What is leaky gut in dogs?
Imagine you went to water your garden with the hose. You unravel it, walk back to the tap, switch it on, expecting a spout of water at the other end. Instead, imagine if hundreds of tiny holes appeared in the middle of the hose allowing water to spew onto the garden, but not where you wanted it. This is what happens in Leaky Gut Syndrome.
What should happen is all the water goes exactly where you want it. In the healthy gut nutrients do cross the intestinal barrier, but very tightly controlled by the gut wall in communication with the gut bugs, the microbiome. When your dog has leaky gut, as the name suggests, the disruption of the wall and microbiome lead to reduced border control and increased inflammation and disease.
Damage to the delicate one-cell-thin gut barrier can be direct from bacterial toxins or drugs, for example, but it can also be due to chaos in the bug populations sitting on and in the intestine. Take an antibiotic and it may not touch your gut wall directly, but because it changes the balance of power within the gut bug politics, chaos and leakiness can ensue.
Eat a protein that causes allergic or sensitivity responses and inflammation can put a spanner in the worlds of both intestinal and gut bug balance.
Ok, so your gut is a bit inflamed. So what?
Well, everything. A recent article by Alessio Fasano, a leading researcher in the human field, suggests, ‘All Disease Begins in the (Leaky) Gut’. He suggests that a gut leaking food and microbiome molecules into the body is strongly linked to many chronic immune diseases in people; allergic conditions, autoimmune disease, infectious problems , metabolic complaints, even cancer. Terrifying stuff.
But all is not lost for us or our dogs. There are many things we can do to nurture our gut health and our microbiome. Beyond finding a species-appropriate, unprocessed, fresh food diet that works for the individual’s appetite and digestive quirks, here are some suggestions: