Can Dogs Have Human Probiotics? A Vet Explains

If you’re already taking a probiotic supplement at home, you might wonder if you can share with your dog. Here’s what a vet has to say.

May 18, 2024·8 min read
Can Dogs Have Human Probiotics? A Vet Explains

Probiotics have become a big buzzword in the human healthcare industry. We see them in supplements and added to foods and personal hygiene products. If you’re already taking a probiotic supplement at home, you might be wondering: can dogs take human probiotics? 

Great question. 

In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of probiotics for both humans and canines, the similarities and differences between the human microbiome and the dog microbiome, and why our canine companions need dog probiotics that are specifically tailored for their gut. 

Comparing the Human and Dog Microbiomes 

Similar to humans, dogs also require a well-balanced gut microbiome to be healthy. But what exactly is a microbiome?  

A microbiome is essentially an ecosystem that is contained within the digestive tract of all mammals, including dogs and humans. This ecosystem is teeming with billions of microbes and various microorganisms, including both beneficial and harmful bacteria. The balance of beneficial and harmful microorganisms influences the health of the gut, and by extension, the health of the whole body.  

The Human Microbiome 

The gut microbiome plays an important role in human health and the body’s natural immune and defense system. In addition to aiding in digestion, the microbiome participates in energy storage, regulating metabolism, and supports the immune response, which deals with foreign invaders. 

Studies have shown that the predominant microorganisms seen in the healthy gut of humans include Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria and Verrucomicrobia [1]. 

The Dog Microbiome 

Dogs have a simpler digestive tract than humans. They do not rely on the microbiome to maintain their energy balance. However, a balanced and stable microbiome is still necessary for maintaining overall digestive health.  

The predominant microbes seen in the canine microbiome include Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Fusobacteria and Actinobacteria [1]. However, the proportions of these organisms vary between dogs depending on breed, diet, age, overall health status, stress levels, and their living environment. 

The following is a list from Cornell Veterinary School of additional bacterial strains that are thought to be beneficial for canine gut health: 

  • Bacillus coagulans 
  • Bifidobacterium animalis (strain AHC7) 
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum 
  • Bifidobacterium longum (BL999) 
  • Enterococcus faecium (strain SF68) 
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus 
  • Lactobacillus casei 
  • Lactobacillus plantarum 
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus (strain LGG) 

Differences Between the Two 

While there are several overlaps in the species of microorganisms that inhabit the digestive tract of humans and dogs, there are also subtle – yet important – differences. These include varying microbial species, contrasting amounts of each organism present in the gut, and different interactions with the host.   

This is why it is best that humans take probiotics that have been formulated for humans, and dogs be given probiotics that have been formulated for dogs. 

Can Dogs Have Human Probiotics? 

Human probiotics are not recommended for dogs. A dog’s gut environment is different from a human’s, and dogs may not receive the full benefit of probiotics if they are given a human supplement. Additionally, human probiotic products may contain ingredients that are not suitable for dogs.  

What If My Dog Eats a Human Probiotic?  

If your dog eats a human probiotic supplement, consult your veterinarian with any concerns. It’s likely that your dog will not become ill, but they may not receive the wanted benefit from the supplement.  

The most likely thing that will happen is that once the supplement is ingested, your dog’s digestive system will digest and destroy the supplement and excrete it out the other end.  

However, there are some risks that pet parents should be aware of.  

Potential Risks of Human Probiotics for Dogs 

In addition to not being effective in balancing a dog’s microbiome, there are additional issues associated with giving a dog human probiotics. 

They could contain dangerous ingredients. Some human probiotic products contain ingredients that are unhealthy or toxic to dogs such as added sugars or artificial sweeteners like xylitol. These ingredients can make your dog sick. Many human probiotic supplements also come in the form of fermented dairy products. Dogs can lack the enzyme necessary to digest dairy and may develop an upset stomach and diarrhea after consuming dairy probiotic products.  

They are not formulated for a dog’s body or size. Human probiotics are formulated to provide the correct balance of microorganisms to an adult human. They are not correctly formulated for a dog’s body, breed, or size. This can lead to adverse reactions.  

They may cause an imbalanced gut. Dogs given human probiotics may develop intestinal dysbiosis – an imbalanced gut microbiome. This can result in nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, or soft stool. 

Benefits of Probiotics Formulated for Dogs 

To receive all the gut health benefits of probiotics, pet parents should look for products that are specifically formulated for dogs.  

Many dog probiotics – like PetLab Co.’s Probiotic Chews – are made in collaboration with experts such as veterinarians, nutritionists, scientific formulators, and other industry authorities who understand a dog’s unique needs. They are also made to support dogs of different sizes and life stages.  

Well-formulated canine probiotic products can help your dog achieve the following: 

Balancing Good and ‘Bad’ Bacteria 

Probiotics play a role in regulating intestinal conditions by altering the acidity of the digestive tract and releasing short-chain fatty acids. This supports a dog’s natural defense for when they encounter unwanted microorganisms such as E. Coli or Salmonella.  

Probiotics help deter the growth of “bad bacteria” by competing for the same resources and nutrients. By bolstering the population of beneficial bacteria (aka the good guys), probiotics limit the available nutrients for the harmful bacteria. 

Contributing to a Healthy Immune System 

The gastrointestinal tract of your dog houses approximately 70 percent of their immune system. That means it plays an important role in supporting the body’s innate resistance to pathogens. Probiotics help restore balance in the digestive system, thereby enabling the immune system to operate effectively. 

How to Find Premium-Quality Probiotics for Dogs 

If you would like to find a premium-quality probiotic supplement for your dog, consider the following during your search: 

Look for Clear Labeling 

Product labels should show an expiration date, identify all microorganism species included in the formulation, microorganism count, and a guarantee regarding the quantity of live organisms.  

Do Your Research 

Don’t just buy the first dog probiotic that you see online. Look into the brands that are formulating these products to get a better sense of their ingredients, their manufacturing processes, and the expertise behind the formulations. Look for companies that have earned the Quality Seal from the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). 

Ask Your Veterinarian 

Most vets nowadays believe in the power of probiotics, and they likely have specific brands that they like and recommend. If you feel stuck, reach out to your veterinarian for some suggestions or ask them about brands and products you’re interested in.  

Be Specific About Your Dog’s Needs 

There are several probiotic products available that are tailored for specific needs, such as mood changes, digestive upset, or seasonal allergies. The bacterial strains in these products have been formulated to help with certain issues and may be a better fit for your dog over a general probiotic supplement. 

Concluding Thoughts: Human Probiotics for Dogs 

In conclusion, while most dogs can benefit from probiotics, it’s crucial to choose formulations specifically designed for canine digestive systems. Human probiotics are typically not suitable for dogs due to differences in bacterial strains and dosages.  

Consulting with a veterinarian to select the most appropriate probiotic supplement can help support your dog’s gastrointestinal health and overall well-being. 


  1. Deng P, Swanson KS. Gut microbiota of humans, dogs and cats: current knowledge and future opportunities and challenges. British Journal of Nutrition. 2015;113(S1):S6-S17. doi:10.1017/S0007114514002943 
Sarah Wooten, DVMS

Sarah Wooten, DVM

Dr. Sarah Wooten is a respected figure in the veterinary and animal healthcare fields. With 16 years of experience in private practice and over a decade in veterinary media, she's certified as a veterinary journalist. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Dr. Wooten is dedicated to helping pet owners care for their furry friends. Through web articles, videos, and media appearances, she shares practical advice on pet care and the human-animal bond. She's also known for her engaging talks on leadership and communication within the veterinary community.

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© 2024 PetLab Co.

The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
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