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Is live bacteria from yogurt good for your pet's gut?

Black pug with yogurt in his mouth advice

A vet can give advice on how to help your pet's gut health.

© Shutterstock

Live bacteria can be beneficial to a pet's health, to its gut. So does that include yogurt too? Read on to find out.

By Dr Alice Watson MA VetMB MRCVS

Updated on the 12/08/2020, 09:18

Pet’s intestines are full of lots of different types of bugs (microbes). Probiotics are live microbes (e.g. bacteria, yeast, viruses) that are beneficial to health when eaten. Some of the gut microbes are ‘good’ and some may be harmful if too many grow. You may be wondering if live bacteria in yogurt can help your pets gut and work as a probiotic. At the moment there aren’t any studies to suggest that yogurts do work as probiotics for dogs, and no evidence to show yogurt is beneficial to your pet’s health.

What can I give my dog as a probiotic?

There are various specially formulated probiotic products available. Probiotics may come as pastes, powders or capsules, and there are lots of options available. You may want to ask a vet about which type they recommend. It is best to look for a dog- or cat-specific product that has been studied to prove that it works.

Is yogurt good for dogs?

Anecdotally some people recommend yogurt for dogs. Having said that, there isn’t any scientific evidence to say that yogurt is good for dogs. Yogurt is relatively high in calcium and protein, but if your dog is being fed a good commercial diet, it should already be getting all the calcium and protein it needs from its diet. You should not feed yogurts containing lots of fat or sugar, as this may cause your dog to be overweight. You should never feed yogurts containing the sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and can cause the blood sugar levels to drop dangerously low.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk 

How much yogurt can my dog have?

The amount of yogurt that your dog can eat will depend on several things. There is no evidence to give specific guidelines on how much yogurt should be fed, but it should not form a major part of the daily calorie intake. Giving too much yogurt may mean your dog isn’t eating a balanced diet, it may cause a tummy upset and it may cause your dog to become overweight. You should always check the label of a yogurt pot to see its ingredients (you must check that there is no sweetener called xylitol), calorie and fat content.

A larger, heavier dog will be able to eat more yogurt than a toy-breed dog. Other things to consider are how much other food your dog is getting, whether your dog is overweight and how active your dog is. It is also important to consider any underlying health issues, for example a high-fat yogurt would not be appropriate for a dog with pancreatitis.

Can my dog eat natural yogurt?

Dogs can be fed natural yogurt, providing that it does not contain the sweetener xylitol. It is important not to feed too much yogurt to your dog, and it should only be given in small amounts.

Can dogs have Yoplait yogurt?

There is no evidence to say that Yoplait yogurt is unsafe for dogs. It is important to always check the label to ensure that it does not contain the sweetener xylitol. You should only give a small amount, and it is important not to feed too much.

Can my dog eat greek yogurt?

Dogs can be fed Greek yogurt, providing that it does not contain xylitol. Ideally dogs shouldn’t be fed yogurt that is too high in fat, so you may like to choose a low-fat or light version. You should only give a small amount, and it is important not to feed too much yogurt to your dog.

When should I talk to a vet?

You may like to talk to a vet about ways you can help your pet's gut health. It could be good to ask a vet if you aren’t sure whether yogurt is appropriate for your dog, or if you want to know what things to look out for with your dog.

How should I address this issue with a vet?

Vets are well placed to help you, if you aren’t sure what is best to feed your dog. If you have any specific questions about diet and gut health, it is best to ask a vet and to find out what their recommendations are. If you aren’t sure about why they have recommended a specific product or diet, you may want to ask them what evidence there is for their recommendation.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk