Plain yogurt is a very yummy and useful “people” food for dog. But there are some many different brands and categories of yogurt in the supermarket aisle, sometimes I have trouble picking for for Donna and I. Here’s what I learnt and some yogurt products I now share with Donna on a regularly basis. :)
In this article, we discuss
Yoghurt is good for dogs with upset tummies
Look for yoghurt with Live and Active Cultures and the *CFU stated
Plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt?
How much yoghurt can I give the dog?
Yoghurt vs Probiotics supplements
ONE/ Yoghurt is good for dogs with upset tummies
And also a cooling treat on hot days! Buy the tray to make your own frosty paws here.
Yogurt with Live and Active or Living cultures may help boost the good bacteria in the gut, versus the bad ones. This is because probiotics in yogurt are the good bacteria that consume the bad bacteria in the gut. This in turn helps promote digestion and the dog’s ability to better absorb the nutrients in her food. It also helps boost the immunity system and limits the growth of yeast.
A little yogurt can help dogs with upset tummies, but there are cases where yogurt is bad for dog. One, yogurt is made from milk so it may not be suitable for dogs that are lactose intolerant. And two, not all yogurt is beneficial to dogs. Some yogurt products can contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs, e.g. xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs.
It’s actually not difficult to pick a plain yogurt for Donna. The ingredients list I look out for is simple – Milk, Milk solids and Live cultures – that’s it.
Different products may contain different strains of bacteria.
TWO/ Look for yoghurt with Live and Active Cultures and the *CFU stated
Yup, not just any ‘ol yogurt will do. Not all plain yogurt are live and active. That means in certain yogurt products there isn’t enough of such cultures at significant levels for the yogurt to give you or your dog its healthful properties.
How do we know which plain yogurt products are probiotic? In some countries, certain conditions need to be met before yogurt companies can make a claim on their label about the presence of probiotics.
Down under, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) requires yogurt to contain at least 1,000,000 cfu* per gram microorganisms used in the fermentation . (* CFU – colony forming units) [source]
In the US, the Live and Active Culture seal shows you which refrigerated yogurt products contain at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. [source]
These standards provide a helpful guideline for selecting yogurt with significant levels of live and active cultures.
In Singapore, our “Food Regulations do not stipulate the minimum quantities of probiotic organisms to be present in a food product to qualify for the use of the claim ‘probiotic’. Food manufacturers have the responsibility to ensure and be able to justify that the quantities of viable probiotic organisms present in the food product are safe and suitable for consumption by the target group of consumers, and are sufficient to deliver their intended functions,” said Neo Mui Lee, AVA in our email correspondence.
Given that we have no clear requirements or definitions when it comes to labels, I selected yogurt for Donna and my consumption by cross-referencing the standards in other countries and the yogurt that meet these standards. They include:
THREE/ Plain yogurt or Plain Greek Yogurt?
Natural vs Greek yoghurt?
Both plain and plain Greek yogurt are made from the same ingredients – milk and live, active cultures. The difference lies in the fermented milk being strained twice for plain yogurt and three times for plain Greek yogurt. Hence, plain yogurt is runnier while plain Greek yogurt has a thicker consistency and tangier taste.
Plain Greek yogurt can be easier on dogs than plain yogurt, simply because more of the sugars that some dogs are lacto-intolerant to, has been strained away.
But Greek yogurt also has less calcium and more saturated fats than plain yoghurt (see table above). So unless you buy non-fat Greek yogurt for a dieting dog, plain Greek yoghurt is not going to be helpful for an overweight pet.
I do tend to buy more low fat plain yoghurt than Greek yoghurt, and it’s not just for the lower fat and higher calcium. The strong growth of the Greek yoghurt industry is reported to create industrial levels of acid whey by-product that is difficult to dispose. (news article) So plain yoghurt just appears to be comparatively more environmentally friendly. :P
FOUR/ How much yoghurt can I give the dog?
Tablespoon or teaspoon of yoghurt?
This really depends on how much the individual dog can take without showing symptoms of lacto-intolerance and having the runs.
In general, small dog owners will have learnt to give small dogs less of whatever food they should get compared to medium and big dog owners. In the case of yoghurt, consider a small teaspoon for small dogs and a tablespoon for big dogs and judge your dog’s reaction from there. ;)
FIVE/ Yoghurt vs Probiotics supplements
It seems not every human or dog has exactly the same set of good bacteria or flora in their gut, which is why a multi-strain probiotic supplement may perhaps be superior to yoghurt.
Not all probiotics are created equal, said Dr Gwee (consultant gastroenterologist at Gleneagles Hospital). Some probiotic products may have added prebiotics. Prebiotics are indigestible sugars that act as food for the good bacteria to feed on and grow. However, prebiotics may cause diarrhoea and excessive gas production. Probiotics prescribed by doctors have undergone stringent review and quality checks. These include scientific research that tests the contents of the probiotics and confirms its measurable benefits, Dr Gwee said. – Today Online, Benefits of Probiotics
A high-strength probiotic doesn’t necessarily provide the best benefits. High-strength probiotics have more than 10 billion CFU (colony forming units) per dose, said Ms Reutens (Ms Reutens, head dietitian and founder of Aptima Nutrition and Sports Consultants). …Only the viable organisms are considered to be probiotics. There is no consensus on the minimum number of micro-organisms that must be ingested to obtain a beneficial effect, said Ms Reutens. Ms Wong (a dietitian at the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics) agrees. Effective levels range widely, she said, depending on the probiotic strain. Some products are effective with 50 million bacterial cells, while others require more than one trillion per day. – Today Online, Benefits of Probiotics
So if I were in the market for a good probiotics supplement for Donna, I would consult with our vet to choose a quality product that:
- ideally has undergone review and quality checks that our vet will endorse and recommend
- has three strains or more of lactic acid bacteria
- and also a prebiotic component to encourage the growth of the good bacteria.
This is the probiotic pet gel that we use for Donna – Bene-Bac Plus Pet Gel. It was originally dispensed by our vet.
But since Donna’s gut health is generally fine, I’m happy with just rotating a small variety of plain yoghurt products for now.
Cool down with Spiffy ice cube trays! Shop here.