The food we feed our dogs, and its role in the gut, is one of the most overlooked considerations when thinking about behaviour. Gut microbes and bacteria link to areas of the brain which affect mood and behaviour.
Poor diet of high-sugar, trans fats and other unhealthy foods cause obesity and also lead to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Why? High-sugar, processed foods lead to the release of bacterial toxins called ‘lipopolysaccharides’ LPS for short.
Normally LPS hang out in a dog’s gut, and do no harm, but when a dogs gut integrity is compromised, (mostly caused by a poor diet of high-fat, processed meals), this leads to gut inflammation and other gut issues i.e. leaky gut. These issues open up gaps in the gut lining and allow easy transport of bacteria between the gut and deeper tissues, and eventually into the bloodstream. When LPS enters the bloodstream, this is where it becomes toxic and can cause harm.
When outside of the gut and in the bloodstream, LPS destroy the brain cells that make the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, aka the happiness hormones. Research indicates that a lack of these ‘happy hormones’ can have a significant impact on a dog’s behaviour. By therefore improving a dogs diet to promote better gut health, retaining LPS to within the safety of the gut wall, will ensure a continuous production of the happy hormones without the treat of being destroyed. .
And there's more….Every time a dog eats (same for humans), the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) that is linked to the emotional aspects of the Central Nervous System (CNS), sends messages to our brain which affects our emotional state.
The same for both humans and dogs, certain types of foods help us remain calm. The saying ‘you are what you eat’? Is so true. We know this because processed and grain-based foods alongside food additives cause leaky gut in dogs (and humans), and we also know a child who eats too many food additives and ‘e’ numbers can become hyperactive and out of control, and guess what? - The same to our dogs!
It's our responsibility as owners to ensure our dogs consume a healthy balanced diet, otherwise our dogs are at risk of problems such as:
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