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Postbiotics for Dogs: Understanding Their Role in Enhancing Gut Health

  • 6 min read

When we talk about the gut health of our dogs, we often hear terms like prebiotics and probiotics. But have you heard about postbiotics? It’s a relatively newer kind of “biotic” that’s gaining a lot of recognition in commercial products.

In fact, it’s even claimed that postbiotics are just as beneficial for dogs as probiotics. In this article, we’ll try to decode whether or not postbiotics can help in promoting a dog’s health and well-being by discussing their various health benefits.

But first, let’s start by understanding what exactly are postbiotics.

What are Postbiotics? 

Dogs have diverse gut microbiomes with varying types of probiotics, but not all dogs have the same probiotic lineup in their guts. This variability can be due to various factors such as breed, diet, genetics, and overall health.

Probiotics are considered good bacteria because they help in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, aid in digestion, support nutrient absorption and also contribute to a healthy immune function. 

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a type of soluble fiber that remains undigested as they pass through your dog’s digestive system. When they reach the large intestine intact, they serve as food for the probiotics or the beneficial gut bacteria. When probiotics “eat” prebiotics, it generates postbiotics.

When a dog lacks a particular probiotic or has insufficient amounts, it results in a shortage of a corresponding beneficial postbiotic. Therefore, supplementing their diets with postbiotics can provide the benefits that they may not be getting naturally.

Interestingly, many researchers have found that postbiotics are responsible for most of the benefits that were previously attributed to probiotics.

Examples of Postbiotics Found in Dogs

There are several types of postbiotics that are produced when probiotics consume prebiotics. Some of the most common ones found in a dog’s body include:

  • Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) - These postbiotics serve as an important source of energy for the cells lining the colon. They contribute significantly to the maintenance of a healthy gut lining or the gut barrier. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory properties of these fatty acids help in reducing gut inflammation, that in turn promotes a healthy immune response.
  • Organic acids - These acids help in regulating the pH level in your dog’s gut. They create a slightly acidic environment that helps in inhibiting the growth of bad or harmful bacteria. Some common examples of organic acids produced in dogs include lactic acid, acetic acid, and citric acid.
  • Bacteriocins - These are antimicrobial peptides or proteins that also help in maintaining an ideal gut environment that can promote the growth of good or beneficial bacteria while restricting the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Enzymes - Postbiotic enzymes like proteases, amylases, and lipases help with the breakdown and digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. They help in maintaining a healthy digestive system and better nutrient absorption in dogs.

          Health Benefits of Postbiotics for Dogs

          As mentioned earlier, postbiotics offer a range of health benefits that were previously attributed to probiotics. These benefits include:

          1. Improved Gut Health

          Postbiotics can help in improving your dog’s gut health by:

          • Strengthening the intestinal barrier, which helps restrict the entry of various harmful substances;
          • Inhibiting the growth of bad or harmful bacteria; 
          • And by reducing inflammation.
            2. Boost the Immune System

            Postbiotics can strengthen your dog’s immune system by stimulating the production of various immune cells like T-cells and B-cells. These cells play a crucial role in protecting the body against various infections and maintaining proper immune function.

            Additionally, postbiotics can also help reduce gut inflammation which helps in promoting a healthier immune response.

            3. Promote Regular Bowel Movement

            Proper digestion and regular bowel movements are often associated with a healthy gut microbiome. Since postbiotics help contribute to a healthy gut, they also help in promoting regular bowel movements in dogs.

            Additionally, postbiotics can also positively affect gut motility, which allows the food to move smoothly through the digestive tract, reducing issues like diarrhea or constipation.

            4. Enhanced Nutrient Absorption

            Postbiotic digestive enzymes help in breaking down macronutrients like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. This helps in optimizing their body's ability to extract and absorb nutrients from the diet.

