Better Gut Health with Food, Prebiotics & Probiotics

Last Updated on 2021-11-18 by Admin

Based on research articles, scientists don’t agree that probiotics and prebiotics help with dog gut issues. However, some of the most recent studies looked at probiotics with a diet change to address Gastrointestinal diseases in dogs.

Introducing a change in food with probiotics and prebiotics might achieve the desired result. That is based on a very recent study(2). The findings might help the many dog owners of breeds with known gut or stomach issues. The Boxer breed is just one of them. Owners of a Boxer with Gastrointestinal issues might be interested in the study done with Boxers(1)

Probiotics Alone might not be the Answer

Many dog owners deal with a dog with constant diarrhea, upset stomach and other digestive related issues. Often a dog might also deal with food sensitivity. It can be challenging to taking care of such dogs at times. The solution is often not straight forward. Because the gut affects many aspects of a dog’s health, it is vital to find a solution to the gut issue. The gut influences many aspects of canine health, including the immune system.

Probiotics Enrich the Gut Flora

Probiotics are bacteria that influence the gut microbiome. It is hoped to introduce more of the healthy bacteria to the gut by ingesting the probiotics. While probiotics are popular, one should be well informed before administering them. That is especially true when the goal is to improve the overall gut health.

Each probiotic brand will have different strains of bacteria and different amounts of each bacteria. Those details are important and affect the dog’s digestion. Some brands might cause Your dog to digest slower, and others cause faster digestion. Another thing to be aware of, some products are for short term use only. A fact that often is overlooked or ignored.

Holistic veterinarians or pet nutritionists can help find a natural solution to gut issues. Probiotics alone might not be sufficient. That has also been my experience with Annie.

In any case, before giving probiotics, check the label on the dog food and supplements. Many of them might already contain probiotics.

Wikipedia has good article on gut flora.

Prebiotics Promote Gut Bacteria Growth

Prebiotics are used to promote the growth of the bacteria in the gut. Many probiotics products also contain prebiotics. Read the label. And as with Probiotics, check the dog food and supplements labels for prebiotics.

For more information on prebiotics please read the following article.

Importance of Gut Health

The gut influences many aspects of human and canine health. The gut microbiome educates the immune system in dogs as well as humans. When the immune system weakens, the body cannot fend off disease effectively. And that increases the risk of severe diseases like cancer.

Thus, one should do whatever it takes to address a pets’ Gastrointestinal issues. That might be easier said than done. Often there are multiple underlying issues. A good veterinarian or a dog nutritionist can be of help. But don’t be surprised if the dog owner is left to deal with those issues in the long run.

It took me over a year with Annie to find a solution via trial and error. And there are intermittent issues even now. Much of Annie’s journey got documented in articles related to feeding Kibble, Home-Cooked and Raw Food.

Dealing with Dog Gut Issues

What follows are the steps I took to find a solution for Annie. By no means is this a scientific or proven method. Changing Annie’s food made things better, partially by removing food that many Boxers don’t tolerate.

As there are so many potential causes, I established a road map for dealing with Annie’s issues when she was just a puppy. I doubt that an older dog would tolerate the constant changes.

This rough guide helped me find the various foods and feeding types that worked best. I had tried each of the mentioned steps below.

Try feeding less. Overfeeding can be problematic

If the dog is overweight, try to feed less for a few weeks. Overeating can overburden the digestive system. Also, when Dogs eat too fast, it can lead to stomach issues.

Experimented with feeding two times a day versus three times a day.

If the dog gets food two times a day, try three times a day, but smaller meals. If you feed three times a day, try to provide only twice. However, a puppy most likely will require three meals a day for proper development.

Find & Eliminate foods known to cause issues with the breed

Breed-specific websites often have a list of foods that a particular breed does not tolerate well. Online forums dedicated to specific dog breeds are also an excellent starting point.

For Boxers, Chicken is one meat that is known to be problematic. Also found that Pork is not suitable for Annie. When it comes to starch, cooked white rice worked fine. Brown rice, however, caused issues. Cooked Oatmeal works very well. Buckwheat, regular Pasta, bread, and barley are all OK. But Pasta and bread should be given rarely. Also, most vegetables and legumes are fine when cooked well and shredded.

Eliminate foods known to cause issues, one by one

When feeding kibble, there is no way to remove just one ingredient. In that case, read the label and try to find dog food without known issue foods. But the change in kibble needs to be introduced very slowly. There is also some breed-specific kibble. Maybe try that. Give it a few weeks and see how the dog adjusts. If things don’t work out, go back to the original food.

