As living dog owners, we frequently go above and beyond what is necessary to keep our dogs healthy.
Making sure that your dog gets the required vitamins and minerals is good but many of us tend to forget about the dog’s gut health.
Many dog owners are starting to give their dogs probiotic drinks like Yakult to improve their guy health.
But is it safe for your dog to drink Yakult for its intended benefits?
It is safe to give your dog Yakult but in small amounts. Your dog might be able to benefit from the probiotics that are present in the drink. However, Yakult contains sugar and dairy which aren’t good for your dog. There are more suitable alternatives available.
In this article, we will explore the potential benefits of giving your dog Yakult and the important things that you need to be aware of.
What Is Yakult?
The small yet mighty Yakult goes back a long way. It was started in 1935 by Minor Shirota who is also the founder of the Japanese company Yakult Honsha.
Yakult is basically a fermented milk beverage that contains billions of live Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain.
Interestingly enough, this strain was named after Minor Shirota who founded the strain and remains the core ingredient in Yakult to this day.
Nutritional Value Of Yakult
One bottle of Yakult (80ml) contains the following:
Calories: 50 kcals
Yakult is only made up of a few ingredients such as water, glucose, nonfat milk and natural flavors.
Can My Dog Benefit From Drinking Yakult?
As mentioned earlier, Yakult isn’t considered toxic for dogs and you can let your dog have some.
The ‘elephant in the room’ is whether Yakult can have the same benefits on your dog as it does on humans.
There is a lot of talk about maintaining and improving our gut health over recent years.
Our digestive system contains billions to trillions of microorganisms that work together in a harmonious ecosystem.
Your dog’s gut flora isn’t any much different from yours and studies have also shown that your canine friend can have health benefits from consuming probiotics too.
Here are some potential benefits for your dog.
Reduction In Harmful Bacteria
Besides good bacteria in the dog’s gut, there are also bacteria that can cause problems when allowed to grow in numbers.
A study on 12 beagles was conducted to determine the benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus on their health.
Results showed that the dogs which were fed probiotics had a 17.6% increase of fecal Lactobacillus and a 42.1% in reduction of fecal Enterococcus1.
Enterococcus can be harmful when it gets to other parts of the dog’s body.
This bacteria can cause issues like urinary tract infections, kidney problems and inflammation.
The consumption of probiotics can help keep the bad bacteria at bay.
It does seem that Lactobacillus acidophilus can have a positive impact on the dog’s digestive system.
Resolve Gastrointestinal Issues
It is very common for our dogs to get an upset stomach on some days. It could be due to your dog eating something ‘off’ or it is just one of those days.
When this happens, diarrhea is usually a common symptom.
Probiotics have been shown to reduce the frequency of acute diarrhea in dogs which is a good thing.
Prolonged diarrhea can start to become life-threatening as your dog is losing too much fluids and electrolytes.
Some studies suggested that specific probiotic strains might be useful in the management of irritable bowel disorder in dogs2.
Healthy Immune System
A dog that has a robust gut flora will also have a strong immune system. A probiotic drink like Yakult can help restore some balance in the dog’s digestive system.
When the balance of your dog’s gut has been disrupted, it can lead to a weaker immune system.
This would make your dog more susceptible to infections and inflammation.
Probiotics can help to restore and maintain this balance.
How Much Yakult Can My Dog Drink?
I wouldn’t recommend that you give your dog too much Yakult.
There’s 10g of sugar per serving which might not seem that much to us but dogs don’t need sugar in their diet.
This amount can quickly add up if you are giving your dog 1-2 bottles a day.
Too much sugar in your dog’s diet can lead to:
- Heart disease
Yakult also contains dairy which most dogs are allergic to. Dogs start to become lactose intolerant once they are weaned off milk.
Their bodies no longer produce lactase which is the enzyme needed to break down the lactose in milk.
This leads to issues like diarrhea and vomiting.
