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5 things to know about Yogurt & Probiotics for Dogs – Best Brands to Buy

probiotic-live-cultures-yogPlain 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

  1. Yoghurt is good for dogs with upset tummies

  2. Look for yoghurt with Live and Active Cultures and the *CFU stated

  3. Plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt?

  4. How much yoghurt can I give the dog?

  5. Yoghurt vs Probiotics supplements

ONE/ Yoghurt is good for dogs with upset tummies

yoghurt-frosty-paws
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.

singapore-yoghurt-ingredien
Different products may contain different strains of bacteria.

 

TWO/ Look for yoghurt with Live and Active Cultures and the *CFU stated

probiotic-live-cultures-in-yoghurt

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:

compare-plain-yoghurt-singa

 

THREE/ Plain yogurt or Plain Greek Yogurt?

natural-or-greek-yoghurt
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?

yoghurt-serving-size-for-do
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.

However,

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

Also,

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.


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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.

singapore dog food


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12 Comments

  1. We all love yogurt. We get to like the yogurt container every morning and sometimes we get yogurt or frozen yogurt as treats, but the plain kind, no sugar or stuff like that.

  2. The peeps eat it but don’t give it to the “zoo”. I’ll see if they’ll consider it.

    • Ooops, I hope the zoo sees a change in policy soon. Donna doesn’t really care about the health benefits… it’s just tasty and anything tasty is good to Donna!! :P :P :P

  3. Hi Y’all!

    Haven’t had any lately, but do love yogurt, especially the Greek.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    • I’m sure I don’t mind any yoghurt, but Greek is too tangy for mom’s tastebuds so mostly we do plain :P Glad to find a yoghurt lover in you!!

  4. We give the dogs yogurt. I usually buy plain non-fat but sometimes I buy plain non-fat greek. I wish some of the packaged probiotics worked as well as the yogurt. It would make traveling with them easier, but the dogs seem to do best on the yogurt. We just give a spoonful mixed into their food. Thanks so much for joining the hop!

    • I don’t know enough about packaged probiotics. But yes, yoghurt works very well at the moment for me too. I tried to pack yoghurt paws to the beach once (pictured), but yes, they melt too fast!!!! *sad*

      The wysong food Donna is eating comes with multi-strain probiotics with the CFU reported, so I also don’t really worry about the lack of variety of strains in the yoghurt I buy. :P Writing this article definitely helped me cut down the time spent on the yoghurt aisle. HAHA! :P

  5. Thank you SO much for such an informative post and for sharing it on the blog hop.

    I used to give my dogs Yogurt, then we switched to Kefir and now their probiotics are in a powder form that was recommended by our vet. It gets sprinkled on their meal twice a day and neither one of them seems to have an issue with it.

    I think it’s so good to give our pups probiotics, I mean, we all know they aren’t discretionary when it comes to what goes in their mouths. :-) We have to help them out however we can!

  6. Ann

    Also good to note are the different grades of probiotic bacteria; lactobacillus is considered the highest grade of probiotic bacteria because it is 100% safe and effective across all its different strains. Lactobacillus is also the only grade of bacteria that can colonize multiple parts of the gut.

    Lower-grade strains, like streptococcus or enterococcus are not as effective because 1) they have some bad cousin-strains (like how strep throat is caused by a strain of streptococcus), and 2) they may only colonise the lower areas of the gut. Some brands use more resilient lower-grade strains to boost their CFU numbers, but it won’t make much of a difference in overall effectiveness because it only affects one small area of the lower gut.

    Another important thing to note is probiotics for humans vs. probiotics for dogs. Many people think that giving probiotics for humans to their dogs would be great because it’s human-grade. However as humans have a much longer digestive tract, our requirements are different than dogs, who have very short digestive tracts. This means that what would be beneficial for humans, such as a high number of different bacterial strains (say between 10 to 15), may not be good for dogs. Having too many strains try and colonize the same parts of the gut would be dysfunctional as the probiotics, while all good bacteria, would be competing with one another for a limited amount of resources in the gut.

    Instead of having so many strains, it would be good to have different strains of probiotics that target different key areas of a dog’s gut, so that they don’t compete with one another and can grow and thrive. So it may be worthwhile to check out HUMAN-GRADE probiotics with PET-SPECIFIC formulas :)

    • Thanks for the detailed analysis. I have sent the same query myself about enterococcus to AVA regarding a supplement for dogs that a vendor was keen to advertise. No response from AVA just an angry vendor, LOL. We do get our therapeutic-grade probiotic gel from the vet, but for everyday use, yogurt has so far been good enough ;)

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