A dog’s diet is more than just packing in what’s filling–it’s also about giving your pup something fulfilling. Taste is definitely one factor in the equation. However, gut health is far more complex because it affects not only digestion, but also the amount of energy, immunity, and even physical and mental wellness that your dog enjoys.
Let’s go beyond just trusting our gut when it comes to your dog’s health. The best way to ensure optimal gut health is to go the route of science and understand exactly what goes on inside their furry bellies.
How does a good digestive system look like?
A healthy gut aims for harmony. We have a complex microbiome in our gut, and so do our dogs. That’s because the digestive system goes through a series of complex steps to break down and digest food, and then absorb the nutrients necessary for proper health.
Each dog’s gut microbiome is different at birth, and it all starts with genetics. However, as your pet grows with you, eats specific food types, and engages in a variety of activities, the microbiome changes with his environment. That’s why it’s important to be aware of what you give him, because we inadvertently affect the way his gut health develops overtime.
So what can you expect to see if your dog has a good gut?
Better nutrient absorption
When there’s enough good bacteria in the gut, your pet is most likely to stay healthy and in tip-top shape. The good bacteria in the digestive system can efficiently break down undigested elements in your dog’s diet.
Technically, dogs are omnivores, especially the more modern breeds. They have adapted to domestication, which shaped their digestive system to process both meat-based and plant-based food.
While this means that digestion of most food items is not a problem for a lot of dogs, there are specific differences per breed. It’s important to know if your dog’s breed has specific nutritional needs. When these needs are met, you see some of the signs such as firm and regular stools.
There’s no one way to classify a “good” stool sample, but keep an eye out for any discomfort when your pet does his business. Also, when you clean up, stool that is firm but moist, and retains its shape when picked up signifies a healthy digestive system.
More energy to engage
Once nutrients are better absorbed, your dog will have the right amount of energy to get them through the day. However, new pet owners must take heed: more food portions does not mean more energy available for your pet.
This is why we need to ensure that their pet food offers the best ingredients. Think of a lean mean food pack with all the right choices and cuts and none of the fat and trimmings. Even with a small portion, having a well-rounded meal will keep you filled and energized. It’s the same for pets.
Choose pet food that offers a variety of quality protein and healthy carbohydrates, like Nurture PRO’s Nourish Life Slow-cooked Salmon. It’s recipe has been designed to meet the proper nutritional needs of dogs. With Atlantic salmon, herring meal, steamed oat, and a choice of berries and natural extracts, this slow-cooked recipe is the perfect boost for his vitality.
Healthy skin and fur
When our fur babies seem extra floofy, it’s a sign to rejoice–his guts are A-okay! According to experts, there is a distinct connection between shiny coats and healthy skin, and a dog’s gut health.
On the opposite end, dry skin, excessive shedding and itching, and a noticeably dull coat may be signs for you to sit up and take caution. Granted, a dull coat and dry skin may be due to allergies, stress, or even a health condition. But if there are no abrupt changes in his lifestyle or activities, it may be due to his daily food consumption.
Omega-3 fatty acids in pet food contribute to that nice sheen on his fur. This can be obtained from salmon oil, vitamin E, and flaxseed. Make sure to grab pet food that contains these ingredients. Nurture PRO’s Original Lamb & Pork with Fish Oil recipe incorporates quality salmon, flaxseed, sunflower, and coconut oil to give your dog the best blend of nutrients.
Boosted immune system
Another reason why you should choose healthy pet food packs with added veggies and superfoods? Proper digestion boosts your dog’s immune system.
The effects of improper or insufficient nutrition on a dog’s gut health may take some time. His gut microbiome may happen to be healthy at first, but this can change as his diet slowly shapes it. Another way to single out nutrition issues as the problem? It’s highly likely that he is experiencing other common signs of a distressed gut, as you will see in the next section
How do we know if our dog’s gut health needs help?
With everything happening internally when it comes to digestive health, how exactly do we know that their gut needs help? Should we wait until there are more obvious signs before we act? If your dog is healthy, be observant so you can establish a baseline for what is your dog’s normal. Every dog has their own normal, whether it’s the sheen of his fur or the type of stool he has.
