Updated: Mar 11
I did a workshop on Kefir a while back and I can not stop raving about the amazing benefits of this amazing fermented probiotic! At Doggiliciouus we make fresh to order kefir and use it for a variety of benefits it provides the dogs.
After having tried it on 100's of clients, I swear by it! Read on to know more!
What is Kefir?
It is fermented Milk. Probiotic bacteria found in kefir products include:
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lactococcus lactis, and Leuconostoc species.
Compared to regular curd that only has Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactococcus lactis, Lactococcus cremoris.
Kefir contains a larger number of different types of healthy bacteria, and it's better for the gastrointestinal tract because of this.
Kefir also has a variety of yeast in it that controls yeast overgrowth on your dog. So if your dog regularly suffers from yeast infections then Kefir is a must in your dog’s daily routine.
Sourcing good quality, thick, creamy kefir is important. The source of the milk used for making Kefir is also important! When it comes to Kefir, going for the cheapest alternative is NOT a good idea at all.
Along with this, there is a host of vitamins and minerals lending their forces to pretty powerful healing qualities.
I tend to use Kefir first and foremost as an immunity booster! 90% of your immunity lives in the gut! 80% of your hormones that control all-important body and mind functions are produced in the gut.
THE GUT - is, many would say, far more important for the well-being of the body and mind, than any other system. And I'm inclined to agree!
The second most use for Kefir I find is for dogs with allergies (provided the allergy is not to dairy itself), yeast infections, skin rashes, dry itchy skin and so on. Of course, Kefir is not a "Cure" for these conditions! Most times these conditions are a result of a complex set of factors inside the body and in the environment. And a fair amount of trial and error is required to resolve the issues. However, this circles back to immunity. Fortifying the gut, thus raising immunity, simply allows for all other natural remedies to act on the problem with improved efficiency!
If I were to see a dog with repeated digestive issues, I'd immediately put the dog on a systematic Gut Reset therapy that involves Kefir as a major component. It has helped in IBD, IBS, Loose motions, Constipations, Leaky gut, Gastritis, and other repeated minor gastro issues.
The gut is run by millions and trillions of "good" bacteria. They have to work together, and keep their populations high enough to NOT get overthrown by the enemy camp - the "bad" bacteria! There are a number of reasons for their populations to go down - Medication, not enough pre-biotics (their food matter), anxiety, fear, stress, Hyperactivity, lack of adequate sleep and so on...! These are perfect conditions for the "Bad" bacteria to wage war and win! This is when you see gastro problems. I can not stress enough how important it is to look at your dog's health in a holistic manner, as you can see above - there are a lot of "LIFESTYLE" related triggers to bad gut health. And simply feeding Kefir might not be enough in certain cases.
Kefir is also fairly lactose-free, as the bacteria fermenting the milk consume most of the lactose (carbs) from it. So if your dog is lactose intolerant, it might still be worth giving it a shot with a very small quantity to look for reactions. Unless your dog is severely reactive, you may be able to get away with it and your dog can reap the benefits of this fantastic probiotic!
If your dog has recently been found to be anemic or is going through an illness that has led the blood count to drop for any reason, then Kefir can come to your rescue. If your dog is sick, they MUST be on medication! This itself is aa good reason to put your dog on a great pro-biotic right away. But wait! There is more. Kefir that's made from milk, contains calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, molybdenum, manganese, and zinc. THIS will help with the anemia naturally and a lot of synthetic rubbish can be eliminated in terms of supplements.
Kefir is also said to help reduce inflammation in the joints. Inflammation is a strange thing in the body! We need it to survive, but in an event that anti-inflammation is not done right away, the inflammation grows and can spread like bush fire. The body's cellular inflammatory response communicates to the next cell and then the next and the next, till it spreads. The GUT is the head-quarters of either Inflammation OR Anti-inflammation! Depending on what you put in it! Therefore, choosing the right nutrition, supplements, superfoods are of paramount importance when trying to keep the body healthy and functioning as designed for long.
All in all, Kefir is a great all-rounder! Its always better to choose a natural live bacteria pro-biotic than a synthetically cultured one, freeze-dried one, or a tablet. Choosing wisely all the choices you make for your dog, will pay off many fold in the future.
Doses are pretty flexible, but one rule applies to all. Start small and increase slowly.
Most dogs love the tangy/tart taste of it. It's versatile and can be mixed into food. Mixed with buttermilk in the summers as a snack. Or can be added to a bowl of curd in the afternoons as a cooling snack.
Small dogs - Start ½ - 1 tsp -- go up to -- 1 tablespoons / day
Medium dogs - Start 1tsp -- go up to -- 2 tablespoons / day
Large dogs - Start 1.5 tsp -- go up to -- 2-4 tablespoons / day.
Giant dogs - Start with 1 tablespoon -- go up to -- 4-5 tablespoons / day.