1-2 bottles a week should be sufficient for your dog’s diet.
What Type Of Probiotics To Feed My Dog?
Not all strains of probiotics are made equal. Some strains are more geared toward certain benefits.
It largely depends on what your dog needs based on his current health conditions.
Here are some of the common probiotic strains that are good for dogs.
This is like the big daddy of probiotic stains and can be found in many probiotic supplements.
It is known to be good for supporting a dog’s digestive and immune systems.
This strain is found in Yakult and it helps with your dog’s digestion and protects its gastrointestinal tract.
Bifidobacterium Animalis works great at supporting your dog’s digestive system and reducing the risk and duration of diarrhea.
This strain can support a balanced gut microbiome, improve digestion, and help prevent gastrointestinal disorders.
There are many other strains that are great for dogs but these are just a few that can colonize your dog’s gut and withstand the high stomach acidity.
Dogs in general have very acidic stomachs and a large amount of stomach acid to help digest raw food and destroy harmful pathogens quickly.
Other Alternatives To Yakult
If you want to start feeding your dog probiotics but are not too keen on Yakult due to the milk and sugar content, there are better alternatives.
Yogurt is another good source of probiotics and it is lower in lactose due to the fermentation process.
If your dog isn’t sensitive to dairy products, this can be a good option.
When buying yogurt for your dog, get those that are naturally made without any added ingredients like sugar and artificial flavoring.
Koreans have kimchi and Europeans have sauerkraut. Fermented vegetables are good for your gut health as they are high in probiotics.
However, I wouldn’t start feeding my dog kimchi as it isn’t something that’s healthy for them.
You can make your own fermented vegetables for your pooch without all the salt and flavoring.
You can buy probiotics supplements for your pet at most major pet stores. They can be costly but they are tailored to a dog’s gut flora.
I do feed my dog human probiotics when I find one that has the probiotic strains that I’m looking for.
Common Mistakes When Feeding Probiotics
If you have not fed your dog probiotics before, there are a couple of important things that you need to be mindful of.
Start Off Easy
The first time I started taking probiotics, I was stuck in the toilet for at least an hour after each dosage.
I had really bad diarrhea as my gut got used to the influx of additional probiotic strains in my digestive system.
The same thing can happen to your dog for the first few dosages.
You can also feed half the recommended dosage for a week or so to ‘acclimatize’ your dog.
Too Low A CFU
When it comes to probiotic supplements, the next most important factor is the CFU or colony forming units.
This is the number of probiotics that is available in each dosage and for dogs, you need at least 10 billion CFU.
Not many live probiotics can survive your dog’s harsh stomach hence a large enough amount is required to ensure that enough make it out alive.
Are Probiotics Good For Dogs With Worms?
It is very common for any dog to get worms during their lifetime. Puppies can get it from their mothers and your dog can get it from another dog.
The outdoor nature of dogs also put them at a higher risk as compared to indoor cats.
The use of probiotics can help when your dog has intestinal worms. These worms will reside in your dog’s digestive system and throw its gut flora out of whack.
Probiotics can help reestablish balance and lessen some of the other symptoms such as diarrhea and tummy upset.
A study on dogs with hookworms that were treated with the probiotic Bacillus subtilis had this results3:
- 48.7% reduction in the number of hookworm eggs in their feces
- 42.4% fewer adult hookworms in their intestines
Although the results might seem promising, you still need to get your dog checked by the vet.
The vet will prescribe dewormers for your dog to completely get rid of the worms in the body.
1. Effects of probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus strain DSM13241 in healthy adult dogs.
Baillon ML, Marshall-Jones ZV, Butterwick RF
2. Clinical effect of probiotics in prevention or treatment of gastrointestinal disease in dogs: A systematic review.
Jensen AP, Bjørnvad CR.
3. Probiotic therapy: a promising strategy for the control of canine hookworm.
Coêlho MD, Coêlho FA, de Mancilha IM