You might have heard that probiotics are good for a dog's gastrointestinal health. You might have also noticed also noticed more and more dog biscuits and treats containing yogurt on the pet supply store shelves, prompting you to consider adding yogurt into your canine companion’s menu.
So the ultimate question is, is yogurt good for dogs?
Although many pet owners feed their dogs yogurt without issue, veterinarians generally do not recommend feeding yogurt to dogs. While pure yogurt doesn't pose any toxicity to dogs, some dogs are lactose intolerant and need to avoid dairy products, including yogurt.
Whether or not your dog is lactose intolerant, you may also want do more research into the recent studies that have shown disturbing (and scary) facts about commercial dog food, including how it can drastically shorten canine lifespans. You can read more about this troubling research here.
Many forms of yogurts designed for humans also contain sugars and additives that aren't optimal for the canine diet. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in some yogurt formulations, is actually extremely topic for dogs and can actually lead to a rapid drop in blood sugar causing potentially fatal seizures.
If you want your dog to have the probiotic benefits of yogurt - which is certainly good for his intestinal health and can help nutritionally manage diarrhea issues - veterinarians generally recommend giving dogs probiotic treats formulated specifically for the canine digestive system instead of yogurt.
If you want your dog to get the benefits of probiotics in their diet, Purina Fortiflora is the probiotic supplement most recommended by veterinarians.
Purina Fortiflora contains guaranteed live probiotic cultures, as well as a specially formulated strain of probiotics designed to promote intestinal health in dogs (and cats). It can also help nutritionally manage diarrhea issues.
You can get a great deal on the #1 veterinarian recommended probiotic supplement for pets here.
YOGURT’S NUTRITIONAL VALUE
Yogurt is a source of calcium and protein for promoting bone and muscle health. Yogurt also contains potassium, a mineral that acts as an electrolyte to preserve an ideal balance of fluid in your dog’s body.
Potassium is also responsible for regulating enzyme function and maintaining healthy nerves and muscles. Potassium plays a key role in your dog’s heart function.
The magnesium in yogurt is an essential mineral for aiding the body’s absorption of important vitamins and nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and vitamins C and E.
BE ALERT FOR SIGNS OF LACTOSE INTOLERANCE
If you are going to feed your dog yogurt, you want to make sure he/she is not lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is a common affliction in cats. The incidence of lactose intolerance is considerably lower in dogs, but some do suffer from the condition.
Pets that are lactose intolerant lack lactase, the enzyme in the intestine that breaks down the lactose sugars in milk. The result is undigested lactose that passes through the gastrointestinal tract, leading to abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating and diarrhea.
These are also symptoms that can arise from eating many types of commercial dog foods - you can find out more about the potential danger of certain commercial dog foods here.
If your dog exhibits any of these signs shortly after eating daily products, such as milk, cheese, ice cream or yogurt, then these edibles are to be avoided in his diet.
If your dog is lactose intolerant but you want him/her to get the probiotic benefits found in yogurt, veterinarians highly recommend offering your dog Purina Fortiflora.
READ THE PRODUCT LABEL
While your furry family member may be the least finicky diner in the household, there are a few important things to consider when shopping for yogurt for dogs.
Plain, nonfat yogurt is the best choice. It does not contain sugar. Too much sugar is not good for any of us, pets included.
This yogurt variation is also low in fat, which will be easier on your pet’s digestive system and minimize his chance of developing pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires hospitalization.
Nonfat, plain yogurt is also lower in calories, which will prevent your dog from packing on extra pounds.
If you wish to offer him a rare treat of flavored yogurt, strawberry, blueberry and vanilla are all acceptable choices, but be sure to select those that do not contain any artificial sweeteners. Aspartame and sucralose can pose mild side effects to your dog, such as stomach upset, while xylitol has toxic consequences if consumed by a dog.
Even stevia, a natural sweetener, can cause a dramatic drop in your dog’s blood pressure. For the safest and healthiest option, select a plain, nonfat, unsweetened yogurt, and stir in a couple of sliced strawberries instead.
THE BENEFITS OF YOGURT
You should select yogurts that contain live bacterial cultures, also known as probiotics or good bacteria, which assist in your dog’s digestive health. Greek yogurt is more concentrated than traditional yogurt, and it contains a slightly higher amount of the beneficial probiotics.
The specific organism is called acidophilus, and its key role is to keep a healthy balance of good bacteria in your dog’s intestines while keeping the bad bacteria to a minimum.
When your dog takes antibiotics to fight an infection, one unfortunate side effect is that the drug kills the good bacteria as well as the bad. Offering your dog yogurt several hours after he takes his medicine will help to replace some of the good bacteria. The probiotics also fight yeast infections, which are not uncommon in young, growing puppies or in dogs that are plagued with recurrent ear and skin infections.
Ideally, the best way to include probiotics in your dog's diet is with probiotic treats that are formulated specifically for canines. Purina Fortiflora for example includes a special probiotic culture that is designed to promote immune health and offers numerous gastrointestinal benefits. You can get a great deal on Purina Fortiflora probiotics here.
SPOONED, BAKED, LICKED AND ENJOYED
Just a spoonful or two a day will make your dog happy and provide him with some added nutrients and benefits. Spoon it on top of his food or offer it to him for dessert at the end of the day. You can also make him a special yogurt treat by blending a smoothie of plain yogurt and fresh bananas and strawberries.
Alternately, if you enjoy baking homemade biscuit treats for your dog, dip half of each baked and cooled biscuit in yogurt. If you enjoy plain yogurt as part of your daily dietary routine, let your dog lick the lid before you discard it. He will look forward to this treat and to taking part in your daily ritual.
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