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How can I help my dog’s digestion and gut health?

Indicators of gut health in dogs are similar to that in yourselves, you can evaluate this by asking the following questions:

  1. Is my dog pooping irregularly or excessively/do they have constipation or irregular bowel movements?
  2. Are my dog’s poops really, really smelly, weird colours or too loose?
  3. Does my dog pass a lot of wind, and does it smell the room out?
  4. Is my dog underweight for the amount of food they eat?

Make no mistake - all dogs have a certain… aroma about them and we can’t expect them to smell like roses, however, we are asking if these smells are particularly foul?

If you answer yes to any of the above, there may be an indication that your dog’s guts aren’t happy – this could be a one-off occasion of them eating something they shouldn’t have, or it could be a long-standing issue that you haven’t considered.

What is upsetting my dog’s guts?

There are two ways we can look at gut health:

  • Immune system - the immune system tends to act in an inflammatory way to things it sees as foreign. Sometimes your dog’s immune system recognises proteins (most commonly animal and wheat proteins) as foreign and causes an inflammatory response. You may recognise this as similar to IBD in humans. The signs can be broad from just being smelly on certain foods, e.g. chicken, all the way to severe diarrhoeas and even vomiting when not on the right diet.
  • Gut flora – as with humans, your pet’s guts are colonised with millions of microorganisms, these are normally “good bugs” that help facilitate normal digestion. Sometimes bad microorganisms can overpopulate the guts, often from eating something they should not have, other times it just happens. This type of insult to gut health is sudden and often only lasts a few days or even weeks, we as vets see a lot of these in consults and the road to recovery usually takes time and supporting the “good” microorganisms in the guts.

Whilst the above is important, there are lots of varied factors at play with gut health, if you feel your dog has a particularly upset gut or they are unwell, it is always best to consult your veterinarian first.

What can I give to help my dog's guts?

It really depends on what is causing your dog’s gut problems but here are a couple of things that could be considered:

Supplements:

Probiotics and prebiotics can aid in keeping the gut flora healthy. These support the good microorganisms which can aid digestion as well as keep bad bacteria at bay.

There is evidence that supplements can help reduce inflammation, as mentioned before, some gut problems can be inflammatory, so anti-inflammatory supplements may help.

Diet trials:

If your veterinarian suspects diet allergies you may want to change the proteins in your dog’s diet, most allergies will be to either animal proteins or wheat proteins. Simply swapping to an animal meat that your dog has never had before can help, if not, a hypoallergenic diet may be a better option – these contain all the goodness of a normal diet, but the proteins are altered or broken down to not upset your dog’s immune system.

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