Monday, September 3, 2012

Arenus® Assure Probiotic Review

For the longest time, we had Desmond on the PETCO brand probiotic tablets, but we were never really sure if they were doing anything or not. Des does not have stomach of steel, so he has issues often enough, but because he's been taking the probiotic basically from day one of living with us, we aren't sure what he would be like otherwise.

When I was approached in regards to doing a review of the Arenus probiotic, Assure, I thought it would be a good chance to try and discern some something about my pup's digestive system (plus, I had a good experience doing a previous review for Arenus on their fish-oil pills--which, by the way, we finally finished just last week, and I can say that I really do think Desmond was less itchy while on them).

After we chatted with the rep, she decided to send us Assure Canine for Puppy and Performance Diets.

image from

Not because Desmond is a puppy (he's 2 and a half)--and we all know the only performing he's doing involves an attempt at turning dog whines into a new style of opera--but because he is still eating Nature's Logic, which is high in protein, and the Performance formula is designed for diets with greater than 25% protein. (There's also an Adult/Weight Control formula, FYI.)

Okie dokie, sign me up!

We're used to giving Des tablets that he was nuts over for some reason (I don't think they smell like anything at all, so I can't imagine what's so exciting about them). Switching to a powder meant to be sprinkled into each meal was a little annoying, just because it adds a step and I am lazy.

This is strike one.

Strike two comes when you open the tub. P-freakin-U!

Stinky powder
This stuff smells like a mixture of playdoh and vitamins, even though it's liver flavored (not one iota of liver do I smell). I'm sure that doesn't sound so bad compared to half of the things we deal with for our dogs, but I have a weird nose and that scent makes me gag. I hold my breath whenever I have the tub open.

Desmond, on the other hand, does not seem to mind it. While I was writing this review, I caught him taking a whiff.

But then Assure gets a point for having the cutest wee li'l scooper I have ever seen:

It holds approximately .8 grams of powder (and, yes, that is my office bathroom key for comparison. We're very classy around here.)
Now, the other thing about this probiotic I wasn't thrilled about is the way you have to administer it. You put a wee li'l scoop of powder into every cup of food (and the tub holds enough for over 200 cups of food).

That's not such a big deal, except that we feed Desmond three separate meals of one cup each. Two of those meals are fed to him in his bowl; the other is fed to him in a treat dispenser.

Putting the powder in the treat dispenser is not an option, so we can do one of two things: give him two scoops in his breakfast or give him two scoops in his dinner.

This would be fine for a normal dog, but we don't have a normal dog; we have a Desmond. Desmond doesn't always eat his treat-dispenser meal. That leaves us with a dog who has now gotten too much probiotic and not enough food.

Is this a real problem? I don't know for certain, but I do feel like since we started him on Assure, his bathroom outings have been less than stellar. It's supposed to help with bloating and gas as well, and, frankly, Desmond can still clear a room, so that doesn't seem to be working. I wonder how much of that is the fault of Assure and how much of that is the fault of our odd feeding schedule and inconsistency with the probiotic.

Honestly, I don't know what to make of the whole thing. We're nowhere near done with the tub--there is seriously so much powder in that thing, enough for 225 cups of food--so I will keep using it for sure.

When we're done, I will likely go back to the PETCO brand tablets, even though Desmond's diet will still be high in protein. I know the dog likes them, and they're super easy to get into his body even if you forget to add it to his food.

I don't have any intentions of taking Desmond off of a probiotic--although I do have intentions of switching him to food from The Honest Kitchen, and I wonder if he'll need a probiotic at all with that. Meanwhile, this Performance Assure would be a better digestive supplement for a THK diet than the PETCO tablets would be (in fact, you can use this probiotic with grain-free diets).

As you can see, I'm kind of all over the place on this one.

Again, I don't even know if probiotics in general are doing anything for Des, because I have nothing to compare it to, but I am kind of scared to take him off for fear his potty breaks would become quite gross. What do you guys think? Are probiotics worth it for your dog? Should we go rogue just to see what happens? Should I stock up on canned pumpkin and just call it a day?

Very few folks I've spoken to have been anti-probiotic, so I feel inclined to continue using one.

If you're interested in starting your pup on a probiotic or in trying a new brand, you're in luck. We'll be hosting a giveaway for Arenus Assure Canine (whichever formula you need) in the coming week or so.  Check back soon!

FTC disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are 100% my own. I was sent two full-size tubs of the probiotic in exchange for this review. 
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