Leaky gut syndrome in dogs
Have a puppy that often gets sick, vomits, or has diarrhea? You might be dealing with a dog with leaky gut syndrome! Let us explain exactly what having a leaky gut means and why it matters when your dog is suffering from leaky gut syndrome.
In this blog post, we will also share some healthy ways to heal and prevent leaky guts in your dogs so that your furry friend can quickly get back on its paws.
What does leaky gut syndrome mean?
Inside the tummies of dogs, there lies a wide intestinal lining covering an area of almost 4000 square meters!
This lining acts as a barrier, which checks what is introduced into the bloodstream from the intestine. It allows only the food nutrition to pass into the bloodstream and does not allow unwanted pathogens, toxins to pass through.
This way it maintains the functioning of the digestive system as well as the essential microbiota ecosystem into the gut system which is very important to maintain the healthy digestive system. A microbiota ecosystem is simply a community of microorganisms including bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses.
A leaky gut syndrome is a situation where due to imbalanced microbiota in the gut system, the intestinal lining becomes inflamed and hence damaged, cracked having holes, and permeable. As a result of this permeable intestinal lining, the undigested food, toxins, and other unwanted pathogens enter into the bloodstream.
These pathogens and toxins trigger the dog’s immune system to launch an attack against these unwanted pathogens and toxins which results in allergies in the dog’s body. This also causes damage to the microbiota ecosystem that exists in the gut of the dog. This causes inflammation and alteration in the normal microbiota environment which causes many chronic diseases among dogs.
How toxins enter your dog’s digestive system
The inflammatory gut system can cause many chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), granulomatous colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and colon cancer.
Dietary, health and environmental factors seem to affect the microbial diversity, number, and population within the gut system.
Dog’s digestive system is not fully clean, sterile, and immune to the introduction of toxins, unwanted bugs, and pathogens. They can be introduced into the digestive system in many ways such as:
- Food entering the dog’s gut can have toxins.
- Pathogen bacteria can have toxins.
- Liver while breaking down old and dead cells can produce toxins.
- Normal metabolism of cells also generates toxins as waste.
- Recycling of red blood cells also contributes to toxins that are dumped into the bile and thus into the digestive system.
So these are the many ways of toxins entered into the digestive system. But fortunately, the digestive system is walled off and protected from the harmful effects of these toxins.
How microbiota contributes to your dog’s healthy gut
The GI (gastrointestinal) tract harbors a complex microbiota consisting of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. Among these, bacteria are the most abundant microbes in the intestine.
These microbes are important for maintaining the host health and immunity because of the following contributions:
- They help in the defense against enteropathogens and toxins.
- Provides nutritional benefits.
- Provides stimuli to the immune system.
- Contribute to the proper development of the gut structure.
- The conversion of primary bile acids into the secondary bile acids by the gut bacteria.
The optimal ratio of these primary and secondary bile acids is important to regulate the gut homeostasis, since it reduced the inflammation, inhibit the germination of Clostridium difficile spores and modulate insulin and glucose metabolism. Only these gut bacteria can convert these primary bile acids into secondary bile acids.
Hence the disturbance of the ratio of these two bile acids can trigger negative metabolic consequences. Imbalanced microbiota or overpopulation of bacteria and yeast and inflammation are the main results of the leaky gut syndrome.
Hence to maintain a healthy gut system, these two need of maintaining healthy microbiota and inflammation free gut are absolute necessities.
Why is a leaky gut dangerous for your dog?
We’ve identified 6 main reasons why you should be concerned if your dog is suffering from a leaky gut syndrome:
Inflammation in the dog’s gut
This happens when the damaged intestinal lining can not digest and process the ingested food completely. Its spaced cells can not act as a barrier hence passed the undigested food and toxins into the bloodstream and as a result immune system triggers attack against this undigested food and toxins by producing inflammation into the body.
The immune system triggers defense against unwanted bodies by creating inflammation.
This inflammation causes diseases like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE), exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), tumor, colitis, liver disease, and kidney failure.
As the food can not be broken down completely by the digestive system and microbes, sufficient nutrition can not be passed into the bloodstream resulting in nutritional deficiency.
When undigested food’s protein particles have entered the bloodstream, the immune system attacks them. The immune system also starts recognizing them as unwanted negative bodies.
Whenever these same food particles enter the bloodstream, the body treats them as an enemy and launches an attack. This is how the body becomes nutritional sensitive to a particular food which results in ear infection, food allergy, hot spots, and hives.
Pancreatic and liver issues
Pancreas and liver are near the GI tract and hence are affected by the inflammation triggered in the GI tract. These inflammations destroyed the liver and pancreatic health, and develop diseases like diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.
Behavioral changes, aggression, and anxiety
Inflammation in the gut also affected the brain. Inflammatory chemicals enter the brain and create imbalances that destroy the brain neurons. This created the situation of behavioral change and in worse cases situations like dementia.
Gut related infections
These infections can be caused by various pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, worm, and giardia.
