Our beloved canine companions, known for their loyalty and unconditional love, deserve the best care to lead happy and healthy lives. One crucial aspect of their well-being that’s often overlooked is their gut health.
Ongoing research has shown that a balanced and thriving gut is essential for a dog's overall health, as it plays a pivotal role in nutrient absorption, immune function, and even mental well-being.
In this blog post, we'll explore natural ways to support and boost your dog's gut health and ensure they live their happiest, healthiest lives.
Focus On Quality Nutrition
Opt for high-quality, premium dog food that contains ingredients like lean proteins, whole grains, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Always read ingredient lists carefully and avoid foods with a lot of extra fat, artificial ingredients, and fillers.
The foundation of good gut health begins with a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Studies show that the food your dog eats has an impact on their gut microbiome, which in turn impacts overall health.
Try Probiotic-Rich Foods
You can introduce natural probiotics into your dog's diet through foods like plain yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables.
Just as humans benefit from probiotic-rich foods, so do our canine companions. These foods contain live beneficial bacteria that aid in maintaining a healthy balance in the gut microbiome and improving overall digestion.
Check the labels and make sure you’re getting unflavored and unsweetened versions of these foods that are safe for pet consumption.
Make Dietary Changes Slowly
Whenever making changes to your dog’s diet through new food or treats, make the transition slowly. A transitional period allows your dog’s gut to adjust to changes and helps you notice any food allergies or sensitivities.
The American Kennel Club recommends transitioning your dog’s food over the course of 1-2 weeks. Start with 25% new food and 75% old food, then slowly increase the percentage of new food each day.
It’s best to minimize other changes to your pet’s diet and routine during the transition period so you can accurately judge your dog’s response to the new food. Avoid giving your pup new treats or sneaking them table scraps, as tempting as those puppy dog eyes can be.
Provide Fresh Water
Hydration is key to supporting overall health, including gut health. Make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times.
Water helps aid digestion and absorption of nutrients, contributing to a healthy gut. According to AKC, “water facilitates the metabolic processes — everything from digestion to brain activity, blood flow, and breathing.”
How Much Water Should My Dog Drink?
General guidelines are that dogs should drink 1 oz. of water per day per pound of body weight. However, much like humans, factors such as activity levels and weather conditions can impact this as well. For example, your dog may need more water on hot days during the summer or if you go for a long hike.
How Can I Get My Dog To Drink More Water?
If your pup doesn’t seem to be drinking enough, there are a few ways to encourage proper hydration:
- Change out their water frequently. Fresh, cool water is more appealing than stagnant, dirty water.
- Choose a different bowl. Some dogs are particular about the type of water bowl they drink from. Try different materials (plastic, stainless steel, ceramic) or shapes to see if your dog responds positively.
- Switch locations of the water bowl. Move the water bowl to an area where your dog spends a lot of time. Or add additional bowls around the house for easy access.
- Try wet food. Wet food has a higher moisture content than dry kibble and can contribute to your pup’s overall water intake.
- Try a pet water fountain. Some dogs are attracted to running water. A pet water fountain may entice them to drink more and keep the water from getting stagnant.
- Train them to take water breaks. Lead your dog to the bowl so they learn the location and encourage drinking by following up with praise and a reward.
Avoid Potentially Harmful Substances
Certain substances can disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome. Closely monitor your dog and limit access to some medications, chemicals, foods, and plants that can cause digestive issues (or worse).
Antibiotics & Medications
Minimize antibiotic use unless absolutely necessary, as they can disrupt the natural gut flora. Additionally, be cautious with overusing certain medications that also have negative side effects, including an impact on your dog’s digestion.
Toxic Human Foods
Avoid chocolate, grapes, onions, and other human foods that are toxic to pets. Keep garbage and leftovers in a sealed bin or out of reach to avoid accidental ingestion.
Certain plants are also toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other health issues. Even if your dog typically leaves plants alone, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Consider sticking to pet-friendly plants in your home and yard or keeping unsafe plants in areas your pup can’t access.
Harsh Chemicals & Cleaners
When it comes to chemicals and cleaners, opt for natural and pet-friendly options whenever possible. Keep them in a closed cupboard when not in use and open windows to improve ventilation while cleaning. It’s also a good idea to let your dog outside or into another room while you’re actively using cleaners to avoid direct contact.
Physical activity is beneficial not only for your dog's overall health but also for their digestive system. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes efficient digestion.
Exercise stimulates the muscles in your dog's gastrointestinal tract, helping move food through the digestive system. This increased activity can prevent constipation and enhance nutrient absorption, contributing to a well-functioning gut.
When the weather is nice, walks, swimming, trips to the dog park, or a lively game of catch in the backyard are great options. Work in some training activities and socialization to engage your dog mentally as well as physically.
When the weather is either too hot or too cold to be outdoors, there are still ways to make sure your dog gets the exercise they need. Indoor walks up the stairs and down long hallways are great, as are interactive toys and lively games of tug-o-war. You might also consider sending your pup to an indoor doggy daycare where they can run and play with other dogs.
How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need Per Day?
Age, size, breed, and health all impact the amount of exercise your dog needs. For most dogs, at least 30 minutes a day is a good starting point when it comes to digestive health and overall vitality.
Consider Probiotic & Gut Health Supplements
In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, pet supplements can be a great way to boost your dog’s gut health naturally.
According to Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center, there are numerous potential benefits to probiotics, including improved digestion and reduced diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset. They’ve also been found to reduce urinary tract infections, immune system disorders, and anxiety.
Try Maya Pet
Are you looking for a natural way to help improve your dog’s gut health? Maya Pet, a new gut health supplement from Priority IAC, contains 10 targeted Smart StrainsTM of good bacteria chosen to help support your dog’s digestive health and overall wellness.
- Enhancers may help boost your dog’s gut microbiome and digestion.
- Managers may help boost gut acid and keep food moving through your dog’s digestive tract.
- Inhibitors may help block bad bacteria and pathogens.
- Communicators may help boost signals between your dog’s gut, brain, and nervous system.
And unlike some pet probiotics, we keep things simple. No artificial flavors or ingredients. Plus, the convenient powder form is easy to mix into your pet’s food.
Ready to give it a try?