Kefir is a creamy, dairy based food made from the milk of cows or goats and is one of the oldest forms of cultured milk. Often labelled a “Probiotic Drink”, it is similar in taste and consistency to yoghurt, but kefir provides even more health benefits to your dog (and to you).

Typically, one tablespoon of kefir typically contains about 10 strains and 5 billion beneficial bacteria. Wow! Only the best of Probiotic Supplements for dogs even comes close, and it comes to you at a fraction of the price of prepared supplements. We prefer and recommend Goat Kefir. Expect to pay around $5 per 500ml.

What are the benefits of Kefir for Dogs?

If you’re not familiar with the enormous health benefits of probiotics, check this out. Probiotics:

  • Contain a substantial amount of B Complex vitamins, Calcium, vitamin A, Vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus;
  • Contain typtophan, an essential amino acid;
  • Help prevent illness by building immunity;
  • Contain natural antibiotics and have strong anti-fungal properties;
  • Promote anti-cancer and anti-tumour activity in the body;
  • Promote the faster healing of wounds;
  • assist in the treatment of a variety of intestinal disorders including IBS and constipation
  • can help restore the good bacteria and flora in the gut that is compromised by taking antibiotics

How to feed your dog Kefir

 If you are convinced that Kefir is a good addition to your pooch’s diet, please approach it in the same way you would introducing any new food to the diet – go slow. The probiotics in kefir are highly concentrated so give your dog’s system time to adjust. For the first few days, serve only half of the recommended dosage. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a week or two.

As always, if your dog has a negative reaction to any new food, stop giving it! Though negative reactions to Kefir are rare.

How much Kefir should you feed a Dog?

The following is a guideline on how much kefir you should feed your dog based on their size:

  • Small dogs: 1 tsp to 1 tbs
  • Medium dogs: 1 tbs to 2 tbs
  • Large dogs: 2 tbs to 3 tbs

For therapeutic dosage, such as following a course of antibiotics, you can double the above once your dog is used to having Kefir in their food.

The Importance of Phytonutrients for Dogs

Ever heard of phytonutrients? I like to think of them as the ultimate food Ninjas, phytonutrients have been described as antioxidant warriors, immune boosters, cancer fighters and anti-inflammation mascots. They come in different shapes and colours and we need them all. It is estimated that 80% of us aren’t eating enough colour. Well, what about our pets?

While it literally means “nutrients derived from plants” — phyton is Greek for plant, it has evolved to have a more limited definition. Phytonutrients are the compounds in plants that keep the body healthy and help fight off disease, similar to vitamins. They differ from vitamins since they are not considered an essential nutrient, meaning without them you will not die of some nutritional deficiency. There are no phytonutrients listed in the AAFCO nutrient profiles or other references Vets are familiar with, however research indicates that phytonutrients do help create a protective shield against the environment, including preventing diseases, including those that domestic canines are prone to. They can also assist in repairing damaged cells and helping to build the immune system. Many of these phytonutrients are also antioxidants and they give our fruits and veggies their vibrant colours or red, green, blue/purple, white, yellow and orange.

Some of the health benefits of phytonutrients in colourful foods include enhanced immune system activity, protection against cancer and heart disease, support of brain and bone function and aid in wound healing. Antioxidants also help slow down the signs of aging by cleaning up the by-products of oxidation within the body’s cells.

The powerful health properties of phytonutrients are thought to play an especially important role in cancer prevention. While the majority of the research is being done on humans, it’s likely most of the benefits being demonstrated also apply to animals, including domesticated pets.

There’s more than just a visual difference between the brown kibble or canned food many pets eat, and fresh, colourful foods.

What if you make your own food at home? An apple, some blueberries or beetroot, a generous amount of leafy green vegetables, a little bit of cauliflower or a pear, a carrot, sweet potato or pumpkin and you have all bases covered! Raw is best of course, but if your pet prefers cooked foods, just make sure you don’t overcook them to ensure the colours remain intact.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: please note that the above chart is for humans rather than canines. Do not feed your dog grapes, raisins, currants, or anything from the onion family as these foods are toxic for dogs.