Why good gut health means fewer allergies for your dog
I’ve had a mini revelation. Stick with me while I explain myself. I’m very excited.
So many dogs suffer allergies because their gut isn’t healthy so they itch, scratch and suffer all the more!
Now, I can hear you shouting ‘how come you don’t know this already, you’re the flippin’ expert?’ And yes, you have a point but I just hadn’t put two and two together. I knew great food meant less itching but the gut/allergies connection? No. And *ahem* I don’t know everything.
I know that a healthy diet makes for a healthy dog; better energy, no weight issues, less inflammation, none of that doggie pong or room clearing wind. I also know that a healthy diet can take the itch right out of a dog’s life but I was concentrating more on the food than the gut.
What is a spring allergy?
If your dog’s itching and scratching cranks up in spring and lasts until autumn then they’ve more than likely got an allergy to pollens and grasses. Often referred to as atopic, a generic term for breathed in allergens, the symptoms can cause real misery for the best part of the year:
- Itching and scratching
- Excessive licking
- Paw chewing
- Sore armpits
- Itchy ears
- Runny eyes
Your dog may be suffering some or all of the usual suspects and they’re very difficult to get to the bottom of. Often customers come to me after trying everything the vet has to offer, including food allergy testing and skin scrapes, at the costs of hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds. Imagine how much money you could save just by getting the gut back up to full health, and how much happier your dog would be.
Get your gut together
Gut health is all the rage right now. And for once it’s a diet (with a small d) based on sound scientific research, albeit relatively new. You don’t need to go full ‘kefir’ on your dog but making alterations to their diet can affect big changes.
And when it comes to allergies it can alleviate some of the worst symptoms.
So how do I fix allergies with a change in diet? I hear you ask.
Reduce the intake of simple carbohydrates
Too many simple carbohydrates (highly processed carbs – white rice, maize, pea starch, various sugars) causes two problems:
- A leaky gut
- An overproduction of bad bacteria in the gut
Both cause an inflammatory response that can compromise the immune system in turn making it harder for the body to fend off allergens it may otherwise be able to tackle.
Our gut is lined with miniscule holes that allow the nutrients from the food you eat to pass from the intestines into the body. A diet high in poor carbohydrates means these holes can increase in size. Bigger holes means things that shouldn’t pass into the body now do. This causes the inflammatory response known as leaky gut.
Fatigue, aching joints and allergies are symptoms of a leaky gut.
The gut contains good, and bad bacteria, the trick is to encourage the good and remove the bad. The good keeps everything ticking along nicely: better absorption of food, good looking poo, a reduction in farts, better energy, improved skin and coat condition, less itching. A good diet promotes good gut health.
When you feed a food high in simple carbs (see above), the harmless gut bacteria Candida Albicans morphs into bad bacteria. This is unhelpful! The simpler the carbs the more candida proliferates throughout the gut. Eventually it erupts onto the skin causing intense itching. This also causes an inflammatory response.
So what constitutes a good carbohydrate?
Ground fruit and vegetables, to break down the cellulose making them easier to digest, is brilliant. Such as the fruit and vegetables Natural Instinct use in their complete meals. The other trick is to reduce the amount of carbs you’re feeding in total. If it makes up more than a third of your dog’s diet it could be too much.
Is that it?
Sort of, as well as changing the carbs over take a look at the food you feed in general. Treats need to have the same rules applied too, especially as the nutrition isn’t regulated in the same way as food.
Raw feeding is one of the best ways to keep the gut in great shape. Because all the nutrition comes from the whole foods; proteins, complex carbs from veg and fruit the gut isn’t being challenged by processed ingredients.
Another cheer for raw is the ratio of protein to carbohydrates, I like Natural Instinct for that balance.
This in turn reduces the burden of inflammation on the gut and allows the body to fight off the allergens present in pollen and grass.
So now you have a pincer movement at your service; better carbohydrates and better food. I have to say that since I started Nikita on raw she no longer has spring and summer allergies, picks up less parasites, and her skin is in far, far better shape.
I also feed my cat, Marcus on Natural Instinct and so far so good. He’s not one yet so I’ve yet to see how he goes this spring, but I’m very optimistic.