Healthy Additions: Kefir
If you are looking for natural probiotics or antibiotics for your dog, then kefir is your answer!
This milk product packs a punch that can give your dog’s digestive system a much-needed boost by repopulating his gut with good bacteria.
What is It?
Kefir is a fermented milk product with the consistency of thick milk or thin yogurt. It has a vinegar-like smell and a tangy taste due to the high amounts of probiotics it contains.
The fermentation process is what makes it so valuable for our dogs’ health. The reactions of friendly bacterias and yeasts break down the complex sugars and proteins in the milk (usually goat’s milk or cow’s milk, but even dairy-free alternatives like coconut milk can be used). The break down feeds the probiotics and causes them to flourish.
Why Does My Dog Need This?
Because kefir is so high in probiotics and enzymes, it has an array of health benefits that we would expect to find in a source of live-cultures, and it is also a source of bioavailable minerals.
“It not only provides her with the same essential nutrients it provides humans, including calcium and vitamins D and B12, but helps combat some of the symptoms of stress many dogs experience when acclimating to new environments.”
If your dog has been on antibiotics, undergone treatment for cancer, experienced high-stress levels, or is healing from something else, then is an excellent, healing Healthy Addition to his diet. Here’s why.
- Kills yeast
- relieves gas
- provides probiotics
- helps to prevent allergies and reduce symptoms
- maintains a healthy coat
- is a natural antibiotic
- a natural antifungal
- provides vitamins and minerals
- aids healing
- and reduces the risk, severity, and symptoms of many diseases!
Does your dog’s food already contain probiotics?
If your dog food says it contains probiotics, then why feed additional probiotics? Although many pet foods now list fermentation products, or probiotics, at the end of the ingredient list, they might as well skip them.
“The bacteria in probiotic supplements must be live and able to reproduce in order to be effective. That’s why commercial pet foods containing probiotics aren’t worth the money. The manufacturing process kills many of the live bacteria, which means there’s little to no probiotic effect by the time the product hits store shelves.” – Doctor Karen Becker
So even if your dog’s food, treats, or supplements list probiotics (fermentation products) in the ingredients, adding a source of live probiotics will have greater benefit for your dog.
Here are some of the fermentation products, or probiotics, that you might see listed in dog food:
- (Dried) Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product,
- Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product,
- Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product,
- and Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.
Is Kefir Safe for Dogs?
While safe and unlikely to cause side effects in most dogs, there are a few dogs who might not do well on it.
If your dog is prone to constipation, is on a medication that might react with the small alcohol content in kefir, or has insulin imbalances (diabetes), make sure to consult with your vet before feeding kefir to him.
If your concern is that your dog might be lactose intolerant (as the majority of dogs are) then this fermented product might be the best dairy choice for your dog.
“Unlike regular milk which can cause lactose intolerance in dogs that cannot digest the sugar lactose in milk, kefir, though made by fermenting milk is actually lactose free. This is because kefir contains lots of bacteria that breaks down the lactose and aids in the digestion of lactose and hence it is safe and healthy for all dogs.”
Most dogs will only experience some diarrhea when first introduced or when overfed. This can be avoided by slowly adding small amounts to his diet at a time.
How to Feed: Recommended Doses
Kefir can be drizzled over your dog’s dinner, served plain in a dish, or mixed with berries to make frozen treats (for a healthy Kong stuffer!).
Use the chart below to find the recommended feeding dose for your dog. It is always a good idea to start with half the recommended dose and increase to the full dose over several days if your dog takes to it well.
Kefir Treat Recipe
There’s no better way to treat your dog than with a tasty, yet healthy treat! These treats can be the perfect food topper, could be stuffed in a food-dispensing toy like a Kong, and handed out as cooling treats on hot summer days.
For Satisfied Dogs!
Cassy Kay & Caliber
Where to Buy Kefir
You can find this Healthy Addition plain, unflavored and unsweetened, in many grocery stores now. You can also order it online or make it yourself.
Avoid pre-flavored drinks because they contain sugar.
Where to Buy Goats Milk
Goats milk for pets can be ordered from the pet food companies listed below and can sometimes be found in local boutique pet food stores. Use this milk to make your own kefir at home!
Habib, Rodney. “Kefir” planetpaws.ca. Web. Accessed Aug. 9, 2019. https://www.planetpaws.ca/2015/07/04/kefir-daily-amounts/
Wong, Cathy. “The benefits of Kefir, a Fermented Drink” verywellhealthy.com. Dec. 16, 2018. Web. Accessed Aug. 9, 2019. https://www.verywellhealth.com/benefits-of-kefir-88696
Habib, Rodney. “So Long Yeast, Hello Kefir!” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed Aug. 9, 2019. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/so-long-yeast-hello-kefir/
Kimberly. “Should We Give Kefir or Goats Milk to Dogs?” keepthetailwagging.cim. Sept. 26, 2016. Web Accessed Aug. 9, 2019. https://keepthetailwagging.com/should-we-give-kefir-or-goats-milk-to-dogs/
Lifeway. “Dogs Love Kefir on National Dog Day” lifewaykefir.com. Aug. 18, 2016. Web. Acessed Aug. 9, 2019. http://lifewaykefir.com/dogs-love-kefir-national-puppy-day/