Leaky Gut in Dogs – The Hidden Epidemic

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When talking about the condition of leaky gut in dogs, it good to start with knowing what happens in a healthy gut. The gut is an ecosystem that is host to trillions of bacteria known as the Microbiome. In a healthy gut, these large and diverse colonies of beneficial bacteria keep the harmful bacteria, parasites, virus, protozoa, and fungus in check and prevent them from getting a foothold by crowding them out while producing vitamins, brain chemicals, nutrition for the gut, maintaining the immune system, extracting and absorbing nutrients in food. 

This is known as Homeostasis or the ability or tendency to maintain internal balance. So much of our health relies on it that dogs and humans simply cannot be healthy without a normally functioning gut. 

So what about a leaky gut in dogs?

What is Leaky Gut In Dogs?

Leaky gut in dogs begins when the tight junctions (called Enterocytes) along the intestinal wall get weakened and begin to allow or “leak” the contents of the gut such as bacteria (both good and bad) as well as particles of undigested food into the bloodstream. It is then that the “walls of the castle” have been breached. The alarm bells go off and like soldiers that go to fight to protect their castle, the body’s T cells start to attack these normally harmless substances and begin to produce anti-bodies. 

If the T cells mistakenly identify a cell that belongs to its host to be an invader, it then results in autoimmune disease where the immune system starts attacking its own cells. Bacteria and foreign substances are not supposed to be present in the bloodstream and the immune system will work hard to ensure that. 

Symptoms will appear such as lethargy, swelling, skin allergies, food allergies, joint pain, gum disease, and even behavioral changes like anxiety and many other symptoms so unrelated that you would never guess were connected to the gut. 

The bloodstream runs throughout the body so a leaky gut can affect the entire body while “starting fires” or causing widespread inflammation. 

leaky gut in dogs

WHAT CAUSES LEAKY GUT SYNDROME IN DOGS?

  •  By far the most common cause and the one that has the most impact is the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics may kill its intended target but unintentionally decimate large numbers of beneficial bacteria along the way. When this happens, opportunistic bacteria like fungus and other pathogens will begin to overgrow because there is not enough beneficial bacteria to keep them in check. Imagine a city with a million people and only a dozen policemen. You can imagine how chaotic the city will get.  This sets the stage for Dysbiosis or a state of bacterial imbalance. In fact, Dysbiosis is the root cause of many ailments in both dogs and humans.
  • NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and Corticosteroids  can also alter the microbiome
  • Diet can play a huge role in the normal function of a gut. Sugar is the main energy source of fungus such as Candida Albicans. Feeding a dog a diet rich in carbohydrates and grains (which convert to sugar) will feed these pathogenic bacteria and allow them to thrive. ¹Dysbiosis can have an adverse effect on its host in both humans and dogs.² With over 40 species, Candida Albicans, an opportunistic fungus will quickly multiply and take up “real estate” and penetrate the intestinal wall. These pathogens will compete for nutrition from its host and produce toxic waste that ends up in the bloodsteam creating a burden to the immune system.
  • Food additives, food dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers, flavor enhancers and ingredients that are not found in nature.
  • Chlorinated water is necessary to kill bacteria in the plumbing but it also kills beneficial bacteria in the body when ingested. It has also been linked to certain cancers, heart disease, brain defects and food allergies in humans. 
  • Vaccines have their uses but avoid over vaccinating your dog.
  • Stress. It is now known that the gut acts as the second brain. The brain can influence the gut and the gut can influence the brain.  Chronic and unrelenting stress can alter gut bacteria. Discover 15 ways to naturally calm your dog
  • BPA in plastics, heavy metals and toxic chemicals can alter gut bacteria
  • Flea treatments contain pesticides and are also harmful to humans and cats
  • GMOs
leaky gut in dogs

Instead of being a large contributor to health, immunity, and strong digestion, the gut will become a source of toxicity and disease. 