When you get used to this, then you can be more alert to potential changes to his digestive health. Checking in with him every once in a while can be the easiest way to maintain his health.
‘Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you do a quick check-in with your pet.
Is he experiencing any of the typical signs and symptoms?
Dogs may suffer from a variety of digestive and gastrointestinal issues. Since we can’t see what’s happening inside his gut, we can keep a lookout for specific symptoms instead. These can include vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, increased flatulence, or abdominal distension.
Some gastrointestinal issues can overlap in terms of symptoms. Your pup won’t usually experience all of these symptoms at once. But any sudden changes or onset of these symptoms are worth looking over.
Are there toxins involved?
As much as we would want to stand guard on every single thing he eats, there are times when we may not catch what he puts in his mouth before it happens. It’s good to be aware of what is considered toxic to your pet’s gut health. For example, chocolate, grapes, raw eggs,milk, and your prescription medication can easily give your dog more than just an upset stomach.
Be aware of what’s within reach in your kitchen. When any food item that’s toxic to dogs goes missing, then it might signal a quick check with the vet.
Is he stressed?
Just as we get stressed with unexpected and major changes, dogs can also feel.a myriad of emotions that lead them down the stressful path. Some dogs may feel scared in a new environment. They may be anxious towards a particular family member. They may also feel restless when a big change, like not getting their typical exercise, occurs.
This experience of stress can mess up their GI tract. What happens is that the extra adrenaline can affect the blood flow to the intestines and stomach, leading to diarrhea.
When the more serious stress experiences come, you may have bigger things to worry about. Since a dog’s immunity relies heavily in their gut, chronic illnesses may develop as they experience chronic stress. The last thing you’d want is to have an immunosuppressed pup who can’t fight off infections on his own.
Did his diet change?
For those who love to give their dogs variety when it comes to their diet, sudden or frequent changes in their food choices may not be as fun for their stomachs. Sudden dietary changes can disrupt the existing microbiomes and systems in your dog’s gut.
So how do you switch out safely? Do it gradually, taking care to mix in a little of the new food with his old one. Reduce the amount for the old food as well to retain the best food ration for his dietary needs.
How do we take care of our dog’s gut health?
There are a number of ways to ensure that your dog’s gut is well taken care of. The key is knowing what points to add, what things to balance, and where and when to do all of these changes.
Add in more protection through probiotics
Since your dog’s gastrointestinal biochemistry is the star of gut health, adding in the good guys will be of great help. Probiotics help create waste products that benefit the microbes in your dog’s gut.
Consider them the good bacteria that strengthens your dog’s stomach and adds to the manpower that fends off infections. With 80-% of the immune system hinged on your dog’s digestive tract, supplying good bacteria creates a healthier microbiome and protects them from developing certain illnesses.
Keep him on his toes with exercise
A dog’s digestive system is quite different from human’s in that they can store large amounts of food for quite a while. This is especially true for larger breeds. Since exercise is a great way to expend energy, this can fast-track digestion and aid as well.
Apart from that, exercise is a form of stress reliever–just don’t go too much or too hard during his runs! Keeping your dog’s stress levels at bay keeps the good bacteria in his gut happy all day.
Opt for food flavors with natural, quality ingredients
Some puppers may be picky with their food. If your pup is on the lookout for new food, try to switch taste without leaving behind his nutritional needs. Nurture PRO offers some of the tastiest and most unique combinations of meats. Choose from lamb, herring, salmon, and chicken. Each flavor has been made into a recipe that incorporates proper proportions of vitamins, minerals, and protein for their daily needs.
Give your pup’s gut the right TLC it deserves. While you don’t have to go all-out on the treats, you can definitely give him the premium choices for his meals. Nurture PRO sets itself apart for its array of choice meats that will make your pup look forward to each and every meal.
It also takes care of your pup’s internal health, with its array of prebiotics and probiotics, carefully integrated in each recipe to optimize digestive health, make him more resistant to stress, and aid in better nutrient absorption. Each bowl holds a lot of happiness, keeping your pupper satisfied and his gut health properly maintained.