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How to Improve Dog Gut Health

Posted: 01/11/2024 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care

As a pup parent, you want to ensure your dog is as healthy as possible. As with humans, the overall health of your dog is entirely dependent on her gut health. Sadly, vets are now seeing a rise in microbiome-associated disorders in dogs brought about by commercial pet foods, medications (particularly antibiotics), and other lifestyle factors. Knowing this, you may be wondering how to improve dog gut health. Your first step… keep reading!

Signs Your Dog’s Gut is Unhealthy

Your pup’s gut hosts a unique collection of millions of tiny organisms that include different types of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microorganisms. This group of tiny living things is referred to collectively as the gut microbiome

The gut microbiome must be healthy and well-balanced at all times in order for your dog to experience optimal health. When dysbiosis occurs – meaning there are more bad microorganisms than good – everything from immunity to nutrient absorption to hormonal and cognitive health can be negatively impacted. 

There are some obvious signs to look for that will indicate if your pup is experiencing poor gut health:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Gas and gurgling
  • Low energy levels
  • Joint pain
  • Bad breath
  • Changes in weight
  • Constant licking of the body
  • Poor sleep
  • Dull coat
  • Irritation of the ears and eyes
  • Behavioral problems
  • Itching
  • Yeast overgrowth

If you notice any of these signs, you should schedule a vet appointment to get your pup checked out.

Here’s How to Improve Your Dog’s Gut Health

The following are simple but effective ways you can greatly improve your pup’s dog gut health, thereby improving her overall health.

Feed the Right Diet

With so many commercial dog foods on the market it can be hard to know which is the right one to support your pup’s health. Sadly, not all foods are created equally, or with your dog’s health in mind.

Be sure to always read the ingredients. You’ll find many cheaper foods use fillers like corn, soy and rice. Generally speaking, the more processed the food is, the less likely it will support optimal gut health. Think about what would happen to YOUR gut health if you ate only processed foods every day.

The best dog food for gut health is a species appropriate diet that uses whole ingredients that include the full nutritional value of each ingredient. There will be no fillers or unnecessary chemicals that will only harm the gut microbiome.

As always, we recommend you speak with your vet for guidance and recommendations on the right dog food for your fur baby.

Look for Food Allergies or Intolerances

Your pup’s poor gut health may be a result of a food allergy or intolerance. Then again, that food allergy or intolerance may be a result of poor gut health. In either event, to get her gut back in order, it’s important to eliminate anything from her diet that may be causing an inflammatory response. 

There are two ways you can determine if your pup has a food allergy. The first is to take your dog into your vet for a blood test that will show any foods that may be giving her trouble.

The second is to conduct an elimination diet where you remove ingredients in your dog’s diet one at a time. Admittedly, this is a harder and longer process, but if your budget can’t cover the allergy testing, an elimination diet may be your only course of action.

Just be sure to go very slow with this process so you don’t cause any stomach upset. And be sure to take notes so you can easily identify the trigger foods later on. 

Focus on Fiber

Fiber is important for dogs as it can help keep them regular. Constipation actually allows the bad bacteria to fester and grow, so we want to keep that stool moving out of the body.

Luckily dogs enjoy fruits and veggies and you can easily add some to their diet. Just be sure to check with your vet to make sure you know which fruits and veggies are okay to feed your dog and how much. While fiber is important for gut health, too much can actually cause gas and bloating.

Find Quality Prebiotics and Probiotics

Just like with people, prebiotics and probiotics can greatly improve our pups’ gut health. But probiotics and prebiotics are not the same thing.

Probiotics refer to the friendly, beneficial bacteria that live in your gut’s GI tract, while prebiotics are the food sources that feed them. And fiber is the food of choice for bacteria, another good reason to help your dog eat more.

Ask your vet to recommend a quality probiotic supplement to give your dog daily. Many dogs also enjoy fermented foods such as plain greek yogurt and kefir.

Reduce Stress

Stress wreaks havoc on the gut, both in people and our pets. Stress increases cortisol and causes inflammation in the gut as well as kills off the good bacteria. If you think your dog may be suffering from stress, help them destress through daily exercise and playtime. Create a safe space without any of their triggers. For instance, if that new puppy is stressing your old pup out, be sure to allow your pup to snooze in your bedroom, away from the noise and chaos.

Those dogs with severe separation anxiety may need to be put on medication. Speak to your vet.

 

Final Thoughts

Gut health is super important for your dog’s overall health. If your dog is showing signs of an unhealthy gut, follow these guidelines to help get their GI tract in tip-top shape.

One final tip: signing your pup up for pet insurance is one of the best ways you can support their health. When a sudden and unexpected accident or illness occurs, are you financially prepared to pay that vet bill for thousands of dollars?

Most pup parents don’t have a special emergency fund, which is why they are turning to pet insurance. Many policies will pay 80%-90% of the total bill, which gives pup parents great peace of mind.

If you’ve been thinking about pet insurance but weren’t sure what provider was the best, here are the top providers based on over 150,000 reviews from pet parents just like you:

 

Top Pet Insurance Providers of 2024

RatingProviderTotal Review
4.9Embrace14,463
4.9Healthy Paws7,498
4.9Trupanion60,410
4.9Fetch2,378
4.9Lemonade795
4.8Nationwide21,394
4.8Prudent Pet125
4.7ASPCA11,508
4.7Hartville164
4.7PetPartners111
4.7Spot5,787
4.6MetLife528
4.5Pets Best7,216
4.4AKC889
4.4Figo2,619
4.3Pet Assure12
4.3Pumpkin1,257
3.2ManyPets2,268

References:

  1. https://www.dvm360.com/view/identifying-food-allergies-veterinary-elimination-diet-trial
  2. https://www.akcpetinsurance.com/blog/improve-your-dogs-gut-health
  3. Front. Vet. Sci., 14 January 2020; Sec. Veterinary Experimental and Diagnostic Pathology; Volume 6 – 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2019.00498

 

Disclaimer

The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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