What causes inflammation?

 

Inflammation can be caused by various different internal and external stressors. ‘Stressors’ are essentially anything which creates stress on or in the body.

Physical stressors

 

As an example, a physical stressor can be a nasty knock or fall. Excessive exercise can also cause inflammation. That creaky feeling after overdoing it at the gym two days ago? That’s DOMS… ‘Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness’. Inflammation in your body is deployed to repair those torn muscle fibres. This is why it’s important to give the occasional rest day to your dog.

External stressors

 

The best way to define an external stressor is by listing some:

  • Pollution from cars – Dogs walk around at exhaust pipe level
  • Chemicals that you apply to your dog’s skin or coat, such as synthetic anti-flea or worm treatments
  • Humans get exposed to these issues with toiletries which can include toxic chemicals such as parabens. Read more about these from the hard working people at Breast Cancer UK

Internal stressors

 

These tend to be foods which cause inflammation in your dog. Examples of these include:

  • Food intolerances or allergies – Your dog’s body sees certain foods it is intolerant to as an ‘invader’. It launches an inflammatory response while it locks the food down to deal with it.
  • Inappropriate foods – Such as grains or lectins. More on why grains shouldn’t be part of a balanced dog diet
  • Fats which have oxidised or are rancid. These fats oxidise when they exposed to the air. Rather than performing as those magical anti-inflammatory molecules, they become ‘Pro-inflammatory‘.

Mental Stressors

 

Dogs are as susceptible to emotional stress as we are.

Emotional stress can lead to inflammation as readily as any of the above types of stressor. Emotional stress can even create inflammation in your dog’s gut amongst other places.

What is an anti-inflammatory?

 

An anti-inflammatory is a compound or action that prevents inflammation or helps to lower it. When we hear ‘anti-inflammatory,’ most of us instantly think of ibuprofen or aspirin. That famous family of pharmaceuticals called ‘Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs’ or NSAIDs. Mother nature also has its own family of natural anti-inflammatories. The active compound in aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, originally from Willow tree leaves. [1]

Examples of a natural anti-inflammatory for your dog are:

  • Curcumin
  • Omega 3 fats (non-oxidised! See above)
  • Blueberries
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli

WARNING Please avoid ever giving your dog grapes, avocados or green tea! 

Did you Know?

Curcumin extract is at least as potent as Ibuprofen and Diclofenac at reducing inflammation in arthritis. Research included in well over a thousand published scientific papers demonstrate curcumin’s potency. [2]

The role of diet, a two-part approach

 

Every cell in our and our dog’s body is built from the food we eat and the liquids we drink. It is clear that food and drink has one of the biggest influences on our levels of inflammation.

Here is a simple two-part approach to avoiding chronic inflammation in dogs:

Part One: What Foods to Cut Out

 

Cut out all inflammatory foods, including any foods your dog may be intolerant to. Remember to swerve any oxidised, rancid fats.

If that giant economy pack of processed food has been open for a long time without being sealed in the dark, its probably full of oxidised fats and proteins.

If you are using one of those convenient gigantic storage containers that don’t seal properly and you store it in a warm part of the kitchen or in direct sunlight, it’s the same story.

Part two: what foods to include

Include lots of anti-inflammatory foods and some pet-specific probiotics to help the gut heal even faster.

Add some:

  • Omega 3 rich meats and fish
  • Nutrient-dense organ meats
  • Green leafy vegetables, like broccoli
  • select few berries for the superfood benefits
  • Flavonoids called anthocyanins (the BBC has a good explanation of the benefits of flavonoids)

The best way to avoid chronic inflammation is to re-read the top of this article and draw a little mind map of any other potential stressors your dog is exposed to, which may cause inflammation. Consider the following:

  • Excess exercise
  • Chemicals
  • Pollution

Either remove or reduce these whilst counterbalancing them with your natural anti-inflammatories. Before you know it, you will have a happier, healthier and inflammation-free pet.

Grains & inflammation

 

Grain-rich convenience foods, be it for us or our pooches, have been shown to create inflammation.

Before any of us fall into the great gluten debate, whatever your opinion is on this, one irrefutable fact is that grains provoke the release of something called zonulin.

Zonulin opens our gut wall and creates intestinal permeability (leaky gut). This allows the bacteria in the intestine to flood into the bloodstream. Bacteria entering the bloodstream is associated with huge inflammation and brain fog. Cutting this out makes all of this go away. Its literally stopping the source of fire before it happens. And this is the outline of our very simple, two-part approach.

Want more scientific evidence to back this up? https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/zonulin