Let’s get right to the point. Are human probiotics good for dogs? Yes, absolutely! But, to really understand probiotics, one must know the difference between human-grade probiotics and feed-grade probiotics. Human-grade probiotics are probiotic strains harvested from a variety of sources including humans, soils, fungi, and animals. Human-grade means “food-grade,” or something suitable for human consumption. “Human-grade” is a term used in the nutraceutical industry to establish the quality and standards that need to be in place in order to manufacture products that can be consumed by humans. Feed-grade means that certain products are manufactured specifically for animals only, and are NOT to be consumed by humans.
Human-grade probiotics strains are isolated and then stored until needed, just like you would use a sourdough starter to make batch of sourdough bread. These strains are used as ‘starters’ and are replicated using a carefully developed manufacturing process to cultivate these strains in large amounts. There are only a handful of manufacturers who truly understand this process and are able to produce probiotic strains that are commercially stable. For human-grade probiotics, which are used for foods and supplements, this process is even more complex and stringent because all of the equipment and processes must be extremely clean and have higher quality.
There may be some producers out there claiming their probiotics have been harvested from dogs specifically, and are better for dogs than using human-grade probiotics, however there is no solid evidence to prove this. Probiotic strains harvested specifically from dogs are still in their infancy. There are a few companies out there researching and working on making these strains stable enough to use and in amounts large enough to be used for commercial purposes, but at this time they are still a work in progress. Thus, these probiotic strains are not readily available and they are not able to reliably withstand the manufacturing process. Therefore, a good and safe alternate are human-grade probiotics.
Another main difference between human-grade and feed-grade probiotic supplements is the way each product is formulated. From a formula standpoint, human-grade means each ingredient is human-grade, as opposed to feed-grade where none or only some ingredients are human-grade. The majority of human probiotic supplements target specific areas in the body that need support, then formulate with ingredients that can help those areas. This is why you will see multiple strains of probiotics, prebiotics, and herbs working together to enhance their specific function in the GI tract. Most dog probiotic supplements are generally feed-grade unless stated otherwise and don’t target specific areas or provide additional health benefits. However, Fidobiotics, LC is the anomaly because not only are they deemed human-grade, but they also use the same positioning strategy as the human market. They target specific areas and aid in additional health benefits for dogs by using multiple strains of probiotics and prebiotics, as well as additional herbs, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Because dogs digest things a little bit differently than humans, certain probiotic strains and ingredients can be more beneficial for dogs than for humans to support their digestive needs and vice versa, hence probiotics made for dogs. In the end, all of these ingredients are all designed to bring important health benefits to your dog’s digestive system.
Furthermore, it is also important to note that dogs have a lower pH level in their digestive systems than humans. A dog’s stomach will produce higher levels of acid in their stomachs to help assist in breaking down the foods that enzymes alone can’t process. It’s all a part of the chemical reactions that happen inside their digestive systems and demonstrates the fact that humans and dogs digest foods differently.
Another difference you will see when reviewing probiotics made for dogs, is that they generally have a lower CFU (Colony Forming Unit) count, or the number of living cells (in this case, probiotics) that are available in each dose, compared to probiotics made for humans, generally due to weight variations. CFUs are the cells that are actually going to do what they are intended to do in the digestive system. The CFU count measures the strength of the probiotic and its effectiveness to help clean up the gut and re-establish the good bacteria needed in the digestive system.
In conclusion, human probiotics are great for your dog because they are human-grade in the manufacturing processes as well as ingredients. However, having a probiotic supplement made specifically for dogs that take in all the above knowledge and points can be even more beneficial to your dog than a human probiotic supplement. So do your probiotic research and shop smart!