Gut health is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. No doubt you’ll have seen most of the top “health and wellbeing gurus” telling us about the benefits of good gut health and how we all need a healthy balance of bacteria in our system? Well, it is no different for our dogs.
For quite a while the market has been full of probiotic yoghurts and fermented pickles which are full of “good bugs” to help our gut, but how does this fit with our dogs’ gut health needs?
Your dog’s gut health might not be your first consideration, but did you know that a dog’s gut makes up the majority of their immune system? There are hundreds of families of bacteria that live in a dog’s gut, also known as the microbiome or gut flora. By supporting the microbiome, you are helping the good bugs work their magic to help keep your dog’s health in great shape.
Does my dog’s gut health need help?
Although your dog’s digestive system is fairly hardy, it is important to monitor it for signs of problems. Common indicators of poor gut health include:
- Loss of appetite
- Excess gas or flatulence
- Straining when passing stools
- Blood or mucus in the stools
- Flaky skin
- Dull coat
These symptoms could be a sign of dog digestive problems such as gastroenteritis, colitis, constipation or stress diarrhoea.
Leaky gut syndrome is another complaint to look out for. This is where the barrier function of the intestines is compromised and substances that would normally pass through the intestine enter the body’s circulation. The signs of leaky gut syndrome can often mirror what we have listed above. Improving your dog’s gut health could help to restore your dog’s natural function.
4 Ways to Improve your Dog’s Gut Health
Are you wondering how you can help your dog to have good gut health? We have detailed 4 easy steps on how you can support gut function:
We are sure it will come as no surprise to learn that your dog’s diet has an impact on their gut health. Choose carefully what food to give your dog. A raw diet can be nutritionally rich but be careful, contamination is easy. Ensure a good balance of protein, nutrients and bacteria. Look for ingredients such as a high meat protein, animal fat, yucca, fibre, turmeric and fenugreek.
When you introduce certain bacteria into your dog's diet, they help support a healthy microbiome by colonising the gut and out-competing the bad bugs. Certain types of fibre are the substances that feed the good bugs, helping them to thrive in the digestive tract. There are many foods that you can give your dog which act as a rich source of "good bug" foods such as pumpkin, sweet potato, apple, banana. flaxseed and raw oats.
When your dog’s gut isn’t in top shape, your dog could be more prone to allergies and intolerances. Generally, allergies and the like occur when the immune system spots particles it doesn’t like and it mounts a response. This can lead to inflammation, skin issues and digestive discomfort. If you are treating your dog’s allergies by other means and not getting any results, go to the source of the problem and treat the gut.
Just as gut health can trigger your dog’s mood, the opposite can also be said. A happy dog makes for a happy gut! Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and is not feeling stressed or anxious.
Improving your dog’s gut health will improve their quality of life
Gut health can be easily overlooked and veterinary experts are only just beginning to understand the depth of the connections between pet health and the gut's microbiome. But it's clear that maintaining the proper microbial balance in the GI tract has a positive effect on your dog's overall health.
If you think your dog’s gut could use some reinforcement, try our tips above. Not only should your dog’s overall health improve, their immune system should be boosted making a happy, healthier dog.
We’d love to hear how you get on!