A guide to helping your dog’s gut microbiome

Reviewed by our experts. More info
Dr Matthew Muir
man sitting on kitchen floor feeding snack to bulldog

Did you know that the gut microbiome has a big influence on your dog’s overall wellness?

It’s estimated that dogs have over 10x more bacteria making up their gut microbiome than cells in their body. This means the gut microbiome needs to be managed. The good news is good gut health is connected to a good diet!

While the environment and genetics are also factors, ensuring your dog is eating a diet rich in nutrients makes a big difference.

What is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of microorganisms, like bacteria, and even viruses and fungi, that live in the gastrointestinal tract — as well as all of the neurotransmitters, hormones and vitamins that are produced. The more diverse the microbiome, the better, as this is where diet can help to play a huge role in the overall health of your pup.

Fact: It’s estimated that there are 10x more bacteria in the gut microbiome than there are cells in your pup’s whole body!

How can the gut microbiome affect your pup’s health?

The gut microbiome can have far reaching effects on the overall health of your pupper, not just on their digestion. The microbiome plays a role in immunity, metabolism and many other aspects of health too.

  • It helps to modulate the immune system

  • A microbiome with a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria can help to protect against invading pathogens

  • It acts on components in food to provide nutrients to your dog

What is dysbiosis?

It’s not just the number and diversity of microorganisms in the microbiome that’s important, but the balance that exists between them as well. In a healthy microbiome, all the microorganisms live in harmony. When this balance is disrupted, it results in dysbiosis, which can lead to health problems.

Common causes of dysbiosis include:

  • Antibiotics – they can cause dysbiosis because they don’t just target the ‘bad’ bacteria – they affect the ‘good’ bacteria that exist in the microbiome, too

  • Inflammation of the GI tract can also cause dysbiosis

Effects of dysbiosis include:

  • Gut hyperpermeability – this is where the gut lining doesn’t function properly, allowing food particles to leak into the bloodstream

  • Increased competition for nutrients including Vitamin B12

  • New studies are linking aggression and anxiety or phobia to certain dysbiotic microbiome patterns

How can I restore my dog's gut microbiome?

Pre and probiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that feed the probiotics in the gut. Prebiotics include inulin, mannan oligosaccharide, and from other sources of fibre that are consumed with the intent to support the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

A great way to support your dog’s gut health is through high-prebiotic foods, including apples, chicory, mushrooms, bananas, fermented foods (like sauerkraut) and flaxseed.

Probiotics are good bacteria that provide health-giving benefits to their host! They can also help restore gut health for dogs by playing a role in maintaining the balance of bacteria within the gut.

Healthy probiotic strains consist of L. rhamnosus GG, B. lactis BB-12, B. longum BL-999 and L. plantarum PS128.

Sometimes, good bacteria can go bad. These are known as “frenemy” probiotics. Most probiotic supplement strains have an extremely low chance of this happening, but not every probiotic strain works in every dog’s digestive tract. If you’re uncertain or unsure, speak to a holistic vet.

Variety in diet

What you feed your pupper can affect their microbiome – it comes down to the ingredients themselves and how the food is cooked or processed. Here are a few highlights:

  • Simple carbohydrates in the diet may lead to changes in the microbiome that could be associated with metabolic disease – complex non-digestible carbohydrate substrates on the other hand, may have a positive impact on gut microbiota composition and diversity

  • Foods like kibble, which are cooked under extremely high direct heat, undergo something called a Maillard reaction – this is a chemical reaction that gives browned foods their distinctive flavour, but which also reduces microbiome diversity in heat-processed foods

  • A high protein, low carbohydrate diet leads to higher levels of phylum Fusobacteria, a key bacterial species that’s present in faecal samples of healthy dogs

  • Tryptophan (found in chicken, eggs, turkey, lamb, beef) is metabolised by bacteria into indole, a chemical which has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect and may help strengthen the gut barrier – the first line of defence against harmful pathogens

Feeding your dog various foods provides a wide range of nutrients and reduces the risk of an imbalanced diet. Aim for colour! Colour equals phytonutrients, like polyphenols, that nourish the microbiome.

Getting variety into your dog’s diet doesn’t have to be tricky. Lyka has a mix of 6 different recipes, varying in proteins and superfoods like shiitake mushrooms, ginger and turmeric — a rainbow of nutrients.

Consider other options

Commonly prescribed remedies such as antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can impact the gut by indiscriminately killing bacteria. They can kill the good bacteria living in your dog’s gut. However, we strongly recommend speaking with your veterinarian professional regarding any medication your dog needs and always following their advice.


Nourish your pup

Lyka’s recipes have been formulated by an in-house team of veterinary nutritionists to ensure it’s packed full of human-grade, whole and superfood ingredients perfect for your pup. Our team are passionate about ensuring every dog is receiving all the right and best nutrients so they can live their best life.

Lyka: a natural choice for a healthy gut

Lyka’s 6 recipes are the perfect option for lightly cooked food crafted to be gentle on your dog's sensitive tummy whilst being extra yummy (we’ve even tried it ourselves).

A healthy gut is essential for your dog to be strong, happy and healthy. Are you ready to improve your dog's digestive health? Start your Lyka journey today.

This article was reviewed by Lyka's veterinary and nutrition experts

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