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5 Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Gut Health Naturally

Research shows that 80% of your dog's immune system is in their gut. If your dog has a healthy gut, they'll likely also have a robust immune system and fewer symptoms associated with organ system dysfunction.

5 Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Gut Health Naturally

Research shows that 80% of your dog's immune system is in their gut. If your dog has a healthy gut, they'll likely also have a robust immune system and fewer symptoms associated with organ system dysfunction.

by: Lori Wells, Certified Pet Nutrition Counselor

Research shows that 80% of your dog's immune system is in their gut. If your dog has a healthy gut, they'll likely also have a robust immune system and fewer symptoms associated with organ system dysfunction. These dysfunctions are often seen with allergies, skin and coat issues, a variety of digestive disorders, unhealthy weight, nervous system disorders, heart health concerns, autoimmune disorders, and infections in the bladder.

Ensuring your dog has a healthy gut can transform your dog's health throughout the body as it is an interconnected system.

Understanding Dog Gut Health 

To naturally heal your dog's gut, you must first understand how the digestive system works to protect your pet's body.

Your dog's stomach is the first stop in the digestive process. A natural pH for a dog is around 1, meaning the stomach is highly acidic. The purpose of highly acidic gastric juices is twofold. First, it protects your dog from bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be present in their food and environment. Secondly, the acid helps to break down your dog's food, which is naturally high in protein, fat, and, sometimes, bone content.  

This highly acidic state also tells the liver and pancreas that protein and fat are coming. The liver then tells the gallbladder to release bile. This substance breaks down fatty acids and neutralizes the acidic gastric juices as food enters the small intestines. The pancreas also releases pancreatic enzymes into the small intestines, finishing the breakdown of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to keep the body's organ systems working effectively. The broken-down nutrients are then released or absorbed through the blood system, which moves throughout the body. The remaining contents are then passed to the large intestine, where water is removed, and waste (toxins) is eliminated. 

Signs of Poor Gut Health in Dogs

Common symptoms of digestive issues in dogs include: 

  • flatulence
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • loss of appetite
  • bloating in the stomach area
  • inability to get comfortable
  • change in gait

If you're seeing your dog experience any of these on a regular basis, it could be a sign there is something out of balance with their overall gut heath. 

Natural Ways to Improve Your Dog's Gut Health

It's pretty clear that your dog's gut is a vital part of their body: from supporting digestion to housing the immune system to playing a role in their behavior, this essential bodily system needs all the support it can get to keep your pup happy and healthy.

With that in mind, we've put together five easy steps to naturally support your dog's gut health.

Tip #1: Feed Your Dog a Species-Appropriate Diet

The most important step you can take to heal your dog's gut naturally is to provide their pet with a species-appropriate diet, at least partly composed of whole food ingredients. What does this mean? It means ensuring your dog's food contains human-grade protein ingredients, such as eggs, white meat, red meat, and seafood. It also means providing your dog with adequate healthy fats, such as from fish. And lastly, it means supporting those proteins and healthy fats with various fresh fruits and veggies.

It's pretty easy to ensure your dog gets enough protein since this is typically covered in most wet dog foods. But if you're struggling to get your pup enough healthy fats, try adding a fish oil supplement, like Native Pet's Omega Oil, which is high in natural sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

By giving your dog these building blocks of health, you will provide your pet with all the living fuel their body needs to be healthy and robust.  

Native Pet Probiotic Powder

Tip #2: Supplement with Prebiotics and Probiotics

Once you've got the food down, you can look into supplementing or adding nutrients that will boost your dog's overall health. Prebiotics and probiotics are among the best things you can add to your dog's diet to support their gut health.

Research has shown that if a dog has a healthy gut microbiome, they will have better digestion of nutrients. When a dog has a healthy, species-appropriate gut microbiome, the structural integrity of the mucous membrane lining the digestive tract is supported, thus protecting and even healing a dog's gut naturally.

So, how can you ensure your dog has a balanced, species-appropriate gut microbiome? First, you must ensure you're feeding your pup the right food to feed their natural microbiome. This includes fiber-rich fruits and veggies like pumpkin, broccoli, and others.

Next, incorporate a probiotic supplement into your dog's diet or supplement rotation. Probiotics effectively reduce inflammation found in an unhealthy gut.  

For those interested in more cutting-edge treatments, microbiome transplants have recently become for dogs with recurring health issues related to an unhealthy gut. The microbiome transplant is the only way for a dog with an imbalanced gut microbiome to get the full, healthy range of species-appropriate bacteria back into their gut. 

Tip #3: Introduce Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements are a beneficial powerhouse of nutrients with highly effective healing properties supporting gut health.

Some of the best herbs for gut health in dogs are:

  • Marshmallow root
  • Slippery elm
  • Aloe
  • Licorice
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Thyme

These herbs help balance good and bad bacteria while also killing parasites. They also soothe and heal the mucous membranes of the gut while effectively eliminating uncomfortable symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.  

Tip #4: Hydrate with Bone Broth and Amino Acids

Did you know ancient nutrition models of health tout bone broth as one of the most effective tools for healing the digestive tract? Bone broth boasts a variety of amino acids and nutrients that soothe and heal while also boosting the immune system to drive out offending toxins from the body.

Bone broth is also an effective tool to increase moisture in a dog's diet, which is essential in the removal of toxins and waste along with the breakdown of nutrients that help heal the body. Many pets can silently suffer from dehydration, which can lead to the build-up of waste byproducts within the body systems. Bone broth can be added to your dog's water for a tasty flavor that encourages them to drink, thus improving their hydration. It's a win/win!

Tip #5: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

The last step in a natural healing plan includes exercise, nature's natural detoxifying and immune-boosting activity! Like humans, dogs need at least 30-60 minutes of exercise daily. Walking, hiking, running, bike riding, scent work, agility, or other sports are fun and easy ways to hit this threshold.

Since inflammation is the root of all diseases, especially in an unhealthy gut, exercise is one of the best tools to help eliminate inflammation. Exercise increases circulation, moves the lymph system, strengthens the digestive tract muscles to move food through the body, and increases thirst drive to fuel higher levels of moisture in and through the body. Plus, by being outside, our pets receive spore-based probiotics for healthier skin and coats, fueling gut health. 

Try These Natural Remedies to Improve Your Dog’s Gut Health

Health starts on the inside, and the core of the inside is the gut. There are numerous ways to heal and support your dog's gut naturally. Focusing on a species-appropriate, whole-food diet while incorporating herbs, bone broth, prebiotics, and probiotics are all easy ways to support your dog's digestive health.

If you feel stuck in a rut with your dog's health, start with these natural remedies to see if you notice an improvement. Of course, always talk to your veterinarian before making significant changes to your dog's diet. Your DVM will also be able to point you in the right direction and guide you to the decision that will have the biggest impact on your dog's well-being.

illustration of dog's tail & the dog is digging

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