Nutrition: What is good gut health?

I am starting a series on nutrition and I want to begin by talking about what is good gut health. Your pet’s gut is the basis of his or her immune system. Over 70% of the immune system relates to good gut function. Why is this so important? Good gut health will help fight off infection, reduce the chance of auto-immune disease and process food effectively.

There are 2 components to good gut health, 1) a healthy and diverse microbiome and 2) a leak-proof barrier system.


The gut microbiome is inside the gastrointestinal tract and houses thousands of little bacteria and fungi that help naturally fight off invaders.  Invaders can be chemicals, parasites, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Some parasites, viruses, bacteria and fungi are good, others are not.  To make sure your pet keeps a healthy microbiome it is important to feed fresh whole organic foods like organic fresh or fermented veggies in addition to organic cooked meats (if your pet is a dog or a cat or pet that can eat meat.) Our grocery and pet food store shelves are stocked full of processed, chemical laden, killed foods. There are no “real” vitamins or minerals in any of it! Think about it. If your pet eats processed food all day, year, and life long-he/she never ever sees “real food.”

Another way the microbiome becomes weak if you never have your pet go outside. Touching the grass and dirt allows pets to pick up fresh bacteria and fungi to feed the gut (maybe this is why dogs eat grass!) Breathing fresh air also introduces a variety of inhaled bacteria and fungi to help keep the gut healthy.Our pets lick their feet and fur to keep themselves clean and to feed their microbiome. Guinea pigs and rabbits eat their “night feces” every day to help feed their gut.

Leak Proof Barrier

The second component is the leak proof barrier. The gut extends from the mouth to the anus and is made up of layers. Most areas contain four layers designed to keep your pet healthy, process food and keep bad things like invaders out.

Chemicals, dyes and preservatives are bad invaders. They can break the barrier and make it leaky. Some chemicals, like glyphosate, is particularly bad and affects the barrier by killing the microbiome. Glyphosate causes cancer in humans and I believe it does in pets too. Few studies have been done in pet foods. One study, by Cornell University, showed almost all processed pet foods contain glyphosate but no study researched safe levels for pets. I believe there are NO safe levels for pets, it should not be in the food at all! The FDA released a study in 2016 and found chemicals in 99% of animal foods but went on to say “we consider them safe.” No safety studies have ever been conducted due to lack of funds.

Does your pet have auto-immune disease, chronic diarrhea, flatulence or an upset stomach? The barrier system or the microbiome may not be working well. Make the gut better by reducing processed food and replacing with fresh organic foods that are appropriate for your pet. By making the gut healthy, you make the pet healthy.