Prebiotics & Probiotics: Which should I give my dog?

As humans we are aware of probiotic food sources which we associate with maintaining proper digestion and staying regular. Many people are also aware that prebiotics exist yet may not be entirely certain of the role they play in maintaining gut health. Finally, the two working in conjunction with one another are now known as synbiotics. Synbiotics are a topic that few pet nutritionists have dabbled with and are still not fully aware of the benefits they pose.

As we know many of the topics in human health play a positive role in crossing over to aid in modifying our furry friend’s diet. A lot of pet owners may find their dog having difficulties going to the bathroom or incur incidences of frequent diarrhea bouts. Kennel dogs are often times subjected to studies to alleviate the instance of diarrhea, a study done in the UK found significant decreases in diarrhea when feeding a pre and probiotic supplement1.

Prebiotics: are types of dietary fiber that will effectively feed the healthy bacteria residing in the digestive tract. This will then offer added benefits when feeding probiotics, allowing the probiotic bacteria cultures to thrive. Prebiotics also play a role in stimulating the immune system by increasing beneficial microbe populations2.

Probiotics: probiotics are live microorganisms that work to aid in digestion. They are a source of healthy bacteria that reside in your digestive tract, working to fight off bad bacteria to maintain a proper balance. Probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties as well which modulate the expression of important immune mechanisms. 

Ways to Incorporate Pre and Probiotics

As mentioned above prophylactic supplementation is a method used to provide pre and probiotics. However, pre and probiotics can often be found in the food that you may already have in your kitchen. Always check with a veterinarian about what may be healthy for your pet to personally consume but here is a list of ingredients that you can incorporate into your dog’s everyday routine to support healthy gut and immune function.



Cottage cheese (small amounts- 2 tablespoons)

Yogurt (small amounts as lactose may upset stomach)



Sweet potato


Homemade apple sauce (no sugar, or sweetener)

Pumpkin (canned with no additives or cooked)

Of course, as with anything there is a matter of too much of a good thing can turn bad. Pro and prebiotics should be used sparingly and with the guidance of a veterinarian as to maintain proper pet health and not damage the intestinal wall. Always contact a professional before making any drastic modifications to your dog’s diet.




  1. Rose, L., Rose, J., Gosling, S., & Holmes, M. (2017). Efficacy of a Probiotic‐Prebiotic Supplement on Incidence of Diarrhea in a Dog Shelter: A Randomized, Double‐Blind, Placebo‐Controlled Trial. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine31(2), 377–382.


  1. Shokryazdan, P., Faseleh Jahromi, M., Navidshad, B., Liang, J.B. Effects of prebiotics on immune system and cytokine expression. Med Microbiol Immunol. 2017 Feb;206(1):1-9. doi: 10.1007/s00430-016-0481-y. Epub 2016 Oct 4. PMID: 27704207.