We often make the mistake thinking that the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) has only one function, the truth is it is a system responsible for transporting and digesting foods, absorbing nutrients and expelling waste -a whole lot of other functions that link it to other bodily systems.
The GIT does not function on its own and is more complex when it comes to the good health of your dog. Looking at the whole picture you need to include all the ancillary elements i.e. teeth, tongue, salivary glands, oesophagus, pancreas, liver and gallbladder.
Have you ever noticed that dogs get away with gulping food without chewing? This is because unlike most other mammals, dogs’ salivary glands don’t contain amylase (enzyme) therefore no chewing is required. Also, the length of the dog’s small intestine, roughly two-and-a-half times its body length, is by far one of the shortest intestines of all mammals. The above is important as it indicates dogs are carnivores and therefore require a carnivorous diet.
Specialised cells all along the GIT release digestive-regulating hormones. These hormones together with multiple other elements such as activity level, type of diet, gastric and intestinal distention all trigger the pancreas and liver to release and regulate enzymes. These enzymes target the designated food type and is the major digestive catalyst for breaking food into small particles to ensure absorption.
Digestion is essentially the breakdown of larges pieces of food similarly broken down by enzymes into metabolically available biocomponents such as amino acids, fatty acids, simple carbohydrates and sugars.
These nutrients are carried in a substance called chyme all along the GIT and is absorbed by the gut wall through diffusion or biochemical transportation. From here the blood carries the nutrients to other parts of the body.
The stomach is responsible for breakdown of the large food particles. Most digestion takes place in the small intestine and from here the digested matter moves to the large intestine, where water, electrolytes and good bacteria matter are absorbed. Synthesis and absorption of vitamins happens at this stage as well.
Carbohydrates ferments and release hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane gasses. The end-product of digestion is undigested matter, toxins, both living and dead bacteria and of course the variety of surprises swallowed by your puppy.
Now that we have a short summary of what happens during the digestive process we need to look at why a good healthy gut is important.
The lymphoid tissue associated with the gut is the largest immune organ in the body and the combination of all immune components such as the mucosal lining, the microbiome and probiotics are referred to as the GALT and contribute as much as 70% of the body’s total immune system. Beneficial gut bugs called probiotics form part of the population of intestinal microorganisms called the microbiome.
A healthy balance of probiotics is therefore necessary to ensure good gut health as an unhealthy mix of intestinal bug flora (dysbiosis) leads to leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky gut is when inflammation of the intestines creates gaps between the individual cells lining the walls. These gaps allow toxins and pathogens to leak and escape the intestines where it causes inflammation in other parts of the body and can lead to problems such as asthma, skin rashes, joint pain, thyroid conditions etc.
Typical symptoms associated with leaky gut syndrome are:
- food allergies (resulting in several conditions, including skin irritations, diarrhoea or constipation etc.)
- inflammatory bowel disease
- autoimmune issues
- joint conditions (arthritis etc.)
- thyroid disease
- liver dysfunction
- pancreatic insufficiency
- weight gain
- low energy
- slow metabolism
SO WHERE DO YOU START?
-NO MORE GRAINS.
There are many people who disagree, and many argue that dogs and cats can process grains just fine. However, just because they CAN digest grains, does it mean they SHOULD?
When dogs eat grains, it generally creates a constant level of inflammation in their gut; this inflammation ceases when grain, as a dietary component, is eliminated.
Raw fresh foods provide a source of natural microbes for your dog. A good diet is essential to a healthy gut.
Replacing kibble, and with it starch, leads the way toward healthier gut bacteria, balanced blood sugar and better endocrine system- and that’s just the beginning…
So, if your dog has smelly farts, bad breath or sloppy poos or any of the abovementioned issues, make a positive change to improve your dog’s gut health.
A raw diet is rich in natural enzymes, which assists in the natural breakdown of nutrients. Take gut health seriously… you’ll be amazed.
I am sure you understand by now that, probiotics are the good bacteria that live in our dogs’ bodies, keeping their guts healthy. Inflammation kills these bacteria and causes other issues.
That’s why at Pawsome Raw we ferment our vegetables to create our own probiotics and enzymes as part of our nutritional programme. This natural process ‘pre-digests’ food. Fermentation also unlocks the phytonutrients in foods like turmeric and ginger, which boosts their powerful disease-fighting properties.
By keeping all the nutrients intact and easily digestible, your dog has a healthier gut and improved immunity. Along with adding probiotics like raw goat’s milk kefir to your pup’s diet, you also want to consider adding prebiotics; sourced in bananas and dandelion greens.
Restoring gut health takes time, these problems have usually been going form a while. Changing your dogs’ diet, adding pre- and probiotics work, but you CANNOT expect overnight results. The healthier you can keep your dog’s gut, the healthier you can keep the entire body.
At Pawsome Raw we live by the slogan “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT” and a Pawsome Raw nutrition programme ensures healthy pups as they start with healthy guts…so make the change.