The health of your dog’s gut can impact all areas of their wellbeing – their skin, their behaviour, their immune health, their joints and of course, their ability to digest and assimilate foods.
If your dog suffers from skin issues, behavioural issues, recurring infections, food allergies or sensitivities, joint conditions or digestive issues – the gut could be a causative or contributing factor.
One of the best ways you can support your dog’s overall health is to support their gut.
What causes poor gut health?
The main culprits for dogs experiencing poor gut health include:
- medications; and
Let’s take a quick look at each of these.
Most dog food today is highly processed, contains artificial ingredients like colours, flavours and preservatives, is high in carbohydrates and consists of ingredients that are not fit for human consumption. These foods can be toxic for our dogs and can wreak havoc on a dog’s gut health.
These types of food don’t contain bioavailable or digestible nutrients. Overcooking food, for example, destroys nutrients in food and can impact your dog’s ability to digest any nutrients that might remain.
Dogs aren’t designed to eat high carbohydrate foods and so they can have difficulty digesting these types of foods. Lots of carbohydrates can also have an inflammatory effect on your dog’s gut and overall health.
A diet that is not digestible and that contains unsuitable or inflammatory ingredients can wreak havoc on your dog’s gut.
Over the course of a dog’s life, a dog will be exposed to high levels of pharmaceuticals. Starting with vaccinations and parasite medications to commonly used veterinary medications including antibiotics, steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and even antidepressants for dogs who suffer from anxiety. Our dogs are being over-medicated!
These medications include toxic elements including chemicals and heavy metals. Whilst there are certainly situations where these types of medications may be necessary, it is my opinion that the decision to medicate comes with too much haste and without regard to the potential long term side effects and safer alternatives.
Two common side effects associated with over-medication are inflammation and immune suppression, which can impact gut health.
You may have heard of the gut-brain connection. Essentially, the brain has a direct effect on the gut, and the gut has a direct effect on the brain. Not only does the thought of eating stimulate gastric juices to start the digestive process, an emotion can also impact the functioning of the gut.
So, when your dog is stressed or anxious, their gut health can be affected.
Stressors for dogs can include things like:
- changes in routine, eg your work schedule, going away on holiday, visitors to the home, new animals
- excessive or inadequate exercise
- nutrient deficiencies
- toxins, eg household chemicals, garden chemicals, medications
Tips for promoting gut health
My recommendations for promoting your dog’s gut health link back to the three main culprits for your poor gut health that I’ve mentioned above.
- Replace a processed diet with a diet that contains fresh, whole foods that are suitable for dogs.
- Incorporate digestive support foods in your dog’s diet and/or include a natural canine digestive supplement, such as Digestive K9™ gut health supplement.
- Minimise the medications that your dog is exposed to wherever possible (but consult with your vet first before stopping any prescribed medications).
- Seek out the advice of an animal naturopath or holistic vet for ways that you can support your dog with safe medicines or supplements, and reduce toxic residue from any necessary prescription medications.
- Manage the stress in your dog’s life. Try to keep consistent routines, help your dog have daily exercise, treat them like they’re a part of the family, incorporate tips 1 and 2. Also, take steps to manage your own stress. Dogs can take on our energy so when you’re stressed, your dog can get stressed too.
For more questions, please contact Ruth Hatten at ruthhatten.com.
Ruth assisted in formulating Digestive K9™ gut health supplement for dogs.
Featured Image Credit : David Drew
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