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Unlocking the Secrets to a Healthy Gut: How to Prevent Digestive Issues in Dogs

Hello, fellow pet lovers! At Pets24, we know how important it is to keep our furry friends happy and healthy. The gut, often called the body’s “second brain,” does more than just digest food. It manages many crucial functions, including nutrient absorption and immune defence. The gut microbiome, made up of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, plays a vital role in your dog’s overall health. Gut health can affect your dog’s mood, metabolism, and immune system. If your dog is experiencing health issues and serious illness has been ruled out, an unhealthy gut might be the problem. Always consult with a veterinarian if your dog is experiencing health issues. In this blog, in partnership with Nala Health dog food, we present this comprehensive guide to help you understand the signs of an unhealthy gut, how to bring the gut back to balance, home remedies, and the overall impact of gut health on your dog.

Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

Recognizing the signs of an unhealthy gut in your dog is essential for their well-being. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Persistent diarrhoea or constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal appetite
  • Low energy levels
  • Conditions like Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and Colonitis

In addition to these, there are some surprising symptoms that might indicate gut issues:

  • Frequent infections or slow healing
  • Mood swings, aggression, or lethargy
  • Allergies or sensitivities
  • Bad breath or inflamed gums
  • Pain when you touch their belly
  • Chronic ear infections or paw chewing
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Promoting a Healthy Gut Microbiome

Woman and dog looking over mountain. Dog food for dog health.

In today’s world, both humans and our furry friends are dealing with health issues that often stem from an imbalanced gut microbiome (dysbiosis). Factors like poor diet, medications (particularly antibiotics and NSAIDs), lack of activity, and stress can all negatively impact gut health. The good news is that you can improve your dog’s digestive system with some mindful diet and lifestyle changes.

1. Healthy Diet for Gut Wellbeing

A balanced diet is key to maintaining your dog’s gut health. Make sure their food meets all their nutritional needs with a mix of complete proteins, healthy fatty acids, beneficial carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Here are some specific dietary tips to consider:

  • Probiotics and Prebiotics: These beneficial bacteria and their food sources can help maintain a healthy balance in your dog’s gut.
  • Butyrate: This short-chain fatty acid is produced when gut bacteria digest fibre. It’s essential for maintaining a healthy gut lining and preventing conditions like leaky gut. Foods high in fibre, such as vegetables and whole grains, can help increase butyrate production.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish oils, flaxseeds, and certain types of algae, omega-3s can help reduce inflammation in the gut and promote overall digestive health.
  • Coconut Oil: This can be a great addition to your dog’s diet, as it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are easily digestible and can support gut health.

Feeding a diet that contains these gut-friendly ingredients can promote digestion and overall gut health. Dog food brands like Nala Health recognise the importance of gut health and have therefore included several beneficial ingredients to promote healthy digestion, balanced microbiome and robust gut lining. They have included probiotics, prebiotics and Butyrate to improve your dog’s gut health.

2. Probiotics for a Balanced Microbiome

Probiotics can positively influence the gut’s bacterial environment. Some dog foods include probiotics to promote healthy intestinal flora, while others might benefit from probiotics as separate supplements. Although dog and human microbiomes host similar bacterial species, there are differences at the strain level.

3. Exercise and Fresh Air

Regular exercise and spending time outdoors can significantly benefit your dog’s gut health. Nature is full of beneficial bacteria—in the dirt, on plants, and even in the air. Exercise and playtime also boost your dog’s physical and mental health, helping manage stress, which can impact the gut. Here are some activities you can enjoy with your dog to support their gut health:

  • Daily Walks: Regular walks not only provide exercise but also expose your dog to various environmental microbes that can benefit their gut microbiome.
  • Playtime in the Yard or Park: Allowing your dog to play and explore in different environments can introduce them to diverse bacteria that support a healthy gut.
  • Interactive Toys and Puzzles: These can help keep your dog mentally stimulated and reduce stress, which is beneficial for their gut health.

4. Bone Broth

Bone broth provides collagen through its easily digestible liquid gelatin. Collagen contains antioxidants, like glutathione, which help detoxify the liver and restore the gut lining. Adding bone broth to your dog’s meals boosts nutrient absorption, creates an optimal environment for gut flora, and helps meet their daily liquid intake needs. Making homemade bone broth is simple and can be a nutritious addition to your dog’s diet. Just be sure to avoid adding any onions or excessive salt, as these can be harmful to dogs.

Have you tried using the Pets24 Free Online Vet? Click here to ask the Online Vet any general health questions.

How the Gut Affects Overall Health

Dog standing on a hill. Dog food for dog health.

1. Optimal Nutrient Absorption

The small intestine extracts nutrients from food, ensuring that your dog gets all the essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to support overall well-being. The large intestine absorbs water and electrolytes, maintaining hydration and bodily fluid balance, and plays a crucial role in absorbing vital vitamins like B and K. Ensuring that your dog’s gut is healthy allows these processes to function optimally, which in turn supports their overall health and vitality.

2. Intestinal Flora and the Immune System

Around 70% of the immune system is linked to the gut, with immune cells working with the gut’s diverse range of bacteria, viruses, and fungi to protect the body against disease. Intestinal bacteria program the immune system cells, and the colon’s lymphoid tissue defends against foreign antigens and pathogens. A healthy gut microbiome can help prevent infections and support a strong immune response.

3. The Tummy and Temperament

The gut-brain axis is a two-way communication street between the digestive system and the brain. This connection helps explain why stress or nervousness in dogs can lead to stomach upset and how a healthy gut can positively influence mental well-being. About 90% of the body’s serotonin, which affects mood, is produced in the gut, indicating that promoting beneficial gut bacteria can improve brain health. Maintaining a healthy gut can help reduce anxiety and improve your dog’s overall behaviour and mood.

Nala Health has included several ingredients to promote gut health and ensure dogs have happy tummies. Introducing variety, like integrating leftovers (steamed vegetables, some fruits and berries, bone broth), can be advantageous. Monitoring your dog’s stools can offer insights into the efficacy of their diet.

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Nature’s Pharmacy for Gut Health

Nala Health Husky. Dog food for dog health.

Certain herbs and supplements can aid in maintaining gut health and reducing anxiety. Here are some natural remedies to consider:

  • Herbs and supplements containing chamomile, valerian, St. John’s Worth, l-theanine or tryptophan can have a calming effect.
  • Pheromone Calming Collars: These collars release calming pheromones that can help reduce anxiety in dogs. Discuss pheromone calming collars with your vet.
  • Fermented Vegetables: Organic or homemade fermented vegetables can be added to your dog’s food daily to support gut health. Start with a small amount and gradually increase to 1 teaspoon per 7kg of body weight.
  • Organic, Unsweetened Plain Yogurt: Yogurt with live cultures can be beneficial if your dog tolerates dairy.
  • CBD Oil for Dogs: Ensure it’s free from THC and use it to help reduce stress and support overall gut health.

By tuning into your dog’s gut signals and fostering a lifestyle that promotes optimal health, you can help your dog live their best life at every stage. Always consult with your veterinarian to ensure your dog receives the correct treatment for their digestive issues. Nala Health is a great choice to help your furry friend with their gut health and keep them healthy and happy. Paying attention to your dog’s gut health can significantly improve its overall well-being. So, give Nala Health a try today!

Disclaimer: Remember, the information provided in this guide is intended as educational content and should not replace professional veterinary advice. Always consult with a veterinarian before making any changes to a dog’s diet or treatment plan.

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