Dog Diet: The 5 Best Probiotics for Dogs with Diarrhea and Allergies Reviewed

Updated on January 3, 2017
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Barbara Fitzgerald is an AKC Breeder of Merit and the author of a column, "Conversations with Champions," for the BCSA magazine,Borderlines.

Why Probiotics For Dogs?

Let’s face it; dogs eat all kinds of nasty things when we aren't looking. In fact, gastrointestinal disorders are the second most common health issue for dogs after skin conditions. When Fido is having an emergency, a good probiotic that can quickly correct loose stools and diarrhea is good to have on hand.

Whether your dog suffers from ongoing food allergies or the occasional upset stomach, probitoics are a natural and healthy way to readjust his digestive tract. These supplements work by bringing beneficial bacterial strains to the intestinal tract. They are recognized as an important part of the overall immune system's health, by helping the intestines to remove toxins from the body while aiding in absorption of beneficial nutrients.

Additionally, consumer experience demonstrates that they may also alleviate many canine skin disorders as well. As the market for canine proboitics is burgeoning, we took a look at some of the more popular ones for dogs on the market as well as some natural remedies for diarrhea and ranked them according to efficacy, palatability and expense.

Just sprinkle onto your dog's food and the probiotics go to work immediately.
Just sprinkle onto your dog's food and the probiotics go to work immediately.

How to Choose Probiotics For Dogs

When Selecting Probiotics for your canine companion, keep the following criteria in mind:

  • The list of ingredients should identify the specific bacterial species and also indicate the strain, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus.
  • The label should guarantee the number of CFU in millions or billions per gram. Colony-forming units (CFU) is an estimate of viable bacterial or fungal numbers that the manufacturer guarantees will exist in their product.
  • The product packaging or manufacturer’s website should have a customer service number so you can contact the manufacturer with any questions.
  • The probiotic should have a bestbefore or expiration date. Storage time and conditions (i.e., excessive heat or cold) can reduce the viability of some bacterial stains. It is best practice to store your probiotics in a refrigerator.

#1 Selling Dog Probiotic – Purina Fortiflora

Frequently recommended and sold by veterinarians, Purina’s Fortiflora is the number one selling probiotic for dogs, and our number one recommendation for dogs requiring occasional digestive support for loose stools and diarrhea. It can safely be used on pregnant and lactating bitches as well as young puppies and is highly palatable.

91 % of users give this product a 4-5 star rating, in fact only 3% of users felt that the product was a total disappointment. Users cite high palatability for picky eaters and firm stools for their good marks. This product regularly resolves IBS, sensitive stomach issues and perennial soft stools. Also, bitches in whelp that have overindulged in iron and nutrient rich placenta, will benefit from this probiotic. Fast acting, it has no apparent “build-up” time and is efficacious with the first sprinkling on the dog’s food. We give this product an “A” for correcting loose stools.

Ingredients: Animal Digest, Enterococcus Faecium, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vit C), Vit E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, Salt, Manganese Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite.

When dispensed by veterinarians, this can be an expensive product. However, online through Amazon and other retailers, the sachets (foil packages of powdered product) cost approximately $.66 a piece ($19.95 per 30 sachet package). This can still be an expensive daily addition if you have more than one dog needing a probiotic on a daily basis. Also, it does not contain many strains of bacteria; if you are seeking to curb food allergies or skin conditions you should try the Vetri-Science Probiotic first.

#2 Vetri-Science Probiotic Everyday Bite Size Chew for Dogs

This product is our number one recommendation for dogs requiring a daily probiotic as a part of their overall health regimen. Very cost effective, it averages $20.00 for 60 chews making it the best value. Small dogs can benefit from one chew a day while larger dogs, 45+ pounds will require 2 chews per day. The Vetri-Science Probiotic chews alleviate gas, loose stools, bad breath, dark tear staining as well as yeast infections seen in the ears and skin. In fact, alleviating extreme gas symptoms is this products greatest achievement, and owners are duly gratified. Given the many conditions this probiotic has helped with, we give it an “A+” for all round efficacy and value.

Ingredients: This chew contains nine strains of bacteria at 286 million CFU/gram of beneficial bacteria, including Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus coagulans, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium thermophilum, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Enterococcus faecium.

Given as treats, they are highly palatable and most dogs look forward to receiving them. When paired with limited ingredient diets, this probiotic demonstrates excellent results. Old dogs with acute skin conditions and yeast infections respond exceedingly well. If you feed your dog a raw diet, these chews are the best solution for delivery of a commercial probiotic product, as powders are difficult to administer on raw chicken quarters etc. For dogs that do not find theses chews tempting, powders and capsule forms of the product are also available.