Symptoms of a Leaky Gut in Dogs

There is a wide variety of symptoms that are seemingly unrelated to the gut and appear unrelated to each other but the effects are far-reaching. Symptoms such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Skin allergies
  • Joint pain
  • Gum disease
  • Seizures
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Dry eye
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Disorders of the pancreas, gallbladder and liver
  • Certain cancers
  • Nutritional deficiencies

How to heal your dog, Leaky Gut solutions

  • According to Dr. Becker, every case of dysbiosis is different which is why it is so important to see a holistic veterinarian to fashion a healing program targeting a specific condition. 
  • One of the easiest and simplest things you can do to improve your pet’s long term health and your own is to invest in a quality water filter that removes chlorine and other contaminants. Ideally, choose a water filter that attaches to the main water inlet to filter water to the entire house. Humans and dogs can also absorb chlorine through the skin when we take a bath. 
  •  Only use natural dewormer, flea and tick medication. Exposure to unnecessary chemicals should be avoided.
  •  Avoid sugar and grains such as wheat, rice, oatmeal and corn. Also starches like potatoes and sweet potatoes as these are high glycemic foods. These foods will feed pathogenic bacteria as well as cause blood sugar fluctuations. Dogs fed a diet that is high in carbohydrates produce gas and smelly stools as well as cause cramps, intestinal inflammation, weight gain, diabetes and yeast growth. 
  • Calm the mind to calm the gut. Calm the gut to calm the mind. Here are some very useful tips for dogs that have separation anxiety. 
leaky gut in dogs

A healthy gut should look like this

  • Bone broth is indispensable when it comes to leaky gut. It contains gelatin, collagen, and lots of amino acids like proline, glucosamine, chondroitin, and glycine all of which help tighten and seal the lining of the gut. This also helps senior dogs with joint problems. Try to look for organic beef bones as much as possible and remember to skip the salt, onions, and garlic. Try this great recipe. Speak to your vet if bone broth is right for your dog.
  • Probiotics are necessary to restore the balance in the microbiome.  This is essential to overall health. Fermented vegetables can also be given to dogs to boost beneficial bacteria in the gut. Make sure it doesn’t contain onions.  You can gradually give 1-3 tsp a day per 20 pounds of weight. Unflavored yogurt can also be given. Read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain Xylitol. 
  • Coconut oil can help restore gut health by killing fungal overgrowth and other harmful organisms and do so without harming beneficial bacteria. Give 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of weight. Start gradually to give the body time to adapt. Always have a bowl of fresh water available so your pet can flush out toxins. Too much coconut oil may lead to greasy stools and diarrhea.
  • If your dog is constantly scratching and has scaly, irritated skin, give your dog a bath using Pet MD Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo for Dogs. Lather the entire body including the groin, armpits, and in-between toes. Avoid eyes and head. and leave it on for 10 minutes. It is an antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal shampoo that can remove waxy build-up on the skin. You can get this from Amazon. Avoid oatmeal-based shampoos. Oatmeal is a grain and will feed fungus on the skin. Mix an equal amount of water and apple cider vinegar and spray on your pet to kill whatever yeast is left after the antifungal shampoo. Avoid the head and eyes. No need to rinse or towel dry. Avoid spraying on irritated skin because this will sting. Apply coconut oil on skin that is affected with yeast including inside of ear flaps and in between toes.

Conclusion

If you suspect your dog has a leaky gut, make an appointment with your local veterinarian for confirmation and advice. Leaky gut can be managed, and over time, can be repaired. Probiotics can re-establish the equilibrium in the microbiome, and a clean healthy diet can work wonders for managing and maintaining a healthy gut. Check out our related posts for more information.

Please share this article if you found it to be helpful.

If you enjoyed this article, please check out the following two related articles which we know you’ll find both interesting and informative.

