Cat and Dog's Gut Health: Why does it matter?

Bad digestion, the root of all evil...

We're well versed with gut health and pretty poops. If you know our story you'll know we've dealt with our fair share of unpleasantness and dedicated our time to tackling one bad poop at a time. Along the way we've come to learn so much about gut health. From happier tums and bums to a healthier waistline, a healthy gut will keep your floof looking and feeling their best. That's why it's important for all of us to invest in our furbabies gut health even if they don't have any digestive issues. 

What is the gut microbiome

Our cats and dogs have trillions of friends or microbes that live in the different areas of their body, which collectively are termed a microbiome. The majority of these microbes reside in our pet's digestive system, the gut microbiome. 

Microbiomes have long been known to affect our pet's digestive health. However, vets and doctors are only just starting to uncover the true extent of their importance. We now know that microbiomes don't just have a significant effect on digestive health, but our pet's overall health. Impacting everything from our pet's mental health, to protecting against conditions like diabetes and even gum disease.

A pet’s gut can become unhappy when its microbiome isn’t getting the right kind or balance of nourishment. When their microbiome becomes unbalanced, it's known as dysbiosis. There are a few symptoms you can look out for to check if your floof has dysbiosis. The number one (obvs) being bad poops! Others include losing interest in their favourite treats, having trouble urinating, or behavious that's nothing like their sparky selves. As pet parents ourselves, we know all we want is for our floofs to live their best and happiest lives, which is why we declared war on poo and set our mission to ensure our pet's have happy guts!

6 Reasons to Care about your Pet's Gut Health

1. Supports Healthy Digestion

Gut bacteria help your pet's body break down large food molecules into smaller parts that can then be used as fuel or to aid other reactions. Having a healthy and diverse array of bacteria will therefore put your pooch or kitty in the best position to digest their food. All those bacteria can also lower the PH level in your pet's colon, which helps poops move through seemingly and prevent diarrhoea. 

2. Maintaining a healthy weight

Our fluffy friends in the U.K. are increasingly becoming floofier. We may not notice it, but pet obesity has become the largest issue for our floofs, with 45% of all pets estimated to be overweight. Not only does this shorten their life and worsen the quality of life, but there are a whole number of other conditions linked to obesity like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Having a healthy and functioning microbiome can help your pet manage their weight better. When the not-friendly bacteria begin to build, our pets have less energy and are not able to digest food like normal. A recent study found that pets with more bad bacteria in their microbiome were on average higher in weight. Feeding them a healthy and nutritional diet with added pre or probiotics, while also exercising often can help balance their microbiome to make our pets, and their tummies feel good. 

 

3. Strengthening bones and joints

For our pets to enjoy running around and playing in the park with friends, their bones and joints have to be in racing strength to fetch that ball or pounce on that little mouse. Your pet's microbiome is responsible for producing loads of different minerals and vitamins by helping break down nutrients. One of these being vitamin K, which the gut bacteria synthesises and is essential for strong bones and joints.

 

4. Preventing food allergies

Recent studies have indicated that microbiomes play a role in reducing the chances of having food allergies or intolerances. Currently, there's no cure for food allergies beside avoiding the culpable ingredient or opting for hydrolysed foods. We're critical of the latter given the harsh process can reduce the nutritional value. And to avoid an ingredient you first have to identify it, which is only possible via an elimination diet. That can take a minimum of 6 months and if your cat or dog has multiple issues, it's almost impossible to achieve. Prevention is always better and having a strong and healthy gut can help with both the prevention and treatment of food allergies in our floofs. 

5. Relieves pet stress

Our pets get stressed just like we do, and whilst there will always be environmental factors that cause this, unhappy guts can actually increase the chances of your pet feeling stressed. This is because bacteria in the gut release a ‘happy hormone’ cortisol which contributes to our pets feeling good. When the gut isn't functioning like normal, less cortisol is produced.

When our pets our poorly they're also more likely to feel stressed. So by looking after their guts and subsequently helping prevent against illness, you'll be helping ensure they stay as happy as can be. After all who feels happy when they're not feeling well...

6. Preventing hairballs (one for our kitties only)

For cats, better digestion can also minimise hairballs. During our cat's daily cleaning sessions they'll ingest lots of their fur. Over time this hair can build-up and result in a hairball forming. It's quite common and completely normal for a cat to produce around 2 hairballs per year but making more can be a sign of poor digestion or gut health. Keeping your kitty's gut in tip top condition will help them pass through hairballs, especially with the help of prebiotics like Slippery Elm, present in out wet cat food. This helps form a viscous lining in your cat's gut, which traps the hair and gently passes it through the tract and out the other end.

How you can improve your cat or dog's gut health

Now that we know just how important our pet's gut health is, you're probably wondering what you can do to improve it. Here are our top tips for improving your pet's gut health:

  1. Have plenty of fresh water available, and monitor your cat or dog's intake
  2. Include pre or probiotics in their diet. This can be done via supplements, pastes, or most easily opting for a pet food that already has them included. We add pro and prebiotics to all our sensitive cat food and dog food, with recipes to suit every life stage and breed.
  3. Giving your furbabe proper exercise and of course, playtime. Daily walkies are a given for our dogs and for an extra healthy and happy cat we recommend doing these fun few enrichment activities.
  4. Don’t forget about their oral health. Not only is having a pet with stinky breath somewhat unpleasant, but these bad bacteria can be digested and harm their microbiome.
  5. Avoid recipes with added sugar, salt, artificial additives, and preservatives as these can reduce friendly bacteria.
  6. Opt for easy-to-digest proteins like poultry and fish. We avoid hard to digest pea protein and red meat from all our recipes, so why not give our Salmon Dry Dog Food or lip-lickingly tasty Chicken Dry Cat Food.
  7. Choose a recipe with a limited number of ingredients. The more ingredients there are, the more complicated and harder it is for your floof to digest it.
  8. Don't change diet too frequently and when you do, make sure to transition over slowly.

We hope you've learn a thing or two about your floof's gut health and are feeling ready to start the gut life! Do let us know if you have any questions about our gut-friendly recipes, or would like some more tips on how you can improve your fur baby's gut health.

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