Can Dogs Drink Kombucha?
It’s a trend nowadays to provide holistic food supplements to dogs for a healthier diet option. Dog owners can choose from many holistic food supplements, but one particular beverage has become a popular option over the past few years, kombucha. A traditional fermented beverage believed to have originated from China and Japan over 2000 years ago, kombucha has been becoming a popular healthy and holistic beverage choice among many people. Over recent years, dog owners have looked into giving kombucha to their pets as a healthy treat and supplement choice. But there has been limited scientific data to support its benefits and safety for dogs. Keep reading to learn more about kombucha, including the risks and benefits of sharing this drink with your dog.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a traditional fermented beverage consisting of black tea and sugar. The natural fermentation process produces high concentrations of antioxidants, probiotics, and other beneficial nutrients, making it a highly nutritious beverage for humans. Fermentation also produces a blob-like material that can be used to start a new fermentation batch of kombucha.
Kombucha has been steadily growing in popularity among people advocating for a healthier lifestyle and food choices. Dog owners have started considering supplementing their dog’s diet with kombucha because of its known health benefits in humans as they start looking for more holistic ways to keep their pets healthy.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha is a Great Source of Probiotics
Kombucha is made through fermentation. This is done by adding specific bacteria strains, sugar, and yeast and letting it stand for at least a week to ferment. This fermentation process produces a blob on the surface of the beverage called SCOBY.
The SCOBY is a colony of bacterial and yeast organisms that can be used to make a new batch of kombucha. This colony contains a high concentration of lactic acid bacteria, which can benefit the gut microflora if ingested. Probiotics can help improve digestion and control intestinal infections in the last segments of the intestine.
Kombucha is Rich in Antioxidants
The fermentation process needed to make kombucha also results in the production of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that fight off free radicals and reduce cell damage. An abundance of antioxidants inside the body helps control cell damage in different health conditions like kidney failure or liver cirrhosis. Some studies have shown that kombucha contains high amounts of liver antioxidants that can reduce liver toxicity from various chemicals. It has been shown that daily intake of kombucha can help manage serious conditions like liver or kidney disease.
Kombucha has Natural Antimicrobial Properties
Aside from antioxidants, the fermentation process from which kombucha is made also produces acetic acid, the same acid compound found in vinegar. Acetic acid has innate antibacterial properties that can kill pathogenic microorganisms inside the gastrointestinal tract.
Kombucha fermented from black tea has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties, especially against pathogenic bacteria and yeast organisms. The antimicrobial activity of kombucha only targets pathogenic and harmful organisms, and won’t affect beneficial gut microflora.
Kombucha Can Help Reduce Blood Sugar and Manage Diabetes
Kombucha is primarily derived from fermented green or black tea and as such, shares some of its properties and health benefits. One health benefit of drinking kombucha is a reduced blood sugar level, which can be important in managing diabetes. Diabetes is a hormonal health condition characterized by a persistent elevation of blood glucose levels due to a compromised production of insulin, a hormone responsible for breaking down glucose from the diet.
While kombucha has some sugar added to it during preparation, the fermentation process breaks these sugar down, resulting in more controlled sugar content. Kombucha also helps slow down absorption and digestion of sugar, which helps manage blood sugar levels in cases of diabetes.
Is Kombucha safe for dogs to drink?
While there have been reports about the health benefits of kombucha in humans, scientific studies surrounding the subject are still limited and aren’t enough to conclude that kombucha can be used as a supplement to manage health conditions. This is also true when it comes to giving kombucha to dogs as a supplement.
Limited studies are available regarding the safety and efficacy of kombucha for dogs, and the benefits are still debatable. While in theory, the health benefits that are seen in humans can also be seen in dogs, the difference in how the two species metabolize certain nutrients and compounds may lead to health risks for canines.
Kombucha contains a lot of natural nutrients like antioxidants, probiotics, trace minerals, and vitamins that can be beneficial to a dog’s health. Its innate antimicrobial and blood-sugar-lowering properties can also help manage certain gastrointestinal or systemic conditions in dogs. However, there are ingredients in kombucha that can cause health problems if given continuously or in large quantities.
Since kombucha are derived from the fermentation of green and black tea leaves, they naturally have a certain amount of caffeine because of the natural caffeine content of the tea leaves used. Though the level is negligible for humans, even a minute amount of caffeine ingestion in dogs can lead to clinical signs.
Dogs are much more sensitive to caffeine than humans and a little dose can cause symptoms such as increased blood pressure, heart rate, tremors, and seizures. Continuous supplementation of kombucha in dogs can lead to caffeine toxicity and cause serious health problems. Overdose of caffeine can even be fatal in dogs.
Kombucha, being a natural source of probiotics, can help maintain an ideal gut microflora population in a dog’s gastrointestinal system. But like many other things, too much beneficial bacteria supplementation can lead to microfloral imbalance and result in diarrhea in dogs. This can easily happen with kombucha supplements because of the high concentration of live bacteria contained in the fermented beverage.
While kombucha seems like an ideal and all-natural food supplement for dogs, further studies are still needed to evaluate the safety of the beverage for dog consumption. It’s best to consult with your vet before deciding on giving your dog kombucha as a supplement or treat.
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