Probiotics and Dogs – Can Good Bacteria Help My Pet

Pancreatitis in Dogs – Causes, Signs & Treatment

What Foods Are Good For Dogs

Don’t forget to look around the site or bookmark us for later, we’ve got a wide range of material on all sorts of dog-related subjects that we’re constantly updating.

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Disclaimer

Please consult your vet if you suspect your dog has a leaky gut. All information in this post is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.

References

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov pmc articles – PMC5114849

merck vet manual generalized-conditions – fungal-infections -candidiasis

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov pmc articles – PMC5697093

healthypets mercola.com – sites – healthypets – Leaky-gut.aspx

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov pubmed – 27160005

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov pmc articles – PMC4168260/

wikipedia.org – Flea_treatments

pethelpful.comdog yeast infection symptoms and natural cures

41 thoughts on “Leaky Gut in Dogs – The Hidden Epidemic”

  1. Hi,  I’ve just finished reading I am not a pet owner but well done on the post.  Some very helpful information for dog owners.  I hope you can distribute this post well because it could be very helpful to people.

    I really liked your analogy of gut bacteria about having 10 policemen to a million people.  Would not like to be on the bus next to that person or dog.

  2. These are some of the reasons I don’t keep pets..I believe there is always a full potential ability of bacteria to be around them…though I once had a cat named jimmy….jimmy was so much to b loved …I had him before I got a par time job after which I wasn’t much around to keep up with him so I took him to my mum since them never bothered having another.

  3. I think the ones that know this problem exists are those in areas where people are educated like in the advanced countries. But here in the Philippines, a lot of pet owners don’t know this or lack knowledge of this problem. So, I’m going to share this blog post to my friends in social media, so pet owner friends would know. This benefits not only me but also my friends as well. There were many times that I think something like this happened to our pets, but since we know nothing about this before, we just let the pet die. Such thing will no longer happen this time.

  4. I feel put for dogs who suffer from these ailments and they are not discovered on time. The health of our pets should be a priority and proper check up should be done regularly to ensure they are in good shape. So things have actually made me surprise here and one of it is knowing that excessive use of antibiotics can cause leaky gut in dogs, and some dog owners administer antibiotics without any vet available. Lastly, the use of coconut oil to help with this guy problem is quite thrilling. Thanks for the knowledge shared. 

  5. Hello,

    Very informative article! I have also a dog named gully. I haven’t any idea before about this Leakey gut! But for few days I observed my dog has some skin allergies I thought it’s only a skin problem. I have been thinking about to visit a doctor but now I think what’s going on! I’m really thankful for your article.

  6. You know, I never really new so much about the guy before this post. Itseems to have some complex words relating to the medical world though. I think this issue is sometimes peculiar to we humans too since you were able to juxtapose both our pets and us when explaining. I never would’ve thought that antibiotics would be a cause of leaky guts though. I’ve learnt something new again today thanks to you. I will definitely share this post because I found it very helpful.

  7. Thanks so much for sharing this information. This is my first time to hear leaky gut case in dogs. Fortunately I found your article here, so I can prepare some measures for my and cousin’s cubs. I think our cubs are healthy, but in case they have the symptom, any advice for first aid before going to vet? Thanks

  8. Hello Dave, Thanks for your positive comment, I really appreciate it. Chlorinated water does have a big impact on our dog’s health including our own.

    Sunny

  9. Hi, Sonny.
    Thanks for sharing your views on the issue of leaky Gut in dogs. I think you explained everything is such a beautiful way with all the figures and pictures that I completed the whole article in one go. I will surely watch for the symptoms of leaky guts and avoid sugar and carb to my dear puppy. Thanks for raising alarm in time.
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

  10. Wow! I’ve heard about leaky gut in humans but I never stopped to think about dogs being susceptible to it too. You’ve really given me something to think about. I had a dog before that had a few of the symptoms you mentioned (Joint pain
    & Gum disease) even though she was a relatively young dog. It seemed like no matter how much I brushed her teeth or gave her special treats her gums never improved. I’m starting to think maybe this was a factor. 

    Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue 🙂

  11. Thanks for this informative article on the leaky gut in dog malady that truly is a hidden epidemic. I have a couple of dogs, so always I am trying to keep up with things I need to be watching for when it comes to their diet, their care overall, and even how much water they may need (in Dubai, the weather is very hot for much of the year).

    Now that I know the impact of them drinking chlorinated water, I will be getting a filter to remove it for them. Although at this point they are not manifesting any signs of a leaky gut, it pays to stay ahead of the curve. All the other points you have mentioned I have also taken note of. Really helpful post, I and my dogs appreciate your work on this!  

  12. Hello Donny, your dogs probably suffered from a condition called Bloat. sorry to hear that.

    Getting a good quality water filter will benefit you and your dog

    Sunny

  13. I’ve always thought that dogs had a stronger health than humans and they was nothing to ever worry about but lately I’ve lost 2 dogs to some belly swelling and then  failure to relieve themselves and here I’ve just realised the mistakes I’m making for instance I do feed them carbohydrates a lot. I guess I’ll also have to find someone to install the water filter to filtrate chlorine. With this information will try my best to avoid my dogs having leaky guts.

  14. Hi Sonny, great post. For Man’s best friend, who knew that hanging around with us could be so dangerous. What with all our fancy foods and drugs that we feed them, doing more harm than good.

    In your article you mention than investing in a good quality water filter can go a long way to helping minimise leaky gut. With dogs being naturally curious animals and often drinking out of random dirty watering holes around one’s backyard, how do you stop them from ruining all your hard work in that one unchecked moment?

  15. This is such an interesting article that I have not heard about before but very enlightening.    I did not know that chlorine is not good for the dogs and can cause such harm. I have learnt so much information here that I am gonna use it to take care of my dogs. Keep up the good work that you are doing. 

  16. A great written article. I am ALL about gut health and I find all thing gut fascinating! Even more fascinating is how much alike a dogs guts are to ours! I know if at least two dogs that probably have gut issues and could use a good holistic veterinarian! Thanks for this post!

  17. Yes, coconut is good for humans and dogs alike but must be taken in moderation and must start slow to allow the body to adapt.

    Thank you for reading the article

    Sunny

  18. I have never fully understood when someone said they had leaky gut syndrome, and now reading your article it all makes sense, as I am sure the same can be said for humans and dogs.

    I had no idea that chlorine was one of the culprits and we all drink this unknowingly. Maybe it is best to drink bottled water, provided you know where it comes from. I also wonder if coconut oil is as good for humans as it is for dogs?

  19. Hello Paula. I’m glad you liked the article. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes, bone broth is good for both man and dog. 

    Happy to help

    Sunny

  20. Hello Mr. Biizy, thank you for reading the article and for taking the time to comment. You are correct, antibiotics can wreak havoc in our bodies as well as in our dogs. Take them only when absolutely necessary.

    Sunny

  21. Hi Jon, lots of physical and mental exercise, proper diet, avoidance of unnecessary chemicals can go a long way

    Sunny

  22. This is a long read but it gave me all the things that tell you how you get leaky gut, what it is, and what to look for to see if you have leaky gut and that you can prevent some of these things by investing in healthy habits like filtering your water. My dog is getting up there in age and I was wondering what I could do make sure he stays healthy?

  23. Hi Sonny. I think the very first time I heard the term ‘leaky gut’ was during Jada Pinket Smith’s Red table talk. I never knew that such a thing existed. Now you’re telling me that it’s in dogs?! whoa. Mind. blown.

    But I guess it would make sense too because dogs are considered mammals, as well as humans and I, wouldn’t be surprised if cats have it too. 

