Your Dog’s Gut, Probiotics, and a Happy 4th of July
It wasn’t that long ago that we only thought about our dog’s gut when we were petting it during tummy rubs or worrying about things that went into it that perhaps should not have, like shoes, sticks, the remote control for the television to name a few. But in recent years the gut has been having much more than a moment in the spotlight, and there are some good reasons why a focus on gut health is here to stay.
The gut is made up of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. It is full of both good and bad bacteria and when those different types of bacteria are in balance, everything is fabulous. This works the same for humans and dogs. When that balance is thrown off like when your dog eats something she found in a remote corner of your yard that is full of bad bacteria, things can go awry and things like vomiting and diarrhea can occur.
However, it is not just what goes into your dog’s mouth that impacts her gut health, but also what is happening within her brain. Of course, we’ve heard all of the time-honored idiom “Listen to your gut” and perhaps that saying has stuck around because of the existence of what is called the brain-gut axis.
Without getting too deep into the science, the brain-gut axis is an internal connection of the mind and the gut. You see, your gut houses what is called the enteric nervous system, which is essentially like a brain in your stomach. Since this brain-gut axis is a two-way street, not only does stress impact your gut, but many researchers say that an imbalance in your gut can cause the stress in the first place.
Scientists have actually been studying and testing this since 1910 when a man named Dr. George Porter Phillips experimented by giving patients who were suffering from “melancholia” a whey based probiotic and determined that two-thirds of them improved after treatment. Much more recently, a 2016 study using zebrafish also found a link between probiotics and reduced anxiety, “In the present studies, larvae supplemented with L. plantarum showed decreased anxiety-related behavior relative to conventionally-raised fish. These results support previous rodent and human studies suggesting that Lactobacillus reduces anxiety-related behavior. In conclusion, the results of this study strengthen previous findings showing that the microbiota plays a major role in responding to stress and stress-related behavior.”
So why am I telling you all of this?
Two words: Independence Day.
Many dogs are terrified of the loud booms and explosions that occur over the 4th of July holiday, and animal control officers around the country estimate that they see an increase of 30% in numbers of lost dogs coming into their shelters as a result of terrified dogs bolting in a panic from their homes or their owners. Even more heartbreaking than the fear that the dogs feel (first from the fireworks and then from the experience of being lost and alone) is the fact that many dogs never find their way home and are either re-homed or euthanized as an unclaimed stray.
Some dog owners rely on over the counter medicines like Benadryl or prescriptions from their veterinarian to help their dog sleep through the day or face the holiday with reduced stress. However, knowing the connection between a healthy digestive system and a happy, healthy mental state can help you proactively prepare for the holiday through the use of a good quality probiotic like our Iconic Paws Canine Super Probiotic Formula.
Our Canine Super Probiotic Formula is a daily powder that helps balance your dog’s gut bacteria. Created specifically for dogs with 3 canine-specific strains of beneficial bacteria, this powder can be mixed with a little water and given in your dog’s food as part of your daily routine. It has both prebiotics and probiotics, with prebiotics being bacteria that help the probiotics work in a sort of team effort.
By starting your dog on our probiotic powder today, you can help improve your dog’s gut health and get that brain-gut axis running at optimal levels several weeks before the fireworks start booming and terrifying your dog. And although we cannot guarantee that you still will not need additional techniques to get your dog safely through the celebration of our nation’s independence, we believe that your dog will definitely be happier the better his tummy feels. Of course, you might still offer up that tummy rub, because no matter how healthy your dog’s gut is on the inside, those furry puppy tummies on the outside are still our favorite parts of the gut.