Did you know that most of your dog’s immune system is in his intestines?
That’s why gut health is so tightly linked to immune health.
And that’s why prebiotics are a critical part of your dog’s diet …
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are fibers that normally come from fruits and vegetables. They pass through the digestive tract undigested and start to ferment.
But not all fibers are considered prebiotic.
There are two types of dietary fiber:
Soluble fiber -which is fermented by gut bacteria
Insoluble fiber-which is not fermented.
So when we talk about prebiotic fibers we are talking about soluble fibers.
Common prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides or FOS, mannan oligosaccharides or MOS, inulin, and some sugars.
Fermented prebiotics have a purpose … they act as food for the beneficial bacteria (or probiotics) that live in your dog’s gut. These bacteria (such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) make up nearly 90% of your dog’s immune system.
By supplying the gut with prebiotics we essentially lay down the foundation blocks for the probiotics. They use prebiotics to grow, restore and maintain healthy gut flora for optimum immunity.
And this is why you need to make sure you are feeding prebiotics to get the most out of your probiotic supplements.
So let’s talk about the types of food you can start feeding your dog.
6 Natural Prebiotics For Dogs
1. Chicory Root
Chicory root was once a used as a coffee substitute … but is now widely known as prebiotic due to its impact on intestinal microorganisms.
It is high in the prebiotic fiber inulin which makes it a very rich source for probiotics to utilize.
The bonus to this prebiotic is that it is naturally semi-sweet … So it’s not a struggle to get your dog to eat it.
Bonus health benefits for feeding your dog chicory root as a prebiotic:
- Improved digestion
- Anti-inflammatory support for the intestinal tract
- Alleviates constipation
- Provide antioxidant support
- Emits oils that some holistic vets use as a remedy for certain parasites.
Feeding Your Dog Chicory Root
Chicory dosing is very dependant on your dog’s overall health and other needs … so you will need to check in with your holistic vet to determine the best dosing plan for your dog.
Garlic is another unique prebiotic source for your dog that you may not have thought of.
Now you may be thinking, “Isn’t garlic toxic to dogs?”
The answer to this is that it can be … when it is fed in high amounts.
… But in the right amounts, garlic is super beneficial for your dog.
Bonus health benefits with feeding your dog garlic as a prebiotic:
- Prevents the formation of blood clots
- Decreases cholesterol build-up
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- Cancer prevention
- Natural antibiotic, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic
- Stimulates the lymphatic system to remove wastes
Feeding Your Dog Garlic
Garlic contains two enzymes: Allinn and alliinase. Chopping or crushing the cloves combine these two enzymes.
They then form allicin which is the active medicinal ingredient of garlic.
Wait at least 10 minutes before feeding the crushed or chopped garlic to allow this process to complete.
Here are some guidelines for daily feeding.
- 10 to 15 pounds – half a clove
- 20 to 40 pounds – 1 clove
- 45 to 70 pounds – 2 cloves
- 75+ pounds – 2 and a half cloves
The allicin becomes unstable once exposed to air and heat. So don’t wait more than 20 minutes before topping your dog’s meal.
3. Larch Arabinogalactan
Arabinogalactan is a type of soluble fiber that provides great prebiotic support.
This fiber is often found in carrots, pears, corn, coconut, and shiitake mushrooms. As well as herbs like echinacea and astragalus.
Larch arabinogalactan comes from the Western Larch tree (wood gum). It is well known for its ability to feed probiotics and produce the short-chain fatty acid butyrate.
Bonus health benefits of feeding your dog larch arabinogalactan as a prebiotic:
- Protection of the intestinal lining against viruses and bacteria
- Reducing diarrhea and digestive upset by supporting the colon. (the colon determines how much water is in the feces)
- Anti-inflammatory support
- Help control blood sugar levels (diabetes)
- Prevention and treatment support for inherited disorders, immune-mediated chronic disorders, and neurodegeneration
- Cancer support and prevention
- Aids in the management of allergies and other skin issues such as ear infections.
