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Your Dog Gut Health Impacts Their Behaviour and Mental Wellbeing

As dog owners, we often focus on physical health when it comes to our furry friends. However, did you know that there is a strong link between your dog’s gut health and their brain and mental health? The link is called the Gut-Brain Axis. Recent research and studies have shed light on the fascinating connection between dog gut health and behaviour, revealing how the gut microbiota can impact their mood, cognition and overall mental state.

The Gut-Brain Axis

The gut-brain axis is the communication network between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. It involves intricate signalling pathways that facilitate bidirectional communication between the gut microbiota and the central nervous system. Studies have shown that the composition and diversity of the gut microbiome can influence neurotransmitter production, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are closely associated with mood regulation and behaviour in dogs.

Effects of Gut Health on Behaviour

Research has indicated that an imbalanced gut microbiome in dogs can lead to behavioural issues such as anxiety, aggression and even cognitive dysfunction. When the gut is inflamed or lacks beneficial bacteria, it can disrupt the production and regulation of neurotransmitters, affecting a dog’s emotional state and behaviour. Conversely, a healthy gut microbiome promotes the synthesis of essential neurotransmitters, contributing to a calmer, more stable temperament.

Maintaining a Healthy Gut

To support your dog’s gut health and promote positive behaviour, there are several steps you can take. First and foremost, provide a well-balanced diet that is high in protein, moderate in fats and low in sugary and starchy carbohydrates. Adding appropriate amounts of dietary fibre and fermented foods such as yoghurt and sauerkraut will also support their gut microbiome.

Dietary fibre, including prebiotics, is like fertiliser and soil for the microbes. It feeds the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the colon and produces postbiotics such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs play a role in the gut-brain axis, supply energy to colon cells, maintain a stable gut environment, reduce inflammation and protect against pathogens and cancer. Feeding a diverse range of foods can lead to a more diverse and healthy gut microbiome.

Additionally, reducing stress levels, ensuring regular exercise and avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

Understanding the link between dog gut health and behaviour is a game-changer in optimising their overall wellbeing. By prioritising a healthy gut through proper nutrition and environmental exposure and stress management, you can positively influence your dog’s behaviour, mental state and quality of life. Remember, a healthy gut means a happy and balanced furry companion.

Let’s nourish their gut and nurture their happiness and harmony from within.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of whole foods for our dog’s physical and mental health, check out our ebook called Bowie Drools Over the Alphabet. You will find an A to Z fresh foods list you can share with your dog, complete with the nutrient guidelines and over 30 dog friendly recipes to try. You will also learn about dogs’ physiology and the nutrients they need to thrive (supported by science) and how to make your own nutritionally balanced dog food.

References:
Foster, J. A., & Neufeld, K. A. (2013). Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Trends in Neurosciences, 36(5), 305-312.
Schmidt, M., & Cryan, J. F. (2019). The impact of microbiota on brain and behaviour: mechanisms and therapeutic potential. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 1118, 303-336.

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