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Microbiome Magic

Healthy guts, happy dog

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A healthy microbiome is crucial to good guts and more. But what is the microbiome anyway, and how does it affect your dog’s health?

The microbiome is the diverse collection of microscopic organisms that share our bodies. A plethora of studies show that the composition of the gut microbiome has a profound effect on overall health—and not just GI health. The microbiome influences disease states and even mood! Improving gut health has been shown to help with anxiety and depression.

So, what affects the microbiome? Diet is huge. Things like stress, antibiotics, and second-hand smoke can negatively impact your dog’s microbiome as well.

Keeping the Microbiome Happy

Diet has a major impact on gut bacteria. Prebiotics are specialized plant fiber that act as food for the pre-existing good bacteria, stimulating growth.

Metabolizing prebiotics like fiber generates substances that keep the microbes and the cells of the intestinal tract in our dogs’ guts happy. Research shows that high-fiber diets have been associated with greater diversity and number of gut bacteria in people. Ask your veterinarian if your dog would benefit from dietary fiber supplementation, suggests the Morris Animal Foundation, a non-profit at the forefront of microbiome research.

Decreasing a dog’s exposure to second-hand smoke, as well as providing adequate exercise and rest might be important factors in not only keeping dogs healthy but keeping their microscopic friends happy, too.

Other researchers are looking at using oral probiotic cocktails to influence gut microorganisms, and still, others are looking at how diet alterations might change the microbiome. Exciting stuff!

This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Dog magazine. Subscribe today!

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