At first glance, anxiety and stress might seem unrelated to your pet’s gastro health. But, a recent study suggests otherwise.
As it turns out, gastro health or the health of the gut microbiome is “inextricably linked to pet health and disease,” according to the study.
A healthy gut equals healthy behaviors for cats and dogs. So if your pet struggles with anxiety or other behavioral problems, read on. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about stress and pet gut health.
What Exactly Is the Gut Microbiome?
Microbiome refers to microorganisms. Tiny things, like bacteria, fungus, and viruses. A whole host of which live in the digestive tracts of people and animals.
What we refer to as the gut is made up of three components:
- the stomach
- the small intestine
- the colon (also called the large intestine)
The gut is a microsystem unto itself. Scientists estimate 38 trillion different bacteria, viruses, and fungi, call it home.
The conglomeration of those bacteria is a living organism, the microbiome!
The microbiome is the biggest immune organ of the body. And it is responsible for way more than just digesting food.
New research shows that the gut microbiome:
Gastro Health, Stress, and the Microbiome
The gut microbiome communicates directly with the brain.
Think about all those times you’ve had a gut instinct or a gut feeling about something. That’s your microbiome talking.
The same is true in animals. This internal communications phenomenon is known as the Gut-Brain Axis.
You may be thinking, Hold on now, my brain and my stomach talk to each other?? How?!?
The gut bacteria create chemicals; these chemicals then communicate with the brain via the nervous and hormonal systems.
The effect of this communication on the mood of the host depends on who’s at home. That is to say, what specific bacteria are in the gut making the chemicals.
Some bacteria make chemicals that are calming. In contrast, others provoke anxiety and depression.
Therefore, an imbalance or disturbance in the gut biome could lead to increased expression of anxiety and aggression. As well as a slew of other problems.
What Causes Dog and Cat Anxiety?
Dogs and cats are very empathic. If you are neurotic and anxious, studies show that your pets may develop those characteristics too.
Aside from human influence, there are a few other common causes of dog/cat anxiety:
- the wrong type of food
- the incorrect quantity of food
- any type of discomfort
- significant pain and disease
- not getting appropriate exercise
- fear/separation anxiety
As mentioned, dogs and cats are empathetic. Which means they are very sensitive to their environments.
They appreciate routine and thrive when there is consistency in the home, much like we humans do.
How to Manage Your Pet’s Gastro Stress
Stress has a negative impact on many systems of your pet’s body. But perhaps most influential is the effect on gastro health.
It is impossible to have a healthy individual when gastro health is lacking. So it is crucial to keep the gut microbiome in tip-top shape.
Fortunately, studies show that the right nutritional interventions can cause rapid, positive changes to the microbiome.
For example, varying the number of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the animal’s diet significantly impacted the gut microbiome in one such study.
The degree of digestibility of your pet’s food is also essential. Unfortunately, many pet food brands contain high levels of fillers.
Fillers can be products like:
- cottonseed hulls
- peanut hulls
- citrus pulp
- cereal by-products
Sounds delicious right? No. You wouldn’t want to find that stuff in your food either.
These substances don’t have much nutritional value at all. They are included because they are inexpensive and have some fiber content. But, in the long term, they could disturb the gut biome and leave your pet malnourished.
When possible, opt for a high-quality, reputable brand to feed your furry friends.
Consider Bioactive Food
Sometimes a balanced diet alone is not enough to nurture the gut biome. In extreme cases, more may be needed. Such as if your pet was recently on antibiotics or is experiencing severe health issues.
Enter bioactive food.
Pet food using bioactive recipes work will work with your dogs biology. Whether they are a babies, teens, or elderly, there is a bioactive recipe for them.
The benefits are tailored for your pet’s overall health. How?
By using ingredients combined in specific combinations. These combinations are easily digested by your pet. Ensuring the highest level of nutrients are bioavailable.
With the right combination of bioactive food ingredients you can:
- establish a healthy GI environment
- control skin problems due to yeast
- support the immune system
- support healthy elimination
- reduce bad breath
Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Just like their human companions, dog/cat gut health comes down to living a healthy lifestyle.
It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship. Both are helping the other be healthy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pet ownership can
- enhance fitness levels
- lower blood pressure
- lower cholesterol levels
- relieve stress
- improve mental health
- improve heart health
- boost overall well-being
The Bottom Line For Your Pet’s Health
There’s no way around it. If you want to support your pet’s gastro health, you’ve got to support their microbiome. However, if you are concerned about your pet’s gastro health, there are kits you can order online to test it.
They will be replete with recommendations for how to balance your pet’s gut biome.
In short, tending gastro health is easier than you think. You can support your pet’s gastro health by making sure they get:
- proper diet, including bioactive food
- supplements as needed
- adequate exercise
And make sure to address any serious concerns to your family veterinarian. They can help guide you in making the best choices for your furry friends.
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