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Pets and probiotics: can I give my dog kefir?

by Sarah Spence

From Freddies and Fidos to Bellas and Baileys, we know the doggos in your life bring you happiness, joy, chewed up shoes and slobbery balls. 

And we also know you want to give them the very best to keep them healthy, vibrant and full of energy.

So, what about probiotic drinks like kefir? We all know that kefir is great for humans, but what about our pampered pooches (or feline friends, for that matter)?

 

Is kefir safe for dogs?

Yup, it sure is! That said, it’s important to consider your individual pupper’s overall diet and health needs. But in general, probiotics like those in kefir have been found to be safe for dogs to take. Yay!

And if you're wondering what the heck this kefir stuff even is, know this: kefir is a cultured, fermented drink that’s a bit like kombucha. It’s made using a starter of yeast, protein and good bacteria.

When you combine this starter (known as kefir grains) with liquid – usually milk or water – the good bacteria multiply and ferment the sugars. 

What’s left is a seriously delish, probiotic-filled kefir with awesome benefits, like:

  • helping to treat digestive issues
  • lowering UTI (urinary tract infection) rates in women
  • reducing colds in kids at daycare
  • helping to lower overall inflammation and improve immunity
  • reducing allergy reactions and asthma responses
  • potentially playing a protective role against cancer cells
  • potentially containing something that reduces breast cancer cell growth.

There are loads of studies on the health benefits of kefir if you’re keen to learn more. 

So, if it’s so great for us, why not share it with our four-legged buddies? Surely they could also benefit from those amazing probiotics, right?

 

Health benefits of kefir for dogs

Good news: just as they are for humans, the probiotics found in kefir are awesome for our doggos. In fact, pupper-specific research has shown that these incredible probiotics can help our dogs by:


    Doggos with digestive issues

    Probiotics are particularly good for dogs that have taken antibiotics or had a recent bout of diarrhoea. 

    That’s because antibiotics and diarrhoea can both do a number on the balance of good and bacteria in your dog’s gut. And an unhealthy bacterial balance can lead to longer-term digestive problems and health issues. 

    Probiotics are amazing at helping to restore balance and getting your pooch’s tummy back on track. 

     

    Boosting your buddy’s immune system

    Your dog’s gut, just like your own, acts as an immune barrier. What does that mean? Well, simply put, your gut plays an important role in protecting your body from toxins, bacteria, viruses and other potential nasties. In fact, some experts estimate that up to 70 per cent of your immune system is located in your gut.

    And research into the benefits of probiotics for dogs has shown that probiotic use may increase immunity markers for them too, especially in older dogs.

    That’s great news for anyone wanting to give their ageing doggo a much-needed immune system boost.

     

    Your pooch’s prickly skin conditions

    Finally, much like probiotics may help to reduce eczema in babies and toddlers, they might also help to keep puppies from developing the condition.

    More research is definitely needed, but these early results are a promising sign that probiotics really can benefit your doggo’s health in several ways.

     

    So how much kefir for dogs?

    how much kefir for dogs

    Dogs are generally smaller than humans, and they vary quite a bit in size between breeds. On top of that, they typically have more limited diets than we do. 

    So how much kefir should you serve your dog? The answer is very much “It depends.”

    First up, if you’ve never given your dog kefir before, it’s really important to start slowly. 

    Depending on your pupper’s size, you could start with a quarter or even an eighth of a teaspoon, then increase this over a week or two up to:

    • 1 teaspoon for small dogs.
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons for medium dogs.
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons for big dogs.

    And of course, if you notice their poop getting overly sloppy (sorry, we had to go there), reduce the dosage!

     

    Is kefir safe for cats?

    When it comes to the benefits of kefir, we can’t forget our feline friends! 

    The good news is that kefir is safe for cats (keeping in mind their overall health and dietary needs).

    And just as they do for dogs (and humans), the probiotics in kefir may provide a range of health benefits for cats. There have been fewer studies on probiotic use with cats than with dogs or humans, but the research out there looks promising.

     

    Kefir for the whole family

    What about kefir for the rest of the family? Find out more about kefir’s amazing health benefits for humans.


    Sarah Spence
    Sarah Spence

    Author




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