How Antibiotics Affect Your Dog's Gut
Tips For Helping Your Dog During & After Antibiotics
Though they can come with negative side effects (like diarrhea), antibiotics can be a crucial tool for helping your pet fight off dangerous infections. Fortunately, there are ways that you can support your dog, during and after antibiotic treatment, to help them and move towards improved health.
The bacteria and other microbes in your dog’s digestive tract (gut) are referred to as its gut microbiome. When an infection is present in or on your pet your veterinarian (DVM) may prescribe an antibiotic to help fight off the infection. Unfortunately, oral antibiotics cannot differentiate between the “bad” bacteria that may be causing a bacterial infection and the “good” bacteria that support your pet’s health, so it wipes out both beneficial and harmful bacteria. For some dogs this may cause an ongoing imbalance in their gut that down the line could contribute to health conditions like chronic diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation.
Tips to help your dog during a round of antibiotics
Tip 1: Add Yeast-based Probiotics to the Diet
Saccharomyces boulardii, or S boulardii for short, is a special probiotic that is unlike most other probiotics, because it is a strain of yeast, not bacteria. Unlike many bacterial probiotics, S boulardii is extremely resilient: yeasts are unaffected by antibiotics, so a yeast-based probiotic like S boulardii remains highly effective for pets that require antibiotic treatment. In addition, S boulardii travel through the stomach acid with ease, making it to the intestines perfectly intact and alive, while many bacterial probiotics quickly die when they encounter stomach acid.
Antibiotics will kill many bacterial probiotics because the antibiotics cannot distinguish between helpful and harmful bacteria. But since S boulardii is a yeast, it is unaffected by antibiotics. In fact, studies have shown that when giving S boulardii along with an antibiotic, pets are much less likely to develop diarrhea during or after the course of antibiotics. We know that antibiotics may cause digestive symptoms in up to 25 percent of patients who use them, and S boulardii has been shown to greatly decrease the risk of these symptoms occurring in your pet.
In one study, healthy dogs were given very high doses of antibiotics for several days. Under ordinary circumstances, this dose of antibiotic will typically lead to diarrhea. And 75 percent of the dogs that received only the antibiotic did develop diarrhea, lasting an average of 7 days. But a subset of these dogs were given a dose of S boulardii along with their antibiotic, and 100 percent of those dogs remained diarrhea-free throughout the trial.
Our DoggyBiome S. Boulardii + FOS is a prebiotic and probiotic supplement is designed to help resolve flare-ups of diarrhea during antibiotic treatment. It contains a unique blend of the yeast S. boulardii and Fructooligosaccharides (FOS). FOS are tiny, soluble fibers found in certain plants, such as bananas, onions, tomatoes, and wheat. These particular fibers are prebiotic, meaning that they are the preferred food of beneficial microbes like the ones in your pet’s gut. Making sure all the beneficial members of the gut microbiome get enough of the right food is crucial not just for healthy digestion but also for a strong immune system, healthy skin, and even a happy mood. Studies in dogs have shown that supplementation with FOS improves gut health.
Tip 2: Support a Healthy Appetite
In many pets, antibiotics can cause lethargy, nausea and/or a loss of appetite, which may make your pet less interested in eating their food. But it is crucial that your pet continues to eat, because their body needs the energy to continue fighting infection and repairing damaged cells. If your pet refuses their food, don’t force them to eat: wait a few hours and offer the food again. If they continue to refuse, consider adding something to the food to make it more palatable. A low-sodium beef, chicken, or bone broth is often helpful.
Tips to help your dog after antibiotics
Tip 3: Add a Prebiotic Supplement
Antibiotics are not picky when deciding which bacteria to eliminate: they may wipe out bacterial pathogens, but along with it, your pet might lose lots of beneficial bacteria in their gut that aid in fighting inflammation, reducing cancer risk, and support a healthy weight. A prebiotic supplement like psyllium husk powder or inulin serves as a valuable food source to help support the growth of these beneficial bacteria.
Tip 4: Test the Gut Microbiome
The same antibiotic can affect individual pets in very different ways. Getting a picture of the proportions and exactly which bacteria are present in your pet’s gut (post-antibiotics) can offer more information on how to specifically support your pet’s unique gut, based on which bacteria are present now. Our DoggyBiomeTM Gut Health Test is a useful tool to help guide your pet's everyday digestive health. Every test comes with a detailed report for your dog and a 20 minute live consultation with one of our Animal Health Experts to work with you and your veterinarian to create a personalized plan for your dog.
Tip 5: Maintain Gut Health With a Postbiotic
After a round of antibiotics it may be benficial to supplement your dog's diet with a postbiotic - the beneficial byproducts of particular species of microbes (both probiotics and resident gut bacteria). Postbiotics have far-reaching effects on digestion, proper immune system function, and overall health.
DoggyBiome™ ImmuneShield™ chews, with active ingredient EpiCor Fermentate—a postbiotic formulation based on the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae—are specifically designed to improve your dog’s immune function, address seasonal allergies, and promote gut health. Our soft, trout-flavored chews are easy to give and dog-approved for tastiness. The chews are highly effective for reducing systemic inflammation, resolving certain itchy skin conditions, and improving gastrointestinal symptoms.
EpiCor is made by putting brewer’s yeast, S. cerevisiae through a special fermentation process that produces a unique collection of postbiotics: specific beneficial proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, and other nutrients. Multiple studies have shown that EpiCor improves constipation and GI discomfort in humans, and promotes positive microbiome composition changes in people with various digestive issues.