  24. Hello Sonny. Thank you so much for taking your time to share this life changing post on leaky gut in dogs. I haven’t heard of this phrase before and I am so happy to learn about it. In have learnt so much in this post. It’s not only useful information for our dogs but for us humans too to be in good health conditions. I am pretty amazed about how some things we take into our body with the intention of killing harmful organisms in our bodies end up killing useful bacteria. Thanks for sharing the tips on how we can restore these useful bacteria to restore healthy gut in our dogs.

    Peace out!

  25. Wow. You have some really great health tips for dogs here. I really enjoyed reading it. I knew some of this for humans but didn’t realize it carries over to our canine friends too. Thanks for sharing this. I was looking into CBD for my pets. Bone broth for pets. Hmm. Makes sense since it’s so healthy. Leaky gut in dogs has a ton of symptoms. I’m glad you provided all this information. Thank you. 

  26. Hi Scott, sorry to hear about your dog. She sounds lovable the way you described her, like a perfect family dog and companion. 

    Sunny

  27. Hello fellow Canadian! 

    Thank you for your kind words! I appreciate your comment. Your Doctor was right, everything does start in the gut. Sorry to hear about your dogs! Please let me know which puppy you get

    Sunny

  28. Many thanks to you for giving us such a beautiful article, and through you I learned about a particular disease in dogs and what I learned after reading it very carefully was the cause of puppy stomach ulcer. I have learned from you that almost every time our dogs get sick and the antibiotics we give them can cure them, but sometimes they kill many beneficial bacteria and then get into different complications. And then the opportunists grow up and make it a very bad situation, just like you said if a city of a million people had 10 policemen, what would that city be like?I think we should use a little thought before using all those antibiotics and if we do then we will not face all these problems.

  29. Thank you for this insightful post.

    I have two four-legged family members and I actually have a semi-guilty feeling for one we lost a few years back.

    Maddie was my first dog (I’m 43, now so I was in my mid-20’s when I got her) and we had her for 16 years.  She was a Jack Russell and would take on the temperament of whoever she was with.  If you were sitting watching TV, she’d lay there calmly next to you.  If you were making noise and jumping around, she’d join in.

    We lost her to renal failure.  The part that I contributed to was that I never changed her from adult food to senior food and the protein in the adult food accelerated the process.  I simply didn’t know.

    Now, I’m reading this and you’re informing me that the tap water I’m providing to my dogs may be hurting them as well.  I’ll be switching to a filter system right away.

    Another consideration is the flea and tick treatments.  I’m using Advantix I think (recently switched from FrontLine).  I’m going to have to see what the best options are.

    Thanks again,

         Scott

  30. It’s surprising how a leaking gut can lead to all this involving autoimmune disease. Thank you very much for pointing out the symptoms to identify if our dogie has a leaking gut. Bobby’s symptoms match perfectly those described here. You have opened my eyes on time. Thank you for also explain how we can help healing our pet. I’ll start by buying quality water filter that removes chlorine.

  31. I must say that dogs are the closest animal to man…so it painful when you see your pets go through some trying times due to one or too over look health issues this leaky guts has really affteted most of my pet dogs and thank to this article I think I would be able to crib this suitation

  32. I absolutely love to meet someone that has such a love for dogs and has a whole website dedicated to them.  So hats off to that. 
    I read this word for word and found it absolutely fascinating. I lost both my dogs in August, but boy I wish I had read this years ago.  Having 2 senior dogs, I could really have used this information.

    I had always heard of gut leak in humans as the cause for many illnesses we can encounter.  My retired Dr. always used to say that everything starts in the gut! LOL!  But I did not know this also applied to dogs.  Great job.

    We are thinking of getting a new puppy soon and I am bookmarking your post and will be checking back to reread every bit of your post.  Thank you.

  33. Wow, I had no idea that there could be so many causes of leaky gut in dogs! Many of these are common items that one wouldn’t immediately suspect to be a problem for the average dog. Thank you for sharing these along with signs to look out for danger with your own pets and ways to heal a leaky gut if one is suspected. As a dog owner, this has been very helpful information!!

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