Thursday, 17 May 2012

DIY Probiotics for Your Dog and Cat

Sauerkraut is a quick, easy and inexpensive fresh probiotic that's excellent for dogs. You can also make your own kefir for your dog and cat.

Fresh Sauerkraut…

Fresh sauerkraut is a very concentrated source of probiotics.Typically fresh 'kraut contains 13 strains of bacteria and about 100 times more probiotics than most supplements; it is simple to make and most dogs enjoy the taste.

 The health benefits to your dog are many...
  • Aids in the digestion process.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Helps prevent cancer (sauerkraut contains compounds called isothiocyanates which protect against cancer).
  • Fights E. Coli, salmonella and candida.
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties (inflammation can trigger some cancers).
  • Rich source of vitamin A, B, C and E.
  • Calcium and magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and manganese.
  • Excellent source of antioxidants.
  • Helps alleviate anxiety and depression.
  • Supports omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Reduce allergy symptoms.

Is a creamy, naturally carbonated, fermented dairy product. Typically one tablespoon of kefir contains 5 billion beneficial bacteria. As a rich and concentrated source of beneficial bacteria the probiotics found in Kefir contribute to health in a wide variety of ways:

Contains a substantial amount of B Complex vitamins, Calcium, vitamin A, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus;
  • Contains tryptophan, and essential amino acid;
  • Helps prevents illness;
  • Is easily digestible;
  • Is excellent for the immune system;
  • Natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties;
  • Promotes anti-cancer and anti-tumour activity in the body;
  • Promotes the faster healing of wounds;
You can read more about the benefits in detail here.

So, let’s look at some simple but great recipes to make your own sauerkraut and kefir for your dog and cat- of course you can eat the sauerkraut and kefir as well, to gain the same health benefits.

Using organic products to make the recipes is always better than using non-organic, but either way the end product will be beneficial for your dog and cat.

Sauerkraut Recipes

Recipe One - Simple Sauerkraut
  • 1 medium green cabbage;
  • 1 tbsp of organic salt - NOT iodized salt/table salt. Choose from i.e. grey sea salt, Celtic sea salt, Himalayan salt, etc.
  • Water - enough to submerge cabbage in jar(s);
  • 1 large mixing bowl;
  • 1 Mason jar (sterilized).
Optional ingredients
  • Fresh dill;
  • Juice of one fresh lemon.
This recipe makes about 1.6 liters of sauerkraut. See below for preparation instructions and amount to feed your dog.

Recipe Two - Confetti Sauerkraut
  • 1 medium green cabbage
  • 1 medium red cabbage
  • 2-3 tbsp of sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • 1-2 cups water - enough to submerge cabbage in jar(s)
  • 1 large mixing bowl;
  • Mason jars (sterilized)

Optional ingredients
  • Grated carrot
  • Fresh dill or caraway seeds
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  •  2-4 tbsp of fresh shredded ginger

This recipe makes about 3 liters of sauerkraut.


Make sure that you wash the cabbage prior to grating it and cut off any spots that are not fresh and healthy looking, cut off the bottom of the cabbage and save it. Once you place the prepared cabbage in to the Mason jar you can use the cabbage bottom that you have saved to press the cabbage to the bottom of the jar. Make sure that all utensils, surfaces, bowls, etc. are very clean in order to ensure that you do not contaminate the end product.

Shred or grate the cabbage, then mix in the salt. If you are using the optional ingredients mix them in as well. Press the resulting mixture into a mason jar. Make sure that you leave 2 to 3 inches empty at the top of the jar. Remember that the cabbage is going to ferment in order to become sauerkraut so you need to allow some space for the fermentation process to occur. Cut the cabbage bottom so it fits into the jar on top of the shredded cabbage and then firmly press the cabbage down into the jar until the juice rises above the shredded cabbage.

Now you are ready to seal the jar. You can squeeze fresh lemon juice over the jar rim and then the lid - this will ensure that any undesirable microbes are killed and that the sauerkraut remains pure and uncontaminated.
The sealed jar(s) should be placed in a location were they can sit at room temperature, away from direct light for a period of 4 to 10 days. Although you can eat the sauerkraut after 4 days, the longer the sauerkraut is allowed to sit and ferment the more variety and quantity of probiotics present - so waiting 10 days is best!

During the fermentation period you will likely see the cabbage (soon to be sauerkraut) bubble and change color. You can periodically open the lid(s) to allow a little of the gas to escape, then use a clean utensil to push the cabbage back down leaving it submerged in the liquid.

Once you open a jar to eat it make sure you refrigerate it. The finished sauerkraut should be provided to your dog raw not heated as heating will destroy the probiotic quality as heat kills live bacteria. Kept in the refrigerator the fresh sauerkraut will preserve for several months.

