You may have heard of leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is an incredibly uncomfortable illness that makes you feel sluggish and sick all the time. Leaky gut can also lead to other chronic issues. But, did you know that leaky gut syndrome in dogs is a common illness as well? Read on to learn more about what leaky gut syndrome is, what causes it, the symptoms and side effects, and what you can do to help your dog.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky Gut Syndrome is scientifically known as Dysbiosis, or intestinal permeability, which involves the loss of good bacteria and an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the intestinal tract. This disease causes damage to the small intestine, creating a space in the intestinal lining.
As a result, shards of undigested food and toxins then creep through these spaces which can cause severe indigestion, malnourishment (such as protein loss), inflammation, and even allergic reactions.
What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
So, what exactly causes leaky gut syndrome? This illness is typically caused by an injury to the small intestine, which then creates issues in the digestive tract. In most cases, leaky gut is brought on by consuming food(s) that cause a buildup of bad bacteria.
Some of the common causes for leaky gut syndrome include the following:
- High-carb diets and foods
- An overabundance of antibiotics
- Yeast infections
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
Parasite infestations, yeast or other fungal infections, and deficiencies can be effects from leaky gut syndrome as well as cause it, resulting in a vicious cycle.
How Does Leaky Gut Syndrome Affect Your Dog?
The exact cause of leaky gut syndrome or intestinal permeability in dogs isn’t fully understood. However, according to many veterinarians, dogs with leaky gut are typically on a poor diet, consume processed foods or foods that are high in carbohydrates, or have been exposed to multiple antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
For example, if your dog has recently suffered from a parasite, yeast, or other fungal infection and was prescribed antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, then this increases the level of toxins in your dog’s body. Consequently, his or her risk for leaky gut syndrome increases.
These medications kill the good bacteria naturally found in your dog’s body. This then forces the immune system to take over, neglecting other systems. This leaves the body susceptible to other issues, such as autoimmune diseases.
What Are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut in Dogs?
So, how can you tell if your dog has leaky gut syndrome? The symptoms can vary depending on your dog’s age and health.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms that often occur in dogs with leaky gut:
- Abdominal pain
- Bad breath
- Bladder infections
- Weight loss
- Gum disease
- Immune system disorders
- Respiratory illnesses
- Joint pain
Additionally, there are different ways that leaky gut syndrome can manifest in your dog’s body. Some of these include the following:
- Intestinal issues
- Respiratory illnesses or asthma
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Immune system disorders
- Gastrointestinal issues
If your dog is experiencing persistent diarrhea, vomiting, gas, bloating, or weight loss, then he or she may be suffering with gastrointestinal issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
Can Leaky Gut Syndrome Be Cured or Treated?
The good news is you can treat your dog for leaky gut syndrome. If you notice that your dog is showing the above signs or symptoms of leaky gut syndrome, then be sure to give your veterinarian a call. If possible, alert your vet to the symptoms that your dog has been experiencing as well as any foods or medications your dog is exposed to.
Be honest! If you have been feeding your dog dry food, canned food, treats or even table scraps, be sure to the tell your vet!
Your vet will likely perform a physical exam of your dog. He or she will also likely take stool and urine samples, bacterial cultures, and X-rays of the abdominal area. Not only will this process possibly identify the presence of leaky gut in dogs, it will also help weed out other potentially harmful diseases, such as Addison’s disease, Celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and various food allergies.
The treatment of leaky gut syndrome in dogs can vary depending on whether or not the veterinarian can successfully pinpoint the exact cause of the illness, the age and health of your dog, or the amount of damage done to the small intestine. Oftentimes, you can treat the disease with special enzyme supplement medications, which restore the amount of good bacteria in your dog’s gut. Your vet will also recommend putting your dog on a special diet.
These treatment methods will help restore the level of good bacteria in your dog’s body as well as give the digestive system a chance to heal and fully restore itself. Luckily, dogs with leaky gut can receive in-home care from their pet owners.