Gut related infections can be majorly divided into two categories that are small intestinal diarrhea and large intestinal diarrhea.
Both these types have different causes and require different tests to diagnose and treatments.
Symptoms of the leaky gut syndrome
Most common symptoms of a leaky gut syndrome are as follows:
- Digestive issues (vomiting, diarrhea, gas and bloating)
- Abdominal pain
- Gum disease and Bad breath
- Weight loss or gain
- Bladder infection
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Thyroid problem
- Immune system disorder
- Joint pain
- Respiratory illness such as asthma
- Behavioral change or hyperactivity such as aggression, separation anxiety and excessive whining
- Allergies and skin issues such as dermatitis, dandruff, hotspot, and recurring ear infection
- Gastrointestinal cancer
What are the causes of a leaky gut syndrome in a dog?
Gut bacteria can become imbalanced due to a carbohydrate-rich diet. Already inflamed gut system can become more inflamed when these carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, grains, legumes converted into sugar feeding yeast and bacteria.
Immune, digestive and metabolic issues can be developed due to highly processed food diet.
Maintaining mental health and good physical exercise is also important to your dog’s gut health.
Stress and boredom can upset the gut of the dog. Dogs can feel alone and bored at home when not attended for a long period. This can cause negativity and stress among the dogs and hence can disturb their gut health.
Antibiotics wipe out the useful beneficial gut microbiota which created indigestion of food and permeability of the GI.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin create permeability of the intestinal lining hence, create leaky gut syndrome.
Immune stimulating chemicals present in vaccines can further degrade the condition of the already existing inflammatory condition of the gut system of your dog.
Dyes as food colors, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, trans-fats, and hydrogenated fats are all harmful and trigger inflammation into the gut of the dog.
Diagnosis of the leaky gut syndrome
Generally, leaky gut syndrome remains undiagnosed because its symptoms resemble other common diseases as well.
Tests and examinations are conducted by the veterinarian to find out the causes of leaky gut and also to find out the exact health conditions created by an unhealthy gut.
Let’s look at these tests and examinations:
- Physical examination is being done by the veterinarian for body weight, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, breath sound, oxygen level, and abdominal palpitation.
- Microscopic evaluation of bacterial and fungal growth.
- Increased levels of ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and ALP (alkaline phosphatase) are checked by performing liver enzyme panel.
- Complete blood count.
- ABG (arterial blood gas).
- Biochemical profile.
- Blood glucose.
- BON (blood urea nitrogen).
- X-rays and ultrasound.
- MRI or CT scan to detect abnormalities and blockages in the gastrointestinal tract.
How the leaky gut of the dog can be healed?
Treatment and recovery of the dog
Proper diagnosis and correction of leaky gut can be possible by the use of a highly digestible diet, use of prebiotics, probiotics, and antimicrobial agents.
Better treatment and fast recovery of your dog majorly depends on proper diagnosis of the specific health condition of your dog.
An intravenous line (IV)
If the dog is dehydrated feeling weak and nauseous due to diarrhea and vomiting then fluids can be given to the dog through the IV line to maintain hydration and electrolytes level.
This can be given if the respiratory issues emerge in your dog.
These are introduced to maintain the beneficial level of the microbiota ecosystem for a healthy gut.
Never give antibiotics needlessly. Even if antibiotics are given to the dog, do supplement the dog’s diet with probiotics and prebiotics which maintain the beneficial bacterial flora in their gut.
Antibiotics are given only when necessary for infections. Otherwise, chemicals present in antibiotics can trigger more inflammation in the gut and harm the bacterial flora.
Avoid foods that are processed, toxic, and rich in grain, legumes, high carbs, and sugar. Always check on the products if they contain any toxic residue.
Be mindful of their diet. Give them anti-inflammatory diets such as Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E), minerals, electrolytes, and brain foods such as B-vitamins.
A special diet can be prescribed by your veterinarian to your dog to heal and restore the health of the dog’s gut fast and to prevent leaky gut syndrome again to come back.
Provide a healthy diet that is not allergy-induced.
Herbs, digestive enzymes, and gut restoration supplements such as omega-3, zinc, fish oil, vitamin E, amino acid glycine, and L-glutamine can be given to protect the intestinal lining.
Keep the stress level of your dog as down as possible.
Massage, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy can be given to calm the stress level of your dog. Going out for a quiet walk away from noises is beneficial for them. Herbs can be given to them to soothe their nerve.
Eliminate every possible toxic substance to your dog either in food, air, water, or ground.
Give clean and healthy nutrient-rich food, free of chemicals and pathogens which would help the liver to detoxify the body of the dog.
Recognize and fix a leaky gut in your dog now
Recovery is fast if you keep an eye over the diet and medications given to your dog and follow all guidelines given by your veterinarian religiously.
If you feel that your dog might be suffering from something other than leaky gut which is causing diarrhea, then make sure to check our blog on causes of diarrhea in dogs!
We hope this blog post helped you figure out what your dog’s gut problems are. If your dog is sick, we wish it a fast recovery and are sending plenty of good vibes your way!