What is your dog’s gut-brain axis?


Many puppers are led by their stomach and will do anything for a treat!

But here at Lyka, food is about more than filling hungry bellies and rewarding good behaviour.

It’s all about having a balanced diet that delivers tip-top nutrition to help your pupper live their healthiest, happiest life.

The term ‘gut-brain axis’ sounds a little confusing, we get it.

So, let’s keep it simple.

The axis is a vital line of communication between the gut and the brain. It isn’t about conveying hunger — it’s a much more significant connection.

In recent years, scientists have suggested that the gut contributes to the brain’s function. Many of the key neurotransmitters used by the nervous system are created in the digestive system. Gut health and the billions of microorganisms found in the gut can influence mental well-being and behaviour.


Let’s take a deep dive into more of the research and explore how we can use this knowledge to benefit the health of our puppers.

Bacteria and the brain

Usually, when you’re about to take a big bite of something naughty, your conscience pipes up with the adage: “you are what we eat”. There is growing evidence to suggest that gut bacteria help to shape neural development, brain chemistry and behaviour.

Maybe we should say: “you feel what you eat” instead?

Dopamine and serotonin are two vital neurotransmitters, more commonly known as the happy hormones. Interestingly, the microbiota in the gut both produce and consume dopamine, serotonin and other key chemicals and hormones.

Scientists have known about the role bacteria play in producing these compounds for a few decades, but we are only beginning to understand more about the relationship between the gut and the brain.

In 2004, it was found that nutrition can alter the microbiome, which has the potential to change the communication between the gut and the brain. Studies show that behaviour and mood may therefore be affected by a change to the microbiome.

The vagus nerve runs from the brain stem down to the colon and is a critical part of the central nervous system. Not only is it responsible for things like your pupper’s breathing, digestion, cardiovascular activity and reflex actions, but it is the core of the gut-brain axis. Recent research has explored how vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) may even assist in treating depression.

It’s not just depression that can be affected by the gut. Microbiome studies have explored the relationship between dysbiosis (an imbalance in the microbiota) and the inflammation of the nervous system, or neuroinflammation. This identified a link between gut health and brain function.

Scientists continue to investigate the impact of the digestive system on the nervous system. But research suggests that an imbalanced gut can majorly impact physical and mental health.

Hear from Dr Lu Fenny on how fresh feeding is linked to gut health:

How a healthy gut affects behaviour

We humans have been known to eat our emotions. Whether we sweeten the day with a bit of chocolate or indulge in a Friday pizza after a hard week, we connect food with mood. Even our puppers know they’ve been good boys and girls when the special treats come out of the cupboard!

We’ve also seen how dysbiosis can harm behaviour and mood, but how can a balanced microbiome in a healthy gut have a positive effect and create a good mood?

Let’s tap into those gut feelings a bit more.

In 2011, studies showed that probiotic strains used to strengthen the gut and maintain a healthy microbiome assisted in normalising anxiety-like behaviour. Good news for parents of nervy fur friends.

In this blind study, dogs fed a good probiotic strain were calmer, less reactive and in a better mood than dogs fed a placebo. Even in humans, introducing probiotics can enhance good moods.

How Lyka can help promote your pupper’s microbiome

A good mood starts with good food. We can make healthy choices for ourselves, but our puppers trust us to make the best decisions for them.

As you enjoy your probiotic-filled yoghurt each morning, you can also nourish your pupper’s microbiome by providing a diet high in prebiotics and probiotics. Adding ingredients like chicory root, mushrooms or burdock root will increase the prebiotic nutrient content in their food. Their tail wags and licky-kisses will thank you later.

Lyka is a vet-formulated, fresh food diet packed with whole food and superfood ingredients. Each of our delicious dishes is high in protein and low in carbohydrates — a nutritious balance that helps to support a healthy and diverse microbiome.

Check out our drool-worthy range of supplements for an extra dose of targeted nutrition. Our Digestive Pupper Supp contains a blend of prebiotics, probiotics and key phytonutrients to improve gut health and nurture your pup’s microbiome.

Join Lyka today for good guts and healthy pups

If your fur baby suffers from an upset gut like Gucci and Hurley, trying a complete and balanced, fresh food diet might be exactly what they need!

We have six signature vet-approved recipes in our line-up, all bursting with carefully selected human-grade ingredients only. Each one is cooked lightly to retain all vital nutrients to help your pupper’s gut health and encourage optimal digestion.

Need a sniff of approval?

Join the pack today with 20% off your first box.

Give your pupper a tongue-tingling taste test of your choice of recipes before you commit to a customised, regular plan.

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A picture our range of Lyka meals

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