How to Treat Leaky Gut Syndrome Naturally
Because leaky gut syndrome is caused by an overabundance of bad bacteria, increasing the level of good bacteria, such as with the use of probiotics as well as relying on L-glutamine benefits are the best natural ways to treat leaky gut syndrome in dogs.
Here is a four-step system to help treat leaky gut syndrome in your dog:
The first step is to wash away the toxins present in your dog’s body. This will provide liver support and digestive support, which can begin the body’s natural healing process. Some natural herbs that can help do this include milk thistle or dandelion root.
Once toxins are removed, the next step is to achieve a healthy balance of good bacteria. This can be done with probiotics (gut flora) or digestive enzymes, including plant-based enzymes.
Probiotics are essentially beneficial bacteria that the body needs to help fight infections and other diseases, such as yeast infections. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice is also a great natural treatment method for digestive issues and to support intestinal health.
Because a common side effect of leaky gut syndrome is malnourishment or a mineral deficiency, this typically results in protein loss or the breakdown of muscle tissue in your dog’s body. Therefore, increasing the number of amino acids, specifically L-glutamine can help replenish muscles and tissue in the small intestine.
Finally, the last step in the system is to maintain a healthy level of good bacteria, vitamins and minerals, and amino acids to keep your dog strong and healthy. You can do this by closely monitoring your dog’s diet as well as paying close attention to food he or she eats.
A Healthy Diet for Your Dog
Again, depending on the age, health, and the damage done to your dog’s body, your dog may have to remain on a low-carb diet, a low-fat diet, or even eat special foods for the rest of his or her life. Regardless, a healthy diet for your dog involves foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that will keep your dog healthy, strong, and ward off any other diseases, yeast infections, and allergies.
Here are some tips for a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet for your dog:
Raw Yogurt – Yogurt is one of the best probiotics and foods that you can feed your dog. However, avoid feeding your dog yogurt that is high in fat or sugar. Raw yogurt is among the best types of natural probiotics.
Fermented Vegetables – Fermented vegetables are great for restoring good bacteria levels in the body.
Some of the best fermented vegetables include the following:
- Papaya fruit
- Green vegetables
- Pumpkin seeds
Be sure to feed your dog fermented vegetables slowly as he or she gains weight. A good rule of thumb to follow is 1-3 teaspoons per day per 20 pounds of body weight.
Fatty Acids have proven to help treat digestive issues, provide intestinal support, GI tract support and overall heart health. In fact, larch arabinogalactan and Proper Nutrition Seacure provide a natural source of dietary fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids.
The healthiest and best bone broth is typically made from wild, free-range animals. Bone broth contains a number of amino acids, which can help repair cell structures. Bone broth contains glycine, gelatin, glucosamine, as well as other minerals, all of which are important for repairing cell structure and supporting the digestive system and the small intestine.
Many pet owners give their dogs coconut oil to help reduce digestive issues. Coconut oil consists of natural chained fatty acids, which help reduce digestive issues and promote overall GI tract health.
As long as you can ensure that your dog sticks to a healthy diet, you can feel confident that he or she will recover from leaky gut syndrome and prevent chronic diseases and yeast infections from recurring in the future.
How to Prevent Leaky Gut Syndrome in Your Dog
Not only is leaky gut syndrome in dogs treatable, it is also preventable. Here are some tips for preventing leaky gut syndrome and yeast infections in your dog:
- Avoid feeding your dog processed foods
- Stick to a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet
- Avoid over-vaccinating or over-medicating your dog
- Avoid using products that contain pesticides
- Use natural products and natural foods when possible
- Make the time take your dog for long walks or engage in physical activity.
All in all, caring for your pup in the treatment or prevention of leaky gut syndrome in dogs begins with feeding your dog the right foods and avoiding too many medications and drugs. If your dog is prone to allergies, then it may be best to speak with your vet about possible options. Replenishing your dog’s body with good, healthy bacteria and maintaining good bacteria levels will help keep your dog strong and healthy for years to come.
Illustrations inspired by our furry friend Benito!