Dog Gut Health: 5 Reasons Why It Matters
May 27, 2022 | 3 min read
Updated May 27, 2022
By Becca Trigg
Published: May 27, 2022
Updated: May 12, 2023
Summary: In this blog, we learn all about canine gut health. Discover why gut health is so important, and what happens if it’s out of balance…
It’s very easy to just think of your dog’s gut as the place where their food goes to be digested and turned into energy - technically, that is what the gut does - but it actually affects and impacts SO much more than just food digestion…
In fact, the gut (including our own) plays a huge role in general overall health and wellness. Over 2,000 years ago, the Greek physician Hippocrates believed ‘all disease begins in the gut’, and today’s scientists are discovering that although that isn’t 100% correct, he may have been on to something!
You see, the eyes may be the window to the soul, but the gut is the giant doorway to complete, full, and optimal health...
Dog Gut Health: The Basics
The gut is made up of the stomach, small intestine, and colon or large intestine. There is a complex microsystem of microflora (good bacteria) and pathogens (bad bacteria; such as e.coli) within the gut that, when balanced, keeps your dog healthy - but when they become imbalanced, your pup’s health could be challenged.
Your dog's gut is the largest immune organ, with 70% of the immune system found in the gut itself. The gastrointestinal tract (G.I.) naturally tackles and can prevent toxins and bad bacteria from entering the bloodstream, supports the absorption of vital nutrients from food and supplements, and maintains overall digestion.
Now, we can’t talk about the gut without mentioning the microbiome! Your dog’s gut wouldn’t function correctly without the trillions of living microbes naturally found in the gut. This clever and complex ecosystem of beneficial bacteria provides the support your dog needs to live healthily; to maintain a normal immune response, and help balance behavior when your pup is challenged by a change of environment or travel...
Why Does Dog Gut Health Matter?
Our fur babies, particularly in the early stages of their lives, are bursting with energy! Now, although some of our more senior pups still get the zoomies, energy levels will decrease the older they get - but with the correct gut health support, you could help your aging pup to keep active. When the gut is healthy, it’s able to properly absorb minerals and nutrients from food and supplements, helping to maintain energy levels.
Bone & Joint Health
When we say your dog’s gut health matters because it can support their bone and joint health, it may lead you to think of the obvious; the healthier your dog’s gut is, the less excessive weight they’ll carry, which will take the strain off their bones and joints. Now, although this is indeed true, a healthy gut can actually help their bones and joints in a different way…
There are certain strains of bacteria found in the gut that can produce important vitamins; one of which is vitamin K. Vitamin K can help your pup to metabolize calcium, a mineral needed to help support bone strength. The gut can also produce efficient enzymes that can help a dog’s body to absorb minerals.
Immune System Health
As mentioned above, 70% of the immune system can be found in the gut! So, it’s no wonder that the health of your dog’s gut has such an effect on their natural defenses and immune system functions.
Just like us, lots of dogs struggle with occasional and seasonal allergies - which - you guessed it - can stem from your dog’s gut health due to the relationship between the gut and immune system. Whether a dog’s allergies are caused by food sensitivities or the environment, having a healthy, balanced gut can encourage their internal and natural tools to face these irritants.
Certain gut bacterias produce chemicals that the brain recognizes as messages transmitted via the nerves. If there are too many “bad” bacteria in your pup’s gut, these important messages won’t be received as calmly or positively by the brain and can instigate lower mood and poorer brain functioning.
In a study on mice, when they were fed probiotic bacteria, chemicals were transmitted to the brain and were then seen to affect the area in the organ that regulates emotion. The “good” bacteria literally sent signals to decrease negative emotions in the mice’s bodies! In addition, the study has concluded it’s quite probable that the gut microbiome and its state can lead to agitated behavior in dogs.
How Can You Support Your Dog’s Gut Health?
As puppy parents, we know that it’s down to us to provide our fur babies with all the love, daily walks, belly rubs, and support needed for them to live a happy, healthy life. Well, when it comes to gut health, there is a simple thing you can add to your pup’s daily routine that can help…
‘What is it?’, I hear you say. Well, did you know that dogs can also benefit from having probiotics, too, just like us?
PetLab Co.’s Probiotic chews for dogs feature a unique blend of properties, antioxidants & live cultures to help support good bacteria found in your dog’s gut. The powerful, gut-supporting ingredients in these tasty supplements can help encourage an optimal immune response, thereby addressing itching, paw licking, head shaking, and other common signs of seasonal allergy discomfort.
Final Thoughts On The Importance Of Gut Health
Your dog’s gut has a huge impact on their health - both good and bad. As puppy parents, we need to know how to support the gut and microbiome, so that we can, in turn, promote a healthy immune system, balanced behavior, bone health, and general digestion.
Author Suzie Sorenson, “Why Is Gut Health Important For Your Pet?”, Hyperbiotics
Author Cohen, Sandy, “If you want to boost immunity, look to the gut”, March 19, 2021, UCLA Health https://connect.uclahealth.org/2021/03/19/want-to-boost-immunity-look-to-the-gut/
Authors Selma P Wiertsema, Jeroen van Bergenhenegouwen, Johan Garssen, and Leon M J Knippels, “The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies”, March 9, 2021, PubMed.Gov https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33803407/
Authors Javier A. Bravo, Paul Forsythe, Marianne V. Chew, Emily Escaravage, Hélène M. Savignac, Timothy G. Dinan, John Bienenstock, and John F. Cryan, “Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve”, September 20, 2011, PNAS
“Dog Gut Health: A Simple Guide” April 26th 2021, Pupford https://pupford.com/dog-gut-health/
An all round animal lover, who absolutely adores writing and researching anything puppy! Over the past few years, I have been able to gain ample pet knowledge; specifically joint health and dental hygiene. When I'm not typing away in the office, I can be found sitting in a country pub or growing chillies