Liquid GI Support for Dogs:
Keeping our dog healthy begins with the gut, and dietary GI support is key to achieving it.
Hippocrates said, “all disease begins in the gut.” In Japanese culture the gut is both the seat of the mind and the soul. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the production of “Qi”, which is the vital energy force for the whole body, relies on the health of the GI tract. Qi deficiencies can lead to multiple physical and mental symptoms.
More Microbe than Genome
Dogs like humans, are made up of ten times as many microbes as cells. A study published in Nature shows that the microbes in the human gut contain 3.3 million genes, which dwarfs the human genome at 23,000 (Qin, J., Li, R., Raes, J. et al. 2010).
The bacterial colonies in the GI tract range from beneficial to pathogenic. In healthy dogs, there are more beneficial microorganisms in the gut than pathogenic ones. But both must be present in the intestinal tract of dogs and humans.
What Causes Imbalances in Gut Health?
- Diet and inadequate GI support through food can cause an imbalance in good bacteria and pathogenic bacteria that damage the gut ecosystem.
- Stress, especially long term stress, alters the nervous system and changes the normal bacteria in the gut.
- Medications like antibiotics, steroids, and anti-inflammatories can affect digestive function .
- Biological invasion from parasites or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
- Environmental toxins from pesticides to herbicides to arsenic and heavy metals in certain foods can affect gut health, and dietary GI support can help counteract their effects.
From Homeostasis to Dysbiosis
The state of microbial imbalance is known as dysbiosis (Pilla R, Suchodolski JS. 2020). When the natural homeostatic balance of beneficial bacteria and pathogenic bacteria in the gut becomes disrupted, it can lead to pervasive and long term health issues, such as diarrhea, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), obesity, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and colitis.
Lower diversity of bacteria is a marker of dysbiosis, therefore providing GI support by adding beneficial bacteria to the system can bring the body back into homeostasis.
Homeostasis of the microbiota in the gut has significant effects on immune function, including regulating production of antibodies (Posit Health News. 1998).
The Brain Gut Connection: Anxiety Begins in the Gut
Studies have shown the connection between the gut and the brain, referring to “the brain-gut axis.” Some researchers call the gut the “second brain.”
Important neurotransmitters responsible for mood such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are produced in the gut.
90% of the serotonin produced in the body originates in the intestines. Serotonin is controlled in part by the microbiome and is frequently referred to as the “happy neurotransmitter” because it contributes to wellbeing — a great example of good GI support benefiting emotional health. Serotonin clearly plays an important role in the central nervous system, and low levels of it are associated with anxiety.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in the brain and is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in the nervous system.
In a recent study, dogs given GI support by being fed bones and a raw food diet (BARF) showed increased levels of GABA (Schmidt M, Unterer S, Suchodolski JS, Honneffer JB, Guard BC, Lidbury JA, et al. 2018). Low levels of GABA in dogs can lead to anxiety and unwanted behaviors.
The Role of Dirt in the Microbiome of Dogs
Dogs, like their wild cousins the wolves, love dirt. They roll in dirt, dig in dirt, splash in muddy water, drink from mud puddles. There are important health advantages to getting dirty and exposing the body system to soil based microbes and fungi.
Before the invention of commercial dog food, dogs were exposed to dirt through their food. Dogs ate scraps, hunted for small prey, and like humans, were constantly exposed to the bacteria in soils.
Farm dogs, and dogs that spend time in forests and fields hiking with their humans, are exposed to the soil-based microbes and fungi as well as the humic and fulvic acids that are the principle components of humus, peat, soil organic matter, and decayed organic matter.
Dogs roll in dirt, which exposes their skin and hair biome to the microbes and fungi. They lick their muddy paws, transferring the soil microbes to their gut.
Our present-day “sterile” living environments, without exposure to many beneficial bacteria, have led some researchers to link the rise in allergies in both humans and dogs to lack of bacterial diversity in the GI tract (Bloomfield, S. F., Stanwell-Smith, R., Crevel, R. W., & Pickup, J. 2006).
Good Dirt versus Unhealthy Dirt
Many dogs are not regularly exposed to healthy soils. Chemical fertilizers used routinely on lawns affects the microbiome of the soil itself. You may get a green lawn, but the soil itself is lacking important bacteria, fungi, and humic acids. Pesticide and herbicide applications affect the microbiome of the soil. A dandelion-free lawn often results in unhealthy soil because the beneficial bacteria are directly affected.
Healthy soil is brimming with life. Healthy soil has bacteria, fulvic and humic acids, and fungi that all play a crucial role in plant and soil vitality. Those who grow organic food, be they home gardeners or farmers, know the absolute necessity of healthy soil and how to nourish it without harmful synthetic chemicals.
Restoring and Maintaining a Healthy Gut: Sym-Biota K9
BioStar’s Sym-Biota K9 is a GI support formula that incorporates important probiotic soil-based organisms with fulvic and humic acids, and chaga mushrooms. Sym-Biota K9 replicates the ecosystem of healthy, vital, and nourishing soil.
Sym-Biota K9 is a liquid, ensuring fast delivery. It can be given directly into your dog’s mouth, or added to your dog’s food.
