We’ve all heard about the benefits of probiotics like kefir for humans. But what about the benefits of kefir for dogs? Can dogs eat kefir?
If your pup has an upset stomach, you have an aging dog or they just can’t seem to put on weight, it can be hard to know how to help rebalance your dog’s gut health and boost their overall wellbeing.
So in this guide we take a look at what kefir is, answer your questions about whether dogs can have kefir and how much to feed them. Plus we go into detail about the kefir benefits for dogs and share some easy kefir for dogs recipe ideas.
This article is based on research and personal experience as a Vizsla owner. I’m not a qualified dog trainer, Vet or dog behaviourist.
What Is Kefir?
Kefir is a cultured and fermented drink made by combining kefir grains with milk or water. High in probiotics and essential nutrients, kefir is taken to boost immunity and gut health.
Kefir milk has a sour, tart taste similar to that of drinking yogurt with a slightly carbonated texture.
Kefir grains are small rice like culture of good bacteria and yeast, predominately from the Lactobacillus family, that feed on sugars.
When live kefir grains are added to milk the bacteria multiply and break down the lactose sugars in the milk into lactic acid.
This reduces the lactose in the milk to levels equal to or lower than yoghurt and fills the milk drink with billions of healthy probiotics.
Originating in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, kefir is still a popular drink throughout North and Eastern Europe.
Its popularity has now spread throughout the world thanks to its reputation as a healthy probiotic.
Kefir can be consumed in many different forms including:
- Kefir milk
- Goat milk kefir
- Water kefir
- Kefir tablets
- Kefir starter culture in powder form.
Can Dogs Eat Kefir?
Yes dogs can eat kefir. Kefir can be safely consumed by humans and studies show the positive effects of probiotics like kefir on canine health too.
Kefir contains many probiotic strains useful to dogs including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Dog gut health can be weakened by illness, poor diet, use of antibiotics, infection, stress or even a sudden change in food.
So probiotics such as kefir can help re-build a healthy digestive system and provide ongoing support to your dog’s immune system.
Kefir milk is an affordable alternative to expensive probiotics for dogs like this one, and you can consume kefir too!
So now we know that kefir is safe for dogs, let’s take a look at the kefir benefits for dogs in more detail.
What Are The Benefits Of Kefir For Dogs
Before we take a look at the health benefits of kefir for dogs, it is important to state that probiotics cannot replace a balanced healthy diet.
Serving your dog high quality dog food is the first line of defence for a healthy dog.
So while kefir is not a substitute for good vet care or a healthy diet, probiotics like kefir can help boost your dog’s gut health.
The fermented milk drink is also particularly helpful for aging dogs, dogs on a treatment of antibiotics and those experiencing loose stools on an ongoing basis.
Let’s take a look at four of the main benefits of a kefir probiotic for dogs.
1. Supports Gut Health
A healthy gut can help with better digestion, nutrient absorption, weight gain, reduced bloating and firmer stools.
Increasing the quantity of healthy microbes such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in the gut can help support your dog’s gut health throughout their life.
2. Improves Immune Response
Research into the benefits of kefir in dogs demonstrates an improved immune response, particularly in older dogs.
The gut plays an important part in protecting dogs from infection and probiotics like kefir can help boost the gut’s immune protection.
Certain probiotics like Lactobacillus kefiri, found in kefir, also have antibacterial properties which can inhibit the spread of harmful bacteria like salmonella.
Kefir can also help regulate the inflammatory responses in your dog, helping control allergies, skin itchiness and stiffness.
3. Promotes Gut Healing
The balance of good and bad bacteria can be thrown out of balance due to stomach illnesses like gastroenteritis resulting in diarrhoea, loose stools, vomiting or even food sensitivities.
It can take some time to restore balance but kefir can help accelerate the healing by introducing billions of healthy bacteria into the gut.
My pup experienced a terrible bout of stomach illness when she was young and I found kefir quite helpful in restoring her back to good health.
Just like humans, probiotics are also helpful for restoring gut health and microbe balance during and after a treatment of antibiotics.
4. Supports Senior Dog Health
As your dog ages their health can begin to deteriorate. They may also start to lose weight and be more susceptible to illness.
However this study reported significant benefits for aging dogs when fed probiotics like those found in kefir.
The study reported improvements in feed intake, a significant increase in beneficial bacteria in the gut and improvements in overall health and immunity in older dogs.
So if you have a senior dog, kefir can be a good way to boost their health and wellbeing.
How Much Kefir For Dogs?
You can give kefir to dogs on a daily basis as part of a healthy balanced diet.