Daily Dosage of Sauerkraut
  • Small size dogs - ½ tsp to 1 heaping tbs, 1x to 2x per day
  • Medium size dogs -  2 tbs to 3 heaping tbs, 1x to 2x per day
  • Large dogs - 3 to 4 heaping tbs, 1x to 2x per day
How to Introduce Sauerkraut to Your Dog’s Diet
As with any new foodstuff that you introduce to your dog’s diet you should go slow. The probiotics in sauerkraut are highly concentrated so give your dog’s system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week cut the recommended dosage in half. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a few days to a week or two. If your dog has a negative reaction to the new food stop providing the food to your dog. All of my dogs get kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt on a daily basis. None of my 10 dogs have ever had a negative reaction to any of these food stuffs.

Kefir Recipe

You will need the following utensils:
  • 3 wide-mouth quart jars complete with lids;
  • 1 wooden slotted spoon or fork;
  • 1 wire whisk that will fit inside jar;
  • 1 plastic strainer.
You will need the following Ingredients:
  • Whole, milk (organic, farm-fresh milk if possible) - enough to fill the jars leaving a little space at the top
  • 1 tsp of kefir grains per each quart of milk
  • You will need to purchase the kefir grains (or kefir starter) from a health food store or on-line
  • You can, if you wish also purchase Kefir making kits

  • Sterilize the jars and all utensils
  • Place the appropriate qty of kefir grains in the bottom of each jar

  • Fill the jar with milk leaving to 2 to 3 inches empty at the top of the jar - the kefir will need room to ferment.
  • Secure the lids on to the jars.
  • Put the jars in a paper bag(s) and place the bags in a warm place (the ambient air temperature must be about 210C/70oF. Leave the jars to sit, undisturbed for 24 hours
  • After 24 hours the contents in the jars should have a soft, delicate solid consistency and when the jar is slightly tipped over there should be a little liquid that separates from the solid.
  • Place the jars (still in paper bags) in a cool, dark place to cure for an additional 8 to 10 hours - this time the ambient air temperature should be as close to 100C/50oF as possible.
  • After the 8 to 10 hour curing period gently shake the jar(s), remove the lid(s), use the wooden spoon to remove the kefir grains (you will notice that the kefir grains are larger as they have grown during the during process). Place the grains in another clean jar, secure a lid and set the jar aside. Once the kefir has been removed from the cured jar of kefir, use a wisk to beat the kefir to a smooth blended consistency.
  • Place the strainer over the wisked kefir and pour the kefir into another clean jar, secure the lid - the kefir is ready to drink, or you can refrigerate it for later.

  • You can then take the remaining kefir grains from the strained jar, combine them with the other kefir grains and start another batch of kefir. 

Daily Dosage of Kefir
  • Small size dogs and cats - 1 tbs to 2 tbs, 1x to 2x per day
  • Medium size dogs - 1/8 cup, 1x to 2x per day
  • Large dogs - 1/4 cup, 1x to 2x per day
  • X-Large dogs - 1/3 to 1/2 cup, 1x to 2x per day

How to Introduce Kefir to Your Dog’s and Cat's Diet

As with any new foodstuff that you introduce to your dog’s and cat's diet you should go slow. The probiotics in kefir are highly concentrated so give your dog’s and cat's system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week cut the recommended dosage in half. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a few days to a week or two. If your dog has a negative reaction to the new food stop providing the food to your dog and cat. All of my dogs get kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt on a daily basis. None of my 10 dogs or my cats have ever had a negative reaction to any of these food stuffs.

DIY Nutritious Treats Made with Yogurt and Cheese
  • DIY Smoothies & Frozen Treats for Dogs and Cats – Nutrient Rich Refreshing Relief During Hot Weather - recipes and health benefits here.

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld 


  1. was wondering why you add water to your sauerkraut? the old people used to add the salt and stomp the cabbage and salt together til it made it's own brine that way it would be preserved after it fermented.

    1. the old way of making sauerkraut is perfect. The water- added methods is for those people that do not want to put in the physical effort required to pound/stomp the cabbage

    2. When I was a kid my mum ate sauerkraut out of a tin from supermarket I wonder if I can just use the supermarket sauerkraut??

    3. It has no probiotic value. If in a tin it also has been contaminated with carcinogens

  2. good to know. grandma also told me to turn the lids down firm but not tight, then back it off a quarter turn. then set the jars in a roaster and let them ferment til they don't bubble anymore. The roaster will collect the overflow. course hers were fermenting in the garage or basement not the kitchen because of the smell but that way you don't have to worry about the lids bulging. Hope this helps someone. Kitty

  3. I thought salt was bad for animals?

    1. Inorganic salt - table salt, is bad just as it is for us, full spectrum salt is good - read here

  4. Hi Karen,

    What are your thoughts on giving dogs homemade kombucha tea in small quantities?


    1. Kombucha is generally a good/healthful option.


Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats