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Probiotics for Dogs & Cats : Understanding Strains and CFU

Probiotics for Dogs & Cats : Understanding Strains and CFU

How to Find the Best Probiotic For Your Dog or Cat

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. Too Simple

    Just a combination Lactobacillus acidophilus for dogs and Bifidobacterium formula, or,

    2. Too Complex

    A broad strain formula combining many different strains (some as much as 14 per formula)

How Many Strains of Probiotics Does My Pet Need?

Not too many. Choosing the best probiotic for your pet is not as simple as choosing the one with the most strains or CFU count. To choose the right probiotic that will be the MOST EFFECTIVE for his needs, find one that has the research backing it. If you do choose a probiotic formula with multiple strains, it is important for every one of those strains to not compete with one another, as well as be well-studied for their effectiveness in dogs and cats.

In our opinion, a 10-14 strain probiotic for pets is a haphazard formulation at best. There is little evidence that these extra strains will help your pet's issue, but there is good reason to believe that the unneeded strains will dilute the value and effectiveness of the beneficial strains.

Through our body of research, from literally hundreds of probiotic strains to choose from, we find that there are 6 strains of probiotics that cooperate effectively together to benefit your pet. Probiotic Miracle® contains guaranteed potency of these 6 highly-studied strains of bacteria.

  • Multi-Strain Probiotic Problems

    1. Competition

    Some strains are not complimentary and may compete with one another for absorption.

    2. Lack of Research

    Most of the probiotic strains have never been researched for dogs. Use of these strains and their benefit are merely speculative and likely based on a human-system model. 

    3. Low Quality or Poor Potency

    These formulas tend to include extremely low amounts of each probiotic strain. Your dog does not get the therapeutic amount or even the preventative benefits it needs.

Is Acidophilus Enough For a Dog?

Acidophilus is a great species of bacteria for the gut. A truly high quality strain of acidophilus in the right CFU amount can potentially offer more benefit for your dog or cat than a formula with many low value strains. That said, for the most benefit to your pet, a targeted probiotic should contain more than just acidophilus.

Our research indicates that there are about 6 well-tested strains of probiotics that offer valid benefits to dogs and cats.

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. salivariousL. 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 dogs and cats, we see a random 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 dog or cat very simple.

A Confused Market

When it comes to probiotics for dogs and cats, 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 species, to products that include almost every species imaginable. We said...

"What does the science and research about probiotics for pets say?"

There are 6 strains of probiotics that cooperate effectively together to benefit your pet. Probiotic Miracle® contains guaranteed potency of these 6 highly-studied strains of bacteria.

Probiotics for Dogs

Probiotic Miracle®

A probiotic formula backed by science... Proven by cats and dogs.

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Nusentia® is home of America's #1 probiotic for dogs, Probiotic Miracle®. From Raw & Grain-Free dog food to natural enzymes, at Nusentia®, we elevate pet nutrition beyond human standards. Our products are used and respected worldwide by top trainers, breeders, veterinarians, kennels, and caring pet owners who know the value of providing great nutrition to their pets.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.

* Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the site owner, unless otherwise noted. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of our experts and community. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions for your pet based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified veterinarian or health care professional.

Disclaimer: Individual results may vary from animal to animal. It is your responsibility to discuss this information with your vet and make sure it is appropriate for you pet's health. The information is not a substitute for an examination, checkup, or treatment when your pet has a health problem.