Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best dog probiotics

You’ve probably heard that healthy bacteria are good for your digestive system (and overall health), but what about probiotics for dogs? Whether to help treat a specific digestive issue or just generally improve gut health, a good dog probiotic can do wonders for your canine companion.

However, if you’re new to the world of probiotics, it can be confusing trying to pick out the right supplement for your dog. From selecting the correct strains of bacteria to thinking about colony-forming units, knowing some key information can help the whole process feel less baffling.

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A good dog probiotic should contain several species of bacteria as this gives a better range of benefits.

Do all dogs need probiotics?

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to give probiotics to your canine companion, you might be wondering if all dogs need probiotics or if they’re just useful for dealing with certain conditions. While probiotics are supplements and not medicine, they’re known to support immune function. Therefore, dog probiotics are good for improving general health in all canines.

However, probiotics are useful for helping your pooch with specific health concerns, too, such as improving digestive health after a course of antibiotics, lessening the symptoms of diarrhea, helping stool formation, and decreasing issues caused by inflammatory bowel conditions.

Types of dog probiotics

Probiotic powders

Probiotic powders are designed to be mixed into your dog’s food. They tend to offer good value for the money and have a decent amount of colony forming units (CFUs). That said, while some dogs won’t mind at all, fussy eaters may be put off by the addition of a probiotic powder. And some pet parents find measuring out the correct amount of probiotic powder annoying, as it adds another step come dinnertime. However, some dog probiotic powders come in pre-measured packets.

Probiotic tablets

Less messy than powders, probiotic tablets are ready to go when you need them – no weighing or measuring required. If your dog is a good tablet-taker, then probiotic tablets may be the best option. On the other hand, they’re not the best choice for dogs who have a hard time taking pills.

Probiotic chews

Essentially dog treats with added beneficial bacteria, probiotic chews are an excellent way of getting picky dogs to take their probiotics. Although chews often advertise good levels of CFUs, some research suggests more of these CFUs are likely to be “dead” or inactive than in other types of dog probiotics.

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Although probiotics can be useful for shortening bouts of diarrhea, if your dog is regularly having very loose stools or has diarrhea for more than a few days, you should take her to the vet.

Features to consider for dog probiotics

Bacteria species

Dog probiotics feature a wide range of bacteria species and strains. You should definitely know the genus (such as Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus) and the species (such as animalis or fermentum) of any bacteria in your chosen probiotics, but you may even want to go as far as finding out the strain. While all probiotics generally improve digestive health, different species and strains have more specific benefits.

You’ll find a large number of bacteria species that are good for dogs. Bifidobacterium animalis can decrease the severity of acute diarrhea in dogs, and the AHC7 strain, more specifically, may also help avoid inflammation.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is excellent at repopulating the digestive tract with good bacteria, especially after a course of antibiotics, while Lactobacillus bulgaricus helps to generally maintain a healthy digestive tract and immune system.

Enterococcus faecium can replace good bacteria in the gut that have been eradicated by bad bacteria. It also boosts immune response and encourages the growth of other good bacteria.


Dog probiotics list the number of CFUs per serving, but what does that mean? A CFU is a unit of measurement used to estimate the number of viable bacteria contained in each serving. In order to be classed as a probiotic, a product must contain a minimum of one billion CFUs per serving, but more is better. We suggest opting for a dog probiotic with between five and 10 million CFUs.


Some probiotic supplements for dogs also contain prebiotics. Unlike probiotics, which are live bacteria, prebiotics don’t contain any cultures but are simply indigestible plant fibers that feed the good bacteria in your digestive system. A probiotic that also contains prebiotics may be more effective, as it helps the beneficial bacteria in the probiotic flourish.

Existing health conditions

When selecting a dog probiotic, take any existing health conditions your canine companion has into account. If your dog suffers from a chronic health condition, especially one that affects her immune system, or is on any regular medication, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian before starting her on probiotics. Particular strains of bacteria may help more than others with particular health issues. For instance, if your pooch suffers from an autoimmune disease, probiotics that promote immune health could help to a degree.

Prices for dog probiotics

It can be hard to compare the prices of dog probiotics since they come in a range of forms, with different package sizes and serving sizes. The best way to figure out whether you’re getting a good deal is to look at the price per serving.

Inexpensive dog probiotics cost less than $0.50 per serving. These probiotics usually have the bare minimum number of CFUs and come from unknown brands.

Mid-range dog probiotics cost between $0.50 and $1 per serving. While you can find some good options in this price range, with a high number of CFUs and plenty of strains, you’ll also find some subpar products.

High-end dog probiotics cost over $1 per serving. They usually have more than 10 billion CFUs per serving and 10 to 30 different species of bacteria.


  • Avoid dog probiotics with unnecessary additives. Some options, especially chews and tablets, can contain a range of fillers and bulking agents that don’t do anything to improve the product and may even be unhealthy.

  • Choose a dog probiotic with a good number of bacteria species. If you choose a probiotic with a large number of species and your dog seems to tolerate it well, there’s no need to rotate probiotic brands to get a range of good bacteria.

  • Check for allergens. If your dog has any specific food allergies or intolerances, make sure you double-check the ingredients and how the bacteria were grown. Some probiotic bacteria are grown in dairy products, which can be an issue for dairy-intolerant dogs.

  • Consider probiotics for stressful times. If your dog is prone to diarrhea at stressful times – for instance, when you go on vacation and he needs to be boarded in a kennel or during a house move – probiotics may help with this.
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Some dog foods already have probiotics added to them but often only in small amounts.


Q. Can I give my dog human probiotics?

A. While it’s unlikely that human probiotics will contain anything that will harm your dog, they aren’t designed to meet the needs of canines. As such, it’s best to stick to probiotics formulated specifically for dogs.

Q. Do dog probiotics have any side effects?

A. It’s not uncommon for probiotics to cause some gas and bloating, but this isn’t cause for concern unless it seems to be causing your dog any discomfort. If your dog vomits, has diarrhea, or exhibits any other side effects after you’ve given her probiotics, discontinue use and consult your vet.

Q. Should I give my dog probiotics with food?

A. It’s fine to give most dog probiotics with food, though do check the directions as some should be taken on an empty stomach. If you mix your dog’s probiotics in with food, make sure the food is either cold or just slightly warm as heat can kill beneficial bacteria.

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