Top 10 Questions on your cat's Gut Health

Dog Professionals, last updated 10th, Oct 2020, DogSpot

We love all animals. In our endeavour to bring education to pet parents, we collaborated with Dr. Dhananjay Pandit to discuss gut health and wellbeing for cats. Dr. Pandit is a veterinarian with more than 20 years of experience in food hygiene, animal nutrition and pet care. 

While we spend a lot of time understanding the brain, we often let the gut be a mystery. The gut is uncelebrated and is not discussed as much as other topics. Whatever we eat, is controlled by our gut. It is our second brain – the only organ that works independent of our primary brain. 

The voice of a gut can be heard on your skin, heart, lungs, liver, kidney and many more organs. If our gut is unhealthy, we can see its effects on all other body parts. Doctors spend time learning about the gut and the effects it has on our health. Since the microbiomes regulate the good health and diseases in bodies, more research was done to study the behavior of all types of particles present in food for consumption. 

Our digestive system affects our complete body, in-fact it also impacts the reproductive system. Prebiotic, probiotic and postbiotics are crucial to understand in depth in order to get our pet’s gut health right. Protein, fat and carbohydrate breakup in our pet’s food must be managed for the long-term health of all body organs. Digestion contributes to their good health, therefore studying the food we give them is more important in the wake of many options available to us.

Please note that any prebiotics/probiotics for your pet must be under the supervision of your pet’s vet.

Here are some FAQs on your cat's gut health:

1. How to analyze what food is good for our gut health?

There are studies that have revealed the digestibility of foods. Some foods have 80% some have 90%, such food, based on their digestibility, enters the large intestine for digestion. We came to know about bacteria. DNA was extracted out of stools and amplified to study organisms – their types and quantities. This helped us analyze how the gut is connected to everything.

2. When does the food start affecting our body health?

Whatever food enters our large intestine is a prebiotic – fat, protein, carbohydrate. For instance, when a protein enters our body, the chemicals that form like hydrogen sulfide are ultimately absorbed by the intestinal wall. Such chemical will have a distant effect on our body and can affect our kidney.
What we eat does not affect us immediately. It affects us at a later stage gradually. Carbohydrate excess in our body will cause some imbalance and the gas will smell different. Ordinary things start getting affected and show symptoms upon careful observation.

3. How to improve gut health?

If we intake plant-based prebiotics, lactic acid forms inside our body. It energizes our intestinal cells. It also leads to production of mucus. Intestinal health improves due to the activity of good bacteria. They do so by preventing the bad bacteria from increasing and affecting our health. The toxins will be thwarted. Microbiomes are energized through eating healthier food.

4. What is a pet microbiome?

Microbiome is fed and influenced by diet. This is different for each individual pet. The same litter will have different pets’ microbiomes. Some may eat less but gain a lot of weight, whereas some may eat a lot of food but not gain any weight. They are more than just fiber. Bacterial number/ diversity increases from duodenum to colon.

5. What influences the gut health?

We can give better fiber to our body through food and therefore influence our gut health. There are 3 main types of bacteria that can externally be fed to our system. Probiotic, prebiotic and postbiotic play a key role in guiding the gut health. Food intake is important to regulate.

6. How important is microbiome and what are its functions?

Microbiomes are very important to study as they perform many functions for the body. They create intestinal barriers. They help in digestion and promote self-tolerance. Microbiomes play a key role in converting bile salts and fermenting CHO. They also produce other postbiotics which are vital for gut health. Microbiomes also carry out the synthesis of vitamins and degradation of oxalate.

7. What is the role of fiber in the body?

They support and feed the microbiomes in the body. Fiber is responsible for replicating the good microorganisms. They are the source of postbiotics that nourish colonocytes and improve colonic function along with absorptive capacity.
Fiber also prolongs digestion and absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. It helps normalize motility and promote immune function. It also improves GI mucosal health and structural integrity. 

8. What can lead to microbial imbalance within our body?

Dysbiosis in the body will take place when there is any imbalance. This includes gastrointestinal diseases such as infections, inflammation and motility issues; drug-induced problems caused by antibiotics and wormers; dietary changes such as prolonged fasting; and stress due to travel, shows and kennels.

9. What are some clinical signs of dysbiosis?

Some common signs are – Diarrhea, vomiting, depression, lethargy, borborygmi, flatulence, abdominal pain, weight loss and appetite change. 

10. What are the harmful effects of dysbiosis caused by imbalance in the microbiota?

The microbiota supports the integrity of the gut lining by producing the energy source and mucus. It is also responsible to modulate the immune system. Any imbalance in the microbiota can damage the gut lining, reduce its integrity and allow luminal contents, toxins and bacteria to cross into the lining and blood stream.

This can result in chronic low-grade systemic inflammation and has been linked to insulin resistance, type I diabetes and immune system dysregulation. 

DogSpot was in conversation with Dr. Dhananjay Pandit is a veterinarian with more than 20 years of experience in food hygiene, animal nutrition and pet care and has travelled the length and breadth of the country in the past two decades interacting with and conducting over 1000 seminars for Veterinarians, Dog and Cat Breeders, Pet parents and members of Pet industry fraternity to educate and spread awareness about Pet nutrition.

Dr. Pandit is the National Vet Affairs Manager, for Scientific Remedies Pvt. Ltd., one of the leading companion animal health companies in the country that has brought world class and industry leading brands such as Hill's Pet Nutrition and Beaphar into India. See the full video below: 

We hope we answered all your queries regarding the topic. In case you have any further questions about the topic, please feel free to leave it in the comments below. An expert will be happy to guide you! 

Transcribed by: Prekshita Patwa

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