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Is Inflammation Stealing Precious Years from Your Dog?

The Hidden Danger of Chronic Inflammation

When your dog injures its paw or steps on a thorn, immediate inflammation sets in, signalling its body to heal. This acute inflammation is a vital part of immunity, causing blood vessels to expand and become more porous, enabling immune cells to rush in and repair damaged tissues.

However, chronic, low-grade inflammation is a different beast. It's a persistent overactive immune response that, over time, weakens your dog's immune system. This silent, relentless inflammation is linked to degenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and even the transformation of healthy cells into cancer cells.

Chronic inflammation can gradually lead to organ disease, which is why older dogs often struggle with liver, kidney, heart, and other organ-related issues. This insidious, low-grade inflammation is the silent adversary of your dog's golden years.

Decoding Inflammation in Your Dog

Inflammation is a silent assassin. It's invisible to the naked eye and often goes undetected by most veterinarians. However, there are telltale signs of inflammation to be on guard for:

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Autoimmune disease

  • Allergies

  • Arthritis

  • Cognitive decline

  • Immune decline

  • Cancer

But remember, by the time these signs appear, inflammation could already be causing havoc in your dog's body. Therefore, addressing inflammation before it leads to chronic diseases is crucial.

What if your dog already suffers from one or more of these conditions? Fortunately, it's not too late. The key lies in understanding the triggers of chronic inflammation and learning how to mitigate its destructive effects on your dog.

What Causes Inflammation?

Inflammation isn't bad, but it can become a problem when it lingers, transitioning into a chronic state. This sustained inflammation triggers a surplus of free radicals - substances that, in excess, can overwhelm the body's defences. This onslaught is damaging to the DNA and can lead to what we term as 'oxidative stress.'

Free radicals may be tiny, but their impact is significant. They cause microscopic harm to the cells, leading to oxidative stress. This stress is a key player in the ageing process and a precursor to various diseases.

At the heart of inflammation and disease, you'll find oxidative stress. In fact, it's been connected to over 200 diseases, with more research emerging every day.

Yes, oxidative stress is a standard occurrence in the body, even contributing to natural ageing. However, the problem arises when this damage accumulates over time. This gradual build-up can harm cell membranes, DNA, and enzyme systems, disrupting organ function and weakening the immune system, leaving the body more susceptible to disease.

So, while inflammation is a crucial part of our body's defence mechanism, it's essential to manage it effectively to prevent it from becoming a long-term problem

Inflammation Catalysts

Let's dive straight into the core of what causes inflammation:

  • Excessive Body Mass

  • Sedentary Lifestyle

  • Intense Stress

  • Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

  • Diet Choices

Certain foods stoke the flames of inflammation, while others act as inflammation extinguishers. In a moment, we'll explore these anti-inflammatory food warriors, but first, let's confront another formidable instigator of inflammation.

The Microbiome and its Influence on Inflammation

Imagine a bustling city thriving within your dog's gut. This vibrant metropolis, known as the microbiome, is populated by a myriad of microorganisms, primarily bacteria, that have evolved side by side with animals, playing a pivotal role in health and disease.

These microscopic powerhouses are so intricately entwined with health that they not only control the brain and immune system, but also serve as a manufacturing hub for vitamins and amino acids. What's more, they have the power to produce substances that can either incite inflammation or thwart it.

The population of bacteria living within your dog astonishingly outnumbers his own cells tenfold!

A flourishing microbiome is characterised by a large and diverse bacterial population. But what happens when this diversity dwindles? The stage is set for toxic bacteria to take over, leading to a condition known as dysbiosis, a primary culprit behind inflammation.

Dysbiosis can also pave the way for 'leaky gut'. Imagine, the only barrier between the contents of the small intestine and the rest of the body is a thin layer of epithelial cells. While this allows for the efficient absorption of nutrients, it also leaves the gut vulnerable to the perils of a leaky gut.

In the event of dysbiosis, harmful bacteria gain a foothold, releasing toxic byproducts that inflame the epithelial cells. This inflammation forces the gaps between these cells to widen, enabling toxins and immune factors to escape the intestines and infiltrate your dog's body - this is leaky gut!

As your dog gracefully ages, her microbiome diversity may diminish. However, this doesn't have to be the case. A groundbreaking 2017 study revealed that with the right lifestyle changes, healthy older humans can maintain microbiomes akin to those of their youthful counterparts.

Shielding your dog's microbiome is, therefore, a strategic move in slowing down inflammation. Beware: Your dog's microbiome can be jeopardised by diseases, drugs, chemicals, toxins, genetics, antibiotics, glyphosate, and even the wrong foods.

Feeding your dog improper foods can set off a chain reaction, leading to dysbiosis and leaky gut.

Inflammatory Foods for Dogs

Beware of these major inflammation culprits in your dog's diet:

Omega-6 Fats

Omega-6 fats trigger inflammatory proteins, while omega-3 fats help reduce inflammation. Most processed diets are high in omega-6 fats, which can disrupt your dog's gut health.

High Glycaemic Foods

High-glycaemic foods, like starchy foods, can raise blood glucose levels, leading to an insulin spike. This not only triggers inflammation but also converts glucose to fat, contributing to obesity, another cause of inflammation. Commercial dog foods often contain 30-60% starch, which can cause excessive insulin activity and inflammation.

Limited Antioxidant Foods

Antioxidants are crucial to combat free radicals, a major source of inflammation. While kibble may contain added antioxidants like vitamins E and C or rosemary, it quickly oxidises when exposed to air, producing more free radicals. Moreover, food antioxidants are heat-sensitive and can be lost during processing, limiting their effectiveness.

The Anti-Inflammation Diet for Dogs

Want to combat inflammation in your dog? Here are some key diet adjustments to consider:

Omega-3 Fats: Omega-3 fats are known to mitigate inflammation while promoting balance and diversity in the microbiome. Ensure you purchase high-quality, preferably encapsulated or glass-bottled omega-3 fats. Green-lipped Mussel Oil is an excellent source, and it is available in my online store.

Broccoli and its Sprouts: Sulforaphane, found abundantly in broccoli and its sprouts, is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent. Lightly cook or mulch these cruciferous vegetables for easy digestion.

Curcumin, the key component of turmeric, is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Polyphenols: Unique to plants, especially berries, polyphenols reduce inflammation while acting as antioxidants and prebiotics to maintain a healthy microbiome.

Fasting your dog can help manage inflammation by reducing oxidative stress. Consider fasting your dog once weekly or feeding once daily.

Probiotics: These beneficial bacteria enhance diversity and balance in your dog's gut. Opt for a probiotic with at least 10 strains and 30 billion CFU (colony-forming units) for effective colonisation. I have two outstanding products available in my online store, MicroMed and Barks & Whiskers.

Prebiotics nourish beneficial gut bacteria and are derived from indigestible fibre and resistant starches. I recommend mushrooms, and fermented foods for dogs.

Inflammation is a complex process with numerous triggers. However, by removing inflammatory agents, adding anti-inflammatory foods and supplements to your dog's diet, and fostering a diverse and healthy microbiome, you can significantly enhance your do.


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