Feeding Your Dog Larch
You will want to buy a high-quality product that contains strains of bacteria suitable for dogs … and at least 10 billion CFU.
The probiotics will ferment and produce the cancer-fighting short-chain fatty acids.
You can follow the dosing instructions on the label if you buy a product made for dogs.
Otherwise, the average medium-sized dog needs about 1/2 tsp per day.
Finally, you will need to give your dog a rest from the larch from time to time. For example: give it for two months daily and then give him a 2-week break without it
[Related: How This Special Fiber Fights Cancer In Dogs]
4. Turkey Tail
Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom that grows on dead logs all around the world. You may already know it for its amazing cancer support …
Even more so than some of the other prebiotics, this mushroom needs to be part of your dog’s prebiotic line-up.
So let’s review why.
Turkey tail mushrooms have two main medicinal components: Polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharide-P (PSP).
PSK +PSP help form Turkey Tail‘s cell wall structure and give it its prebiotic properties.
Bonus health benefits of feeding your dog Turkey Tail as a prebiotic:
- Prevent and treats yeast and bacterial overgrowths in the digestive tract
- Reduces diarrhea and associated symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease
- Immune support against viruses
- Assists the body’s response to parasites and their elimination
- Antioxidant support
- Liver support
[Related: Turkey Tail Mushroom Uses For Dogs]
Feeding Your Dog Turkey Tail
You can find a few Turkey Tail supplements on the market these days … the challenge is knowing which one to buy.
Supplements can include Fruiting Body which includes the entire mushroom. Or Mycelium which is the “root” of the mushroom.
Mycelium is typically grown in grains. Often labeled as “full-spectrum” mushrooms … and are usually lower in beta-D-glucans which provide the medicinal support.
Note: Raw, ground mushrooms can irritate the liver and dogs should never eat raw mushrooms. You want to look for a double extracted product
5. Burdock root
You may recognize burdock as a pesky weed giant… but its root is a powerful prebiotic.
For the reason that it has great medicinal properties that come from the root during the plants first year.
And it offers the same high levels of inulin as chicory root.
Bonus health benefits of feeding your dog Burdock Root as a prebiotic:
- Bladder and kidney support
- Provides a range of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron and B vitamins.
- Great support for flaky, oily or inflammatory skin issues
- Regulating blood sugar
- Anti-inflammatory support
- Antioxidant support
- Assists with liver and gallbladder detoxification
- Cancer treatment and prevention
Feeding Your Dog Burdock Root
Almost all health food stores carry a burdock root product. Ranging from teas, powders, tinctures, capsules, and even natural root.
Because there are many products available on the market … So it’s best to check-in with your holistic vet.
They can let you know what is available in your area and the protocol that is best for your dog.
6. Dandelion Greens
You likely know this common weed … but it’s much more than a yellow pop in your yard.
For the reason that it is an excellent whole food source of vitamins and minerals. And it also has a high level of inulin.
Bonus health benefits of feeding your dog dandelion greens as a prebiotic:
- Liver support and detoxification
- Antioxidant support
- Natural diuretic – removes excess fluid from the body
- Can stimulate appetite
Feeding Your Dog Dandelion Greens
Dandelion is available in most health food stores as a dried herb, a tea or as a tincture.
You can also collect dandelion leaves from your lawn. But make sure they are never sprayed with herbicides or pesticides and you dry them first.
And once dried you can sprinkle a teaspoon per 20 pounds body weight into your dog’s meals.
Or you can also make dandelion tea:
Use 5g to 30g dried herb infused in 8oz water
You can use 1/3 of a cup per 20 pounds of your dog’s body weight, up to 3 times a day
For dried herbs, use a teaspoon per 20 pounds.
Reminder: Dandelion is a diuretic. Therefore you need to make sure your dog has ample opportunity to get outside to relieve himself during the day.
[Related: Top 5 Cleansing Herbs]
By feeding prebiotics and probiotics together you can ensure that your dog’s immune system is at it’s best.
You may find that he prefers one to two over others and you can rotate through them as needed to suit his individual needs.