Canine Health Issues

I am interested in Probiotics because my dog has:

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#3 Mercola - Complete Probiotics For Pets

Mercola’s probiotic can be safely used on both cats and dogs. In a multi-pet household with both cats and dogs, this product will not create any digestive issues for pets that crossover to their house mates bowls. However, because of the large amount required per serving for larger dogs, this is not a cost effective solution for them, although smaller dogs and cats benefit from this probiotic at a reasonable price.

Ingredients: 10 strains of bacteria: lactobacillus acidophilus dds(r)-1lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus brevis, bifidobacterium lactis, bifidobacterium longum, bifidobacterium befidum, streptococcus thermophilus. 70 Billion CFU Per 2 Capsule Serving; Acid and Bile Resisitant

Cat owners saw a substantial reduction in vomiting, an issue with many older cats. Dog owners saw a reduction in gas and bloating as well as loose stools. Many owners were disappointed in the large container with a small quantity of product relative to the container’s size. While this product does work well for smaller animal owners, we give it a “B” for value at $.90 per serving for medium to large dogs.

#4 Probiotic Miracle - Probiotics for Dogs

Probiotic Miracle markets themselves as the number one selling canine probiotic. Our research indicates it is more likely the number 3 selling product on the market, well behind Purina’s and Vetri’s 3 products. Consumers of this probiotic tout it for clearing up eye, skin and yeast conditions in addition to joint inflammation issues. 79% of users gave it a 4-5 star rating, however 10% of users so no benefit at all for their dogs. Another 10 % had mixed results finding some issues, such as gas have cleared up while others remain unchanged. Given that 20% of users had poor or mixed reviews we would give it a “C+” – however the money back guarantee (discussed below) bumps this product up to a “B-“

Ingredients: 2 Billion CFU of probiotics per serving, six strains of bacteria: L. acidophilus, B. animalis, L. rhamnosus, L. salivarius - , L. fermentum - , L. reuteri. Also contains Pre-biotics. 100% Natural - Vegetarian - No Gluten - No Dairy - No Soy - No Fillers - No Flavorings

Probiotic Miracle does offer a 100% money back guarantee, with guaranteed results against diarrhea, loose stool, and yeast overgrowth. However, this product requires time to buildup in the system and the guarantee expires 60 days from product shipment.

For small dogs the $39.00 package contains 360 servings, 180 servings for dogs over 50 pounds. This is a relatively inexpensive solution at $.11 per serving for small dogs, $.22 per serving for dogs over 50 pounds. People with multiple dogs with gluten allergies and issues with loose stools and yeast related problems may want to try this product before trying one of the more expensive ones. Keep an eye on the calendar if you want to take advantage of the money back guarantee.

Kefir Grains

They look like cauliflower and produce a probiotic rich milk that is great for people and dogs.
They look like cauliflower and produce a probiotic rich milk that is great for people and dogs. | Source

Natural Probiotics – Yogurt and Kefir for Dogs

Following a round of antibiotics, dog owners have long used a tablespoon of low fat yogurt to readjust the bacteria in their dog’s intestines. kefir, a supped-up super cousin of yogurt, is easy to make and packed with additional benefits. kefir is low cost and completely safe daily addition to your dog’s or puppy’s diet.

Kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help the body with its natural healing powers. Among them, Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is abundant in Kefir. Well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system it may help calm high drive or highly anxious dogs.

Kefir also contains calcium and magnesium both of which are critical for a healthy nervous system Kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves. It is also rich in vitamins B12, B1 and vitamin K, promoting healthy looking skin, boosting energy and promoting longevity.

Certainly kefir is high in probiotics and excellent at rebalancing intestinal bacteria, boosting immunity and correcting loose stools and diarrhea. If you have multiple dogs, renewable Kefir is the most affordable solution.

We recommend Kefir as the best Probiotic you can give your dog, garnering it an "A+" on the efficacy and value scale. It's natural, it works and its easy to make. However, if you don't have the time to invest or find making your own yogurt is unappealing, we recommend the Vetri-Science Probiotic probiotic for the all round health benefits it provides.

How to Make Probiotic Kefir

© 2013 Solaras


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    • profile image

      Tammie 3 months ago

      What's good for bloating?

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      Lady Marianne Cottee 4 months ago


      I give Kefir to my two HuskyXMals. Approx 2 tblspns daily.

      I understand it's not necessary daily but they love it. And no health isdues in their 5+ years.

      Following a panic gastritis episode with them after devouring a year old plus xmas fruit cake almost whole, with icing and marzipan .. from the food waste bin that WAS up high and away - I gave them 200ml of Kefir each.

      Both had thrown up and one did So again. (My Vet said this was a good thing). The diarrhoea was much and awgul.

      My vet was fast - they were in, on IV's & obs - predicted 3-5 days. They were home in 36 hours under my watch (retired nurse) as they recovered very fast.

      I am sure my actions helped although their extreme good health and larger 'body mass' contributed too.

