If your dog suffers from regular vomiting or diarrhoea, poor gut health may be to blame including a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Clinical Naturopath and herbalist, Narelle Cooke, explains.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome in dogs?
The term ‘Leaky Gut’ is used to describe the more formal condition of ‘gastrointestinal hyper-permeability’, which basically means that the lining of the gastrointestinal tract has become more porous than it should be.
The easiest way is to think about the gut lining is like a very fine, single-layered cheesecloth that is designed to let nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and water in and keep larger, undigested food molecules, toxins, and pathogenic bacteria out.
But when this very delicate layer is damaged by poor diet, for example, it becomes ‘leaky and is unable to prevent undigested food and potentially toxic organisms from passing through into your dog’s bloodstream.
How Leaky Gut impacts on your dog’s health
These toxins can over stimulate the immune system and make our dogs more susceptible to environmental and food allergens and a whole range of other potential health problems.
For example, while digestive issues and skin conditions are generally the most common symptoms that you’ll see in dogs with a leaky gut, it could also manifest as chronic ear infections, joint diseases, autoimmune disorders and even behavioural problems.
The role of diet and Leaky Gut
There are many things that can cause Leaky Gut, the biggest being the overuse of antibiotics in both dogs and humans.
However, the type of food you feed your dog can also have an impact, especially highly processed dog foods due to:
- synthetic preservatives, additives and colours that can trigger inflammation of the gut lining.
- commercial pet foods cooked at high temperatures that:
- destroy any beneficial living enzymes which compromises digestion,
- creates a particular reaction between the proteins and the sugars
- contain high levels carbohydrates that break down to sugar in the body and in turn, feed yeast and other harmful bacteria
Tips to prevent or assist Leaky Gut
For our dogs a big way to avoid or assist with fixing Leaky Gut means avoiding a diet high in sugars and synthetic additives and instead moving to a natural, raw diet using high quality meat protein and fats, fresh vegetables and fruits and pre and probiotics.
This helps ensure that our dogs have healthier guts and stronger immune systems, which will ultimately make them less prone to allergies and skin issues in the first place.
How single-protein meat diets can help
If your dog is suffering from a skin issue and you suspect a food intolerance, the best approach is to feed a single protein diet so that you can figure out what might be triggering the problem.
It also gives your dog’s gut the time it needs to heal.
The Big Dog single-protein raw food diet that contains only the meat, offal and bone of a single animal species (ie: just turkey or just kangaroo) allows you to determine if it is indeed the other meat proteins that are triggering the reaction (beef, chicken and other meats are often highly allergenic, while turkey, goat and kangaroo for example tend to have lower allergenic properties).
Only by trying your dog with a novel single meat protein (meaning one they have not had before) as part of an elimination diet, can you start to determine if it is indeed a food allergen causing the issue.
In addition to feeding foods that reduce inflammation, added ingredients that reduce itchiness and support the integrity of the skin barrier, like the Big Dog Sensitive Skin recipe, include omega-3 from fresh salmon, turmeric and coconut oil
And, you can’t go past herbs such as nettle and alfalfa for reducing the itch, and Gotu kola as the go-to herb for tissue healing and repair.
Visit the Big Dog website to find out more about their raw food diet range HERE.
You can also book a consult with Narelle Cooke to improve your dog’s health HERE.