Can Probiotics Cause Vomiting? (seniors, infants, dogs, cats)
It has long been established that probiotics are bacteria, but they are a good kind of bacteria. But because they’re bacteria, is it possible for them to cause vomiting if you take a probiotic supplement, drink, or food?
Here’s some good news: there’s nothing to worry about. I researched this topic for you and learned the following:
- Probiotics aren’t likely to cause vomiting, however, in rare cases, some people might experience an upset stomach or acid reflux that could trigger vomiting
- You can avoid acid reflux and stomach upset by starting with a lower dose
- People with an underlying medical condition are more likely to experience vomiting after taking probiotics
- Vomiting and nausea after taking probiotics in healthy people might be a sign that the supplement is working
Curious how probiotics can cause vomiting (in a good way) in healthy people? What can you do to reduce the risks of vomiting? Will probiotics also cause vomiting in babies and pets like cats and dogs?
Let me discuss all these in-depth below.
Can Probiotics Cause Vomiting and Nausea?
If you’re planning to take supplements or probiotic food like kefir and sauerkraut, you might be asking yourself, “Can probiotics make me throw up?”
That’s a valid question, of course, considering that probiotics are made of bacteria. Thankfully, they’re good bacteria and are not likely to cause vomiting or nausea in most healthy individuals.
Still, because they’re bacteria, probiotics can cause other issues with people that have an underlying medical condition, such as cancer survivors or immunocompromised patients. They’re more likely to experience vomiting after taking probiotics. So, it’s important that they only take probiotics when cleared by their doctor.
Why Do I Throw Up After Taking Probiotics?
So, you’re not immunocompromised and don’t have an underlying medical condition, but you still experience vomiting after taking probiotics. Well, it’s no cause for alarm, unless you’re vomiting non-stop.
There are several possible reasons why that happens:
- Acid reflux and stomach upset (due to too many probiotics)
- Sign that probiotics are working
- Lactose intolerance
Let me explain below why these things happen.
Why Probiotics Cause Acid Reflux (Triggers Vomiting)
In rare cases, some healthy people might experience an upset stomach or acid reflux that could trigger vomiting. It’s considered a rare side effect and is usually not something that you should worry about.
Sometimes it happens because your stomach creates acids whose production might be triggered or affected by the components of your probiotics.
It might be because of too many probiotics.
You can avoid acid reflux and stomach upset by starting with a lower dose. For example, if the regular dose requires two capsules, you can start with only one, then increase the dose after a couple of days.
Some people find it easier to take probiotics along with a meal instead of on an empty stomach.
However, once your tummy has acclimatized to the probiotics you’re taking, it might be best to take it at least 30 minutes before a meal. Doing this can maximize your probiotics’ survival on their journey through your stomach acids.
Vomiting & Upset Stomach (Signs Probiotics Are Working)
Did you know that vomiting and nausea after taking probiotics (in healthy people) could be signs probiotics are working in your gut?
We’ve discussed that in-depth with our article, “Can probiotics cause flu-like symptoms?”.
The gist of that article is that some people can experience negative reactions, often considered as side effects, after taking probiotics. In some of these rare cases, people might even experience fatigue, fever, sore throat, and skin breakouts.
These side effects are called Herx Reaction symptoms.
According to Zuma Nutrition, these side effects appear due to the toxins and various chemicals that the dying pathogenic microorganisms release.
The good news is that these side effects are rare. Not everyone who takes probiotics experiences vomiting, nausea, or these flu-like symptoms.
Probiotics & Vomiting from Lactose Intolerance
Probiotic intake can lead to vomiting, nausea, and other side effects for people who have lactose intolerance or sensitivities.
Note, however, that these side effects aren’t directly caused by the probiotic strains. Instead, they’re usually due to the other components or ingredients in your probiotics.
For example, many probiotic drinks or food, such as yogurt and Yakult, are made using milk. Because milk contains lactose (a type of sugar), people who have lactose intolerance can react to these probiotic products.
To avoid vomiting, check if the probiotic product you’re planning to buy contains milk and/or lactose if you have issues with this milk sugar.
The good news is that this shouldn’t be a problem for people who don’t have lactose intolerance or sensitivities.
Good News: Some Probiotics Can Help Alleviate Vomiting
I’m quite sure you’ll be happy to learn that some probiotics can actually help alleviate vomiting.
