How to Improve Your Dog’s Gut Health

| Christy Caplan CVT

Want to improve your dog's gut health? Learn about creating an appropriate diet, symptoms of gut health issues & what can damage the gut microbiome.


Keeping your dog’s GI flora happy is a priority for pet owners. Research shows that up to 80% of a dog's immune system lives in the gut, helping fight against allergies and many other common health issues. With that in mind, it's always in your best interest to ensure that your pup has a healthy and balanced gut microbiome.

What Is the Gut Microbiome?

The gut microbiome is the collective name for the unique and balanced community of microbes in a healthy gut, with good bacteria keeping the bad bacteria in check. If we don’t feed a species-appropriate diet to our dogs, they will have an imbalanced gut and a disrupted microbiome. Uncomfortable symptoms and disease will develop when there aren’t enough beneficial microbes in the gut. 

How Does the Gut’s Flora Help?

Consider the microbiome gold and do what you can to protect it. Gut bacteria can help with the following:

  • Digestion and nutrient absorption

  • Prevention of diarrhea and inflammation

  • Improvement of immune system function

  • Synthesis of vitamins

A Species-Appropriate Diet Keeps Your Dog’s Gut Full of Good Bacteria

According to the experts at Forever Dog, there is a strong relationship between the health of a dog’s microbiome and their risk for gastrointestinal disease. Food is the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to supporting your dog’s microbiome and stomach health.

These superfoods could help balance your dog's gut bacteria (as long as your vet approves):

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Eggs

  • Berries

  • Collards/dark leafy greens

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (run them through the food processor to break down the cell walls)

  • Orange and red veggies (like pumpkin)

  • Mushrooms

  • Whitefish

  • Lean meats like turkey and chicken (avoid processed meats)

Signs of Gut Health Problems & Imbalance

When bacteria become out of balance, your dog may develop disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and diabetes.

Common Symptoms of Gut Health Issues

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Skin issues

  • Weight loss and obesity

  • Chronic inflammation

  • Dementia

What Can Damage the Gut Microbiome?

Many factors cause an imbalance in your dog’s gut, but antibiotics are the worst culprit. Here are other causes that can also damage the microbiome, requiring dietary countermeasures:

  • Antifungals

  • Immune suppressant drugs

  • Stress 

  • Steroids

  • Drugs that treat intestinal parasites 

  • Feeding an inappropriate diet

  • Environmental toxins

Other Ways to Improve Gut Health

In addition to diet, here are other ways to improve overall gut health for dogs.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Prebiotics (carried by fiber sources like pumpkin) are metabolized by the microbiomes and increase the beneficial bacteria. Probiotics (like yogurt) are cultures of living bacteria and may be recommended by your vet. These decrease inflammation and allergies.

Fermented Food

Have you tried raw goat milk? Goat milk and beets are both fermented foods that your dog can eat. A diet rich in fermented foods can enhance diversity in the gut, according to researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine.

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Christy Caplan CVT

Christy is a writer, editor, blogger, chicken keeper, and storyteller. She uses her knowledge as a certified veterinary technician to inform animal lovers on health and wellness topics. Christy's Standard Dachshund and Beagle mix are the inspiration behind her writing portfolio and essays.


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