Gut Health in pets
Science and medicine now agree that the gut is decisive for health. That’s because of the billions of bacteria in the guts of both humans, as well as domestic and farm animals. What impact do diet and environmental influences have on animals’ gut health?
It is important to know that bacteria generally make up the largest part of the microbiome, but their composition is specific to the animal, diet, environment and dependent on age, state of health and other factors. There is only 5-20% correspondence in bacterial groups between individuals, so the microbiome is completely individual like a fingerprint. A healthy microbiome is not only important for digestion. It is also essential for supplying the organism with nutrients, stimulating the immune system and protecting against pathogens.
The consequences of long-term intestinal problems can be devastating. When the gastrointestinal tract is not working properly, nutrients cannot be properly absorbed by the body. As a result, the function of the immune system is reduced, the immune system is weakened and the organism becomes unwell and more susceptible to diseases. The intestine also supplies organs with energy, which is derived from the nutrients absorbed. Energy is distributed to the organs such as the liver, kidneys, spleen, stomach and lungs. So gut health also ensures that all organs remain intact and can perform their tasks optimally.
Although there is ever greater focus on the quality and composition of products when it comes to nutrition – some feeds contain prebiotics as a basic requirement – digestive problems are still common. The underlying problems can be very diverse.
Dysbiosis: Possible causes of an imbalance in the gut
- Inappropriate diet
- High proportion of grain in the diet
- Additives (dyes, flavour enhancers, chemicals, etc.)
- Medications (antibiotics, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, etc.)
“Attacks” on the microbiome in pets are also diverse. Various medications, de-wormers or orally administered treatments for parasites, as well as poor nutrition and a wide variety of environmental toxins that cause oxidative stress are among the causes of dysbiosis. They all put stress on the gut and its ability to function, and subsequently weaken it. 30-40% of healthy dogs respond to antibiotic treatment with diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is a clinical sign that the intestines are stressed and that no timely action has been taken. Clinical disorders must be identified early before the onset of such symptoms.
Identify and respond to intestinal problems early.
The first warning signs, such as exhaustion, tiredness, flatulence, abdominal noises, soft stools, loss of appetite and a less shiny coat are often ignored for too long. Nature provides pet owners with extensive tools. There are around 30,000 plant species that have potential health benefits and can affect gut health and functionality in various ways. Some plants have antimicrobial and antibacterial effects and can be used, for example, for gentle treatment and regeneration.
In conclusion, the intestine is the largest and most important organ of the immune system. If there is intestinal damage, it is almost inevitable that the immune system will also suffer and be affected. To avoid this and prevent this stress, it is important – both in human medicine and in veterinary medicine – to cleanse, build up and care for the intestines regularly to keep the organism healthy and efficient.