It’s no secret why pet parents prioritize gut health. A healthy gut can reduce symptoms of digestive upset like vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. Proper gut health will also help regulate your fur baby’s bowel movements. For these reasons, pet owners make gut health a central part of their cat’s or dog’s regimen.
What many pet parents don’t know is that proper gut health benefits more than just the gut. The state of your pet’s gut can make or break many other systems in the body. Read on to learn why gut health is even more important than you may think.
Strong immunity against pathogens
Gut and immune health are closely linked to each other. It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of a pet’s immune system dwells in the gastrointestinal tract. Immune cells interact with the gut microbiome, a complex ecosystem containing trillions of bacterial strains. Pets build a strong immune system when the gut microbiome is balanced, highly diverse and populated with tons of good bacteria.
A healthy gut can strengthen your pet’s defenses against parasites, bad bacteria and viral infections. The friendly bacteria in gut microbiomes stop pathogens from invading healthy cells. Pets with good gut health are less likely to contract diseases, and even if they do, strong immunity allows them to recover much faster.
Healthy skin and luscious coats
A healthy gut strengthens the immune system, which can have a positive effect on your fur baby’s skin and coat. A balanced gut microbiome modulates the immune response, limiting the number of pro-inflammatory compounds that flood the body. When the gut microbiome is thrown off kilter, excessive inflammation leads to red, swollen and itchy skin. Good gut health can soothe irritated skin, which is even more important for pets with allergies.
A balanced gut microbiome can also reduce the risk of secondary infections. Inflamed skin causes the pet to repeatedly scratch the same spot. The pet can lick themselves raw or break the skin open with their sharp nails. This gives bad bacteria a direct path into the pet’s body. Healthy skin means your pet will itch less and avoid developing a secondary infection.
Strong gut health is a crucial factor for the coat, as well. Pets that itch nonstop due to inflammation might experience thinning hair or bald spots on skin rashes. A healthy gut microbiome reduces inflammation and allergy symptoms, making it possible for your fur baby to grow a thick, shiny coat.
Improved mood and behavior
Much like the immune system, your pet’s brain is closely linked to their gut microbiome. Pets and humans have what’s called a gut-brain axis, which means the gut and brain are able to communicate with each other. The gastrointestinal tract produces many hormones that control your pet’s mood, including serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Serotonin and dopamine can make your pet feel happy, while GABA reduces stress and anxiety. Populating the gut microbiome with the right bacteria can increase production of these feel-good hormones.
By improving your pet’s mood, gut health has the potential to decrease unwanted behaviors. Pets that feel agitated or stressed may engage in destructive habits as an outlet for negative feelings. If your fur baby is tearing up the house, they’re not doing it to spite you. Destructive behaviors offer insight into what’s going on in their brain. A pet that’s relaxed and happy won’t bark constantly or gnaw on your favorite pair of shoes!
Nutrient absorption for more energy
Your pet’s gut health also determines how effectively they can digest food and absorb its nutrients. A gut microbiome that’s off balance is less capable of sending vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream. Even if you’re feeding Fido a healthy diet, poor gut health will let those nutrients get flushed out of the body. A balanced gut microbiome helps your pet’s body retain the maximum amount of nutrients from their food. Optimal nutrient absorption gives cells what they need to function at their best.
Improving gut health allows you to keep up your pet’s energy. Pets are more likely to feel sluggish and resist exercise when their bodies aren’t getting the proper nutrients. A balanced diet and proper gut health will give your pet more nutrients for sustained energy levels. This is essential for sticking to a regular exercise schedule and maintaining a healthy weight.
Proper gut health does more than keep your pet regular! The gut plays a major role in regulating vital systems throughout the body. The gut microbiome proves that when you boost one system, all the others fall into place. From shiny coats to parasite protection, pets need a healthy gut so they can feel their best from the inside out.