Brewer's yeast is a popular supplement for dogs. Thought to help repel fleas, improve skin and coat and boost the immune system, brewer's yeast has been recommended and used for decades. However, some of the health claims have not been proven, and there are some risks you need to be aware of before supplementing your dog's diet with brewer's yeast.
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Yeast is a single-celled fungi organism that occurs in several forms and is used in baking and brewing beer and other fermented drinks. The type used for brewing beer and also as a canine supplement is saccharomyces cervisiae. Brewer's yeast is a rich source of B vitamins, minerals and amino acids. A by-product of making beer (hence the name "brewer's" yeast), it has been used as a human supplement for centuries.
Brewer's yeast is credited with being beneficial as a skin and coat conditioner for dogs and as an aid to diminish shedding. It is also touted as an immune booster and appetite stimulant. When sold as a flea repellent, it is often formulated in tablets containing other ingredients like garlic and coconut oil for omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Is is high in several minerals, including chromium, which helps regulate normal blood sugar levels, and selenium, thought to aid in maintaining proper thyroid function.
Brewer's yeast is available in pill and powder form. Many dogs enjoy the taste and will eat the pills like a treat. The powder can be sprinkled over food. Brewer's yeast marketed for dogs is often made with beef or liver powder, making it even more palatable.
Dosage will vary depending on the formula, so refer to the label for recommended amounts for your dog. Dr. Michael Fox advises mixing about 1 tsp of brewer's yeast per 13.6 Kilogram of the dog's weight into the food daily as part of a natural flea control regimen.
Do not use the baker's yeast sold in grocery stores. It is a different strain and does not have the nutrients contained in brewer's yeast.
Flea-Repellent Claims Disputed
Several controlled studies have been carried out to determine the efficacy of brewer's yeast in repelling fleas and have found that when compared to dogs receiving no brewer's yeast, there were no differences in the number of fleas on the dogs. At best, brewer's yeast may be somewhat effective when part of a broader regimen of flea control as described by Dr. Fox.
Some dogs are allergic or intolerant of yeast. If your dog has frequent ear and skin infections, consult your veterinarian before supplementing with brewer's yeast. Adding more yeast to the diet can increase yeast overgrowth in the ear canals and hair follicles, exacerbating skin irritation and ear infections.
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