July 2, 2019

Probiotics and prebiotics for your dog

There’s been no end of articles, drinks and supplements promoting gut health for humans over the past few years. But you may not have considered whether any of this could be relevant to your dog. Should you share a little kefir with your dog? Will a little fermented cabbage in their bowl help them? The answer is yes! A dog’s gut is as important to its overall health as it is in humans and so making sure they get the right nutrition to support their digestive microbiome will help your dog live a happy, healthy life.

What’s a gut microbiome?

A healthy dog’s digestive system, like our own, contains literally trillions of organisms such as bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans. Together they make up the gut microbiome, a vital component of the body, that helps digest food, stop toxins and pathogens, help produce and transport vitamins and minerals, boost our immune systems and stop anxiety (to name but a few).

How gut health impacts a lot more than just the gut

It’s still early days when it comes to understanding the full impact of the gut microbiome on canine (or even human) health but studies are showing a surprising range of benefits. Here’s just a few:

Supports the immune system – the microbiome has a significant impact on your dog’s immune system. It communicates with a lymphoid tissue in the intestines to help produce immune cells such as lymphocytes, T and B cells. The microbiome itself can also form a barrier against toxins, carcinogens, allergens and help destroy pathogens too.

Helps digest food and provide nutrients – the bacteria in the in your dog’s produce enzymes which help break down and digest your dog’s food. They also produce vitamins (especially thiamin and B vitamins) and short chain fatty acids which aid absorption of important minerals, including calcium, magnesium and iron.

Reduces anxiety and improves mental health – amazingly more than half of the serotonin in animals’ bodies are a result of their microbiomes and there’s surprising evidence that boosting gut health can improve mental health. Certain bacteria for example have been found to have a calming effect on mice similar to anti-anxiety prescription drugs.

How to look after your dog’s gut health

Helping your dog’s digestive flora flourish is essential for happy, healthy dogs, particularly If your dog has issues with allergies, a sensitive stomach or is struggling to transition to a new food. Here’s how:

High protein, low carb, minimally processed diet – both high protein/low carb diets and minimally processed diets help build a large and diverse gut microbiome. That’s just one reason why Balanced Life dog food is so healthy.

Probiotics – probiotics are all the rage in human food and they have the same benefits for dogs too. Kombucha, kefir, natural yoghurt and fermented vegetables all help boost live cultures of healthy bacteria. So try adding a tablespoon to your dogs’ bowl of Balanced Life. Just be wary of the dairy in kefir if your dog is lactose intolerant.

Prebiotics – prebiotics help probiotics do their thing by providing insoluble fibre as an energy source. Balanced Life contains natural prebiotics like flax seed, kelp and chicory root to ensure your dog’s microbiome thrives.

Having a dog may even improve your gut health

Interestingly your dog may actually be helping your own gut flora flourish. Studies have shown that children in households with dogs have a lower risk of developing autoimmune illnesses like asthma and allergies, the theory being that dogs help introduce a diverse range microbes to an otherwise fairly sterile home.

So, make sure your dog is healthy and it will help keep you healthy too!

Probiotics and prebiotics for your dog - is it worth it?