As a loving pet owner, you want your dog to live a long and healthy life. And a big part of that is making sure they're getting the right nutrients in their diet. But with all the different types of food and supplements out there, it can be difficult to know what's best for your dog.
One area that's often overlooked is gut health. Just as in humans, a healthy gut is crucial for a dog's overall health. That's why prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes are so important.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about these powerful gut-health boosters and how to incorporate them into your dog's diet.
What Are Prebiotics for Dogs?
Prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre that acts as fuel for probiotics (good bacteria) in the gut. By feeding the good bacteria, prebiotics help promote a healthy balance of gut flora. This is important for many reasons, including supporting immunity, preventing inflammation, and aiding digestion.
In order to be effective, prebiotics must be resistant to the digestive process so that they can make it to the large intestine intact. There, they are fermented by gut bacteria and turned into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are a source of energy for cells in the colon.
SCFAs play other important roles, such as reducing inflammation, supporting a healthy immune system, and maintaining the integrity of the gut barrier. They may also help prevent diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
What Are Probiotics for Dogs?
Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) that are beneficial for gut health. They're similar to the good bacteria that naturally live in the digestive system and can help restore the balance of gut flora when it's been disrupted. That's why probiotics are often referred to as "friendly," "good," or "healthy" bacteria.
Probiotics work together with the good bacteria that reside in your dog's gut to keep harmful bacteria in check. They also help break down food and absorb nutrients, support immunity and contribute to a healthy digestive system.
The relationship between prebiotics and probiotics is symbiotic, meaning they work together to support gut health. Prebiotics act as food for probiotics, while probiotics help prebiotics achieve their full potential in the gut.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are proteins that help break down food into nutrients so that the body can absorb them. Dogs produce their own digestive enzymes, but the amount and activity of these enzymes can decline with age. This is one reason why senior dogs often have trouble digesting food properly.
Senior dog foods are often formulated with easier-to-digest proteins and other digestion-friendly ingredients to ensure that older dogs are getting the nutrients they need to fight the effects of ageing.
Dogs produce three main types of digestive enzymes: proteases, which break down proteins; amylases, which break down carbohydrates; and lipases, which break down fats. Cellulase is another type of enzyme that helps break down fibre, but dogs don't produce this naturally.
The pancreas is the primary organ responsible for producing digestive enzymes. These enzymes are then secreted into the small intestine, where they help break down food.
If the pancreas isn't functioning properly, or if not enough enzymes are being produced, dogs can experience poor digestion, nutrient deficiencies, and other health problems.
Dietary sources of digestive enzymes can be found in many foods, like pineapple and mango. Find out which of your dog's favourite fruits and vegetables might be offering more nutrition than you thought.
Do Dogs Need Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Digestive Enzymes?
Now you know what prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes are, let's take a look at why you may want to add them to your dog's diet. As mentioned earlier, gut health is crucial for dogs (and humans!) of all ages. A healthy gut supports immunity, digestion, nutrient absorption, and more.
Adding these three gut-health ingredients to your dog's diet is a simple way to support their overall health and are especially useful for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes can be found in a wide variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. They can also be given to dogs in supplement form.
Whole food sources of prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes are beneficial for dogs of all ages and can be easily added to their diet. Digestive supplements for dogs are also a good option, especially for dog bed that are recovering from illness or have specific gut health needs.
In the next section, we'll share some of the best prebiotic, probiotic, and digestive enzyme-rich foods for dogs. We'll also provide some tips on how to choose high-quality digestive supplements that will support your dog's gut health and overall wellness.
Foods Rich in Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Digestive Enzymes
There are a number of whole food sources that are rich in prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
These can be given to your dog in small amounts or mixed into their food. Here are a few of the best options:
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potato
- Medicinal mushrooms
- Dandelion greens
Pumpkin is one of the most popular digestion-friendly foods to add to your dog’s diet. Find out more about how to feed pumpkin to dogs in 10 Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs.
Start with small amounts of probiotic-rich foods and increase gradually over time to allow your dog's digestive system to adjust. The following foods are all excellent sources of probiotics:
- Goat's milk
- Fermented vegetables
Raw goat’s milk is a tasty meal additive for dogs. Check out the amazing Benefits of Goat’s Milk for Dogs and learn how to feed this delicious food topper.
Certain foods can help support your dog's production of digestive enzymes and improve its overall digestive health. These include:
- Raw dairy products
- Fermented vegetables
Lots of fruit is safe to feed and can add vital nutrients and enzymes to your dog's diet. Check out the top 10 Fruits Safe for Dogs for more benefits and feeding tips.
When introducing your dog to new foods, always start with small amounts and increase gradually over time. It's also a good idea to speak with your veterinarian before making any changes, especially if your dog has any health concerns.
Best Digestive Supplements for Dogs
Adding a high-quality digestive supplement to your dog's diet is an easy and convenient way to ensure they're getting the prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes they need for optimal gut health. Just make sure to speak with your veterinarian first and choose a supplement that's appropriate for your dog's age, weight, and health needs.
You should also look for digestive supplements that contain high-quality ingredients and are free from fillers, artificial ingredients, and preservatives. When in doubt, choose a product that's been certified by a third-party organization like the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC).
Some of the best digestive supplements for dogs contain a combination of prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. These products can help support your dog's gut health and overall wellness. They are also typically easy to give, as they come in the form of powders or chewable tablets that can be added to your dog's food.
Here are some of our top 5 digestive supplements to boost your dog's health and bolster his diet:
1. Bixbi Digestive Supplement
Using the awesome power of medicinal mushrooms, Bixbi Digestive Supplement is rich in natural food sources of pre and probiotics to feed your dog’s healthy gut flora and improve digestion, immunity, and even bad breath.
2. Adored Beast Apothecary Healthy Gut
Using all three digestive powerhouses, Adored Beast Apothecary Healthy Gut is the perfect blend of prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes to help to reset and rebalance digestion.
3. OmegaAlpha Probiotic 8 Plus
One of the best overall digestive supplements we carry is Omega Alpha Probiotic 8 Plus. Using 8 beneficial strains of probiotics, natural sources of fibre, and natural enzymes helps to reduce gas, bloat, and common digestive issues in dogs and cats.
4. Diggin Your Dog - Firm Up! Pumpkin Supplement
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to correct minor digestive upsets and support consistent and healthy digestion, try Firm Up! This dehydrated, powdered pumpkin supplement is natural, tasty, and effective.
5. NaturVet Advanced Probiotic & Enzymes
Giving your dog supplements can be tricky if they are picky about their food. NaturVet Advanced Probiotics & Enzyme Soft Chews offer powerful digestive support in the form of an easy-to-feed and delicious treat. These treats contain prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes for total digestive support.
When giving your dog supplements, always start with the lowest dose and increase gradually over time. This will allow your dog's digestive system to adjust and help reduce the risk of side effects. Your veterinarian can give you guidance on administering the correct dosage based on your dog's individual needs.
If your dog has a chronic illness, especially one concerning digestion, you should speak to your ver before giving any digestion supplements at home. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog's health.
Does Your Dog's Gut Health Need a Boost?
If you're looking for ways to support your dog's gut health, prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes are all excellent options. These ingredients can be found in whole food sources or in supplement form. Supplements can be an extremely helpful tool, but they can't make up for an inappropriate or poor-quality diet.
Take a look at your dog's food and make sure that the diet you are feeding is formulated to support digestion.
What are your favourite ways to support your dog's gut health? Let us know in the comments below!