing supplements from manufacturer’s that do invasive and harmful testing on dogs, cats and other animals. Many pet food and pet pharmaceutical companies carry out invasive and lethally harmful testing of their products on dogs and other animals. Do your research and purchase a quality product that has not been developed at the cost of dogs’ lives. As an example, Ralston-Purina, the manufacturer of Forti-Flora routinely do invasive and harmful testing on dogs after which they kill many of the dogs they test their products on. 

Additional Assistance

If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:

Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:

  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service

About Karen

Dogs are my life, my work, my passion… I am a Dog Whisperer, Dog Behaviorist and Holistic Canine Wellness Adviser with a wealth of real-time, real-life experience living and working with dogs. For two and a half decades I have worked with and shared my life with dogs. My own dog pack is comprised of eleven dogs, various breeds and ages. I provide a full range of services including Obedience Training for puppies and dogs; canine Behavior Modification; canine Psychological Rehabilitation, specializing in assisting dogs that are experiencing extreme states of insecurity, anxiety and aggressive-reactive behavior; Diet, Nutrition and Wellness Advice and Plans for canines and felines…natural wisdom for you and your companion animal.

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17 comments

  1. Dolores E Leeson

    I just read about Purina’s horrible animal testing! I have been feeding my 15 year old cocker Merrick’s grain free dry dog food. Merrick’s has now been bought by Purina. What food would you suggest. He has a delicate stomach and sometimes very smelly gas with loose stools. I currently have him on Purina’s Forti Flora which was suggested by my vet. Since that is also a Purina product what suggestions do you have for dry kibble food and probiotic. I give him 1 packet daily of the probiotic and he is in good shape for an older dog except now showing some stiffness in his back legs when jumping.

  2. Hello Karen, when using human grade probiotics, how can you determine the right daily serving size for dogs, based on weight?

  3. Hello Karen, I bought Dr. Mercola’s probiotic but my dog turns away from his food now when I add it. Do you have any tips/tricks to get him to eat his food WITH the probiotics? :)

  4. I am the proud momma of an amazing boxer. So well behaved, so friendly, so lovable. We’ve had problems with his eating since we got him 7 months ago. We finally got him on a dry kibble that he eats but it seems like he eats to survive and doesn’t really LOVE his food. Your blog has made me want to try to do homemade meals for him because of all the detailed information you provide. So for that, I just want to say thank you. Anyways I’m living in Germany and the way they love their pets here I imagine I could find a really good probiotic at one of the pet stores here but not being able to read the label makes me a little sketchy about it. Is there a probiotic you highly recommend that I could order off amazon?

  5. Thank you very much. One more quick question. If I use goldenseal, calendula, or echinacea (I’ve been reading; I love your site), at the same time as I use a probiotic, will the herb kill the friendly bacteria? Should I feel the two at different times? Thank you so much,

  6. Are you familiar with TotalBiotics at PetEnzymes.com, by ND John R. Taylor? I am in Canada, and have to ship from the US, which is expensive…I want to order his enzyme supplement, and can’t afford to ship two products from the US, and thus, would like to use his probiotics as well (as opposed to Mercola’s). Thoughts? Thanks tons!

  7. Thank you so very much for writing this article. My scnoodle Louie was recently diagnosed with Acid Reflux and I’m looking for ways to treat this without him having to take Pepcid AC and Prilosec, etc. I was wondering if you knew if Nusentia Miracle Probiatic was a quality product. I saw a lot of great reviews for Nusentia on Amazon.com. I’m between Nusentia and Mercola. Any information would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Hi Rachel,

      When dealing with such situations it is very important to address the issue on two fronts #1 the immediate symptoms and #2 the root cause. Read my article on Acid Reflux (GERD) it will provide you with extensive information regarding holistic treatment and remedy for Acid Reflux http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/12/acid-reflex-gerd-in-dogs-cats-natural.html

      Probiotic is only one of the elements that needs addressing in Louie’s diet.

      If you address this properly there is no need to put him on conventional drugs that will actually cause further damage to his health. BTW – Prilosec and Pepcid AC both contain ingredients that are not good for your dog’s health…

      glyceryl monostearate, magnesium stearate, polysorbate, sugar spheres,crospovidone, dextrose, xantham gum

      Cheers, Karen

  8. Is it wrong to give dogs probiotics formulated for humans?

  9. Thank you so much. You made this so much easier for me. I have been reading and reading and looking at labels and I still couldn’t figure out what was good or what wasn’t as good as they claimed.

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