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Can gut health affect your dog’s behavior?

January 1, 2020

Heed these takeaways:

  • From boredom to a lack of training, there are plenty of reasons why dogs misbehave.
  • However, research suggests that there are also links between gut health and behavior, in humans and in dogs.
  • One study found that certain types of gut bacteria may be linked to aggression and other anxiety-related behavior in dogs.
  • You can promote a healthy gut by feeding a high-quality food designed to nourish the beneficial bacteria in your pup’s digestive system.

If you’ve got a naughty pup on your hands, you’re probably familiar with all the common reasons why dogs misbehave. 

Boredom is a common one, lack of proper socialization another, while rewards-based training is also important to ensure that your pup grows into a polite and well-mannered member of the family.

But what many pet parents don’t know is that there’s another factor that can influence their pet’s behavior: the health of their gut.

On the face of things, that might sound slightly ridiculous. Good gut health is essential for proper digestion, a strong immune system and their general wellbeing, sure — but good behavior?

However, there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that the gut affects a whole lot more than we might realize.


The science

Recent years have seen an increasing number of studies examining the links between the brain and the gut.

In humans, studies have shown that everything from anxiety and depression to a wide range of other mental health disorders can all be connected to bacteria in the gut. One study from the University of California Los Angeles even found that some gut microbes can be linked to the parts of the brain that affect mood and behavior.

It’s also thought that the communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain, known as the “gut-brain axis”, plays a similarly vital role in dogs.

A study published in January 2019 examined the links between the gut microbiome and anxiety and aggression in 31 dogs rescued from a dog fighting ring. The aggressive dogs in the group were found to have higher levels of certain types of bacteria, suggesting that those bacteria may be connected to aggression and other anxiety-related behavior.

The links between dog gut health and behavior problems are still a developing area of research, so we can expect to learn a whole lot more as new studies continue to be published. 

In the meantime, it’s becoming increasingly clear just how important it is for every pet parent to ensure that their dog has a healthy gut microbiome. Find out why in our gut guide.


How to maintain good gut health

The key to promoting a healthy gut is to maintain the right balance between good and bad bacteria in your dog’s digestive system. This means feeding a high-quality diet specifically formulated to nourish the beneficial bacteria in your pet’s digestive system — like Heed.

All of our premium kibble blends are optimized to promote good gut health. We carefully source only the best-quality ingredients, prepare our recipes in small batches, and include a unique blend of prebiotics to nourish the good bacteria in your pup’s digestive tract. Best of all, they’re designed to provide all the nutrients your pup needs to live a long and healthy life.

With the right diet, you can help your pup maintain proper digestive balance. And when you combine this with proper training and socialization, not to mention regular physical exercise and mental stimulation, you can help ensure that your pup is always on his best behavior.

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