Halloween Is Stressful for Animals: How Probiotics Help & Safety Tips

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A look at two important studies that demonstrate why giving probiotics before a stressful event can make a difference. This is a series of posts I’m writing on Probiotics.  

All my readers can receive 10% off by using this coupon code- mylifewdogs when you check out. (I do get a few pennies if you buy something from Imagilin).

I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween. Personally, I don’t like to be scared and was never a fan of watching scary movies growing up as they give me nightmares. The dressing up part is fun though! Now that I live with dogs (remember the three dogs I live with too…that plays a big part clearly) with sensitive stomachs, Halloween all of a sudden took on new meaning. I already have a “no solicitors” sign up so folks don’t ring the doorbell. This is all part of our training and management routine.  Since Halloween can be fairly stressful at our house, we manage the dogs to ensure the days following we don’t have bad bowel movements and trips to the vet.  The influence of stress on chronic intestinal disorders is well documented and Bruiser’s Irritable Bowel Disease can flare up with little warning.

So what do folks do that live with dogs you’re constantly trying to set up for success? Success = not barking at the doorbell and keeping stress and anxiety to a minimum. Sticking with this management program is almost impossible during a holiday like Halloween….Boo!

What does management look like for us?

You can apply this to other “stressful” holidays too – tis the season of stress!

  • Baby gates and puzzle toys – all prepped (see below picture of our puzzle toys as we prepared for Halloween eve. Every puzzle toy is loaded and ready to go). Use the baby gates to keep your dogs from jumping on guests or bolting out the door.
  • Long walks prior to 6 p.m. when it starts to get dark – I’m talking about doubling the normal amount of exercise that day!
  • My TIP: Consider leaving a table out front with bowls of candy for the kids and a friendly sign that says “help yourself”. I know this isn’t as fun and you don’t get to see all the costumes but if you have a shopping mall nearby or in the “village” by our house for example, kids dress up and shop at the stores and that’s fun if you want to “celebrate” that way.
  • What? Yes, add Probiotics to your dog and cat’s daily routine as there are numerous studies that show probiotics (reminder! The majority of immune cells live in your gut) help with the impact of stress on our animals – according to MitoMax manufacturer, Imagilin the best process is- double the “maintenance” dosage 2-3 days before Halloween. For example, according to the maintenance dose, Bruiser only gets one capsule per day so I’ll double that dosage and give him two capsules starting Friday. Then you can go back to the regular dosing schedule.

PROVE IT: There are two very interesting studies done by Imagilin on the topic of how probiotics can benefit animals that are experiencing severe anxiety and stress. The Resources section has the full study if you’d like to read on but it’s fascinating… if you like that kind of stuff….

Study #1: This study looks at separation anxiety and how this induces stress-related health issues on the dogs. According to Imagilin’s study, probiotics help when animals are in VERY stressful scenarios (far beyond Halloween but this holiday is a good example of a different type of stress – anxiety comes in many forms). When dogs stay in an animal hospital or in a canine hotel, they often suffer from separation anxiety and stress-related digestive disorders such as diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite are common. It has been reported that the beneficial microorganisms found in the in gastrointestinal (GI) tracts are decreased when the animals have been placed under various stress.

The results of this study looked at the stool and appetite results of a number of dogs, they observed that P. acidilactici and S. boulardii (found in MitoMax) have beneficial effects on alleviating stress-related digestive disorders when dogs stay in animal hospitals  where eating is essential. More here <hyperlink>.

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STUDY #2: Introduced to the aquaculture industry relatively recently, probiotics have already shown a remarkable ability to manage various aspects of fish health. This study shows that P. acidilactici Increases Survival of Gold Fish under Physical Stress.  This study shows how stress is caused from the “physical movement of transportation of fish form one tank to another and during the shipping process from the breeders to the pet stores to the homes” and how fish benefit from probiotics when they are stressed.

44 gold fish were randomly assigned to either a control or probiotic-treatment group, and fed the corresponding diet for three days. They were then subjected to physical stress for three hours due to the physical movement of transportation. Over the 15 days which followed, fish in the probiotic-treated group received continued Pediococcus supplementation in their feed.

Values shown represent mean survival data for the control and probiotic-treated groups.  In the first 4 days no significant difference is observed between the control and treated groups.  Probiotics appear to have a positive effect on the survival rate of the treated group starting from day 5 for each physical stress event.

