How to Maintain a Healthy Gut for Your Mutt

How to Maintain a Healthy Gut for Your Mutt

How to Maintain a Healthy Gut for Your Mutt

When it comes to the overall health of a dog, you might not consider the digestive system to be as significant as it is. The gut is connected to the entire body and plays a huge role in a dog's quality of life. Understanding how the gastrointestinal tract works and what happens when things go wrong are the first steps towards knowing how to maintain a healthy gut in your dog.

The Inner Workings of the Canine Gut

The gastrointestinal tract marks the path that food must travel from your dog's mouth all the way to its anus. Digestion begins as soon as your dog puts food in its mouth. A dog's saliva contains digestive enzymes that chemically break down the food. As the dog swallows, muscles in the esophagus push the food down toward the stomach. When food reaches the stomach, it is broken down even more by stomach acids. Now the nutrients, vitamins and minerals can be absorbed by the intestines, which is where beneficial bacteria is found and the balance of salts and fluid is maintained. Waste passes through the rectum and is eliminated as feces.



Beneficial Gut Bacteria

Naturally occurring bacteria in the intestines of dogs help to maintain a healthy balance in the digestive system. Five strains have been found to be most effective in dogs:

  1. Lactobacillus Acidophilus -- Eliminates disease-causing bacteria and facilitates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
  2. Lactobacillus Plantarum -- Removes toxins that can cause diarrhea and irritate sensitive stomachs, and it helps strengthen the immune system.
  3. Lactobacillus Brevis -- Supports absorption of vitamins and nutrients in the digestive tract.
  4. Lactobacillus Fermentum -- Stops the growth of harmful bacteria that cause urinary tract, bladder and yeast infections.
  5. Lactobacillus Lactis -- Prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria and provides support for the roles the other beneficial bacteria must perform.

Most Common Disorders of the Gut

When the microorganisms in the gut get out of balance, your dog may show typical symptoms of digestive disorders. This disruption in gut health can allow harmful bacteria to grow and cause intestinal infections and associated diarrhea, irritation and vomiting. Bleeding, bloating and constipation can result from issues with the intestines, as well as the stomach and rectum. Viruses can also be culprits of severe infections, including kennel cough, parvovirus and canine hepatitis. While some dogs may merely have sensitive stomachs, others may require more drastic measures to fight illness.

Connections Between the Gut and Entire Body

It's not that obvious, but a dog's gut is connected to their entire body, from the immune system to their mind. You'll probably be surprised to learn that 80 percent of the immune system resides in the gut. The bacteria that live in the intestinal tract significantly impact your dog and its ability to fight infection. Poor gut health can make your dog miserable both physically and mentally. Maintaining the good bacteria in your dog's gut and keeping harmful bacteria at bay is vital to a dog's overall well-being.

Best Dog Supplements for a Healthy Gut

There are many supplements on the market designed to improve canine gut health. The most effective dog probiotics are those that contain the relevant strains of Lactobacillus, along with pea flour, garbanzo flour, flaxseed meal, lecithin, duck, egg powder, cod liver oil, salmon oil, glycerin, carrot, celery, beet, watercress, spinach, triglycerides and crystalline cellulose. The combination of ingredients not only helps to treat digestive disorders and relieve associated symptoms but also boosts the immune system, prevents infection, minimizes allergies, supports dental health, and improves the appearance of the skin and coat.

Keeping your dog's gut healthy is easy once you have a basic understanding of the digestive tract. Choosing the right supplements can make all the difference when it comes to your pet's happiness. 

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  • Jennifer M
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