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ModernDog: Good Guts: How to Improve Your Dog's Gut Health

Chronic disease and cancer are at epidemic levels. Why? In the 20 years of practice at my veterinary hospital, it became clear there was a very close relationship between these issues and the breakdown of gut health. This makes sense, since as much as 80 percent of your dog’s immune system resides in the gastro-intestinal tract.

Signs of Gut Health Problems

If your dog has vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite, those are pretty clear signs that’s something is up. But sometimes the signs can be much harder to detect.

Leaky gut syndrome (gut trauma), for example, can be more difficult to spot. It can be behind everything from food allergies to digestive problems, ear infections, and, really, any common health condition that stems from an inflammatory disorder.

Leaky gut is when the junctions (microscopic openings that absorb nutrients) in the lining of the mucous membrane become larger than they should, allowing undigested food and other particles (disease-causing pathogens, chemicals, allergens, and other toxins) to “leak” through the intestinal wall and enter into the blood stream, leading to disease.

There are many things that damage the gut environment, causing dysbiosis (the decline of friendly, beneficial gut bacteria) and creating much of the chronic disease we see in our dogs today. These gut-damagers include:

  • antibiotics
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and steroids
  • over-vaccination
  • processed food
  • stress
  • grains or beans (anything with lectins)
  • yeast (candida)

So, what can we do to support our dogs’ gut health?