When feeding home-cooked or Raw food

To find foods not tolerated requires a strategy. For that reason, remove only one potentially problematic food at a time. Then stay the course for two to three weeks, giving the body a chance to adapt. Then see if anything has changed. You may have to repeat this step multiple times.

Try to change the type of food

Suppose there was no success with the steps above. Then You may have to switch from kibble to home-cooked food. Again the change needs to be introduced slowly over a week or two.

If that doesn’t work, go back to the original food or make one more change and introduce a raw meat diet. Much depends on how things progress. In Annie’s, case home-cooked food did not cause issues. But she started making a fuzz and not eat after about one year. That is when we introduced a raw meat diet.

Several studies I read suggest that a raw meat diet can help dogs with GI issues.

Should you feed Your dog raw and have issues, try cooked food. If that doesn’t work, try kibble. As in the above steps, introduce the new food slowly over a few weeks. I know a dog that got fed raw food but never did well on that food. However, that dog did well on kibble.

Introduce Homemade Gelatin

Homemade gelatin is made by cooking bones for hours and reduce it till it becomes as gel. You can read more about how to make it and its health benefits in my article on homemade gelatin.

While gelatin is often used for joint health, it is also is beneficial to digestion. However, only make it with bones from meat that your dog is fine with. I never used chicken bones because Annie has problems when eating chicken. So I make the gelatin with duck bones or veal bones.

Not all Probiotics Work as Expected

Once we got the food sorted out, things were much better. However, hardly a month would go by with some diarrhea or other issue. That is when probiotics got introduced. One of the books I own, written by a pet nutritionist, was helpful and mentioned some probiotics worth trying.

When it comes to probiotics, be aware that not all will work as expected. I tried several brands of probiotics. Some also included prebiotics. With some brands, Annie’s digested food faster. But digestion can also be slower.

Probiotics that Helped Annie

There were a couple of brands that stood out. One is a green powder that includes soil organisms. The brand is Garden of Life Primal Defense HSO Probiotic Formula.

Another product that worked well was Fera Pet Organics – Probiotic + 5 Billion CFUs Per Scoop.

Currently, Annie takes NuPro Joint and Immunity supplement for her torn ligament. NuPro already contains prebiotics and probiotics. And Annie is doing well on that formula. That supplement works excellent with raw and home-cooked food. Ever since Annie is on that supplement, her poop is well-formed, and I have not seen diarrhea in months. That is a first. This supplement does and amazing job on Annie’s well being, glad I found it.

The NuPro Joint and Immunity supplement is Probably less suitable for kibble as the supplement also contains vitamins. To get the full list of vitamins, contact the vendor. The vitamins are not on the label for some reason.


It is not just a matter of sprinkling some probiotics in the food for a dog owner with an animal suffering from Gastrointestinal issues.

Veterinarians and pet nutritionists can help, but the cost will be an issue for many dog owners. This issue may not get resolved in a reasonable time frame.

A few months back, I found out that Annie’s mother also had digestion issues. Feeding a breed-specific kibble resolved the issue. Sometime the solution is not that complicated.

Some of the newer research suggests that altering the diet and adding probiotics solves Gastrointestinal issues.


(1)Marelli SP, Fusi E, Giardini A, et al. Effects of probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus D2/CSL (CECT 4529) on the nutritional and health status of boxer dogs. Vet Rec. 2020;187(4):e28. doi:10.1136/vr.105434

Marelli SP, Fusi E, Giardini A, Martino PA, Polli M, Bruni N, Rizzi R. Effects of probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus D2/CSL (CECT 4529) on the nutritional and health status of boxer dogs. Vet Rec. 2020 Aug 22;187(4):e28. doi: 10.1136/vr.105434. Epub 2020 Mar 16. PMID: 32179577; PMCID: PMC7456698.

(2)Jensen AP, Bjørnvad CR. Clinical effect of probiotics in prevention or treatment of gastrointestinal disease in dogs: A systematic review. J Vet Intern Med. 2019;33(5):1849-1864. doi:10.1111/jvim.15554

Jensen AP, Bjørnvad CR. Clinical effect of probiotics in prevention or treatment of gastrointestinal disease in dogs: A systematic review. J Vet Intern Med. 2019 Sep;33(5):1849-1864. doi: 10.1111/jvim.15554. Epub 2019 Jul 16. PMID: 31313372; PMCID: PMC6766488.

(3)Alessandri G, Argentini C, Milani C, et al. Catching a glimpse of the bacterial gut community of companion animals: a canine and feline perspective. Microb Biotechnol. 2020;13(6):1708-1732. doi:10.1111/1751-7915.13656

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