Certain soil-based organisms of the strain Bacillus work in concert in the soil to help plants thrive by metabolizing plant material, synthesizing vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and fighting pathogens. These beneficial strains also perform similar functions in the GI tract of mammals and humans. Strains such as B.coagulans, B.subtilis, and B.lichenformis support the beneficial bacteria in the gut including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
These specific Bacillus strains are resistant to the acids of the stomach and can survive intact in the small intestine and colon. This is unlike the Lactobacillus and Bifidus probiotic strains that are easily destroyed by gastric acids and need to be enteric coated or micro-encapsulated to make their way through the stomach to the small intestine and colon. Bacillus are not as sensitive to temperature as Lactobacillus and Bifidus probiotics, and do not need refrigeration.
Bacillus metabolize resistant dietary starches known as postbiotics. Postbiotics have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activities, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant actions (Aguilar-Toalá J.E., Garcia-Varela R., Garcia H.S., Mata-Haro V., González-Córdova A.F., Vallejo-Cordoba B., Hernández-Mendoza A. 2018).
Bacillus strains of soil-based organisms are not only found in dirt and on plants, but also in fermented foods. Popular foods from around the world such as the Japanese product Natto, Gari from Africa, Douchi from China, Rabadi from Pakistan, Soibum from India, and Ugba from Nigeria provide naturally occurring Bacillus strains (Elshaghabee, F., Rokana, N., Gulhane, R. D., Sharma, C., & Panwar, H. 2017).
Humic and Fulvic Acids
Humic and fulvic acids are found in healthy soils like humus as well as sediments, Reed Sedge Peat, lignite, large bodies of water, and as resin seeping through rocks. These organic acids, which support healthy plants, also support gut health of mammals and humans.
One of the most famous sources of humic and fulvic acids is the Ayurvedic resin Shilajit from the Himalayan Mountains. Shilajit has been used for centuries to support strength and endurance. Western medicine has identified that Shilajit regulates the mitochondria of cells, supporting metabolism.
Fulvic acid binds nutrients and transports them in the body. This action supports efficiency of digestion, with less undigested nutrients. The result is firmer stools.
Fulvic acid also supports homeostasis of the microbiome in the gut.
Research has pointed to fulvic acid’s ability to stabilize the tight junctions of the gut. These tight junctions are the gatekeepers regulating absorption of macronutrients. Dysfunction of tight junctions leads to increased gut permeability, which has been recognized as a step in the path of chronic inflammatory diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) (Gildea JJ, Roberts DA, Bush Z. 2016).
Chaga Mushrooms: Super Adaptogen
Known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as Hua Jie Kong Jun, this mushroom builds Qi, and tonifies the kidneys, the spleen, and liver.
Chaga is also used as a Shen tonic. Shen is the spiritual radiance in every being. Shen resides in the heart, helping to maintain calmness and stability. Chaga is often used as a balancing, supporting and regulating tonic.
Western medicine has identified the immune balancing properties of chaga, including regulation of antigen-specific antibody production. This is very similar to the activities noted in reishi mushrooms.
Health Benefits of Sym-Biota K9
• Provides the GI support needed to help restore gut health.
• Supplies 12 billion CFUs of active Bacillus strain probiotics per 1 ml.
• Helps with symptoms like diarrhea, gas, and constipation.
• Beneficial for dogs undergoing antibiotic therapy.
• Supports homeostasis of the brain-gut axis.
• Supports digestion and firm stools.
• Supports homeostasis of the brain-gut axis with microbial-assisted production of serotonin and GABA.
• Supports stabilization of tight junctions in the gut.
• Provides support for homeostasis of the immune system.
• Provides support for healthy Qi, liver, kidneys and spleen.
• Supports balance as a Shen tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Sym-Biota K9 is an easy to administer liquid that comes with an oral dosing syringe. It can be given daily or as needed, by mouth or added to a meal.
East meets West
Sym-Biota K9 is a blend of western science and eastern medicine. Addressing not only the biology of GI tract wellbeing and homeostasis, but also the essential and vital life force factors, including spirit.
About the Author: With over 30 years experience in the equine and human supplement industry, Tigger Montague knows nutrition from the synthetic side as well as the whole food side. She started BioStar US in 2006 with formulas she created in her kitchen. Before she started the company, she was an avid rider and competitor with eventing and show jumping, until she got hooked on dressage in the late 1980’s. She has competed on horses she’s owned and trained all the way from training level to Grand Prix.
Aguilar-Toalá J.E., Garcia-Varela R., Garcia H.S., Mata-Haro V., González-Córdova A.F., Vallejo-Cordoba B., Hernández-Mendoza A. (2018) Postbiotics: An evolving term within the functional foods field. Trends in Food Science & Technology, Vol 75, 105-114.
Bloomfield, S. F., Stanwell-Smith, R., Crevel, R. W., & Pickup, J. (2006). Too clean, or not too clean: the hygiene hypothesis and home hygiene. Clinical and experimental allergy : journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 36(4), 402–425.
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Schmidt M, Unterer S, Suchodolski JS, Honneffer JB, Guard BC, Lidbury JA, et al. (2018) The fecal microbiome and metabolome differs between dogs fed Bones and Raw Food (BARF) diets and dogs fed commercial diets. PLoS ONE 13(8): e0201279.
Soil-based organisms improve immune function: shift cytokine profile from TH2 to TH1. (1998) Posit Health News. (No 16):16-18.
Umeda N. 2019. Gut flora “the second brain” connects Eastern and Western medicine: intestinal hyper-permeability or Qi deficiency can affect brain, mind, and whole body. Longhua Chinese Medicine, Vol 2.
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