Gut health is a new frontier of medicine, with implications for both humans and animals. However, many doctors and veterinarians are not well-versed in the ways in which poor gut health and diseases, such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, holistically affect us and our pets. Here, 10 signs your dog has Leaky Gut Syndrome as well as ways you can help your pet recover will be discussed.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a relatively newly defined disorder that affects the lining of the gastrointestinal system. In a perfectly functioning gut, the mucosal lining of the intestines is permeable in order to absorb nutrients from digested food into the bloodstream. However, damage to this mucosal lining caused by stress, inflammation, and toxins can cause the intestinal lining to become leaky, leading to debris, bacteria, large food particles, and toxins to seep into the bloodstream. The result is a near-constant autoimmune reaction to foods and environmental triggers. Over time, Leaky Gut Syndrome can lead to diseases such as cancer, thyroid disorders, anxiety, allergies, chronic inflammation, and arthritis, among others.
Signs of Leaky Gut Syndrome in Dogs
How can you tell if your dog has Leaky Gut Syndrome? The following conditions can be symptoms of this disorder:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
If your dog experiences frequent diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloating then Leaky Gut Syndrome may be to blame. IBS in dogs can be the telltale sign that your dog is experiencing an autoimmune reaction to undigested food particles that are leaking through the lining of the intestines.
Another common symptom of Leaky Gut Syndrome is skin diseases, such as allergies and atopic dermatitis. If your dog develops rashes, hot spots, itchy/flaky skin, or chronic skin infections then poor gut health could be to blame, particularly if your dog seems to develop new allergies weekly.
When a dog’s immune system is overactive due to poor gut health, thyroid conditions such as Cushing’s Disease are common. Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease and other thyroid disorders in dogs include increased thirst, frequent accidents, hair loss, increased appetite, weight gain, and distended abdomen.
Changes in gut health can have an extreme effect on a dog’s mental and neurological state. One manifestation of Leaky Gut Syndrome is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in pets. Symptoms of OCD in dogs include spinning, pacing, staring, tail chasing, biting at the air, self-mutilation, and pica.
Uncharacteristic aggression in dogs should always be a cause for alarm. While there are many reasons for sudden aggression, poor gut health is one possibility since the brain, gut, and immune system are strongly interconnected.
The chronic inflammation experienced as a result of Leaky Gut Syndrome in dogs can make symptoms of arthritis and joint disease worse. Arthritis occurs due to degeneration of the cartilage that cushions a dog’s joint. As the cushion wears down, inflammation in joints increases, which is a primary source of pain and swelling. A dog that is experiencing chronic inflammation will have more joint pain due to the omnipresent immune response.
When Leaky Gut Syndrome occurs, the liver must work overtime to filter the larger food particles and toxins that leak through the gut and into the bloodstream. Over time, liver function can become impaired, resulting in liver disease. Symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, fluid retention, and changes in stool color.
When the immune system is overworked, the brain is triggered to believe there is an immediate threat, which can result in anxiety. Since Leaky Gut Syndrome results in the immune system to constantly overwork, generalized anxiety in dogs is a common symptom. Types of anxiety experienced by dogs with Leaky Gut Syndrome include separation anxiety, travel anxiety, people anxiety, object anxiety, and dog/animal anxiety, among others.
As a dog’s body is constantly under attack due to the leakage of environmental toxins and foods into his or her bloodstream, fatigue is inevitable – particularly the longer the dog suffers from Leaky Gut Syndrome. Lethargy, the need for additional sleep, and loss of interest in exercise or playtime are all symptoms of fatigue in dogs.
Finally, the more a dog’s immune system overworks the weaker the immune system will be. Therefore, chronic ear infections (particularly ear, skin, and upper respiratory) are common in dogs with Leaky Gut Syndrome.
How to Treat Leaky Gut Syndrome
Knowledge on Leaky Gut Syndrome in dogs is still limited. However, there are numerous approaches that have been shown to work in the fight against chronic inflammation and related disease.
Focus on Gut Health
If you suspect your dog is suffering from Leaky Gut Syndrome, your first step should be to focus on gut health. Take stock of everything that currently goes into your dog’s body. Feed your dog the highest quality food possible, preferably one made from raw and whole foods. Include probiotic sources in your dog’s diet such as plain yogurt, kefir, or dog-specific probiotic supplements. Eliminate low quality treats, particularly ones that include fillers, dyes, or preservatives.
Fight Inflammation Naturally
Anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers wreak havoc on a dog’s gut. Even though chronic inflammation is a leading factor in Leaky Gut Syndrome, it must be addressed naturally. WINPRO soft chews are a scientifically proven, natural way to improve your dog’s gut health and fight inflammation without side effects. The active ingredient in WINPRO soft chews are animal blood proteins, which go directly to the source to eliminate inflammation naturally. For dogs suffering from Leaky Gut Syndrome, WINPRO Immunity for Gut Health is designed to eliminate the chronic inflammation that both causes and results from Leaky Gut Syndrome, allowing your dog’s gut to heal. Additional active ingredients of Deglycyrrhized Licorice Root and Marshmallow Root Powder further help to repair the gut lining to reduce the symptoms of Leaky Gut.
Another key in fighting Leaky Gut Syndrome is eliminating the main sources of your dog’s stress to further reduce your dog’s chronic inflammation. Every time your dog experiences stress, cortisol is released by your dog’s immune system which results in more inflammation. Therefore, reducing stress by limiting your dog’s exercise, controlling their exposure to strangers/new dogs, and limiting travel for a short period of time is crucial for helping your dog heal.
Limit Pesticide Exposure
Pesticides have been shown to negatively affect the lining of the gut and intestines in compromised animals. While your dog is healing from Leaky Gut Syndrome, limit exposure to pesticides, both external and internal. Instead of using chemical flea and tick medications, consider natural flea and tick preventative options.
Leaky Gut Syndrome can be devastating for both dog and dog owner. However, with vigilance and the right approach, it can be overcome. If you believe your dog is suffering from Leaky Gut Syndrome or poor gut health, you can reduce your pet’s symptoms and have your dog back to normal back within months by following the guidelines presented here.
WINPRO Gut Health contains a blend of animal blood proteins and other key ingredients to help dogs combat the negative effects of stress and inflammation. WINPRO Gut Health is specifically formulated to help boost your dog's defense against things that can undermine its immune system. By promoting a healthy gut, WINPRO Gut Health helps dogs of all ages —especially during times of travel, stress, competition, etc.