Pet Nutrition Beyond Human Standards™.


Probiotics for Pets: Understanding Strains and CFUs

Understanding probiotics for pets.

Probiotics for Pets

Understanding Probiotic Strains and CFUs


“Made for humans” — is that the best we can do for our pets?

Many manufacturers make the mistake of just taking human probiotic formulas and relabeling for pets. This usually manifests itself in products that are either:

  1. just a combination Lactobacillus acidophilus for dogs and Bifidobacterium formula, or
  2. a broad strain formula combining many different strains (some as much as 12 per formula)

Which type of product is best?

The problems with these approaches are varied. In the case of the L. acidophilus for dogs and Bifidobacterium for dogs combination, there is good research in humans, but not as much for dogs. In the multi-strain approach (B) it can be problematic for both humans and dogs. Why?

Multi-Strain Probiotic Problems

  1. Some strains are not complimentary and may compete with one another for absorption.
  2. Most of the probiotic strains have never been researched for dogs.
  3. These formulas tend to include extremely low amounts of each probiotic strain. So your dog does not get the therapeutic amount or even the preventative benefits it needs.

What more is needed than acidophilus for dogs?

Acidophilus is great, but a targeted pet probiotic should be more than just acidophilus, but NOT a multi-strain formula. Certain strains of probiotics have been researched for dogs.

L. acidophilus (and Bifidobacterium), are great broad-spectrum probiotics in humans and they certainly have benefits in animals as well. But to make the best formula possible, formulators would rely on the research done specifically in pets (animal, canine) instead of speculating on the likelihood of the transfer of benefits from humans to dogs.

Though the body of research on nutritional supplements in dogs is not as comprehensive as it is in humans, there are some areas where we see reoccurring areas of benefit.

Dog specific research regarding probiotics

B. animalis

Probably the most studied probiotic strain in dogs is B. animalis. It has been demonstrated to reduce acute diarrhea, and improve overall intestinal health. However, most dog probiotic products do not contain this strain. We believe that over time all of the formulas will move to containing B. animalis because of the vast research.

Vet Ther. 2009 Fall;10(3):121-30: Clinical benefits of probiotic canine-derived Bifidobacterium animalis strain AHC7 in dogs with acute idiopathic diarrhea.

CommentaryIn this study B. animalis on its own reduced the resolution time in half from 6 days to 3 in dogs. Vet Microbiol. 2009 Oct 20;139(1-2):106-12. Epub 2009 May 19.

Portrait of a canine probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis, from gut to gut.


Bifidobacterium animalis adhered to epithelial cells, transited the murine gastrointestinal tract to high numbers and significantly reduced S. typhimurium translocation. B. animalis  consumption significantly reduced the carriage of Clostridia, in particular Clostridium difficile, in dogs. This study describes the isolation and screening of canine-derived bacterial strains with commensal traits. The results demonstrate that B. animalis has significant potential for improving canine gastrointestinal health.”

Commentary: Clostridium difficile is the pathogen that primarily causes diarrhea. The fact that B.animalis has such a dramatic effect on C. difficile, makes it really the number one choice for dealing with acute diarrhea.

L. acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus as been show to be especially good with use in puppies. L. acidophilus was shown to increase weigh gain/growth in canines (Note it is thought that probiotics are critical in the puppy stage also for bolstering foundational immunity). Puppies supplemented with L. acidophilus were found to display less symptoms of allergies and other diseases in older years.

Arch Tierernahr. 2001;55(3):243-53.

L. rhamnosus

Along with L. fermentum, and L. salivarious, L. rhamnosus is one of the highest concentrated bacteria found in normal healthy canine microbiota. Formulas that do not have this probiotic in fairly high amounts should not claim to be specifically formulated for dogs.

J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jul;101(1):131-8. Lactic acid bacteria isolated from canine faeces.

“SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The selected LAB strains are among the first host-specific LAB with antimicrobial activity isolated from canines that could serve as potential probiotics for canine use.”

Commentary: This study shows that L. rhamnosus is one of the foundational bacteria found in canine intestinal tracts.

