They say that you are what you eat. This saying rings equally true for pets and humans. Scientific research reveals the many ways in which food has an impact on gut health on pets and how that in turn affects not only their gut health, but also their immunity and overall well-being.
Pets have a unique collection of hundreds of different microbes such as fungi, viruses and different types of bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract. These are collectively referred to as their gut microbiome.
A healthy microbiome is important for your dog’s overall health, starting from mental health to nutrient absorption. When bacteria in our pets go out of balance, they get disorders such as immune system reactions, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), digestive issues, diabetes or even depression as a result.
Today, we are seeing a huge rise in microbiome-associated disorders in our pets due to a variety of reasons such as antibiotic medications, modern pet food diets, and lifestyle choices like being mostly indoors and antimicrobial cleaners.
Luckily, restoring and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome for your pet without using medications with adverse side effects is possible.
The impact of good gut health on our pets
- Stronger Immune System
- Supports a happier tummy and firmer, less smelly stool
- Makes them have less anal gland issues
- Gives them better smelling breath
- Promotes healthier skin and coat
- Makes their urine have less odour and acidity
- Helps them “bounce back” more quickly after illness
- Supports improved overall health
So, how can you tell if your pet has a healthy gut?
Signs of digestive system disease can include:
- Excessive drooling
- Vomiting or regurgitation
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Straining to defecate
How to Improve the Gut Health of Your Pets
Beneficial bacteria impact the gut health of your pet and are major building blocks for their overall health. Most of the immune system abides in the gut. Keeping a substantial amount of good bacteria in the gut’s delicate microbiome can greatly help in strengthening the immune system. This could help your cat or dog fight off harmful viruses, bacteria and everyday toxins. It can also help maintain a healthy weight, prevent allergies and improve the overall quality of your pet’s life.
Here are a few tips on how to improve the gut health of your pet.
1. Get Your Pet Tested
The first step you should take towards achieving a diverse balanced microbiome for your pet is to know the state of their intestinal health. This is best done by your veterinarian using a microbiome gut health test. For this process, you can make a personal visit to your vet or send in your pet’s poop for sequencing of the bacterial DNA in it. The results will reveal which bacteria are present in their gut and in what amounts. By comparing the test results to those of a healthy pet of similar breed and age, the gut health test report can provide an inexpensive and easy way to gain detailed information on the changes you will require to make to improve your furry friend’ gut flora to positively impact their gut health.
Many pets start their lives off with a healthy mix of gut bacteria. Exposure to certain medications, particularly antibiotics and aging can have a great impact on your pet’s gut health as the years go by.
2. Feed Your Pets a Biologically Appropriate Nutrient-Dense Diet
Cats and dogs are carnivores and they require meat protein in order for them to maintain optimal gut health. Organs, raw meats vegetables, bones with organic fruits and food-based vitamins provide your pet with a nutrient-rich diet.
Raw meat has live enzymes that create the perfect environment for complete absorption and digestibility of nutrients.
There is a lot of information on how you can transition to feeding raw food to your pet. It’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian or a pet nutritionist. You can also get this kind of information in pet social apps like PetsForever. Through the Q&A section of this Australian app, you can ask pet experts questions on this and other topics. Simply download it on AppStore or Google Play.
3. Maintain Daily Exercise And Play To Help Reduce Stress
Exercise is important for boosting your pet’s mental and physical health. It’s very important to ensure that you provide your pet with sufficient exercise and playtime. Because every cat and dog is different in terms of their recommended level of exercise, you need to find the suitable level for your fur baby. Their play and exercise needs will change throughout their lives. Exercise plays a role in not only keeping them entertained and fit, but will also curb the amounts of cortisol their body creates. Caristol is a hormone that can weaken your pet’s immune system, causing inflammation. Though cats can be more of a challenge to exercise, leash training allows you and your cat to exercise and explore the outdoors together. Toys and interaction with other animals can also help both cats and dogs stay fit and feel great.
4. Introducing Probiotics to Their Diet
Probiotics have a very significant impact on the gut health of pets and humans alike. You can replenish your fur baby’s gut flora from within by introducing probiotics in their meals to build microflora and balance their microbiome. Raw Goat Milk, for example, contains protein, vitamins, electrolytes, minerals, trace elements, enzymes and fatty acids which are easily absorbed in the digestive tract. Check with your vet before introducing any kind of dairy into your dog’s diet, though, as they can get digestive upset from dairy. Goat milk also has more fat and calories than cow’s milk, and can be pro-inflammatory.
Probiotics are very often added to milk to increase immunity and resistance against harmful bacteria. They also help our pets to fight intestinal infections, and provide them with nutritional support. It’s very important to slowly incorporate probiotics in your pets diet and monitor them for any negative effects. Remember our fur babies can’t tell us how they are feeling. Closely observe them and take note of any behavioural changes.
5. Add Bone Broth To Their Food
Bone Broth has a plethora of benefits for both humans and pets. It provides collagen in the form of gelatin which is very easily digestible. The collagen is packed with antioxidants, the main one being glutathione. Glutathione helps our pets restore the gut lining and detoxify their liver.
Regularly adding bone broth to your fur baby’s meals will increase the absorption of nutrients for them and create the perfect environment for gut flora to thrive in. The best way to prepare bone broth is by slowly simmering whole bones including the joints and cartilage to make it rich in glycosaminoglycans, amino acids, including glycine, which is well known for its anti-aging benefits. Bone broth is also a great way to help your pet fulfil their daily consumption needs for moisture.
- Pet Microbiome: A New Approach to GI Pet Food. Accessed online in April 2021
- Who Is Rescuing Whom? – AHA Journals. Accessed in April 2021
● Improve your pet’s digestive health using the power of the microbiome. Accessed in April 2021
Featured Image source: David Drew of Laurel Pet Lodge
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