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How short chain fatty acids can help your dog's GUT!

With so many dogs suffering from some type of gut problem from leaky gut, inflammatory bowel disease, IBS and more, I know many dog owners are always looking for ways to heal and improve gut health. Today let’s focus a little more on what are known as short chain fatty acids and find out how they can help improve overall gut health so stay tuned to learn more.

So firstly what are these short chain fatty acids or SCFAs for short??

SCFAs are a group of fatty acids that are produced when the gut bacteria in your dogs microbiome start to ferment fibre from the diet. The most common fatty acid is butyrate but propionate and acetate are also found. Once the gut bacteria produce these fatty acids the cells within the gut lining use this as an energy source and then the remainder is absorbed into your dogs bloodstream to help with overall energy.

When we think about the gut, the word balance is important. So we want to always be aiming to help bring and maintain balance within our dogs guts. And this is where short chain fatty acids can help.

One of the most essential roles of these short chain fatty acids is the way that they support the cells within the lining of the intestinal tract. They help by way of improving your dogs ability to absorb nutrients as well as lubricating the intestinal lining and protecting against infections. They can also help move hormones into the bloodstream. Think of these fatty acids firstly as a fuel source for all those tiny cells in the gut lining. And SCFAs also have a role to play in keeping the intestinal lining tight and maintaining the integrity of this intestinal barrier so this is where it can help prevent and heal leaky gut issues.

And because SCFA’s are acidic in nature they can help make the gut environment slightly more acidic which can not only improve the ability to absorb nutrients but also tends to ward off those bad bacteria. This is why short chain fatty acids can play a role in treating SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

When it comes to inflammation short chain fatty acids are also important- not only do scfas have the ability to reduce bowel inflammation but they also can help reduce overall inflammation within the body.

So overall SCFAs can protect against and heal gut lining damage, reduce bowel inflammation, reduce the incidence of infections especially bacterial, and help your dog breakdown and absorb their food more effectively. And overall they are a fuel source for those gut cells.

So how do we get scfas into our dog? Many of the foods that can help boost levels of scfas are not great for dogs such as lots of different types of grains but here are some that are safe and can help naturally boost those fatty acid levels:

Vegetables like broccoli, sweet potato and brussel sprouts, asparagus and small amounts of apple or pear and berries. In addition, think of those fermented foods (as long as your dog doesn’t have chronic yeast issues) such as kefir and fermented vegetables and various prebiotics.

My favourite one here is partially hydrolysed guar gum which is a tasteless powder that can easily be added into your dogs food once daily- always start slowly when adding in any prebiotic so as not to cause any digestive upset as this can sometimes happen in the early stages of taking any prebiotic. Start with ¼-1/2 tspn daily depending on the weight of your dog and slowly increase. When the guar gum reaches your dogs large intestine it will be fermented by the bacteria here and this will stimulate the production of scfas, mainly butyrate. I have found that using partially hydrolysed guar gum myself has had amazing benefits for my own gut health in addition to probiotics and digestive enzymes. These foods and prebiotics can be given regularly and long term to maintain and also help heal gut issues.

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