Dogs and cats with healthy guts are less susceptible to allergies. Let’s take a closer look at this connection, and how you can take steps to protect your pet!
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to develop allergies at some point throughout their lives. Whether they react negatively to a certain food ingredient or an environmental factor like chemicals or pollen, the result is always the same – discomfort. Fortunately, there are a number of steps we can take, as pet parents, to protect our animal companions against allergies. Pinpointing and removing allergens, for instance, is a surefire way to stop the symptoms they’re experiencing. But this is often easier said than done, so it’s important to defend our pets from the inside out. How? By promoting gut health.
The connection between allergies and gut health
In order to protect our pets against allergies, it’s important to nourish their gut microbiome. Since an unhealthy gut leads to inflammation and a weakened immune system, keeping the gut as healthy as possible simultaneously enhances the body’s natural ability to defend against allergens. “An allergy is an immune response to what is seen as a foreign invader by the immune system,” says Leasa Moltke, Nutrition and Regulatory Manager at Solid Gold. “An inflamed gut with an unhealthy microbiome cannot support a healthy immune system that will function at optimal levels.”
Focus on microbiome diversity
New evidence shows that working toward achieving greater microbiome diversity – the amount of each individual bacteria from each of the bacterial species – is especially important when it comes to protecting against allergies.
“There has been quite a bit of research with humans showing that a diverse microbiome, especially in newborns and infants, can reduce the likelihood of that child developing allergies and respiratory diseases like asthma later in life,” explains Leasa. “Studies are ongoing showing great promise in learning how gut bacteria can affect food allergies. While there is more current research on the linkage between gut health and allergies in humans, research has already shown the importance of pet’s microbiome diversity in supporting the immune system which helps to fight both illness and allergic reactions.”
What can you do?
In order to promote greater microbiome diversity in your pet’s gut, Leasa recommends feeding a quality food that contains antioxidants, prebiotic fibers and probiotics. “A healthy, natural diet full of ingredients like berries, vegetables like carrots, whole grains, and foods that contain specific prebiotic activity like chicory root can help support a more diverse microflora,” she says. “For many animals, a probiotic supplement can be incredibly helpful and should be vital for any animal after a course of antibiotics to help replenish all that good gut bacteria.”
In addition to a healthy diet, all animals should receive adequate exercise on a daily basis. Not only does physical activity reduce inflammation and strengthen their immune system, it also works to maintain a healthy, diverse gut microbiome by influencing digestion rates, carbohydrate metabolism, and synthesis of fatty acids.
If your dog or cat has allergies, or you want to take preventative steps, be sure to consider his entire lifestyle. Feed him a healthy diet, give him plenty of exercise, and try to reduce the number of harmful chemicals you’re using around your home and yard. And of course, don’t forget to talk to your vet to determine what type of allergies he might be suffering from. Either way, a healthier gut equals a healthier pet!