How can everyday Modern Stress Lead to Leaky Gut Symptoms in your dog?
Life is so FAST these days…..I don’t know about you, but some days I feel like I am not designed for the speed of change as we zip from one place to another…
So if we feel that way, how do our dogs feel?
All they want to do is be with us, by our sides, in our pack. Some dogs are resilient, and go with the flow, but some are more sensitive thinking types, and notice when the routine changes, or feel anxious when they are left on their own for long periods, leading to the development of secondary symptoms such as paw licking and chewing. and one of the most common issues I see in clinic is stress related Irritable bowel symptoms or leaky gut dysbiosis.
The Gut is sometimes referred to as our second brain. Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, from the esophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.
Neurons allow mammals to “feel” the inner world of our gut. What I find intriguing is how the second brain can control gut behaviors independent of the brain functions. Perhaps our “gut feelings” are more significant than we would have thought.
I believe our pets also are in tune with these “GUT FEELINGS”. You may have heard of the terms Fight and Flight or the Sympathetic nervous system, this is the release of Adrenalin we get when we are stressed or frightened. We have all felt this, especially if you lived in Christchurch through the earthquakes….When the mammalian body is in this state, the physiological effects of this surge of Adrenalin, is to defer the blood flow away from the gut out to the heart and limbs to enable us to run, fight and flight for our lives! However, these days, thankfully we more often than not do not fear for our lives, but daily modern stress still has the same effect on us and our pets, and this repetitive stress response can lead to the gut being repeatedly starved of blood supply, leading to the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal system to actually move apart and create gaps between the cells that lead to leaks, hence the phrase leaky gut.
So when there are gaps between the cells in the intestinal cell wall, all the traffic flowing through the gut is at risk of passing through one of the gaps and leaking into the bloodstream beyond the gut. Things such as toxins, undigested food particles, bacteria, all because of modern day stress.
When unknown particles enter the blood stream, the body leaps into action, the immune system is triggered, to protect itself from the foreign invader. Our dogs may experience any or all of the following symptoms:
- mood change, depression, not wanting to play, or be with the family,
- pruritis, or itchy skin,
- loose stools, or mucous around the stools,
- red belly, heat emission from the abdomen especially the region over the liver.
- ear infections, redness, itching and scratching
- inflamed gums,
- bloating, wind,
- bad breath, to name a few…..!
All because of modern day stress!
OK so life is fast, we can’t stop that, we need to pay the bills and taxi our kids around, but we can help our dogs feel stable while we do this.
Diet: Feed your dog food the gut can digest, and can recognize as real food. If you choose to feed a biscuit, I recommend adding chopped, steamed green veggies such as spinach or broccolli to the biscuits, as well as coconut oil daily. I am always happy to advise on diet for your pets.
Probiotics: Gut health is paramount for a strong immune system. If your dog has been ill, had a course of antibiotics, then I advise feeding a Probiotic for a while to repopulate the gut with the good bacteria. Probiotics are not all made equal. I stock an excellent practitioner only powder, perfect for this purpose.
Herbal Support: Adaptogenic herbs are brilliant at offering the body support when stressed. The liver and adrenal glands will also benefit from a helping hand and herbs can also help to close the gaps in the gut mucosal lining to heal the Leaky gut.
Play games: Your dog loves to play games with you. Games take their mind off their worries. Google dog games for ideas such as the “find it” game…..
Keep to a routine: Dogs are creatures of habit. They thrive on things happening at the same time every day. so feed your dog at the same time daily, and walk them at the same time. This will reassure them that all is well in their world, and they can sleep while you are out without worrying.
Go for walks: Walking your dog is not only physical exercise, but mental agility too. Its like DOGGY SUDUKO take them out to read the local PEE-MAIL they love to sniff and see who has been where, and put their marker in place over their territory. Remember your dog is not going for a walk to exercise, to him it is a new adventure every day!!!
Keep your dog in a set area at home when you are out: Sensitive dogs that are protective of you and their house, (usually small dogs suffer worse from this problem) but this sensitive dog thinks it needs to keep you safe. If you are the pack leader, then the dog will take your word that you have things under control and they cannot relax. But if the dog is the leader, then having the whole house or garden to patrol can seem like an overwhelming task. Your dog may exhibit barking symptoms when you are away. in this case keeping you dog in one room while you are out could be the answer. but consulting an animal behaviorists is often money well spent for a happier family life.
These types of itchy skin and stress problems are the most common presentations I see in my practice. I have many heartwarming testimonials from doggy parents that now have their happy healthy dog back after following the natural treatment plan I prescribe.
The Power Of Plants Prevails!