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Probiotic breakthrough for helping dogs maintain calm behavior


Anxious behaviors are common in dogs and can adversely affect their quality of life as well as that of their owners. These behaviors can range from hypervigilance, excessive barking, pacing, panting, compulsive licking and trembling to house soiling, destruction and fear aggression. In a Nestlé Purina survey, as many as 62 percent of dog owners reported that their dogs regularly exhibited one or more anxious behaviors.

The causes of anxious behavior may be attributed to genetics, early experiences, and environmental stimuli or stressors. Scientific research has also explored the connection between an imbalance of bacteria in the gut microbiota and anxious behaviors in dogs.

Over the years, Nestlé has pioneered research into how probiotics can be beneficial to health, leading to many products that help humans achieve a healthy digestion, such as nutritional drinks and yogurts. Nestlé Purina scientists leveraged this research expertise to determine if probiotics can also have beneficial effects on pet health.

In 2006, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets introduced FortiFlora probiotic supplements – containing a safe and effective strain of beneficial bacteria proven to promote intestinal health and balance. FortiFlora also promotes a healthy immune system and is the number one probiotic brand prescribed by veterinarians as a nutritional supplement for dietary management of dogs and cats with diarrhea.

In recent years, Nestlé Purina scientists have focused on the benefits of probiotics for dogs with anxious behaviors.

“In searching for a new way to address dogs with anxious behaviors, we focused on the bi-directional communication known as the gut-brain axis — a connection believed to be influenced by the gut microbiota,” said Dr. McGowan, Nestlé Purina Research Scientist. “Scientific evidence has shown that controlling gut bacteria through probiotic administration can have a positive influence on anxious behavior.”

To help veterinarians manage dogs with anxious behavior, Nestlé Purina applied this research to launch new Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care, which contains Bifidobacterium longum (BL999), a probiotic strain that has been shown to help dogs maintain calm behavior.

“While anxious behaviors are often thought of as psychological, their effect on a dog’s physiologic state is real,” said Dr. McGowan. “By addressing this at a gut level, veterinarians can offer clients new hope for helping anxious dogs achieve peace of mind.”

For more information see:

What you should know about probiotics for dogs and cats

Study references:

Nestlé Purina Survey: Data was collected by Relevation Research via on online survey from August 2018. A total of 826 nationally-representative dog owners qualified and completed the survey.

McGowan, R. T. S. "Oiling the brain" or "Cultivating the gut": Impact of diet on anxious behavior in dogs. Proceedings of the Nestlé Purina Companion Animal Nutrition Summit, March 2016.