Why your dog’s gut health is key to their overall health
Date Posted:17 December 2018
You do your best to keep your dog healthy – after all, they’re your best friend.
But as you know, just like us, dogs can suffer from a variety of different health conditions during their lifetime – including upset stomach, skin and allergy issues, dental problems, and infections, to name a few.
But the good news is, there’s one key factor you can focus on to help address or prevent many of these different health issues… one thing you can do to help prevent diseases in many different systems of the body…
And that’s to take care of your dog’s gut health.
For dogs (just like for human beings), the gut contributes significantly to a healthy immune system and good digestion. A healthy gut also helps to maintain healthy skin and coat, avoid bad breath and smelly stools, promote a healthy weight… and much more
Here’s a rundown of all the different ways your dog’s gut health affects the rest of their body – and why an investment in their gut health can help keep your furry friend happy and healthy…
The Immune System
Just to clarify… when we say your dog’s “gut,” we’re referring mainly to the small and large intestines. Although any part of their digestive system could be included here, most of the immune system benefits are related to intestinal health.
Here’s why it’s important: the gut is home to about 70% of the body’s immune cells (This is true for both humans and dogs.)
Inside of your dog’s intestines, there are large amounts of microscopic organisms (bacteria and even yeast) that live there naturally. This isn’t an infection, but rather what is called “normal flora.” Basically, this means that their presence there is completely normal, even beneficial.
However, it’s important to note that there are a lot of different kinds of bacteria that live there, and they can be roughly divided into two groups: Beneficial bacteria, versus Harmful bacteria.
Beneficial bacteria provide the best, well… benefits. This includes better digestion and immunity, and decreased risk of infections. On the other hand, harmful bacteria can have the opposite effect.
Therefore, by increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut you can create a positive impact on their immunity and overall health.
This is exactly where probiotics and prebiotics come in, in terms of increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria – but before we discuss that, let’s talk about a few more of the benefits that come with a healthy gut…
A happier tummy, and firmer, less smelly stools
Of course, it makes sense that a healthy gut = healthy digestion… But think about how many ways that can affect your dog’s quality of life (and make your life a bit easier, too, by saving you time and money)
First of all, there tends to be less frequent “upset tummy” – meaning less of anything from diarrhoea to vomiting to gas and bloating.
Also, stools tend to be firmer and less runny, meaning they’re easier to pick up and more comfortable for your dog to pass and keep themselves clean. And, better digestion often leads to smaller stools that aren’t nearly as stinky.
Less anal gland issues
While we’re on the topic of stools… An additional benefit of firmer stools is that they help to provide more natural expression of the anal glands whenever your dog has a bowel movement. That means that the glands are less likely to get backed up or impacted.
Better smelling breath
Your dog’s breath has 3 components that contribute to odor – the mouth, the digestive system, and the lungs. So, having a healthier digestive tract (with less reflux and belching, and better food transit) can help to improve the smell of your pal’s breath.
Healthier skin and coat
Think about it – your dog’s digestive health determines how well they absorb nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, all of which contribute to a healthy skin and coat. Plus, having a healthy gut improves immunity and decreases overall inflammation – which means your dog will be less likely to get infections or allergy-related skin conditions.
Also, nowadays we know how much our furry friends can be affected by certain food allergies and food sensitivities – just like human beings can. And food sensitivities not only affect your pet’s digestion – they can also affect the skin.
Food sensitivities and lower-quality diets can cause the immune system to “overreact,” resulting in an allergic-type of reaction that could include itching, redness, skin infections, and more…
Thankfully, having a good quality diet that promotes digestive health can help to prevent the harmful effects of food sensitivities, thus making the skin and coat much healthier, and keeping your dog more comfortable by avoiding itchiness and discomfort that come from food sensitivities. In some cases, a special diet can be all that’s needed to treat and relieve a dog’s skin allergies.
In order to promote both skin and gut health, you’ll want to feed your dog a diet that’s not only nutritionally complete and balanced, but also contains high-quality ingredients. Also, prebiotics, probiotics, and enzymes can help to maximize the benefits of a good quality diet.
Urine with less odor and acidity
Anything that your dog consumes and digests can affect their urine quality – so, a diet that promotes healthy digestion can also mean healthier urine.
This means that your dog’s urine is likely to have a less offensive odor, which is especially helpful if your dog has a potty pad indoors, or ever has accidents in the house.
Or, if your dog urinates outside, you’ll likely notice an improvement in your lawn – with less of the “grass burn” that normally results wherever your dog urinates.
“Bouncing back” more quickly
If your pal ever does become sick, and needs to take a course of medicine – a healthy gut means they are less likely to suffer from the diarrhoea or other side effects of the most common kinds of antibiotics.
And feeding a diet with pre and probiotics will help to ensure that they bounce back even faster – by restoring digestive health as soon as possible.
Improved overall health
Besides the specific benefits listed above… your dog’s gut health can affect their overall health in a few different ways.
There is evidence that using probiotics to support dog gut health may positively impact liver disease, as well as mood and behavior disorders. We’ve even heard from pet parents who noted improvements in conditions such as lupus or ear infections, after feeding a special diet to regulate the gut health.
Another big benefit is that it’s likely to keep your dog at a healthy weight and body mass. This is because, when digestion is efficient and all necessary nutrients are absorbed, your dog is less likely to feel hungry all the time, or to eat more than necessary.
Of course, some dogs who really enjoy eating will always need their food intake monitored – but often, it’s shocking to see how much less a dog will eat when they’re getting all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need. Some dogs consumed 30% less food volume than they did previously – while maintaining a healthy weight.
And having a healthy weight means that their risks of other health issues will decrease – that includes arthritis, skin issues, hormonal imbalances, and other problems. And just like humans, dogs are likely to have more energy when they stay at a healthy weight – which means that they’re likely to keep enjoying their favourite activities right into their senior years.
And of course, a healthy weight, better immunity, and overall better health can give your pal his or her best chance of living a longer life – which means more years for you to spend together.
How to improve your dog’s gut health
With all the benefits that come from a healthy gut, consider investing in a good quality dog food with enzymes and probiotics. Rather than using several different supplements, you’ll have the ease of just feeding your dog each day like you already do - with all the good stuff already contained in the food.
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