Saccharomyces boulardii to Prevent and Treat Dog Diarrhea

Filed in Dog Health by on December 16, 2021

Saccharomyces boulardii to Prevent and Treat Dog Diarrhea

Few canine ailments may inspire you to call your veterinarian more quickly than diarrhea.

The bill for rug cleaning may exceed your dog’s medical care costs. Backyard playdates for kids become an impossibility when your dog has the runs.

These concerns, along with one unhappy pooch, may motivate you to seek quick, effective treatment.

Increasingly, the yeast probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii has been rising in popularity amongst veterinarians and dog owners as both a preventative and treatment for intestinal woes.

Grab your leash and let’s walk through the ins and outs of this promising probiotic.

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What Is S. boulardii and Where Did It Come From?

Probiotics are harmless living microorganisms that benefit the host when taken in high doses. The helpful yeast S. boulardii was initially isolated in 1923 by French microbiologist Henri Boulard, hence the name.

He was seeking a heat-resistant yeast for wine fermentation. His interest piqued when he observed people chewing the skins of mangosteen and lychee fruits in Indochina as a remedy for cholera-associated diarrhea.

After isolating S. boulardii from these fruits, he earned the attention of a pharmaceutical company. From there, use of this probiotic spread and has now been studied widely in humans around the globe.

By the way, Dog Endorsed recommends Full Bucket (use link for 20% off on checkout screen or use code DOGENDORSED) for where to buy S. boulardii dog products.

Should My Dog Take S. boulardii?

The beauty of S. boulardii is that it can benefit dogs with both acute and chronic diarrhea.

Causes of acute diarrhea include dietary indiscretion (Scruffy the trash-muncher strikes again), antibiotic administration, and gastrointestinal infections (such as E. coli or Giardia).

Chronic diarrhea, defined as lasting more than three weeks, most often refers to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Let’s dig deeper into these ailments.

Dietary Indiscretion

left over food in a trash

Those irresistible leftovers in the trash can lead to diarrhea from spoiled or fatty food, non-food items, or allergy-inducing ingredients.

Resulting bacterial infection, severe inflammation, or mechanical irritation can leave Scruffy regretting his lapse in dietary discipline.

Antibiotic Administration

Antibiotics prescribed for skin or urinary tract infections often cause dysbiosis. This means a decrease in variety and number of normal gut bacteria that comprise the microbiome.

A healthy microbiome is critical for immune function, gastrointestinal health, and systemic disease prevention. When the microbiome is altered, pets often develop diarrhea.

Gastrointestinal Infections

Primary gastrointestinal infections such as Giardia may be acquired through contact with infected stool at the park or doggie daycare.

Raw foods, rawhides, and wildlife can carry Salmonella, E. Coli, and other bacteria or parasites. Diarrhea is often the first clue that your pooch has unwelcome visitors on board.

Loose Stools

dog with uncontrollable diarrhea

Chronic enteropathies such as IBD can lead to poor nutrient absorption, long-term diarrhea, and weight loss. If your dog has IBD, you may be at your wit’s end with messy cleanups of both your dog’s backside and your backyard.

Veterinarians often prescribe a diet change, antibiotics, and immunosuppressive drugs to control severe symptoms.

Your vet will need to know the duration of diarrhea and any other relevant history. At a minimum, they will run stool tests and bloodwork.

Then, they can prescribe a special diet, antibiotics, vitamin and mineral supplements, and steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs depending on the diagnosis.

But for many dogs, these strategies can’t keep up with the runs. Some dogs can’t tolerate the side effects of common medications.

Fortunately, S. boulardii has shown great promise in improving the lives of dogs with both acute diarrhea due to antibiotic use or intestinal infections, and with chronic intestinal disease.

If your pooch suffers from these aliments, S. boulardii may be the ticket to a normal dog walk where neighbors don’t scowl from their windows when your dog squats on their lawn.

Is It Safe and Effective?

In 2018, a study was performed to assess the safety and efficacy of S. boulardii when given to healthy dogs and those with IBD. Not only were the normal dogs unharmed, but dogs with IBD showed significant improvement.

Dogs with IBD improved more quickly and dramatically when S. boulardii was added to the treatment protocol. Specifically, body condition scores, stool consistency, and stool frequency all improved. Sounds like a win-win supplement to me.

If you need more evidence, keep reading. A 2021 study showed that dogs with Giardia infections benefited from either S. boulardii alone, or in combination with prescription medication.

Ask your veterinarian about using S. boulardii, since it can potentially reduce infective diarrhea in the environment.

Further, S. boulardii is resistant to common antibiotics. This means it can be given at the same time without losing activity.

Another study showed that dogs given an antibiotic called lincomycin were less likely to experience antibiotic-associated diarrhea when given concurrent S. boulardii.

The apparent protective effect on the microbiome is well-worth the extra expense when antibiotics are indicated for any reason.

S. boulardii’s effectiveness relies on its ability to survive the trip from mouth to gut. Yeast are naturally capable of withstanding a low pH and stomach enzymes.

Further, the range of optimal growth temperature is compatible with typical body temperatures. These yeast are ten times larger than probiotic bacteria, do not contribute to antibiotic resistance, and affect cells in different beneficial ways.

How Does It work?

dog with bowl and supplement

Experiments with S. Boulardii have largely been with mammals other than dogs, such as rats and mice. However, the many mechanisms of action have been well-documented.

Infections with certain pathogenic bacteria, such as Clostridium difficile and E. coli, cause illness due to toxin production. These toxins harm the cells of the gastrointestinal tract directly.

However, S. boulardii releases a substance that blocks these toxins from attaching to cells, and actually destroys some toxins by releasing a protease.

Cell signaling is modified by S. boulardii, reducing inflammation. In one experiment, specific immunoglobulins against bacterial toxins increased in the presence of this yeast. Growth of some pathogenic bacteria is directly inhibited.

Restoration of the microbiome following antibiotic use also occurs much more rapidly when S. boulardii is present.

Finally, S. boulardii has beneficial effects on the intestinal lining cells, directly improving their ability to allow nutrient absorption while keeping toxins and pathogens in the intestinal lumen.

How Do I Give It?

Quality can be inconsistent with probiotic preparations. Many products have been independently tested, only to discover that they do not contain nearly the concentration promised on the label.

Purchasing S. boulardii from a reputable source backed by veterinarians ensures you won’t be wasting time and money on preparations that lack potency.

Always give a probiotic formulated specifically for dogs, at the labeled dose amount and frequency to ensure optimum benefit.

In Conclusion

When your furry friend has a gurgling belly, your veterinarian should be the first friend you phone. As mentioned, Dog Endorsed recommends Full Bucket (use link for 20% off on checkout screen or use code DOGENDORSED) for where to buy S. boulardii dog products.

Whether your pooch devoured the leftovers in the trash, started taking antibiotics, or has chronic tummy troubles, diarrhea often requires more than a few days of chicken and rice to resolve.

Once your vet has diagnosed the problem and assessed the severity, they will recommend an evidence-based treatment plan.

Be sure to ask them if Saccharomyces boulardii should be part of the strategy to get your dog back on track before this weekend’s frisbee playdate at the park.


About the Author

Dr. Jacqueline Dobranski, DVM is a contributing writer to Dog Endorsed. She received her D.V.M. from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997, and her B.S. from Cornell in 1992. She earned a Graduate Certificate in Shelter Animal Medicine in 2015. Dr. Dobranski currently practices small animal medicine in the Washington DC area.

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