The Intestines in Balance – Important for the Health
It has been proven that the intestine has a far-reaching significance for health. An imbalance in the intestinal flora (so-called microbiome) can make your pet susceptible to allergies and some diseases. We explain how you can support the intestine in a natural way.
How does a healthy intestinal flora affect a dog’s health?
It is known that a good diet can affect the composition of the intestinal flora and therefore also the immune system. In contrast, stress, incorrect or low-fibre diets, medication such as antibiotics or changes in diet can disturb the intestinal flora.
This is why the intestines of animals also play an important role for a well-functioning immune system. It is the organ with the largest surface area and it is important for the absorption of nutrients.
Obviously, a healthy microbiome has a positive effect on the dog’s digestion. This is also related to metabolism, including the synthesis of vitamins and fatty acids. In addition, a healthy intestinal flora can also have a positive effect on the exposure to metabolic toxins (e.g. ammonia).
Symptoms of illness such as a tendency to diarrhoea, infections or susceptibility to stress can also be related to the intestine as the centre of health. However, the intestinal flora also has a major influence on allergies and intolerances, as well as whether your dog is getting fat easily.
It is also important to know that the immune defence is centrally based on the intestinal flora and that susceptibility to intestinal parasites, such as worms or giardia, is also related to the intestinal flora.
Perhaps the intestinal flora has an even greater influence, as recent studies in the field of human medicine suggest. These show that the intestinal flora in humans even influences mental illnesses and moods, such as Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes (keyword: intestinal-brain axis).
Intestinal flora in imbalance – what does this mean?
The term intestinal flora (microbiome) is used to describe, roughly speaking, an accumulation of micro-organisms that take care of digestion and metabolism. Here it is important that the “right” bacteria are present in the right proportion. Dietary fibres are also very important to secure this. Without them, intestinal bacteria cannot fulfil their tasks.
If there are signs that the bowel is affected, i.e. that the micro-organisms are not present in the right proportion or number, then it is usually advisable to clean up the bowel. Signs can be: diarrhoea, bloated stomach, weight loss etc. Your veterinarian or animal health practitioner can help you with intestinal rehabilitation.
We would like to give you some tips on how to prevent the intestinal flora from becoming imbalanced in the first place, so that parasites, such as worms or giardia, do not settle down so quickly. These parasites do not feel comfortable in a healthy intestine.
The important interaction of prebiotics and probiotics
Everyone has heard about prebiotics and probiotics and the important role they play in the bowel. But it is difficult to keep them apart. In short, probiotics are the “good gut bacteria” and prebiotics make sure that the probiotics feel good and can grow.
There are various additives available to support the intestinal flora, but you can also support the intestinal flora naturally with following “household remedies”.
Prebiotic food is indigestible fibre and provides the basis for the beneficial bacteria of the intestinal flora to feel good and multiply, while regulating the digestion. In doing so, they can counteract the colonisation of harmful bacteria.
Natural prebiotics are pectins. They are found in carrots and apples. Other prebiotic foods are bananas, chicory, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, oatmeal or flea seeds.
Probiotic foods have living micro-organisms (lactic acid bacteria, bifidobacteria, lactobacillus or yeast fungi) that can survive in the intestine and reach the large intestine.
Probiotic foods include yoghurt, quark, kefir, sauerkraut, cheese and apple vinegar. All of these contain fermented micro-organisms. Of course, sauerkraut in particular takes some getting used to for dogs, but it’s worth getting your dog used to it in small quantities, as the lactic acid bacteria make it an asset – even for the two-legged friend.
In addition, sauerkraut is considered an emergency remedy if the dog has swallowed something sharp-edged, e.g. a bone fragment or a Christmas ball. Everything going into the dog, comes out in a natural way.
Recommendations for a balanced intestine
Dietary fibres consist largely of indigestible components. In the intestine, they form a breeding ground for the good intestinal bacteria. In addition, dietary fibres swell in the intestine, thus increasing the intestinal volume and stimulating intestinal activity.
Examples: Apples, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, chia seeds, linseeds, flea seeds.
Our light menu with turkey and courgette contains a lot of inulin in natural Jerusalem artichoke and is a good recommendation for a light diet during or after intestinal inflammation. https://herrmanns-manufaktur.com/bio-hundefutter/selection/leicht-oder-veganes-hundefutter/209/bio-pute-mit-zucchini-und-apfel
Brewer’s yeast contains a lot of vitamin B. It ensures good digestion and it supports the immune system and the absorption of nutrients.
Healing earth has been known since ancient times and its positive effects have been undisputed ever since. It develops a large surface and can therefore bind environmental toxins over a large area and help to de-acidify the intestines.
Organic apple vinegar is made from the must of whole organic apples, to which bacterial cultures are added for the fermentation process. These also have a positive effect on the intestinal flora and the vinegar also suppresses putrefactive bacteria. But beware, no bacterial cultures are used in the production of conventional apple vinegar, so pay attention to “organic”.
Herbs can also support the intestines, known are camomile, caraway, liquorice, fennel and nettle.
Coconut flakes can be used to prevent worms, coconut has an antibacterial and fungicidal effect, so that worms may not settle as easily.
Oils such as linseed or coconut oil also support the development of the intestinal flora. Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can help with an inflammation of the bowel that has just come to an end. Linseed oil contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. You can find a special blog article on fats and oils here. https://herrmanns-manufaktur.com/wir/blog/feine-oele-wichtige-bausteine-einer-guten-ernaehrung
What to do if parasites are present?
Parasites, such as giardia and worms, often cause inflammation of the intestines and can be particularly hard on younger dogs or already weakened pets (including cats).
Giardia are unicellular organisms that attach themselves to the intestinal wall with a kind of suction cup. They colonise the small intestine first, then the large intestine and are then excreted, but have already affected the entire intestinal wall. For most dogs, Giardia is not a risk. Only for young or weakened dogs it can become risky. If your pet suffers from diarrhoea, exhaustion and emaciation, you should definitely see a vet, who can than detect Giardia on the basis of several faecal samples.
The therapy is carried out with suitable medication. In order to stabilise the intestinal flora again afterwards, you can support your dog with a diet rich in fibre, which will strengthen the peristalsis. This is achieved by filling the intestines with swollen fibre such as flea seed, linseed, chia seed or healing earth. Please always ensure good water absorption! Healing earth is not easily accepted by cats, so flea seeds are probably preferable.
Worms should also be removed by the vet by means of suitable worming treatments, as the worms can also be transmitted in the faeces. As the worming treatment must in turn attack the intestinal flora in order to get the worms out, a restorative treatment with the above-mentioned household remedies is recommended.
Where do parasites come from?
Parasites can be ingested when drinking from puddles or pools, in some cases also from the faeces of other dogs. These infections are usually not very noticeable, hence caution is always advisable.
All the best for you and your dog and stay healthy.