6 Simple Ways To Look After Yours Dog’s Gut Health

Your dog’s gut health has a huge impact on their overall health and happiness. For this reason it is very important to consider the following factors, to help you protect your dog from potential dangers and be mindful of how lifestyle changes may affect the microbiota living in their gut!

Take a look at the 6 common causes of digestive upsets in dogs and 6 simple ways to look after your dog’s gut health!

 

1. Scavenging

This is probably the most common cause of a sudden tummy upset in dogs as many dogs will scavenge food that they shouldn’t. Whether this is raiding the bin at home or nipping into the bushes on a walk to gobble up something old or gone off, your dog’s gut may react adversely to this sudden change in food source.

Moulds and certain foods (such as onions, garlic, chocolate, raisins, grapes) can be toxic to your dog so it is important to ensure they can’t gain access to these items. Even the ingestion of non-toxic foods can cause problems due to the sudden change in food source available to the guts microbiota, it can allow certain bacteria more suited to that food source to thrive leading to a dysbiosis.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Scavenging

Make sure your bins are fully closed, emptied frequently or not accessible if your dog is likely to go through them. When out on walks, keep a close eye out for food leftovers and rubbish particularly in busy parks and consider keeping your dog on a lead in these high risk areas or if they have a history of being a regular scavenger.

 

2. A Sudden Diet Change

By changing your dog’s diet gradually, it allows the gut bacteria to slowly adapt to the new food source and avoid overgrowth of certain types. Take a look below to learn how to change your dog’s diet safely and effectively:

How to Change Your Dogs Diets Safely

Try and keep your dog’s diet the same but if you do need to change then gradually change over foods over the course of a couple of weeks. You can do this by mixing in 25% of the new diet into the original diet for a few days, then 50:50, then 75:25 and so on.

Top Tip: Try to ensure you buy the new food before running out of the old one to avoid a last minute change should your dog’s normal food not be available.

 

3. Certain medications (particularly Antibiotics)

Your dog may require antibiotics and other medications from time to time to treat infections or a particular condition. Did you know that not only do antibiotics kill off harmful bacteria, but they can also harm the ‘good’ bacteria living in our pets gastrointestinal tract?

How To Support Your Dog During & After Antibiotics

Only administer antibiotics or medication if prescribed by your veterinary surgeon and follow the instructions given.

If your dog is taking a course of antibiotics, consider giving probiotics alongside and continue them for a few days after the antibiotic course has ended. This helps to ensure the gut microbiota maintains its normal function.

When giving probiotics alongside antibiotics ensure you leave a few hours between giving the antibiotic medication and the probiotic, otherwise the bacteria in the probiotic may be killed.

 

4. Stress

Recent research has showed extensive communication between the gut and the brain (this is called the gut-brain axis), with the nervous system and microbiota having important roles in this messaging. It’s not surprising that stressful situations can have adverse effects on your dog’s gastrointestinal system.  Dogs are creatures of habit and love a regular routine, so any changes from the norm can act as possible stressors.This may include such as: changes in feeding times, going into the kennels, visiting the vets, travelling, dog shows, having family/friends to stay, and fireworks/loud noises.

How to Minimise Your Dog’s Stress?

Try to minimise or avoid potential stressors where possible and consider introducing any changes to their routine gradually. For example, doing shorter journeys in the car before embarking on a long journey or taking them to stay at the kennels for a night before leaving them for an entire week. Probiotics given during this time may also help maintain a healthy microbiota. Other calming aids are available in the form of diffusers, collars, capsules and sprays which your vet will be able to give you more information about.

 

5. Life Stage

There are certain times of our pets lives where a dysbiosis may be more likely to occur, for example during weaning or in old age. This may be due to a slight alteration in how the gut functions, however sudden diet changes around these times may also contribute. As mentioned previously, if changing your dog’s diet (for example at weaning, or changing to another life stage diet) then do so slowly so the risk of developing a dysbiosis is reduced.

 

6. Underlying gut problems

If your dog has an underlying problem in the gastrointestinal system, this could alter its ability to function normally; there maybe alterations in motility (movement), secretions (substances that aid digestion) and the structure of gut wall itself, all of which may lead to a dysbiosis.

Why Does My Dog Have An Upset Stomach?

If your dog is showing gastrointestinal symptoms or is unwell then make sure to get them examined by your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. There could be many possible reasons for your pets upset stomach, but rapid treatment will help minimise to changes to the gut microbiota and help to prevent further damage to the gastrointestinal system from occurring.

Looking After Your Dog’s Gut Health

By understanding the potential reasons for digestive upsets, reduce any potential stressors and by making sure their environment is protected and safe, you can help your dog avoid possible triggers and improve their overall gut health.

Always remember, if your pet is unwell and you are concerned, we advise you to seek professional veterinary care before purchasing at home remedies.