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If your cabinet reflects the health trends of the past few years, there’s a solid chance you have a few probiotics stashed away on a high shelf. Maybe you liked the packaging, maybe a particular brand was served to you by the Instagram algorithm, or maybe your doctor insisted this was the next best thing for your health.
Whatever your gateway into probiotics, you may still not fully grasp what the microorganisms that comprise the genre actually are or do — and you’re not alone. That’s why we reached out to a few experts to get to the bottom of what probiotics are and why your dog may need them in their own pantry.
So, what exactly are probiotics, anyway? According to Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, an internationally recognized leader in probiotic microbiology, in the canine gastrointestinal(GI) tract, probiotics promote health by “piggybacking on the important relationship between the normal immune system and microbes.” When the immune system senses these microbes in the gut, it launches a response to protect the body. In layman’s terms: Probiotics effect bodily functions ranging from digestion to immune health and can even influence mood.
OK, so when should you start your dog on a probiotic supplement plan? When it comes to optimizing the use of probiotics, Dr. Robert Boyle, a clinical lecturer with the UK’s National Institute for Health Research, suggests taking a preventative approach. “Once disease is established, it is harder for [probiotics] to compete with pathogenic bacteria and processes that have already become established in the gut,” ” Dr. Boyle says. Not only do probiotics keep your dog’s gut microorganisms balanced, they also boost digestion, energy levels, and metabolism, as well as aid their natural immune defenses. That’s why it’s so important to start your dog on a diet rich in good microflora while they’re in good health.
Below, the seven probiotics for dogs that’ll help supplement their daily diet.
Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)
We asked four experts for the lay of the microflora landscape.
Is your cat’s microbiome out of whack? It may be time to add probiotics to their diet.
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The mind-gut connection isn’t just for people — your dog or cat’s gut microbiome plays a big role in their health and well-being.
Microscopic organisms may reveal pathways to better health for your pet.
Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her fiancé and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.
Elizabeth Kennedy is a freelance writer and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area.