Gut Health and Dogs - How Important is your Dogs Health?
You only have to watch commercial television for a few minutes to know that Gut Health is very much the “on-trend” health issue at the moment. Researchers have recently gained a better understanding into the vital role gut health has for the wellbeing of humans and marketers being marketers, are flooding the market with ads on how their client's products are full of ingredients that improve your gut health.
But what about our Dogs?
Is Gut Health something we should be concerned about as Dog Owners? The short answer is most definitely YES which I discovered when I started researching for this article as both dogs we recently adopted have an issue with runny poops, which I sometimes discover on the floor of the laundry where they sleep (an article for another time).
So let's get this article on the road and start with “What exactly is Gut Health?”
Inside everyone’s gastrointestinal tract are bacteria that regulate your digestion, immune system, and overall health. Gut Health describes the function and balance of this bacteria and a healthy gut contains a wide variety of bacteria that work together for optimal gut strength. A healthy gut allows organs such as the oesophagus, stomach and intestines all work together to allow us to eat and digest food without discomfort.
Like us, our dogs’ digestive systems digest foods, absorb minerals, nutrients and vitamins and weed out all the toxins and harmful bacteria that make us sick. They also can become overrun with inflammation and bad bacteria, which can cause them issues such as excessive shedding, diarrhoea, nausea and even disease.
The biggest difference being ... our dogs don't control any of the factors that can improve their gut health and are reliant purely on us. So what as Hoomans should we be doing? Well, I am so glad that you asked.
Let's start with food, as no doubt our Dogs would want it that way!! And before we start I want to mention that I am not a Vet or a Dog Dietician, just a guy looking for advice online on the subject, and sharing my findings in this article.
Unfortunately, most dog food manufacturers focus on making their products so they are able to sit on shelves long enough for someone to buy them … versus making food that is good for the gut health of your dog.
Finding the right foods that ensure the best dog gut health is a mission as even choosing the higher-priced, holistic dog foods with a list of incredible ingredients doesn’t mean you are giving the best food for gut health for your fur baby.
Grain-Free Feed - There is some controversy surrounding whether a grain-free diet is necessary for dogs, but there is enough evidence suggesting grains can be inflammatory and are one of the top ingredients that can cause sensitivities and allergies in dogs. So I think it is worth trialling Grain Free as a test for anyone with dogs suffering from the problems listed at the start of this article. Look for a high quality, grain-free food that lists meat as the top ingredient.
Trial Whole and Raw Foods - There are many whole food options that can help your dog’s gut heal. When leaky gut syndrome is causing your dog’s problems, the gut damage must be fixed. Foods such as gelatin and bone broth both have medicinal properties that fight inflammation while helping to repair the intestinal lining.
Give Natural Fermented Pre and Probiotics - Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your dog’s intestines, and prebiotics are the food source for the good bacteria. Supplementing your dog’s food with plain yoghurt, kefir, raw goat milk, and fermented vegetables can jumpstart your dog’s good gut flora.
Look for Alternatives to Medications - Certain medications are known to weaken the lining of the intestine and/or kill good gut bacteria. Talk to your veterinarian about reducing your dog’s dependence on pain relievers or antibiotics, if feasible.
The Great Outdoors - Bacteria good for your dog are everywhere in nature. In the dirt, on plants and in the air, so walk your dog often and make sure you mix it up so they get new smells. Also look for walking trails in State Forests or National Parks near you that allow Dogs.
Mental State - Gut bacteria can influence your dog’s mood, and it turns out that moods can also influence your dog’s microbiome. Stress has been shown to shift the microbiome towards a less healthy state. If your dog already suffers from digestive issues, this might explain why stress often worsens the symptoms. There are many techniques available to relieve stressed out dogs, and increased exercise is one of the most common recommendations.
Wrapping up, I am going to be trying a bunch of these things to try and get our rescue pup pooping better. I will update this article when I get some real data to share but appreciate the feedback if anyone else implements anything I have shared here.
We created a business that makes custom dog collars to help make them safe if they ever get lost, so least I can do is work toward making their gut health so they can live a happy and healthy life … and a firm poop is way easier to clean up than diarrhoea, so a win-win really.
Keep an eye out for my next blog which will be a look at all the different kinds of Dog Collars out there. Training Collars, Petsafe Collars, GPS Pet Collars, Petsmart Collars, Tracking Collars and Collars with Cameras.
Thanks for Reading.
Adam - www.petcollars.com.au