Pet parents who have cleaned up the occasional doggie trash bin can attest – our pets have notoriously non-discriminating stomachs. Or, at least, palates.
But believe it or not – your dog’s GI tract is a complex marvel that serves as a breeding ground for millions upon millions of microscopic organisms.
Introducing your dog’s microbiome
A dog’s digestive system comprises trillions of bacterial organisms, which work together to foster good gut health and bolster the immune system. However, if and when a microbial imbalance occurs – known as dysbiosis – your dog’s normal gut flora destabilizes. This throws bacterial diversity off the rails and can ultimately lead to multiple health issues, including:
- Hyperactivity and anxiety
- Stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence
- IBD and food sensitivities
Restoring good gut flora in dogs is essential to ensure healthy digestive and immune systems.
What causes dysbiosis in dogs?
Toxins, such as pesticides and herbicides, are among the usual suspects for stomach problems. Glyphosate, for example, is a chemical found in weedkillers. Humans are regularly exposed to it via multiple channels: the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. What’s more – our pets have been found to have even higher levels of glyphosate in their bodies, perhaps because of their proximity to the ground and the processed foods many frequently eat.
Such chemicals have been tied to many health concerns, particularly dysbiosis.
But by and large, diet and an overabundant use of pharmaceuticals – particularly antibiotics – are considered to be the leading causes of doggie dysbiosis.
For those reasons, a species-appropriate, balanced organic diet is the key to restoring good gut flora in dogs – and maintaining it.
That means avoiding processed, packaged foods that are high in carbohydrates and fillers, and amping up the quality proteins and fats that mirror what our “little wolves” would’ve eaten in the wild.
Among other components, your pet’s diet should include fermented raw foods and an appropriate amount of fiber.
The thing about antibiotics
Sometimes, infection needs to be treated with medication, but be wary about excessive antibiotic use. And while supplements like quality pre-and probiotics may help reduce inflammation in the short term, there are no probiotics that effectively mimic the normal bacterial families in a dog’s GI tract. So, seek professional help. Your veterinarian knows what is best for your dog’s health.
Additional tools and therapies for restoring gut flora in dogs
Speaking of antibiotics, fecal transplants – also known as Microbiome Restorative Therapy (MBRT) – are used to treat resistant Clostridium difficile overgrowth in people, a potentially deadly condition caused by their overuse.
But throughout history – particularly in Chinese medicine – fecal transplants have been used to treat many GI problems and conditions. Increasingly, oral transplants via commercially available “poo pills” have been used to combat dysbiosis in dogs.
“We are fortunate to have fecal transplant capsules from healthy, screened donors available as part of the therapy we use to gently restore a healthy gut microbiome,” said Dr. Laura Weis, DVM, of Doylestown Veterinary Hospital.
Doylestown Veterinary Hospital can help
The DVH team specializes in integrative veterinary medicine. This holistic focus offers many therapies, including nutritional counseling, that can help you restore healthy gut flora in dogs. Reach out to us today to learn more.