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Intestinal Permeability Part 2 : What causes it and how to get rid of it

As we covered last week in part 1, Intestinal Permeability (IP) , or Leaky Gut is not only zero fun on a day to day basis (it lowers your dog’s quality of living and by definition yours), it can also lead to bigger problems and seriously damage your dog’s health

You now know what it is and what to look out for. So let’s dive straight in and cover the basics of what causes it and getting rid of this unwanted, unwelcome debilitating condition.

Boiling all factors down to the very essence, the root cause, its “jam”, what causes it is Stress….or rather, because not all types of stress are damaging, the wrong type of stress.

When we go to the gym and lift weights, the muscle fibres are stressed but grow back either bigger or more efficient, or both, depending on how we train them.

When we take our dogs for a walk, they stress their hearts and lungs running up the beach chasing a ball which maintains your dog’s “cardio vascular fitness” . Assuming that your dog isn’t allowed to go wild for hours in the sun and overheats, these are all “hormetic stressors” . This means the the stress induced gives rise to a bigger biological benefit. … We also get a workout,… especially if you recall the “Fenton” incident in Richmond park. This arguably was a positive stressor for the dog, much less so for the deer (albeit they look like they know how to handle themselves in a tight spot- those antlers aren’t for christmas baubles) and definitely a “distress” (both mental emotional and physical) for the owner. Its the guy filming it starting to shake that gets me every time.

Typically when we humans consider “negative” stress (distress) we instantly think of being overworked, a boss thats half goblin, half orc, wondering if we have enough money to pay a credit card bill or whether the person behind you in the airline queue can possibly ask ONE more time if you paid for speedy boarding. Bore off 🙂

But in reality.. stress is not simply “Mental or emotional”. Stressors can pretty much fall into one of the 4 following categories.

Emotional – for example: whats going on in either you or your dogs head. As mentioned above.
Internal – food they eat (intolerances?), grains, lectins, toxins like chocolate, parasites, bacteria, yeast, fungus, medicines (antibiotics bring lots of benefits but also carry a health cost)
Environmental – this includes chemicals you or your dog get exposed to, the air we all breathe and water we drink. In humans one of the major pollutants is what we put on our skin, likewise with dogs, check the ingredients of those lotions, AND the water they swim in!
Physical – this one is mainly exercising or lack thereof related. Important to remember here that too much exercise can be at times more damaging than too little. That’s definitely the case for some of the athletes I look after as they will readily admit. Likewise, when an overactive puppy is encouraged to fetch a ball until it falls over, this is a physical stressor that leads to LESS benefit.

So I will run through examples of two of the above that need some further explanation and then we will get down to getting rid of them!

Mental Emotional we have already covered from a human perspective, that’s our typical image of what stress is. In the dog world that may be feeling insecure, threatened, being around angry people or simply not knowing its place in the pack. Dogs need a structure, to know where they are in the hierarchy. Dogs also have way better sensory super skills than we do so are often better on picking up on our mood than we are! The fact they can smell you 1 minute before you come in the front door should be a big clue that they can tell exactly where you are, geographically AND emotionally.

Fortunately, if you are reading this its probably because you are full of love for your animal and considerate to its wellbeing. And if you are feeding it a raw diet its because you are really interested in its health. However, its always worth considering the mental stressors, especially if your animal is in a “health deficit” at all and you want to pick up some easy marks.

This often translates to sitting back at the end of the day and ensuring YOU chill out, put on some jazz and enjoy an autumnal fire whilst stroking your dog. Dogs love picking up on our calm mental state. So this is a happy 2 for 1 deal.

Yes, I told you to sit down, enjoy a fire and listen to some jazz. For your dog’s health. Great huh?

Internal stressors are manifold, but the main ones, as summarised above are diet and “pathogens”, that is, bacteria or parasites, yeast or fungi that inhabit your dog’s digestive tract. Now whilst some of these are of course essential for your dog’s health (good bacteria”) we are talking about here are the not so good kind. Assuming you currently regularly visit your vet and perform a treatment on your dog to address these (we can cover the treatment alternatives available at a later date as I appreciate this is a popular topic), the key take away from this segment is DIET.

