Making sure your dog’s immune system is in top shape is an important part of your dog’s health.
Processed diets, vaccines, drugs and other toxins can all cause your dog’s immune system to take a hit.
Even dogs who are fed the best and aren’t victims of drug and vaccine overload are at risk. Hereditary predispositions, environmental pollutants, stress … these all impact the immune system over time.
Adding probiotics to your dog’s diet can be an important part in keeping his immune system strong.
And when it comes to probiotics, yogurt is a great solution for humans.
But for your dog … not so much.
I’ll tell you why in just a bit. Before that, let’s talk about the importance of probiotics for your dog.
Why Your Dog Needs Probiotics
It’s common knowledge that dogs who have been on antibiotics or need an immune boost should be fed probiotics.
Within the dog’s gut, there is a vast colony of bacteria. Some are beneficial. Some are not.
When the balance of good and bad bacteria is thrown off … so is his immune system.
This is where probiotics come in.
They restore the growth of good bacteria and proper immune function.
- Protect the body against bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- Produce digestive enzymes.
- Act as a barrier against toxins, heavy metals and allergens.
- Produce B vitamins.
- Help the body absorb calcium, magnesium, iron and other nutrients.
- Prevent dental disease.
- Support brain functions.
Why Dogs Shouldn’t Eat Yogurt
There are many ways to give your dog the healthy bacteria he needs and one of the most common choices is yogurt.
That’s because yogurt is chock-full of probiotics.
But there are three main reasons why your dog should avoid eating yogurt.
The biggest problem with yogurt is that most of it is pasteurized.
Pasteurization is the process of heating foods to high temperatures. This heat kills off harmful pathogens and bacteria. In theory, this makes the food safe for human consumption.
But the reality is that pasteurized dairy products may cause more stress to the immune system.
A 1984 study at Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital and Department of Microbiology demonstrates the negative effects of pasteurizing milk:
Pasteurization is further debunked by Dr Guylaine Lanctôt.
In her book, The Medical Mafia, Dr Lanctôt summarizes the problem in 2 sentences:
- The temperature is not high enough.
- The temperature is too high.
The first means that temperatures are not high enough to kill dangerous bacteria.
The second refers to the temperature being so high that it destroys some of what makes milk so good for you. Like enzymes and the healthy bacteria.
What does this mean?
It not only means that the yogurt you feed your dog could contain dangerous bacteria … but also that the beneficial bacteria and enzymes are destroyed.
2. Dogs Can Be Lactose Intolerant
Aside from the pasteurization process destroying good bacteria and leaving behind the dangerous ones … the lactose found in dairy could also cause trouble for your dog.
Like humans, some dogs don’t make enough of the digestive enzyme needed to digest milk.
And while raw milk is full of these enzymes, the pasteurization process destroys them.
If your dog is lactose intolerant, he may experience digestive upset when he eats yogurt.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Constipation (usually with cheese)
- Stomach cramps
3. Added Sugars And Artificial Sweeteners
Like humans, small amounts of sugar are safe for your dog when it comes from good sources …
- other fruits and vegetables
But too much can be a problem. Especially when it’s in the form of starch or added sugars.
Stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea are common side effects. And over time, too much sugar can also lead to chronic issues like:
- Dental problems
Yogurt often has added sugar. Which is another good reason to keep yogurt away from your dog.
Your yogurt is sugar-free? This could be even more dangerous.
Xylitol is a common alternative to traditional sweeteners. It might be great for humans wanting to avoid sugar … but it is deadly to dogs. Even a small amount of Xylitol can cause dangerous hypoglycemia and liver failure.
How To Get Your Dog The Probiotics He Needs
While yogurt may be off the table, that doesn’t mean probiotics have to be.
There are other safe alternatives.
But before we get to that, I want to talk about one other source of probiotics that are bad for your dog.
Avoid Probiotic-Enhanced Kibble
When trying to give your dog a balanced diet with all of the nutrients he needs, a whole raw food diet is always the best.
While there are kibbles that boast added probiotics, they might not have as many as you’d hope.
It may be because the bacteria couldn’t survive while being stored in the warehouse. Or a failure on the pet food companies’ part to verify the survival of the added bacteria. Whatever the reason, many studies have shown these foods contain low numbers of living bacteria. And some didn’t contain the species listed on the label.
So if you feed kibble, your dog needs probiotics from a different source.
Pick Up A Probiotic Supplement
If you want to give your dog a probiotic boost, your best bet is to skip the yogurt.
Instead, give him a probiotic supplement … preferably one that’s soil based.
Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and other probiotic species are fragile. They can’t survive the heat, digestive enzymes and acids in your dog’s digestive tract.
Soil-based probiotics are more resilient than traditional probiotics. As they travel through your dog’s gut, they create a protective shell. This means that they’re more likely to survive until your dog needs them. They also pack a much more powerful punch.
That doesn’t mean you can’t go with a probiotic that’s not soil-based. Just remember to look for a supplement that:
- Contains more than one strain of bacteria
- Has a minimum of 20 billion CFUs (colony forming units – usually shown on the label)
This will help your dog get the most out of his probiotic supplement.
So next time you’re reaching for yogurt to help boost your dog’s health, take a pass. Instead, choose a probiotic supplement that will keep him feeling healthy.