There’s a reason why “gut health” is all over the Internet. Every day, scientists are learning more about this fascinating system in dogs (and humans!), and the important role the gut plays in both their physical and mental health.
What is gut health, and why is it so important?
Gut health refers to the health of the digestive system and the trillions of microorganisms that live in the intestines. These organisms, including bacteria, make up a complex ecosystem known as the gut microbiome.
The gut is responsible for breaking down food, metabolizing nutrients, and eliminating waste. But its job doesn’t stop with digestion. It also plays a large part in immune system health.
About 70% of a dog’s immune system is in its gut.
There is also a link between gut health and mental health. This connection is known as the “gut-brain axis.” Important chemicals and neurotransmitters that communicate with the brain, like serotonin and dopamine, are produced in the gut. This enables gut health to affect dogs’ mood and behavior.
Medical scientists often refer to the gut as the “second brain.”
What happens inside the gut when it’s unhealthy?
There are both harmful “bad” bacteria and beneficial “good” bacteria in the gut. A balance of diverse bacteria is needed to be healthy. However, the bacterial flora can be thrown off balance by things like dietary changes, food sensitivities, medications, and stress.
What are probiotics, and why do dogs need them?
Probiotics are supplements containing live, beneficial bacteria that naturally live in dogs’ intestines. These bacteria include lactobacillus casei and acidophilus, bifidobacterium lactis and breve, and enterococcus faecium.
Probiotics support the balance of bacterial flora in the intestines by adding good bacteria.
. Regular probiotics support healthy guts to stay healthy
How can I give my dog probiotics?
Probiotics can come in various forms, including in food, supplements and treats, which are often the easiest forms to give. Dogswell’s Gut Health treats, available in Slices, Jerky, and Mini Jerky, offer live probiotics with real chicken or lamb as the first ingredient, making them extra tasty.
What does “live” probiotics mean?
Probiotics are actual living microorganisms – the same kind that are inside your dog’s intestines right now, but also requires additional care. Never expose probiotics to heat because it kills the bacteria. So, don’t leave them in the car on a hot day. Follow the storage recommendations on the label, or, when in doubt, store them in a cool, dry place in their original packaging.
How else can I support my dog’s gut health?
In addition to giving probiotics, you can also:
- Feed a biologically appropriate, minimally processed diet that includes high-quality sources of protein and fiber.
- Be mindful of treats’ ingredients. Treats may be smaller than meals, but they still go into your dog’s body and therefore deserve the same attention to quality. Your best bet is to choose gut health treats with probiotics, fiber, and no artificial ingredients.
- Always make sure your dog has access to fresh water. Drinking water helps the digestive system run smoothly, while dehydration slows it down.
- Take your dog to the veterinarian twice a year to test their poop for parasites.
- Ensure that your dog gets adequate exercise. This helps them maintain ideal body condition, promotes efficient digestion, balances gut bacteria, and relieves stress.
- Speaking of stress, be aware of your dog’s stress levels. Try to minimize your dog’s contact with stressors, which could be new people, loud noises, etc.
To keep their gut healthy, probiotics are a great addition to your dog’s diet.