The Influence of Intestinal Flora on Dogs’ Immune Systems

Have you ever thought about how the composition of the gut microbiota of your dog companion influences its mood, metabolism or immune system in addition to its digestion? Do you know how bacteria work in guts and how to keep the good ones inside?

As it is known, bowels are the home of our immune system. However, the composition and the quality of diet is often neglected not even when it comes to our dogs. Besides the food, also other factors influence the intestinal flora, such as medication, mainly antibiotics. Constipation, stress or chlorine in tap water aren't good for healthy intestines either.

Therefore, if there is an overgrowth of pathogenic microbes in the intestines due to circumstances, it will have adverse effects on the organism – not just the digestive tract itself. These unwanted organisms take nutrients important for the body and release bad toxins at the same time. Those pose burden to the immune system which doesn’t have to be strong enough to defend against viral or bacterial infections then. Consequently, the dog is more prone to diseases or it takes it more time to deal with them.

People expect that there are about 10 cells of various micro-organisms for one human cell in a body. The same applies to dogs (there was a study which confirmed that dogs’ flora is surprisingly similar to that humans) And the largest microbial communities live in large intestine. Besides taking part in immune system (non)functioning, those also influence the efficiency of food digestion, metabolism and even mood.

So, it’s clear keeping the dog’s intestines healthy is crucial. The best way to do that is always prevention. In this case, it means giving the dog proper food. It should be of high quality, easily digestible with balanced nutrients according to its current needs based on age, size, activity, the environment it lives in or a medical condition. Some dry dog food or functional treats even contain important lactobacilli (Lactobacillus acidophilus strain), the live non-pathogenic bacteria that colonize the intestines and therefore prevent pathogenic organism of attaching and multiplication.

Probiotics can also be administered to a dog in the form of special food supplements. It’s especially useful when taking antibiotics or other medication, before stress situations such as moving or when a family member leaves or arrives, but also when sudden changes in weather occur or food is changed. They are also useful when some medical conditions such as constipation, gassing, allergies or atopy occur.

Do you have any experience with probiotics for your dog? Have you observed any change after administering them, both when it comes to digestion or the overall medical condition or mood?

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