            Postbiotics vs. Probiotics in Commercial Dog Food

            If you read your dog food labels, you might have seen brands claiming their pet food is either rich in prebiotics or probiotics. This gives pet owners a hassle-free option of feeding their dogs all the “biotics” directly through their regular meals. However, you still need to consider the quality and viability of these supplements.

            For example, probiotics are live bacteria that can get destroyed when traditional pet food is cooked at high temperatures. So even if the label says the food contains probiotics, these dead bacteria wouldn’t provide the intended health benefits.

            Postbiotics, however, don’t have this problem as they aren’t live organisms. They can easily be stored and added to dog food without affecting its health properties.

            Therefore, while probiotics can offer many health benefits, they aren’t a viable option for most traditional dog foods. Postbiotics are a much more stable and effective option that can provide similar health benefits to your dog.

            You should consider all such factors and properly read and understand the ingredients list when buying commercial dog food.

            Best Sources of Postbiotics for Dogs

            Postbiotics occur naturally as an output of probiotic fermentation. But you can still supplement your dog’s diet with specific kinds of postbiotic supplements. These supplements would be formulated to provide the required amount of beneficial postbiotics that can support the gut health and overall well-being of your dog.

            However, when you’re thinking about adding postbiotic supplements to your dog’s diet, make sure you talk to a veterinarian first. They’ll help you understand whether or not your dog needs postbiotics and what kind of postbiotics would best suit them according to their health requirements.

            If you want to include some natural postbiotic food sources, you can consider feeding your dog:

            Prebiotic Rich Foods
            Feeding your dog prebiotic-rich foods like bananas, chicory roots, oats, apples, and pumpkins can indirectly lead to an increase in postbiotics. Since your dog already has billions of live beneficial bacteria in their gut, adding more prebiotics would increase its fermentation. This, in turn, would lead to increased production of postbiotics.

            Probiotic-Rich Foods
            Similarly, you can also increase the level of postbiotics in your dog’s gut by feeding them foods that contain probiotics, like yogurt or kefir. You can feed your dog these foods as meal toppers or occasional treats.

            However, when buying these food items, you need to make sure that they are dog-friendly. This means that it shouldn’t contain any additional ingredients, seasonings, artificial sweeteners, or flavorings, as that can be harmful to dogs.

            How to Add Postbiotics to Your Dog’s Diet?

            Whether you choose commercial postbiotic supplements or natural food sources, you should first consult with a veterinarian to understand your dog’s health requirements. Remember that if you have a perfectly healthy dog who eats a well-balanced meal, you might not need to give them any additional supplements.

            If you choose to give your dog probiotic or postbiotic supplements, you should start with small amounts and adjust the dosage according to your dog’s digestive health. You should also monitor your dog’s reaction to these supplements as, in some cases, dogs can have an adverse reaction to any change in their diet.

            If you notice signs of continued digestive distress or intolerances after eating postbiotic-rich foods or supplements, you should take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

            Summing Up: Postbiotics for Dogs

            Postbiotics offer a range of health benefits for a dog. These supplements can help improve their gut health, promote better nutrient absorption, boost the immune system, and support regular bowel movements.

            When choosing to feed postbiotics to your dog, you can easily buy specific kinds of commercial supplements that would be formulated to support their gut health and overall well-being. You can also consider adding natural sources of prebiotics and probiotcs, as they would indirectly lead to an increase in postbiotics.

            However, before getting started, we’ll recommend you consult with a veterinarian and determine the best supplement options for your dog.


            Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about postbiotics and their health benefits for dogs:

            1. Which is better, probiotics or postbiotics?

            Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that live in your dog’s gut, and postbiotics are generated when probiotics “eat” prebiotics. You should consider various factors to determine which one of these “biotics” are better for your dog.

            Ultimately, you should start by assessing your dog’s health needs and consult with a veterinarian to understand what kind of supplements would be appropriate for them.

            2. What food products have postbiotics?

            The best food products for postbiotics would be the ones that are rich in either prebiotics or postbiotics. These food items would indirectly lead to an increase of postbiotics in your dog’s gut.




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