The way to your dog’s heart is through their stomach–and so is the way to everything else. Your dog’s gut health affects their physical and mental health. Deep within your dog’s stomach live microorganisms–bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, viruses and protozoa–that digest food and extract nutrients. In the process, they also combat inflammation and support your dog’s immune system.
Protein is the main influencer of your dog’s gut microbiome. The more active your dog, the more protein they need. Protein helps:
- Build and maintain muscle mass
- Supports healthy bone development in growing dogs
- Make hormones, antibodies, and enzymes
However, it turns out that your dog isn’t especially picky about where that protein comes from; your dog’s stomach cares more about the macronutrient breakdown than the specific ingredient.
Once your dog adapts to a protein-rich diet, they excrete less undigested protein in their diet, suggesting that they’re metabolizing and extracting more than previously. Diets heavy in protein are found to increase the presence of Clostridium hiranonis; dogs with gastrointestinal diseases or on antibiotic treatments are found to have greatly reduced amounts of this bacteria.
Your dog can get protein from:
- Muscle meat (thighs, breast, ribs, etc.)
- Organs (heart, livers, kidneys, lungs)
- Bone marrow
- Cooked eggs
The other major factor in your dog’s gut microbiome is fiber. If you’ve ever given your dog some canned pumpkin or sweet potato to help firm up loose stool, you know exactly how beneficial that extra dose of fiber can be. And while commercial dog food should provide your dog with enough fiber, every dog is an individual and some can reap more benefits from a high fiber diet.
Fiber’s three main benefits are:
- Absorbing excess water in the digestive tract
- Adding bulk to loose stool
- Preventing bad bacteria from growing and colonizing the gut
It comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be broken down and digested; too much given too quickly can give your dog gas and diarrhea. Insoluble fiber cannot be digested and helps slow the passage of food through your dog’s digestive tract.
Common natural sources of fiber include:
- Sweet potato
- Canned pumpkin
- Steamed or frozen green beans–not canned
If your dog is the type to turn their nose up at fruits and vegetables, over-the-counter psyllium supplements can give your dog the fiber boost they need.
Prebiotics are a type of soluble fiber that helps the good bacteria in your dog’s gut flourish while keeping harmful bacteria at bay. It also acts as a food source for probiotics, which in turn colonizes your dog’s stomach with beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion. Prebiotics can be used to alter your dog’s gastrointestinal ecosystem to improve and enhance their immune function.
Prebiotics can be found in:
- Sweet potatoes
- Canned pumpkin
Unfortunately, many of the most common food sources of prebiotics are also toxic towards dogs. Deley Naturals Advanced Probiotic Supplements for Dogs contains both prebiotics and probiotics to help restore gut health, promote efficient digestion, and support your dog’s immune system.
Probiotics are live bacteria that help pre-existing “good” bacteria thrive while repopulating your dog’s gut with beneficial bacteria. While they’re most effective when used as a preventative, they can also help your dog recover after gastrointestinal illness or an antibiotic regimen has altered their gut microbiome.
If you’re trying to improve your dog’s gut health, your first instinct is probably to look into probiotic supplementation–and for good reason. Probiotics can:
- Boost appetite, especially in older dogs
- Improve emotional stability
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, gas)
- Starve out bad bacteria by competing for the same resources
Even if your dog is generally healthy, they may still sneak a snack out of the trash can or scavenge for roadkill, or take a drink out of a muddy puddle–throwing their stomachs out of whack.
Each serving of Deley Naturals Advanced Probiotic Supplement for Dogs contains 4 billion active and live microorganisms: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus fermentum. This combination of strains was selected and developed to optimize the canine microbiome for peak function: they break down food, fight off digestive upsets, and help absorb nutrients.
Exercise and Enrichment
Some dogs seem to have a direct line between their stomach and their mental health. Or, to put it another way, the more stressed they are, the more they poop. And while you can give your dog a probiotic before any anxiety-inducing events to help minimize any brewing stomach distress, you can also get your dog outside and in the fresh air.
Regular exercise can help stave off obesity, which in dogs is correlated with: diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, and liver problems. It increases the load on your dog’s joints over time, making it harder for them to move around comfortably.
Exercise can also ease constipation. The physical motion of walking around can stimulate your dog’s bowels, while keeping to a schedule can regulate your dog’s system for predictable bathroom patterns.
Don’t forget to let your dog sniff and explore. Walks aren’t just bathroom breaks–they’re opportunities for your dog to be a dog, and for the two of you to bond over the experience. Sniffing releases dopamine and relaxes your dog, providing mental enrichment that can reduce or alleviate anxiety and allow your dog to decompress naturally.