L. fermentum

Again one of the naturally concentrated bacteria inherit to canine microbiota, L. fermentum has strong survival characteristics and the ability to significantly modify the intestinal microbiota.

J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jul;101(1):131-8. Lactic acid bacteria isolated from canine faeces.

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Oct;72(10):6539-43. 

L. reuteri

As part of the Lactobacillus family, L. reuteri has many of the broad ranging health benefits. In dogs though they have found that reuteri may be the most resistant and may be especially helpful in controlling canine intestinal infections.

Food Sci. 2007 Apr;72(3):M94-7. Isolation and characterization of Lactobacillus species having isolation and characterization of Lactobacillus species having potential for use as probiotic cultures for dogs.

L. salivarius

Again, one of the naturally concentrated bacteria inherent to canine microbiota. Strong and viable, this probiotic should always be in a natural canine probiotic formula.

J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jul;101(1):131-8 Lactic acid bacteria isolated from canine faeces. 

CFU (Colony Forming Units)

A probiotic's CFU count represents the amount of viable (living) bacteria in a serving.

When it comes to probiotics for pets, we see a haphazard approach to formulation ranging from extremely low CFU (i.e. 200-500 million), to extremely high CFU (i.e. 58 billion). This is also reflected in the types of strains used in each formula.

How many CFU of probiotics do dogs and cats need?
The amount of CFU needed depends on the problem that is being treated and the research available for dogs and cats is not as robust as it is in humans. For a pet with IBS, a higher CFU count is needed. Pets with diarrhea, a lower CFU of probiotics is in order (and higher counts may be contraindicated for diarrhea). Our findings show that for general health maintenance, 1-4 billion CFU is very effective for pets depending on the animal's weight.

There are 360 billion CFU of animal-researched probiotics in a large canister of Probiotic Miracle®, each scoop provides 1 billion CFU. This makes modifying dosages, higher or lower, for your pet very simple.

probiotics for pets

"When it comes to probiotics for pets, we've seen a haphazard approach to formulation... from extremely low CFU to extremely high CFU.

We've seen formulas that contain only one or two strains, to products that include almost every strain imaginable.

We said, 'What does the science and research about probiotics for pets say?'"



A Probiotic for Pets Based on Science

Nusentia’s Probiotic Miracle® is a complete probiotic for pets and incorporates a simple yet sophisticated philosophy;

  • To only use probiotic species that have been scientifically studied in pets
  • To put in probiotic strains that agree with the studies on animals (for dogs and cats).  Probiotic Miracle is a natural, complete, targeted, and ratio-balanced set of probiotics designed to produce the very best result for your pet.

These key features separate Probiotic Miracle® from any other probiotic products for dogs or cats available, and is why it continues to be the number one complete probiotic formula for pets in America.

Other Benefits of Probiotics for Pets

  • Great for foundational immunity and protecting from infection; ideal for wellness in puppies and kittens.
  • Great for natural digestive health.
  • Great for battling acute digestive disorders, such as, diarrhea and constipation.
  1. Probiotics for Dogs and Cats

    Probiotic Miracle®

    Dog & Cat Formula  |  2 Sizes  |  Powder
    Up to 360 servings per container.

    Trusted Probiotics for Dogs & Cats

    The Original Pet Probiotic Backed by Science.
    The answer to improving your pet's immune system, digestive function, loose stool, and diarrhea. Guaranteed results or money back. No fillers, flavors, or byproducts.

    Key Ingredients: probiotics.

    Starting at: $25.99

  2. Miracle Pack for Pets

    The Miracle Pack™

    Dog & Cat Formula  |  2 Sizes  |  Powder
    Up to 360 servings per container.

    Probiotics + Digestive Enzymes = Complete Digestive Support

    Our Best Seller! Combats yeast, bad odor, food allergies, loose stool, and more. This power duo is the best way to get your pet off the "antibiotics rollercoaster" and maintain great health!

    Key Ingredients: Key strains of highly researched, stable probiotics and vegetarian digestive enzymes, formulated specifically for dogs and cats..

    Starting at: $48.55