How Does Gut Health Affect Behaviour
Everyone has heard the phrase 'trust your gut’. This phrase suggests that your gut is somehow connected to your mind and intuition. It gives the idea that your gut is telling you something. Well, according to scientific research, it most likely is! And it’s the same with our dogs!
As much as some would love to believe their pup is a little human living under their roof, which is cute and hard to criticise, we need to acknowledge their canine genetics that separates their dietary needs from ours.
Digest food, absorb nutrients, produce hormones
Ok, they are kind of like us. A dog’s digestive system is not much like a human’s in terms of its size or what is found in it (a dog's digestive system contains 100 times more acid than a human's), but it is basically the same in what it does: Digests foods, absorbs nutrients and produces hormones.
How can dog’s eat raw food?
Unlike humans, a dog’s digestive system is very short. This gives less time for bacteria to grow and less time for nutrients to be absorbed. This is why dogs should be eating easily broken-down food, like meat, bones and organs. With a 99.7% DNA similarity to wolves, your dog's carnivorous nature should be fed as it would be in the wild to avoid internal complications. As there is less time for bacteria to grow, and a whole lot more acid present to aid digestion, dogs can ‘stomach’ raw food and extract nutrients from it quickly, without harmful bacteria ever getting a chance to show it’s face.
Note: a dog's saliva also contains enzymes that kill bacteria! So, if you’ve been repulsed at your dog eating raw meat, or in some cases even poop, then you can perhaps find comfort in knowing that their bodies are naturally fit to fend off bacteria that would otherwise find us in a hospital bed! But it is always safer to avoid letting your dog kiss you on the lips because you just never know!
But let's touch on the correlation between gut health and behaviour. As stated above, chemicals or ‘hormones’ are produced during digestion. Its sort of like ‘you are what you eat’ or ‘they are what they eat’ or if we’re going to take the accountability route, ‘they are what you feed them’.
Hormones are basically mood regulators. 3 major hormones created in the gut are dopamine, serotonin and GABA. That’s 2 happiness hormones and a stress and anxiety hormone respectively. An imbalance can create an anxious dog, or one that acts up due to stress or the feeling of threat. Social anxiety might cause outbursts of aggression. With calmer and working-order internal processes, your dog may feel less distress in everyday life.
You are responsible for your dog’s physical health, which you now know, correlates with their mental well-being. Ditching the dry, meal bulkers for nutritious raw food will not only give your dog sound internal processes, reducing gas and bloating, but it can also help regulate their mood and behaviours, so they can be the happy-go-lucky puppy they always were!
Need more information on switching to raw food? Here is The Why, What and How of Making the Switch to Raw Dog Food blog.