Dalmatian dog

 Probiotics are designed to improve digestive health.

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Do probiotics help a dog's skin?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Probiotics are designed to improve a dog's digestive health, but can they also be beneficial to their skin?

Just like us humans, dogs can take probiotics – although they are not the same ones. There are certain benefits to a dog being given probiotics and a vet is best placed to decide whether your pet should take them or not. But what exactly do probiotics do? Can they help a dog with skin problems? Read on to find out all about them.

What is a probiotic?

A probiotic is usually given as a paste, powder or tablet and contains live microorganisms (such as bacteria). The aim of these products is to improve digestive health by supporting a beneficial population of microorganisms within the intestines. This is often referred to as the gut biome or microbiota. Some research suggests that probiotics can be beneficial to health. You can speak to a vet about whether they would recommend a probiotic for your pet.

Will probiotics help my dog’s skin?

Probiotics are designed to act in the gastrointestinal tract, so they do not have direct effects on the skin. Having said that, they may promote a healthy digestive tract, which can benefit overall health. Some probiotic products also contain additional supplements, such as omega oils, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.

Can probiotics be used as a treatment for a dog's itchy skin?

Probiotics will not directly reduce skin itching, although it is possible that promoting gut health could reduce allergies that can lead to skin irritation. If your dog is itchy, it is important to book a vet appointment, as there are many different underlying causes of itchy skin. A vet will be able to suggest appropriate tests to help identify the cause of irritation, and can prescribe suitable treatments.

Can I put oral probiotic paste on my dog’s skin?

No, you should not put any products on your dog’s skin that are not designed to be used in this way. This could lead to further irritation and make the problem worse. It is best not to trial any home treatments and instead to seek veterinary advice as early as possible, to reduce the impact of a skin condition on your pet’s welfare and quality of life.

Can I give my dog a human probiotic?

No, dogs have different strains of microorganisms in their guts to people, so a human probiotic will not be effective. There are also many ingredients that are safe for human consumption that could be toxic to your pet, so you should avoid giving them any human supplements or medications.

Will a vet prescribe probiotics for my dog?

If a vet thinks that a probiotic product could be beneficial to your dog, then they might prescribe one. This might be, for example, following treatment with antibiotics or during recovery from vomiting and diarrhoea. If you want to start your pet on a probiotic treatment, it is best to speak to a vet first for advice, although there are products available that do not require a prescription.

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