Prebiotics vs Probiotics - What's the Difference?

If you’ve ever taken a look at the label on your dog food, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard about prebiotics and probiotics. The label makes them sound amazing, but what actually are they and how do they benefit your dog? What’s the difference between them and does your dog need both of them? Wonder no more—today we’re answering all of your questions about prebiotics and probiotics!



We’ll start with perhaps the more well know of the two, probiotics. Simply put, probiotics are beneficial microbes that live in your dog’s gut. They benefit your dog by performing several functions such as breaking down food, making vitamins and nutrients, fighting pathogens, and bolstering your dog’s immune system.  Naturally, your dog has her own gut microbiome that self regulates and maintains itself, but sometimes dogs may need an extra boost of probiotics to keep things on track. Stressful situations, illness, and malnutrition can all throw off the balance of your dog’s gut microbes, and it may be helpful to supplement probiotics during these times.


How to Choose a Probiotic for Your Dog

Say you want to supplement probiotics for your dog. How should you go about doing that? Well, there are several forms of probiotics for dogs, including powders that get sprinkled on food or in water, capsules that can be given similar to pills, chews that your dog eats like a treat, or even dog food that is infused with probiotics. Within these, there are also different strains of probiotics which each serve different functions. Some common strains you may have seen or heard of before are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium, and Bifidobacterium animalis. With so many options to choose from, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian, who will know what probiotics will be best for your dog’s unique situation.



Now that you have a better understanding of probiotics, let’s move to prebiotics. Prebiotics are like probiotic’s sidekick – they are the food that helps the probiotics survive and thrive in your dog’s gut. This comes in the form of soluble fiber that is able to be broken down and fermented in your dog’s stomach, creating a feast for the probiotics living there. Not only do prebiotics help the probiotics, but they also have standalone benefits to your dog’s health, too. These include contributing to digestive tract regularity, helping your dog absorb nutrients, preventing spikes in blood sugar, and boosting immunity in puppies. Prebiotics can be given to your dog in the form of supplements, or you can also find dog food recipes that are infused with prebiotics. A common prebiotic that you might have seen before in your dog’s food ingredient list is beet pulp fiber.


Does Your Dog Need Both?

If your dog is free from health issues and his digestion is regular, there is no need to supplement prebiotics or probiotics. An infused diet may be okay, but there is no reason to spend money on extra supplements. However, if you dog is experiencing health issues, stress, or irregular digestion and your vet has suggested supplementing probiotics, it only makes sense that you should supplement prebiotics as well. Just think, you wouldn’t be able to survive without food, and probiotics are no different! You veterinarian will be able to help you find the ideal combination of prebiotics and probiotics for your furry friend.


Our Favorite Prebiotics and Probiotics

Here at K9Cuisine, we offer several foods that are infused with prebiotics and probiotics. For food infused with prebiotics, we love Redpaw Dog Food, which uses beet pulp in their recipes as a form of prebiotics.



Holistic Select is another dog food brand that packs their recipes with a balance of both prebiotics and probiotics!



If you want to give your dog an extra boost of probiotics, this Instant Goat’s Milk with Probiotics from The Honest Kitchen is a great way to supplement. You can serve the goat’s milk alone or mix it into dry food to soften it up and boost the flavor!




Now that you know a bit more about prebiotics and probiotics for dogs, you can know what to look out for on the ingredient label next time you are shopping for fido’s food!