Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUESTION: My dog is getting up there in doggy years, and our veterinarian recommended adding a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement for his stiff joints.
Would probiotics be a better choice for his energy level and overall health?
— Jayme W., Portland, Oregon
ANSWER: Your instincts are spot on, Jayme. A critical 2017 Canadian review stated: “Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly recommended by veterinarians as an alternative for treating osteoarthritis in canines unable to tolerate the adverse effects of NSAIDs, or as add-on therapy.
Although glucosamine and chondroitin have benign adverse effect profiles, the clinical benefit of using these agents remains questionable.” Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t.
However, when it comes to giving your pup probiotics — the beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract and often need to be supplemented — well, that’s another story.
One study from the U.K. has shown that when a probiotic and a prebiotic (that’s high-fiber food) are introduced together into a kenneled dog’s diet, that can reduce diarrhea, which is a frequent cause of morbidity for those pups.
But according to an article in Whole Dog Journal, all pooches can benefit from probiotics, “which aid digestion and modulate the immune system.” That not only puts the brakes on diarrhea, but reduces overall inflammation, which can only be good for aging and aching joints.
The article also adds: “If probiotics are being used to help with digestion, they should be taken with meals, but otherwise they may survive better if given between meals, particularly if taken with liquid that helps to dilute stomach acid and move them more quickly into the digestive tract … Probiotics may be given short-term or long-term.”
Pet probiotics can include Enterococcus, Bifidobacteriums and Lactobacillus acidophilus. (Purina’s Fortiflora is well-respected and has good reviews.) Check with your vet for the proper doses for your dog’s weight and age.