The key to a dog’s health and happiness is through its stomach
As a pet-owner and veterinarian for over twenty years now, I’m naturally curious about anything that impacts the health and wellbeing of our pets. However, if I had to zoom in on one area that I think deserves a little more attention, it would have to be gut health.
Microbiome 101 – what you need to know about gut health
To understand the miracles that go on in your pet’s gut every day, then we need to get introduced to a mini-ecosystem known as their microbiome.
A pet’s microbiome is a mix of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in an animal’s body and each performs a unique, but vital role in your animal’s health.
For example, a balanced, healthy microbiome helps your pet:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Absorb nutrients
- Improve mental health
- Promote healthy skin & coat quality
- Support longevity
- Maintain a strong immune system
In fact the microbiome affects almost every aspect of your pet’s health and happiness.
So where does an animal’s microbiome come from?
Microbiome initially comes from the animal’s mother but from there it is influenced by environmental factors, such as diet, habitat, behaviour and medications which is part of the reason we do not recommend antibiotic usage in young dogs. After 3 years of age, the microbiome becomes more stable and therefore better able to tolerate some medications.
How do you know if your pet’s microbiome is not happy?
When a pet’s microbiome is unbalanced symptoms may include chronic diarrhoea or constipation, vomiting, skin conditions, and diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
How do I keep my pet’s microbiome healthy?
One of the most important and easiest interventions that a pet owner can have on their pet’s microbiome is through their diet. With the right combination of food, prebiotics, probiotics, vitamins and natural minerals you can strengthen your pet’s immune system, restore the health of their microbiome following a course of antibiotics, as well as reduce gas, bloating and flatulence, amongst other things.
Make your pet’s food their ticket to good health
A healthy microbiome is one of the most powerful allies to good health for your pet and what you feed them will directly impact their microbiome so choose well.
My next blogpost will cover the do’s and don’ts when it comes to good pet nutrition.
Dr Heidi Ward - McGrath BVSc