      They're between 40 & 42kg... however are now on a diet as this has crept up during (less) much hotter/humid summer activity.

      So many benefits around Kefir.

      A UK Radio Times article Apr/May this year spoke of a woman using this as a last resort on her husband, given up as a terminal case with MRSA.

      She has increased now from one to four goats and makes her own Kefir to sell.

      She saved him.

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 7 months ago

      Thanks for your comment Cheryl. Animal digest is a common ingredient used in many pet foods. It is produced by the chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean animal tissue that has not undergone decomposition. These animal tissues do not include hair, horns, teeth, hooves, and feathers, with the exclusion of trace amounts that are unavoidable even after acceptable processing methods.

      According to the US Food and Drug Administration, a digest is an additive that has been treated with heat, enzymes, or also acids to produce a concentrated product intended as a natural flavoring. So this is what makes the Forti Flora palatable to dogs.

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      Cheryl 7 months ago

      Forth flora contains animal digest, I'm not sure what that is exactly but it does not sound good

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 12 months ago

      Hi marie: Thanks for visiting and catching that. You are correct Vetri-Science was the recommended product.

      For the kefir, you can get a mason jar and put one kefir grain (two if they are small) in the jar and fill with 2% lowfat milk. In the course of two days it will begin to thicken to a runny yogurt consistency. It will keep getting thicker, so you will want to use it quickly, within days two-four. Give your dog a half cup a day. You can add it to a smoothy or granola for your own health benefits. Once you have used it up, rinse the Kefir grains and mason jar, return the kefir grains to the jar and refill with milk. You can use them seemingly for forever.

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      Marie 12 months ago

      Thank you for writing this article.

      The article seemed helpful, but I watched the video and it didn't teach me anything--he basically strained the kefir and talked about what a mess it was, and that was it. I didn't get how to get the kefir to strain in the first place. Is it just milk? What kind of milk? I guess I will just buy the kefir...

      And at the end of your article, you say that you recommend Nutri-Science probiotic for the all around health benefits, but the Nutri-Science brand isn't even mentioned on your list. Do you mean the Verti-Science probiotic? Because you only have that brand or Purina, Mercola, and Probiotic Miracle brands--no Nutri-Science brand.

      Lastly, do you have any recommendations for how often or how much kefir or greek yogurt to give your dog on a regular basis for general GI health?

      Thank you!

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 17 months ago

      Hi Norma: Yes, you can buy it instead of making it yourself. It is not available to by in some areas. Greek yogurt with the enzymes still alive can work too.

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      Norma Estep 17 months ago

      can i buy kefir instead of make it? Theyy sell it at the store its next to the yogart

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      usillyrabbitu 18 months ago

      Unfortunately the vetri science does not contain Enterococcus faecium. I don't know if it used to, but it now has Enterococcus thermophilus instead, which I understand is not the same.

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      Mike Harper @Best Probiotics for Dogs 19 months ago

      We, humans, ingest probiotics to protect our gut. But our pets can also benefit from probiotics, especially dogs. Why there are probiotics for dogs, you may ask? To help improve the health of your beloved pooches, of course!

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 2 years ago

      Hi Joy: That definitely works for a lot of dogs and cats. Gluten can cause many digestive issues, especially when they are the number one ingredient. Purina Forte Flora is great for the occasional stomach upset, and some dogs will need a prolonged regimen of probiotics to help get their gut straight even after glutens have been removed from the diet. Thanks for the comment.

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      Joy Giffard 2 years ago

      I find the best way of dealing with doggy allergies is to completely eliminate gluten from their diet.

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      Craig 3 years ago

      Hey Solaras, you mention the importance of looking for the probiotic strain above, but you never listed one with Lactobacillus acidophilus. The strain would actually come after that (Genus) (Species) (Strain).

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 4 years ago

      Hi Jennifer: Thanks for your comment. We gave it an A+ because it did help with a wide variety of allergy conditions, including tear staining and bad breath in addition to gas and diarrhea , as well as its relative low cost.

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 4 years ago

      Thanks trusouldj, unfortunately some friends and I have several cats and dogs with mild to severe food allergies that have made this research necessary. I think I will do a review of the best cat food grain free gluten free products next, as I have a cat that has been tested to be allergic to all carbohydrates... Happily we have found some good solutions that finicky cats will eat!

    • trusouldj profile image

      trusouldj 4 years ago from Indiana

      Your knowledge is amazing. Keep up the good work.

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 4 years ago

      Hi epbooks. I would save the Fortiflora for loose stools or food changes, unless it is getting ready to expire. I think that is its best use. If you are wanting to boost immunity, then look at the Vetriscience or into the Kefir. You can take the kefir too and put it into smoothies!

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      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Very useful! We have foriflora in the house but haven't given it to our dogs in a while. It may be something that I will look into. Thanks for posting!

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