Did you know your dog's gut is a critical part of their body just like your own? Even though it's not visible, the gastrointestinal tract adds a lot to our dogs' health. It acts as a vessel for digested food and helps to absorb nutrients and vitamins. But when it comes to digestion, the gut is also where many enzymes break down food. It also produces essential acids that help us digest fats and proteins.
Like human bodies, our dog's body still needs to protect itself from harmful bacteria and toxins. It does this by having a protective barrier between what goes in and what comes out. When that barrier gets weak and begins to let toxins seep into the body, that's when problems associated with leaky gut come in.
HEALTHY GUT IN DOGS VERSUS LEAKY GUT
How to know if your dog has leaky gut
One of the most common signs of leaky gut in dogs is diarrhea. This can be mild or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the gut lining. Some dogs may also experience vomiting and weight loss.
Other symptoms include an inflamed colon, inflammation in other parts of the body, skin rashes and itchiness, allergies, food sensitivities, autoimmune diseases and chronic ear infections.
You can also check for symptoms of dog leaky gut syndrome by listening to their bowel movements. If they're gassy or have loose stools with undigested food particles floating around in it, then it's likely that their digestive tract is not working properly and there may be a problem with their intestinal lining.
Diagnosing leaky gut in dogs
There are several methods to diagnose leaky gut in dogs, including:
- Blood tests. The most common diagnostic, blood tests can determine if there is inflammation or infection in the body. It also helps to measure the levels of certain proteins, hormones and other chemicals present in the body.
Stool tests. Stool tests can determine if there is an infection or parasite in the gastrointestinal tract. It also helps to see if there's any sign of inflammation or other abnormalities in the gut tissues.
Urinary tests. A urine test gives information about how well your pet's kidneys and liver are functioning, which are two organs that play a vital role in digestion processes.
- Biopsy. Biopsy involves taking some tissue samples from your dog's colon for further examination under a microscope. This examination will help determine whether there are any signs of inflammation or infection within your dog’s digestive system, which may indicate leaky gut syndrome.
What causes leaky gut in dogs?
Leaky gut syndrome is caused by an imbalance in intestinal bacteria or an injury to the intestinal wall, which allows toxins and undigested food particles to enter your dog's bloodstream where they trigger immune responses.
This can lead to autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), arthritis, skin allergies and thyroiditis (an overactive thyroid gland). Dogs with leaky gut syndrome may also have chronic ear infections due to changes in their immune systems that affect how their bodies fight off infections and viruses.
When administered at high doses or for prolonged periods of time, antibiotics may weaken the immune system, leading to illness or infection. The overuse of antibiotics also weakens the “good bacteria” needed for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
Parasites like hookworms and roundworms live in your dog's intestinal tract; when they feed on him instead of his food source, they produce toxins that damage his intestinal lining.
If your pooch has any kind of intestinal disease such as EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) or IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), this will increase his chances of developing leaky gut syndrome because he won't be absorbing nutrients properly due to malabsorption caused by those conditions.
Many dogs will have leaky gut for years without any problems because their immune system keeps it under control. However, if your dog has a weakened immune system due to another illness or injury, then you may notice symptoms of leaky gut sooner than expected.
How do you treat leaky gut in dogs?
The best way to treat leaky gut in dogs is to focus on improving their gut health. You will want to make changes in their diet and lifestyle so that they can heal their intestines. Some dogs may need medication or supplements, but others may only need a change in diet and lifestyle.
The first step is to make sure that your dog's diet is healthy and balanced. Dogs should get their calories from high-quality proteins such as chicken, beef and fish rather than carbohydrates or sugars. You should also avoid foods that contain grains like corn or wheat because they can irritate the gut lining. Organic vegetables are also great because they don't contain any pesticides or chemicals that could irritate your pet's stomach even further.
Providing a regular probiotic is also important, not only for dogs with leaky gut, but all dogs to maintain the health of their gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are naturally present in the gut. They help maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria, and they aid in digestion.
Probiotics, like Daily Dog, are available as supplements to support your dog's digestive health. These supplements can be used to help treat or prevent certain health conditions, including leaky gut syndrome.
Make the necessary changes
Fortunately, leaky gut is something that can be cured in many, if not most, cases. The changes that need to be made are often relatively simple and the results can be drastic when using probiotics in combination with a healthy diet. All in all, treating your dog's leaky gut will take time, but with the right approach and some patience it will be well worth it.