Brewer's yeast is one of the more common nutritional supplements for dogs. Many breeders swear by it, but some veterinarians urge caution because of its potential as an allergen. Here's what you need to know to decide whether or not brewer's yeast is right for your dog.
Brewer's yeast is a type of nutritional yeast that is often given to dogs as a supplement. Yeasts are one-celled fungal organisms that eat sugars and produce carbon dioxide and alcohol as by-products. They are used to bake bread and brew beer and wine. The specific strain used in most brewer's yeast supplements for dogs is called Saccharomyces cervisiae. Sometimes, brewer's yeast supplements are made from by-products left over from brewing beer, but the highest-quality supplements are made specifically for dogs from fresh ingredients.
Dog owners give their pets brewer's yeast for a variety of different reasons. First, brewer's yeast is a great source of B vitamins such as biotin, trace minerals such as zinc, proteins and amino acids. The amino acids and vitamins can help make your dog's skin healthier and its coat shinier. Second, brewer's yeast is often recommended by holistic vets to help strengthen dogs' immune systems. According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care, in one study, brewer's yeast was shown to protect chickens from salmonella-tainted feed. Brewer's yeast is also a common natural remedy for dogs with fleas. Holistic veterinarian Richard Pitcairn recommends it for that purpose. It is thought to work against fleas because it contains sulphur compounds that make your dog less palatable to fleas. However, at least one study showed that brewer's yeast provided dogs no protection whatsoever against fleas compared to a control group.
Some dogs are allergic to yeast, and dogs that are allergic to other foods are likely to be allergic to yeast as well. Low-quality yeast is especially likely to cause allergic reactions. If your dog has food allergies, introduce high-quality brewer's yeast into its diet cautiously. If you see any signs of an allergic reaction, discontinue the brewer's yeast immediately.
Brewer's yeast is sold as pills, tablets and as a powdered supplement that can be sprinkled over food. The nutritional content of the yeast is not standardised, and will vary depending on what the yeast was grown on. Compare labels to ensure that your pet is getting the most benefit from the product. There is also a difference between premium brewer's yeast supplements and supplements made from the by-products of the brewing process. Yeast that has been grown specifically for use in supplements has more nutrients and is less likely to cause allergic reactions.
The correct dosage of brewer's yeast depends on the size of the dog and the type of yeast you are using. For powders, 1/2 teaspoon per 4.54 Kilogram of body weight is usually recommended. The correct dosage for tablets depends on the size of the tablet. Read and follow the dosing instructions on the package.