What Is Leaky Gut In Dogs?

Julia Henriques
leaky gut in dogs

Leaky gut is a common problem that’s linked to many chronic health issues. Your dog may experience digestive issues, suffer from environmental allergies, experience joint problems or develop a compromised immune system. 

And it isn’t only humans who have to deal with leaky gut. It can make your dog sick as well. Maybe it already has and that’s why you’re here.  

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome In Dogs? 

Your dog’s gut has a semipermeable lining called the mucosal lining. It controls what passes from the gut to the rest of your dog’s body. The mucosal lining allows nutrients from food to pass into the bloodstream to fuel the body. It also keeps undesirable substances out of the bloodstream and lymphatics … like toxins, undigested food and pathogens. 

When your dog has leaky gut, the spaces between the cells in the mucosal lining get bigger. And that means more substances are able to pass through the protective layer, including…

  • Pathogens
  • Bacteria 
  • Undigested food 

Once these substances are in his bloodstream, your dog’s body will launch an assault. The liver has to work harder to filter what it can out of your dog’s body. His immune system will attack the foreign invaders. But over time more and more substances pass through the mucosal lining. That means your dog’s liver and immune system will eventually become overwhelmed. 

This can lead to irritation. And over time can lead to …

  • Skin issues
  • Digestive disorders
  • Environmental allergies
  • Joint issues  
  • Compromised immune system

It’s clear to see that leaky gut is a big issue. But what causes the gut lining to become more permeable in the first place? 

What Causes Leaky Gut? 

Experts debate the reasons behind the increased permeability of the gut lining. But most experts agree on one thing … leaky gut starts with the health of your dog’s microbiome. 

Your dog is a host to microorganisms … like bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. Most of them are in your dog’s digestive tract. Others are in his ears, mouth, respiratory tract and on the skin.  This community of microorganisms is the microbiome. And it plays such an important role in your dog’s health that it’s referred to as the forgotten organ. 

Most of the microorganisms in your dog’s microbiome are good bacteria. They have a symbiotic relationship with your dog … meaning both they and your dog benefit. Other bacteria are harmful and can promote disease. But in a healthy dog, the good and bad live together in balance. 

If this balance gets thrown off … dysbiosis occurs. Bad bacteria and yeast take over. And that can lead to gut irritation and leaky gut. 

Many factors can contribute to an imbalance in the gut …

  • Processed diets
  • Grain-based food with rice, wheat, spelt and soy
  • Lectins from unsprouted grains
  • Additives and preservatives
  • Sugar
  • Genetically modified foods (GMOs)
  • Flea and tick treatments 
  • Antibiotics 
  • Dewormers
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Steroids 
  • Over-vaccination 
  • Chronic stress
  • Lack of exercise or mental stimulation 

But what you need to know is how to maintain the balance. This is what will help you prevent leaky gut … and resolve it if your dog is already diagnosed. 

Signs Of Leaky Gut In Dogs

Leaky gut can cause irritation that can affect your dog’s whole body. This makes it incredibly hard to recognize. 

Common symptoms of leaky gut in dogs are …

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Arthritis 
  • Allergies
  • Skin issues 
  • Yeast Infections 
  • Digestive problems 
  • Liver disorders 
  • Kidney issues 
  • Pancreas disorders
  • Problems with the gallbladder
  • Behavior issues 
  • Thyroid problems

Food intolerances are also big leaky gut symptoms in dogs. When your dog’s immune system detects an invader, it moves in to destroy it. It then stores information about the invader in memory cells. That way the immune system can recognize it and launch an attack more quickly in the future. 

As mentioned earlier, when the gut lining becomes more permeable, undigested food can pass through into the bloodstream. When your dog’s immune system detects these food particles outside of your dog’s gut, it sees them as invaders … the same way it would a virus or bacteria.  So it attacks and stores information about them. And this leads to intolerances and hypersensitivity. 

RELATED: Learn how leaky gut may be the key to your dog’s allergy treatment …

How can I tell if my dog has leaky gut?

The signs of leaky gut in dogs are varied because the chronic irritation it causes can affect the entire body. So many chronic health conditions are a sign your dog probably has leaky gut. Problems like arthritis, allergies, digestive problems, autoimmune disease and thyroid issues can be symptoms of leaky gut in dogs.

Leaky Gut In Dogs 

Leaky gut can quickly escalate into major health issues for your dog. That’s why it’s so important to do what you can to prevent it. If your dog does get leaky gut, there are steps you can take to reverse it and repair his gut lining. 

Do what you can to improve your dog’s diet. Promote a healthy microbiome and supplement important nutrients. That way you can keep your dog’s gut strong and help prevent chronic disease. 


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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.