You can also introduce it temporarily at a higher dosage after a bout of sickness like diarrhoea, or when on antibiotics to help them recover faster and rebalance their gut.
The amount of kefir you feed your dog will depend on their size and should be introduced slowly to monitor for any reactions.
The reason for the slow introduction is that probiotics can cause an upset stomach in some dogs and cause issues for dogs that are allergic to milk or highly lactose intolerant.
Despite the low lactose content of most kefir milks, it may still cause unintended irritation to their gut.
Kefir Quantities For Dogs
For small dogs start with just 1/4 a teaspoon per day, increasing to a daily amount of 1 teaspoon per day over a week.
For medium sized dogs start with 1/2 teaspoon per day, increasing over the period of a week to a regular quantity of 1-2 tablespoons per day.
Large dogs: start with 1 teaspoon per day, increasing the dosage to 2-3 tablespoons per day.
For sick dogs: If you are using kefir to help address digestive issues or assist with weight gain, gradually increase the amount to double the daily amount listed above for a few days or up to a week until the issues have resolved.
Dogs can sometimes react to probiotics. Keep an eye on your dog and if you notice changes like runny poo and increased gas, reduce the quantity of kefir.
Kefir Recipes For Dogs
So you may be wondering how to feed kefir to dogs. There are quite a few different ways to give your dog kefir.
1. Plain Kefir Milk
This is by far the easiest way to feed kefir to your dog.
Buy a bottle of plain unsweetened kefir milk and give them their appropriate serving in their bowl, or straight from a spoon or cup.
Do not give your dog store bought flavored kefir as it may contain artificial sweeteners and flavors that are dangerous to dogs.
2. Kefir Smoothie
Blend 1/2 a cup of your pup’s favorite fruit or vegetable (blueberry, strawberry, banana or carrot are popular choices) with 2 cups of plain kefir.
Serve the appropriate serving in a bowl.
You can store the leftovers in the fridge for another day, drink it yourself, or freeze into small dog moulds to make frozen dog treats.
3. Meal Topper
Add a serving of plain kefir milk or your kefir fruit smoothie to your dog’s regular meal as a tasty meal topper.
4. Frozen Dog Treats
Just like yogurt, you can freeze kefir which makes it ideal for making healthy frozen dog treats.
Or simply switch yogurt for kefir in your favorite frozen dog treat recipe and freeze in small dog paw moulds or in your dog’s kong for a healthy frozen kong recipe.
They are perfect as a snack on a hot summer day, packed full of nutrients to keep pup healthy!
These strawberry yogurt dog treats are a good easy recipe to try.
Where Can I Buy Kefir For Dogs?
Kefir comes in many forms. You can buy it online at Amazon, at some supermarkets and at your local health food store.
You can buy kefir as:
- Plain kefir milk
- Flavored kefir milk (should be avoided for dogs)
- Kefir grains for making homemade kefir milk
- Kefir probiotic tablets
- Powdered kefir starter culture
When buying kefir milk for dogs it is best to buy plain milk. Many flavored kefir milks have sweeteners that may not be safe for dogs.
Check the ingredients to ensure if contains useful probiotics for dogs. Good probiotics for dogs include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum or Bifidobacterium lactis.
Lifeway kefir for dogs is one of our favorite brands, but any organic, plain and unsweetened kefir milk will be perfect.
Kefir And Dogs FAQS
Does Kefir Have Lactose?
Yes, if kefir grains are blended with milk it will still contain small amounts of lactose. But kefir milk has significantly lower levels of lactose than dairy milk. This makes it more tolerable for dogs who are lactose intolerant. Kefir can also be made with dairy free liquids like plain water or coconut milk.
Is Kefir Safe For Dogs?
Yes, probiotic fermented drinks like kefir have been found to be safe for dogs to consume. Kefir should be introduced to your dog in small amounts. If your dog is allergic to milk it should be offered in a non-dairy form.
Can You Freeze Kefir For Dogs?
Yes, you can freeze kefir for dogs. Simply pour plain kefir milk into ice cube trays and freeze, or blend with fruit or vegetables and freeze for a delicious frozen kefir dog treat.
Is Kefir Good For Dogs?
Yes kefir is good for dogs. Kefir is high in essential nutrients and probiotics that have been shown to improve dog gut health and immune response.
More Vizsla Food Guides
I hope you found this guide to kefir for dogs useful. Here are some food related articles and recipes you may also like:
- Homemade frozen kong ideas
- Frozen PB Kefir Dog Treats Recipe
- Best Dry Dog Food For Vizslas
- Easy Peanut Butter Pupcakes
Or, browse all the vizsla food guides here.
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