Prebiotics for Dogs - What You Should Know

You've probably heard that prebiotics are a necessary complement to your dogs' diet. But, what exactly are they?
Prebiotics for Dogs - What You Should Know
Alejandro Rodríguez

Written and verified by the biotechnologist Alejandro Rodríguez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Food and health are closely linked in every animal, including us. And, certain scientific advances currently allow us to make discoveries and develop supplements with which to enhance this relationship. This is the case with prebiotics for dogs. So, continue reading if you’d like to know more about them.

Prebiotics vs probiotics

Humans have been able to use microorganisms to our advantage ever since we discovered the way they work and their many benefits to our health. We’ve gradually used such advances in both human and veterinary medicine. This is why today we can tell you a little bit of what we know about probiotics and prebiotics. We’ll focus on their benefits to our pets though.

But, before we go into more detail, let’s highlight the difference between prebiotics and probiotics. It’s true that both have the same purpose – to benefit the microorganisms that live inside every animal – but their method of action is different.

  • Probiotics are living organisms, primarily bacteria, and only lead to benefits when reasonably supplied.
  • Prebiotics are a type of food. The funny part about prebiotics is that their main components aren’t digestible by the animal system. Instead, they’re actually a source of food for the microorganisms present in our intestine.

Prebiotics for dogs, a good option?

A dog running on a lawn.

OK, so now that you know the difference, you must be clear on how prebiotics have a rather beneficial role in your dog’s intestinal health. Once bacteria degrade prebiotics, these release a series of compounds that are a positive influence in the following ways:

  • They promote proper intestinal functioning and provide energy to the cells.
  • They also prevent the proliferation of undesirable microorganisms.

Today, there are many high-quality commercial food products that incorporate prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides or natural fiber from plants. If you’re thinking of incorporating prebiotics into your pet’s diet, these aforementioned compounds are the ones you should look for on the labels.

Precautions to keep in mind with prebiotics

A dog in front of a food bowl.

Keep in mind that not everything is good news when it comes to giving prebiotics to dogs. For instance, they could cause a bad reaction in some animals in spite of their many benefits. Not all dogs react the same way. So, consult your vet before providing prebiotics.

One thing that’s quite evident when it comes to prebiotics is their double effect. While it’s true that the various ingredients are useful for “good” microorganisms, many studies found that they also benefit “bad” microorganisms.

Of course, this would lead to problems in dogs that are afflicted with gastrointestinal disorders. This is because you’ll worsen your pet’s digestive problems if you encourage the harmful bacteria in their guts to become stronger through prebiotics. So, only give them prebiotics after you’re sure that their digestive tract is in optimal condition.

As you can see, the benefits of prebiotics are many, but it’s always safer to include them in your animal’s diet as per the advice of a veterinarian or some other animal nutrition expert.

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Gut Flora: Restore Your Pet’s Intestinal Balance
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Gut Flora: Restore Your Pet’s Intestinal Balance

There are all kinds of microorganisms that inhabit animal intestines. Their name is gut flora and they're highly beneficial to us.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Nawaz, A., Irshad, S., Hoseinifar, S. H., & Xiong, H. (2018). The functionality of prebiotics as immunostimulant: Evidences from trials on terrestrial and aquatic animals. Fish & shellfish immunology76, 272-278.
  • Gibson, G. R., & Rastall, R. A. (2006). Prebiotics: development & application (pp. 101-110). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.