For example, vomiting and nausea due to morning sickness are common experiences that affect as many as 85% of pregnant women, according to a 2021 Nutrients study.
The study discovered that daily intake of probiotics, especially Lactobacillus strains, can significantly reduce the severity of vomiting, nausea, and constipation in pregnant clinical trial subjects. It can also help improve their quality of life.
If the probiotics can work in pregnant women who are more prone to vomiting because of morning sickness, then the study can have promising results with non-pregnant people.
I highly recommend choosing high-quality probiotics such as Your Biology Gut + and Biotics 8 (for men) because these brands have no known side effects but can help fortify your immune system, strengthen your gut-brain axis, and improve your gut health.
Can Baby Probiotics Cause Vomiting?
Yes. Vomiting is one of the common side effects of probiotics in babies and infants.
In an article on Forbes, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Stanford Children’s Health in Palo Alto, California, Dr. Carrie Kaufmann, explains that it is best to exercise caution when giving probiotics to babies.
Studies on probiotics are limited, especially with babies and infants. So, their benefits and risks for this younger age group remain unknown.
However, there have been reports of babies experiencing vomiting, gassiness, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and even diarrhea with probiotic use. Considering that diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration in babies, always ask your doctor before giving probiotics to your baby.
Can Probiotics Cause Vomiting In Toddlers?
Yes. It’s still possible for probiotics to cause vomiting in toddlers, just as these products do in babies and infants.
It’s important to note that although probiotics are known to help alleviate vomiting, nausea, and other symptoms of acute gastroenteritis in adults, the same can’t be said with toddlers and young children.
Researchers of a 2018 study in The New England Journal of Medicine discovered that the intake of probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, in preschool children with acute gastroenteritis didn’t show any significant difference from placebo.
In short, taking probiotics isn’t helpful for alleviating vomiting and diarrhea in young children.
So, don’t give probiotics to your toddlers unless advised by your doctor.
Can Probiotics Cause Vomiting In Dogs?
Humans and dogs have different gut systems. Never give human probiotics to dogs because that can cause vomiting. Instead, give your pets dog probiotics that are specially designed for their tummies.
Can Dog Probiotics Cause Vomiting?
According to FursNPaws, dog probiotics can still cause vomiting and stomach upset in your dogs.
Just like for humans, dog probiotics are designed to balance your dog’s microbiome. However, new bacteria from the probiotics can lead to dietary intolerance (also like in humans).
The good news is that in most cases, your dog might vomit after taking probiotics for the first time. But this is usually temporary. As their gut gets accustomed to the new bacteria, they’ll feel better and will no longer vomit.
I recommend Nutramax Proviable Digestive Health Supplement, a multi-strain supplement with probiotics and prebiotics for cats and dogs.
This product contains 5 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of different probiotic strains (Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus plantarum) that can help alleviate vomiting.
If your dog continues to vomit, it can be a sign of a more serious health issue; it is usually not just because of probiotic use. Bring them to the vet if the symptoms persist.
Can Probiotics Cause Vomiting In Cats?
Yes. It’s possible for probiotics to cause vomiting in cats, but they can also help alleviate conditions that cause vomiting.
Veterinarian and certified veterinary journalist Dr. Patrick Mahaney recommends feline probiotics on Pet MD for treating symptoms such as vomiting, stool changes, and diarrhea in cats.
Studies have shown that probiotics are generally safe for cats, according to Veterinarians.org. However, like in humans and dogs, a sudden change in the gut microbiome due to the introduction of good bacteria from probiotics can lead to vomiting.
The good news is that vomiting is usually temporary and often happens when too many probiotics are given to your pet cat.
Also, cats who might react by vomiting with probiotic intake are those who are sensitive to other food or medications.
The veterinarians suggest starting probiotic use with a smaller dose, gradually increasing as your pets get accustomed to the changes in their gut microbiome.
Choosing high-quality cat probiotics can also be a good idea. Nutramax Proviable Digestive Health Supplement, a supplement I recommend above for dogs, is also ideal for cats.
Again, should symptoms of vomiting persist, it’s best to bring your cat to the vet because that can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
So, can take probiotics cause vomiting? Well, it isn’t likely, but can still happen in rare cases.
Does that mean you should stop taking probiotics? Well, not really. In most cases, the positive benefits of probiotics far outweigh their risks.
You can continue taking your probiotics, but either take them along with your meals or do half the dose until your gut is used to the new probiotic supplement, food, or drink.