This is the part YOU control, can easily manage, and makes probably the biggest difference.

The food that goes into your dog’s mouth is CRITICAL to its “ internal stress”. Why ? if the body recognises this food as an invader, a virus or something akin, rather than food, the body believes that rather than being fed, it is under attack. What’s more stressful than that?? Trojan horse kibble sandwich anyone?

SO getting your dog on a hypoallergenic/ grain free, low lectin diet is probably the single biggest factor to healing intestinal permeability.

Separate and distinct to food allergies, and this is really super important to keep with you. Regardless of whether a dog is intolerant or allergic to a food or not, there are some foods that will ALWAYS cause inflammation. ALWAYS.

Grain is one of these. (and yes its exactly the same for humans). Grain causes an inflammatory response in every dog. Dogs have not evolved to be able to digest it and lets face it, the grain doesnt want to be eaten by a dog, it wants to fall right next to where the other grains flourished and propagate there.

This is why the whole gluten discussion can be a little confusing and VERRRRY misleading. Its not just gluten that causes inflammation. Its every other grain protein as well (in some cases white rice is an exception and can be tolerated). There are over 20 types of protein in grains and every single one of them will create inflammation and contribute to IP. Some of my patients go “gluten free” and resort to the smorgasbord of “gluten free” options at the supermarket which just use either other types of grain or lots of chemicals or both. Some of them are MUCH worse than the gluten itself. They then continue with the same symptoms and assume it can’t have been gluten that was the issue in the first place, as they don’t feel any better., when in fact they have just swapped one toxin out for another or several others. As soon as they go grain free most symptoms mysteriously….and happily..disappear

And same story with lectins. Lectins come in lots of forms but are mainly in the skin of certain fruits and vegetables. This is a whole article in itself but be happy and reassured that there are none in Bella & Duke meals.

Grains and lectins irritate the gut in several ways and one of the results is leakiness. In fact its fair to state that grain (especially processed grain with chemical additives – does this sound like kibble to anyone?) paves the way for food allergies, skin disorders, arthritis and all those other auto immune disorders.

The plus side of all of this is : You now know what can cause it and cut it out. Its really that simple.

You cannot heal leaky gut IF the dog is still being exposed to grains, lectins or other inflammatory foods. As this will be constantly undoing all of your good work. Keep it simple, hypoallergenic food, hypoallergenic snacks and if you want to accelerate the process add in some bone broth.

Bone broth is rich in amino acids that can be directly absorbed and utilised by the gut to repair itself. The gut is very high in two aminos called glutamine and glycine, both of which are present in bone broth. We are rapidly working behind the scenes at Bella & Duke, think ducks paddling a millpond when seen from above AND below the water….to get you a bone broth that WE believe in to help you with this. Watch the facebook page for updates.

So let’s summarise. How to heal leaky gut.

Cut out the bad stuff
Any mental stress
Any crazy chemicals that are present in shampoos, lotions or other. I will state the obvious here again as well, letting your dog swim in heavily polluted water is not a great idea as that water is being absorbed both through the skin and being swallowed.
Any inflammatory foods or foods your dog is intolerant to, in either snacks or main meals. If it goes in its mouth it counts.

Add in the good stuff

Feed your dog hypoallergenic meals and snacks.
Accelerate the healing process with some bone broth
Appropriate levels of exercise
Plenty of love, structure and downtime, for us all

And hey presto, watch the magic happen.
So you can sit back, relax, put on your playlist of choice and know that you are doing great things.

As ever please message me with any questions. We really want to help you help your dog so its a pleasure to field your queries and we are CONSTANTLY looking to improve, evolve and bring you the best service and information we can.

Wishing you and your dogs well!

We have a 5 quick wins report for dogs with itchy skin

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