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You may not know it, but you’ve probably consumed prebiotics, probiotics, or both at some point in your life. They can be found in many food products, and prebiotics and probiotics both serve as extremely beneficial tools to our health and your dog’s. 

Within this blog, we’ll help you understand the difference between prebiotics and probiotics for dogs and why you should consider having them as a staple in your furry best friend’s diet.

Dog eating

What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics for dogs?

While prebiotics for dogs and probiotics for dogs each play a crucial role in a healthy immune system and a healthy functioning GI tract, they still have their major roles and differences.

Prebiotics are typically soluble, indigestible high-fiber foods that act as food for probiotics. This fiber ferments in the colon, creating short-chain fatty acids that can do a number of things like lower inflammation, support gut health, and reduce the risk of disease. Prebiotics are used with the intention of improving the balance of these microorganisms, serving as food for the intestinal bacteria and producing energy for intestinal cells.

Probiotics for dogs are live bacteria or microbes which are found in the small and large intestines of our pets and are used to help adjust the intestinal bacterial population by feeding on prebiotics. Millions of these bacteria can be found in a healthy dog which aid in digesting foods, maintaining intestinal mucosal integrity, participating in metabolism, and stimulating systemic immune function.

Did you know that 70% of a dog’s immune system comes from the intestines? The reason for this is that the majority of the pathogens found throughout the body enter through the mouth and make their way to the intestinal tract. A digestive tract working in optimal condition is able to block the entrance of most pathogenic bacteria into the body while allowing the entrance of permeable nutrients.

What foods contain prebiotics for dogs?

If you’re looking to get prebiotics for dogs, there are several natural choices you can choose from. Let’s go through a few prebiotic foods for dogs below!

Mushrooms as prebiotics for dogs

Mushrooms make a great choice of prebiotics for dogs. According to Dogs Naturally, a 2017 study found that mushrooms stimulated the gut microbiota, acted as immunomodulatory agents, and contained biologically valuable polysaccharides (sources of energy) and phenolic compounds (anti-inflammatory). This study also found that turkey tail, lion’s mane, chaga, maitake, and reishi mushroom boasted the most favourable effects on gut microbiota. On top of this, mushrooms also offer other benefits, like immune-boosting and anti-cancer properties. What a versatile veggie!

We recommend speaking with your holistic veterinarian to see if mushrooms or other supplements would make a good addition to your pet’s diet.

Chicory root as prebiotics for dogs

Thanks to its effect on intestinal microorganisms, chicory roots make excellent prebiotics for dogs. High in prebiotic fiber inulin, chicory root makes a rich source of food for probiotics. Pets with a sweet tooth will especially love these prebiotics for dogs, as they’re naturally semi-sweet.

Dandelion as prebiotics for dogs

You may know dandelions as pesky weeds in your yard, but they actually serve a much bigger purpose. Thanks to their greens, dandelions make great prebiotics for dogs and are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

Dandelions can be found all around you or at a health food store, but just make sure they aren’t sprayed with herbicides or pesticides before adding them to your dog’s meal!

Person walking dog

What to look for in probiotics for dogs

Upon further inspection of the probiotics for dogs you’re shopping for, there are a few things you should watch for on the label. 

First, check the specific probiotics being used, including the precise strains. Many strains could be used in one product, each doing something different. The only problem with this is that they could be working against each other.

Next, you’ll want to know how many live bacteria there will be at the end of the shelf life. Some companies will let you know how many there are at the point of manufacture, but by the time you purchase the product, the probiotics may not survive.

Last, the use-before date. Just like food, you’ll want to know when not to give your pet probiotics for dogs.

How to care for probiotics for dogs

When shopping for probiotics for dogs, you must be aware that they are technically delicate living things. The American Kennel Club says that when you look at a probiotic, you are looking at live bacteria that has been adapted to living within the GI tract and exposure to air, moisture, or temperature extremes will damage their viability. For example, purchasing your probiotics for dogs on an extremely hot day and letting them sit in the car for a long period of time will probably nullify any effects they’ll have.

When should I give my dog probiotics?

Since probiotics are mainly given to help upkeep an ideal intestinal microbial balance, they’re good to give to a dog who is stressed or sick. When they’re in these conditions, the balance between the health and disease-causing microbes can be disrupted, leading to digestive upset, gas, cramping, and even bad breath.

This is not to say that you can’t give a healthy dog probiotics though. If you know they’re prone to things like digestive upset in stressful situations, you can give them probiotics a few days prior to help them through the process.

A large dog being hand-fed by its owner

Does Bold by Nature offer products with prebiotics or probiotics?

Yes! Along with our raw pet food in Ontario, we also offer Bold by Nature+, a line of supplements that can be used as a boost in your dog’s bowl. One supplement, in particular, is our Slippery Elm with Prebiotics. The slippery elm supports a healthy digestive system while the psyllium found within is a prebiotic fiber that aids in healthy intestinal bacteria, promoting favourable gut flora.

We also offer Bold by Nature+ Pumpkin with Inulin Prebiotic, a supplement that supports your dog’s digestive health. It contains an added source of fiber, which helps to soothe digestive tracts and helps to get things moving inside your dog’s body. The added inulin also aids in healthy intestinal bacteria, promoting favourable gut flora.

What kind of pet food can I add Bold by Nature+ to?

You can add Bold by Nature+ supplements to any diet your dog is on, although we recommend our Bold by Nature raw pet food. Our raw recipes are designed to model the natural prey diet that your dog would eat in the wild, full of meats and fresh veggies that are made without added processes and are unproblematic to their digestive systems.

Besides offering natural and more flavourful options like raw beef for dogs and raw chicken for dogs, switching to Bold by Nature provides your pets with an abundance of benefits.

Where can I get Bold by Nature products?

You’ve got two options! You can purchase Bold by Nature products at your local retailer or online. If you’re not sure if your local pet store carries Bold by Nature, you can use our handy location finder to explore retailers near you that carry Bold by Nature products, like raw food for dogs in Canada.

If you have any other questions about our Bold by Nature raw diets or supplements or would like to request information like the benefits of raw bones for dogs, please feel free to contact us!