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How Your Dog's Gut Controls Their Anxiety and Mood

Hi there Lyndall Pinchen, Canine naturopath from Canine Vitality and welcome back to my channel. If you are new thankyou for stopping by- feel free to subscribe and welcome to all my regulars.

How odes your dogs gut help with anxiety?? With so many dogs experiencing some type of anxiety, we need to consider gut health as one of the main factors that influence the internal control of anxious and nervy behaviour. Today let’s take a look at how the gut influences these anxious patterns through what is known as the gut brain axis and how we can reduce anxiety by supporting this naturally so stay tuned to learn more.

While among other things, stress can lead to gut imbalances, poor gut health can in turn contribute to further stress patterns. Some of you may have heard of the gut brain axis. This might sound a bit complex but think of this is a line of communication between your dogs gut and their brain- a bit like a highway. While part of its role is around signalling hunger, it plays a much greater role than this. Studies have found that your dog gut actually contributes to the function of their brain. Many of the important neurotransmitters (or chemical messengers) are actually created within the digestive system and the overall health of the gut along with how diverse your dogs microbiome is will strongly influence their mental wellbeing. The gut is often referred to as the second brain or enteric nervous system as it has such a strong influence on both mood and brain function. This is often why as humans we may feel butterflies when nervous or other anxious symptoms.

One of the key parts of this gut brain connection is known as the Vagus nerve which is the longest cranial nerve in your dog body. It plays a role in regulating the parasympathetic nervous system or rest and digest system helping your dogs body to relax and recharge. While it performs many functions, the Vagus nerve is like a messenger relaying information from gut to brain by letting the brain know what state the gut is in. And of course the gut microbiome itself with all the variety of bacteria found within produce short chain fatty acids which help the brain and gut communicate more effectively.

So what happens when the gut gets out of balance- how does this affect the gut brain connection? It was once thought that anxiety and depression was the cause of gut imbalances like irritable bowel, bloating, constipation diarrhea and other digestive disturbances but now it is believed to be the other way around- as in the gut imbalances lead to those changes in mood such as anxiety patterns. It seems that when your dog experiences these gastrointestinal type symptoms that the gut will send signals to the central nervous system which in turn triggers mood changes. This is particularly seen with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome in terms of dogs developing anxiety and depression. So while there can be other causes of anxious behaviour, how balanced your dogs gut is will also determine their level of mental health.

So what can we do to keep the gut brain connection happy and help reduce anxiety that may be caused by an out of balance gut. Like any health issue, we want our dogs to be eating a natural diet free of processed and grain based foods. In addition, When it comes to the gut it always essential to focus on nutrition first. To make sure that your dogs microbiome has a diverse level of bacteria, make sure you are adding in pre and probiotic rich foods such as kefir, fermented veggies and other fermented foods. If your dog has not ever eaten these before tis important to start very slowly and in very small amounts and build up. Start by adding a little into the diet a few times per week and increase from these. Only small amounts are required to gain benefits for the level of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Bone broth is also highly beneficial for the gut brain axis as it is rich in an amino acid known as glycine which can really help reduce inflammation in the gut and therefore benefit the gut brain. Adding broth daily or even a few times per week to the diet is going to make a big difference

What about polyphenols???

Polyphenols are antioxidants found in fruits and veggies including berries, apples, spinach, garlic and olive oil. Adding some of these regularly to the diet can add extra antioxidant support to help reduce inflammation and improve overall brain health.

Shitake mushrooms which are rich in vitamin b6 which is crucial to help the production of serotonin , often referred to as the feel good hormone in your dog gut. This can be added by way of the mushrooms themselves or in a powder or tincture form. And omega 3 fats also help keep this axis healthy as these fats help promote gut health in general and are great anti inflammatory. Adding oily fish into the diet is a great way to get these into your dog a few times per week.

And of course we can also add herbs here including Peppermint, Ginseng, Gingko biloba, Rosemary, Magnolia and Lemon balm which all help improve circulation and energy production, reduce inflammation , improve the gut microbiome and improve overall brain health and mood.

By focusing on the right type of nutrition as well as adding in certain foods and herbs, we can actually improve the overall gut health as well as this gut brain axis and reduce anxiety patterns by reducing those digestive symptoms we talked about earlier.



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