Health | Wellness, Nutrition
What is the gut microbiome? And more importantly, why does it even matter?

Perhaps “microbiome” sounds vaguely familiar? It is frequently discussed in the science community, sometimes under the sometimes under the term microflora, which only partly describes the amazingness of what makes up microbiomes!

In general, the microbiome refers to the ecosystem of bacteria and other microorganisms living on or inside an animal. There can be many microbiomes in a single animal, including the gut, skin, and mouth. Both humans and dogs have microbiome communities like this! The microbiome is extremely complex, and the source of both emerging and ongoing research.

Our favorite facts about the canine gut microbiome include:
1. Over 70% of dogs’ immune system can be found in their digestive tract where key functions are performed, including preventing the growth of disease-causing pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella.
2. Puppies are born without a microbiome and inherit their biodiversity as they drink their mother’s milk.
3. Without the microbiome, a dog’s digestive tract would not be able to process essential vitamins and minerals.
4. The highest concentration of bacteria is found in the gut, specifically the intestines, where they perform important digestion tasks. These bacteria can be either good or bad (though similar to anything in nature, the imbalance of too much or too little of something can have negative effects). The good guys, known as probiotics, aid in breaking down macronutrients, like protein and fiber, as well as absorbing and producing needed vitamins. Since the average dog digests food much faster than a human (approx. 6–8 vs. 20–30 hours, respectively), it is important that there are ample probiotics to enable vital nutritional intake.

What happens if your dog’s microbiome is damaged?
Although the microbiome is ever-changing, when it is negatively disrupted or damaged, the consequences can be significant. Some of the potential symptoms that have been connected to damaged microbiomes include: food allergies, weight gain, chronic inflammation, mood disorders, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.

Supporting your dog’s microbiome
Since the microbiome is constantly evolving, there are ways to help proactively support and nurture your dog’s gut, and total wellness, such as:

- Including fresh foods that naturally contain bacteria, like kefir
- Introducing probiotic supplements to your dog’s care routine
- Avoiding highly processed diets, like kibble, when possible (Given probiotics are living organisms, they’re extremely sensitive to the high temperatures of dry food manufacturing. Unfortunately, they rarely survive the process and make it into your dog’s bowl.)

Monitoring your dog’s digestive health
Keeping a daily or weekly log of your pup’s stool photos can be helpful to monitor their digestive health and catch any subtle changes early. Try out the free DIG Labs Health Check on the purrch app. It allows you to easily snap photos, add notes and receive recommendations. You can share all of the information with your veterinarian, too!
Likes DIG Labs 11-Species Probiotic + Prebiotic Dog Supplement
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