Healthy Gut, Happy Mutt

A healthy gut is part of our pets’ overall wellbeing. Gut health has been linked not only to digestion, but to immune system function, skin and coat condition, and even behaviour. There is a large microbial population in the gut that is key to overall health.

There are levels of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the large intestine, and a healthy gut has a significantly larger population of “good” or beneficial bacteria than “bad” or undesirable bacteria. In order to maintain a healthy balance, the beneficial bacteria need to be supported and nourished, and the intestinal environment needs to be effectively cleared of waste.

Fibre

Fibre is important for maintaining a healthy gut. It isn’t the amount of fibre that is most important, but rather the type of fibre. Quality pre-biotic fibre is readily fermentable by beneficial bacteria and comes from foods like chicory root, beet pulp, flaxseed, lentils, oatmeal and apples. Insoluble fibre is not fermentable, and does not support the microbial population in the gut. Some insoluble fibre is beneficial for gut health because it helps to clean the intestines.

While the right kind of fibre is essential for maintaining the gut microbiome, there are aspects of other nutrients that are important as well.

Other nutrients, while not directly related to gut health, are important to consider. Unlike fibre, these are nutrients we don’t want in the large intestine since they can have a negative impact on gut health. When high levels of these nutrients pass through into the large intestine, they can inhibit beneficial bacteria or support undesirable bacteria. These nutrients must be highly digestible so that they are almost entirely broken down before entering the large intestine.

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Fat

Undigested fat that passes into the large intestine can interfere with the function of beneficial microbes by coating their cell membrane, essentially smothering them so they cannot function properly.

Starch

When starch passes into the large intestine, it becomes food for lactic acid bacteria which, you guessed it, release lactic acid. This disrupts the pH balance of the gut and negatively impacts beneficial bacteria. This allows undesirable bacteria the opportunity to take over.

Protein

Protein that is not fully digested is consumed by proteolytic bacteria in the gut. These bacteria can become pathogenic, migrating up the digestive tract into the small intestine where they can cause lots of damage. These types of bacteria also have the potential to produce toxins that may be absorbed into the blood stream or cause damage to the intestinal lining.

Speak to one of our Pet Care Specialists for tips and advice regarding gut health. They’ll make sure you have everything you need to keep your furry friend’s digestive system happy and healthy!

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