There has been a growing interest in probiotics generally, and particularly in how they might help our pets. The number of dietary supplements containing probiotics of dogs is growing steadily as more people turn to them to improve their pet's health. But are they a necessary product that we should all be using or just some new health scam?
Well the honest answer is probably a bit of both! There are situations when the use of canine probiotics can definitely be beneficial. But the regular use of such products is most often not necessary and simply a waste of time and money. Do not dismiss probiotic supplements for your dog, but likewise do not feel that you must use them either!
Really the main time that canine probiotics are likely to be of help is when dealing with diarrhea in dogs. The usual causes of diarrhea are an imbalance in the gut with too many 'bad' bacteria and not enough 'good' bacteria to counteract their effects. This could be due to the use of anti-biotics, eating something nasty the dog has picked up outside or because of age or ill-health. Both elderly dogs and very young puppies will often experience bouts of diarrhea more often than a more healthy, middle aged animal simply because their systems are not acting quite so efficiently. Some dogs will be particularly likely to experience the problems when stressed such as when you vacation, or if they move homes.
Unless your dog experiences diarrhea it is very unlikely that probiotics for dogs would be of any real benefit for them. The simple fact of the matter is that most dogs will already have a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in their gut, and giving them more will do nothing of them at all. But for dogs such as those listed above occasional use (or in elderly dogs perhaps more regular use) of a probiotic canine supplement could indeed be extremely beneficial. Restoring the guts natural balance and improving the bodies defences against harmful bacteria encountered in teh future.
So, how useful are canine probiotics? Extremely, but only for some dogs. Do not simply jump onto the healthfood bandwagon for your pet as it really could be a waste of money. It is far better to first discuss the use of probiotics with your vet to determine how beneficial they are likely to be for each particular animal.