Gut Health in Dogs

 gut-health-in-dogs

The Gut is the Engine of the Body

In the words of my Veterinary inspector from the Department of Agriculture and one of Ireland’s first small animal practitioners, now retired Maurice O'Flaherty, “the gut is the engine of the body, and needs clean fuel”.

What makes the gut so important in a dog's health?

The gut, comprising of the stomach, small intestine the large intestine (colon) is a complex system of good and some bad bacteria, balance been the key to good health. These microflora located in the mucosal tissue of the gut account for about 70 percent of the bacteria in and on the body. These trillions of beneficial bacteria within the gut are a metabolically active organ working in harmony metabolising micronutrients and metabolites (small molecules). The gut is the largest immune organ in the body with the vital role of essential function of regulating digestion and thereby producing and metabolizing vitamins and other trace nutrients, while also protecting the body from infection.

    What are the effects of poor gut health?

    As the gut also contains bad bacteria, when this balance is out of sync or there are too many bad bacteria, this is when we see side effects including, cramping, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, ulcers, skin disorders and foul breath. When this disorder occurs within the gut it opens up opportunities for further infection from outside pathogens, like food toxins, bad bacteria, toxic chemicals and fungi to further infect and overpower the good microflora thereby causing autoimmune diseases, where the body starts attacking itself.

    What to avoid for good gut health in dogs?

    Whole grain
    Some gains are very much different to their ancestral origin, coupled with that is the industrial methods in which they are farmed and more than lightly contaminated with chemical sprays. So grains should be on the watch list, but it's good to consider that some wholegrains when prepared properly are perfectly safe complementary foods for dogs such as wholegrain oats, brown rice, quinoa and barley.

    Antibiotics
    Antibiotics are over prescribed and deadly literally to both bad bacteria, which is a good thing, but also to good bacteria and their lies a major problem. Antibiotics play havoc with the internal workings of the gut system and at the very least should be used if no other option is available and be used in conjunction with a gut friendly probiotic.

    What food promotes good gut health in dogs?

    Digestible protein

    Protein is a critical component in a dogs and cats diet, and needs to be replaced on a daily basis as protein unlike fat is not stored in the body. Meat protein is the best protein source for dogs and cats as it is expressed as a fully digestible protein, so both animals can gain the highest levels of wholesome goodness from animal protein. However in the case of dogs, a diet containing only meat protein will be lacking in other micronutrients, so dogs need a more varied diet than cats. Dogs can synthesize twenty two amino acids themselves, the other ten must be provided for in the diet, referred to as essential amino acids.

    Fats

     

    The level of fat in the diet will depend on how active our dogs are, a working dog will obviously have a much greater requirement on its fat reserves to allow it work especially in the more demanding environments and workloads, our pets going for a nice leisurely stroll around the park won’t be needing anywhere near the same levels of fat, so the fat requirements change depending on the dogs activity levels, age and environmental conditions. Animal fats provide omega 6 fatty acids as do vegetable oils, beef fats from true grass-fed animals provide healthy anti-inflammatory antioxidant fats compared to animals raised on grain diets.
    By selecting good quality meats and organs we can assure our dogs of the best possible digestible protein, and combining these proteins with suitable plant matter we can best provide for the overall health in dogs, that's why all TonicTreat products are made from 100% Irish grass-fed beef fit for human consumption.

    Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories
    There are many whole food sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, TonicTreat contains special blends of herbs and botanicals designed to target specific health issues and support natural health many of which are packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories such as Dandeloin, Ginger, Rosemary and Tumeric. A detailed look into TOnicTreat ingredients and their health benefits can be found HERE.

    Prebiotics

    Prebiotics feed good gut bacteria and are important in keeping a good working balance within the microbiome, prebiotics are found in several food sources, in terms of herbs chicory root, dandelion greens and burdock root standout. All of which are used as ingredients in TonicTreat to help protect your dog's health from the inside out.

    Seaweeds

    Seaweeds bring benefit to the dog’s whole body through the digestive system, in the form of prebiotics feeding beneficial gut bacteria, in the form of the many vitamin and minerals and micronutrients seaweeds contain. Seaweeds hold anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties, supporting dogs with arthritic issues, more recently compounds have been isolated from red seaweeds that show heart health promise, seaweeds have been long understood to improve coat and skin condition, digestion and gut health as well as dental health, so seaweeds are definitely a superfood and good edition to a dog’s diet. On a word of caution, dogs suffering from and been treated for hyperthyroidism should not be fed seaweed, as most seaweeds contain high levels of iodine. TonicTreat contains hand harvasted seaweed from the Connemara coast on the West of Ireland.

    What else can I do to protect my dog's gut health other than food?

    Excercise & Fresh Air

    Mental and physical health goes hand in hand with good digestive health, different dog breeds will have different exercise requirements, there are no hard and fast rules, you the carer know your dog best, so take clues from their behaviour. Like all other aspects of a dog’s wellbeing if in doubt there are many professional practitioners who can reassure and advise.

    What else can I do to protect my dog's gut health other than food?

    Excercise & Fresh Air
    Mental and physical health goes hand in hand with good digestive health, different dog breeds will have different exercise requirements, there are no hard and fast rules, you the carer know your dog best, so take clues from their behaviour. Like all other aspects of a dog’s wellbeing if in doubt there are many professional practitioners who can reassure and advise.

    Clean Water
    On the topic of water and dogs TonicTreat Founder Leonard Greene has this story to tell:
    "Some years ago our spring well got contaminated after a big downpour, part of the cleaning process was to add chlorine just in case, both my dogs at the time refused point blank to drink it, it was crystal clear and did not have a typical chlorine smell, at least not to me, but my dogs certainly noticed something different. I’m not saying public chlorinated water is bad for dogs, I’m just saying given the choice nature prefers untreated water"
    Water is such an incredibly important compound and so often taken for granted, some of the roles it plays include helping to regulate body temperature, aiding the digestion system to breakdown protein, fat and carbohydrates, and supports the central nervous system - to name but a few!

     

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