To Refrigerate or Not to Refrigerate...
Do probiotics need to be refrigerated? Why are some probiotics sold refrigerated and others not? Refrigeration and probiotics is an important and often asked question. The answer, same for both probiotics for dogs and probiotics for humans, has to do with the stability of the probiotic. If a probiotic needs to be refrigerated to be viable, then what are the chances that the bacteria will survive in the body?
Why Refrigerate Probiotics?
Refrigeration can extend the life of the microorganisms contained in your probiotic supplement, but not all probiotic supplements need to be refrigerated after purchase to be efficacious. In some cases, refrigeration is NOT recommended due to exposure to moisture. While liquid probiotic products most definitely require refrigeration, powder or tablet form probiotics do not, or should not.
Note: This does not apply to probiotics contained in dairy cultures or other food items that spoil even with refrigeration.
Freezing probiotics should be avoided as the extreme cold temperatures damage the cell walls of the microorganisms.
What is Proper Storage for Probiotics?
Keep probiotics away from moisture, air, and harsh conditions. Store probiotics in a dark, cool, dry place for best results.
Why Are Some Probiotics Sold in Refrigeration?
The reason some probiotics are sold in the refrigerator section may be one or both of the following reasons:
- The probiotic supplement contains unstable microorganisms that require low temperatures.
- Refrigeration on the store shelf slows the probiotic die off rate prior to being purchased.
Unstable Probiotics and Refrigeration
Certain probiotics, depending on the way they are manufactured become unstable in higher temperatures. Probiotics may need to be kept in refrigeration because the microorganisms have significant die off at around 60 degrees fahrenheit. When the unstable probiotic is removed from refrigeration and comes in contact with the body, it usually dies in the stomach before it can reach the intestine.
The intestines are where probiotics need to travel in order to do their job. Unfortunately, there is no real way to know for sure if a product is stable by looking at the label or checking for refrigeration because every product makes claims. The good news is... most manufacturers employ standard practices to stabilize their microorganisms, and, there is no placebo effect with dogs, so you'll see results with the probiotics, if they're stable, or you won't.
Probiotics need to be able to pass through the stomach acid and bile so they can seed the intestine, where they multiply and do their work. Certain species and strains are naturally too weak or unstable to survive without refrigeration.
Stable Probiotics and Refrigeration
A stable probiotic is the the right probiotic for dogs. A stable probiotic is a higher quality supplement and does not need to be refrigerated to be viable. Two elements determine stability for probiotics:
1) The right species are selected.
2) Key manufacturing techniques to ensure stability, such as, freeze-drying (common for powder formulas).
What Makes a Probiotic Stable?
Dry probiotic powder has had the moisture from the microorganisms removed with low temperature and pressure placing the bacteria in a state of suspended animation. This makes the product ideal for long term storage without damaging the delicate structure of the bacteria. Special manufacturing measures are taken to add further resilience to the microorganisms and ensure survival through shipping, storage, and ingestion.
How It Works:
When the dry probiotic powder is put in contact with your dog's food, the stomach naturally reconstitutes the bacteria and it becomes available for implantation in the gut of your pet.
What is the shelf life of probiotics?
Generally, the most efficacy can be gained during the first 6 months after manufacture. Usually, a powder formula is good for about a year, with a steadily declining rate of die-off following.
Most manufacturers provide the CFU count at the time of manufacturer, which could mean that by the time you get and use the product, it has much less than stated on the label. We recommend finding a product that recommends the CFU count at the time of the best by date. Manufacturers that guarantee their product by the best by date have usually loaded their formula with large overages to account for the die off that naturally occurs after the manufacturing process. Such manufacturers that do this are Nusentia's Probiotic Miracle.
A good, shelf-stable probiotic will not require refrigeration and will not need to be kept cold to be viable.