Resources:

  • MitoFish™: Pediococcus acidilactici Probiotic for Fish Health (Imagilin can provide full study, please comment below if you’re interested as I’ll send to you directly)
  • Effectiveness of Pediococcus- and Saccharomyces- probiotics to reduce stress related digestive disorders in dogs (Imagilin can provide full study, please comment below if you’re interested as I’ll send to you directly)
  • Link to testimonials on the site
  • You Tube video  with the application explanation

Disclaimer: We receive a discount off our supplements from Imagilin as part of their blogger program in exchange for an honest review.  I only share information about products that I believe in and already fit into our doggie lifestyle and routine. I was compensated for this post and the above discount code is an affiliate link.

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Puzzle toys for Halloween – how to enrich while the doorbell rings!

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There are 41 Comments

  1. I just bought some probiotics for the boys at our vet. I will check out these as soon as my supply is depleted. Thanks for the information.

  2. Our previous dog, Pip, had all kinds of anxiety which would usually result in digestive upsets. Ruby has some anxiety but so far that hasn’t translated, fortunately, to digestive upset.

  3. Sherri says:

    Probiotics work for me – I’m thinking of trying some on my dog but not for anxiety. I love Halloween. But yes, the dog freaks out at every doorbell. Fortunately, we don’t get many. I am giving out doggie loot bags this year too.

  4. Hindy Pearson says:

    What an interesting read. I wasn’t aware of probiotics as a way to help stressed animals, but definitely good to know. Thanks!

  5. How interesting, I’m not that familiar with probiotics but will definitely be looking into MitoMax for our golden boy, Bruin. He get’s a bit stressed out in certain situations so I would be curious to see if this helps him. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Our cats take probiotics on a regular basis to maintain their health and they’re definitely good for anxiety issues as well.

  7. Fantastic post on probiotics , i remember whn i worked as an assistant to a vet she almost always prescribed probiotics with a course of antibiotics. I am going to take your tip and use it on dogs during stressful events too

  8. Cathy Armato says:

    Great post Christy! This certainly is the season of stress, all starting with Halloween. Great ideas on preparing for the craziness of Halloween & incorporating probiotics into that prep! Hope your dogs do well on Halloween, we rarely get any trick or treaters here, we’re right in the village & the stores give out all the candy!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  9. I never thought about probiotics helping with stress.

  10. Ruth Epstein says:

    Great to know thanks for this info

  11. Robin says:

    Very interesting! I didn’t know that probiotics could help with stress. That makes a lot of sense. Halloween is a tough one for cats and dogs. I love Halloween, but I know what is going on. I can see how our pets are not always so enthused about strange looking people showing up at the door all night long.

    • yea – since our dogs are already on probiotics I was happy to see their stress level last night stay totally normal. We put in a lot of measures to keep everyone calm!

  12. Lisa Bregant says:

    Thank you fro the great information. I wasn’t aware that probiotics could help with stress. I will definitely check out the rest of your series.

  13. Katie Allan says:

    Very interesting post! I am about to start Echo and Gracie on probiotics.

  14. Beth says:

    It seems like a lot of people have found probiotics to be beneficial for themselves and their pets. These are great tips to help keep dogs calm during Halloween or any time there is a lot of unusual activity.

  15. Mr. N has separation anxiety and will get stomach upsets a few times a year. I should look into putting him on a regular probiotic regime.

  16. Adorable photos! That’s really interesting how dogs benefit from probiotics in very similar ways as humans.

  17. Kim says:

    Great article.
    I haven’t tried probiotics for anxiety. Will give it a try

  18. Jana Rade says:

    We don’t have many luxuries here, particularly not now. But one luxury we do have is being able to ignore any holiday we choose to. So we ignore Halloween completely. Other than watching scary movies, of course. Gotta do THAT.

  19. Hope you and your pack are doing OK tonight! The corgis were sequestered in the room over my garage with my daughter until about 20 minutes ago.I don’t think they could hear the doorbell because it was quiet up there, Amazingly, Lele, who was stationed by me, was unfazed. Thank dog!
    Interesting that probiotics can have a calming effect. I LOVE that they tested the one on stresses out fish! ☺ (Not that I’m happy about the fish being stressed or anything!)

    • Well we made it without a lot of stress and chaos! Lights were turned off and candy bowl outside. 🙂 I love that Lele was unfazed. And I’m with you – the fish study I had to include as I’m fascinated with animal behavior in general but this one study I thought was amazing! Thank you!

  20. Wonderful post! Very informative, I didn’t know probiotics helped with stress! I need to tell my humans about this!!! 🙂