Why a healthy gut matters

Bulldog standing next to food bowl.

Dogs have hundreds of different types of bacteria and other microbes (such as viruses, fungi, etc) in their gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract), which are collectively referred to as the gut microbiome.

A healthy microbiome is a cornerstone of good health for dogs and humans. When it gets out of balance, disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), digestive issues, immune system reactions, diabetes, and even depression can occur.

Gut disorders are on the rise

Diet, medications (particularly antibiotics), and lifestyle choices (i.e. being mostly indoors, antimicrobial cleaners, etc) are some of the major culprits for the increasing levels of gut related health issues. Luckily, diet is one of the best ways to manage a dog’s microbiome

Good nutrition is critical to good health

Good nutrition can help prevent common illnesses, boost the immune system, and positively influence the gut microbiome.

Which foods help your gut bacteria to thrive?

With hundreds of different kinds of gut bacteria in your dog’s microbiome, the food your dog eats will influence which bacteria thrive in the gut. For example, many kibble diets are too high in carbohydrates, which doesn’t promote the growth of all beneficial bacteria. Use this calculator to find the hidden amount of carbohydrates and make sure your dog’s food has more than 50% protein on a “dry matter” basis.  

Changing diet can help to address food sensitivities

If you are confident your dog’s diet is balanced and yet they are still suffering with digestive issues there may well be a food intolerance at play. A change in diet can often address this issue but it is important to seek advice from a holistic veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Lastly, it’s important to remember, “grain-free” and “gluten-free” diets can still contain high levels of carbohydrates.

Source: The blog post is an extract of an article titled Dog Gut Health: The 4 Ways to Restore It Naturally by Katie Dahlhausen, PhD and Holly Ganz, PhD

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