You may have heard that there are far more non-human microbes in the human body than human microbes. This is true, and it speaks to the vast diversity of the gut microbiome, with its viral, bacterial, and fungal inhabitants. Dogs have a similarly complex gut microbiome. Unfortunately, eating in an evolutionary non-conforming way can throw off a dog’s gut health. The good news is that restoring your four-legged friend’s gut health is certainly possible. It just takes a commitment to feeding your dog the right foods and supplements, and encouraging an otherwise healthy lifestyle.
Eliminate grains from your dog’s diet.
Today, a grain-free diet seems like a no-brainer for many devoted dog owners. Dogs didn’t evolve to digest grains, after all. Eating grains causes a low level of systemic inflammation that can lead to chronic health problems, including digestive issues. When you switch your dog to a grain-free diet, you should notice improvements like reduced flatulence and smaller stools. Just remember to make the transition to a new food gradually, and consult your vet to ensure your dog is still receiving the right balance of nutrients.
Recognize and reduce stress in your dog.
Doctors know that people tend to experience gastrointestinal upset more often when they’re stressed out. Some people manifest stress as diarrhea, while others tend to get constipation. The same is true for pets. Severe or chronic stress can throw your dog’s microbiome out of balance, leading to digestive issues like diarrhea and flatulence. Here’s a look at the common signs of stress in dogs:
- Constant whining or barking
- Excessive shedding
- Excessive panting or drooling
Watch for these signs, and remove your dog from stressful situations. Sometimes, pups just need a quiet place to unwind. On a long-term basis, an anxious dog may need more daily exercise to promote better mental health and restore gut balance.
Add probiotics and prebiotics to your dog’s routine.
For best results, give your dog both probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are living bacteria. Your dog’s gut needs a healthy amount of “friendly” bacteria to balance out the bad bacteria. When you give your dog a probiotic supplement, you’re introducing more of these bacteria that support gut health. Prebiotics are a little different—they aren’t living bacteria. Rather, they are sources of food for the living bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics help probiotics flourish. You can find both of these in a supplement, and you can also feed your dog appropriate amounts of these foods to promote gut health:
- Fermented vegetables
- Plain yogurt
- Goat’s milk
- Plain kefir
Add enzymes for a strong digestive tract.
Your dog’s gut microbiome needs digestive enzymes. These are specialized proteins that allow the body to break down food and absorb its nutrients. Dogs naturally produces three digestive enzymes—protease, lipase, and amylase—but your dog can also get additional digestive enzymes from foods and certain supplements. Ensuring that your dog gets enough of these enzymes will improve the digestibility of food, minimize stress on your dog’s body, and promote gut health.
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