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Vagus Nerve Health In Cats and Dogs


The body is a miracle in action. It is incredibly intelligent but oftentimes one overlooked area and the important role they play in maintaining health, are the nerves, specifically the vagus nerve. 

The vagus nerve, also known as the "wandering nerve" is classed as a cranial nerve which in simple terms means it's directly connected to the brain. It is one of the longest cranial nerves in the body and is fundamental in connecting, supporting, and regulating internal organ functions whilst also being responsible for certain involuntary reflexes such as coughing, swallowing, and vomiting. The vagus nerve is connected from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain.  It runs directly from the base of the brain (around the ears) all the way down through the spine, and chest into the abdomen. It touches the major organs such as the heart, lungs, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, liver, and guts whilst also branching into the throat and ears.

Termed " The little brain", the gut has the second largest concentration of nervous tissue after the brain and spinal cord. It has its own form of nervous system which functions separately from the brain and has the ability to influence the conscious brain, overall activity, and health of the body for example moods, hearing, and vision. The microbiome in the gut is considered by some scientists, to respond like an organ itself as the gut has the intelligence to process digestion as well as generate responses separate from the brain, such as, whether it's hungry, full, happy, or not with the food that's been eaten. 

The data flow between the gut and the vagus nerve plays an essential role in determining how the body should respond in any given moment, in terms of "rest or digest" or "freeze, fight or flight". The vagus nerve will activate either the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) or the parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest) depending on what is happening in the gut and then regulate internal organs depending on which state the body needs to move into, for example, amending heart rate, respiration, muscle reaction, etc. Both the brain and the gut are intimately connected and the gut's performance has a direct impact on the brain's performance that then tells the body how to respond.

Health Of The Vagus Nerve

The intimate relationship between the gut and the vagus nerve that moves directly to the brain impacts how the brain deals with emotional regulation and moods, physical health, mental health, and spiritual health.

Diet and lifestyle are the catalyze for how the body responds. Gut health is super important to your pet's health and overall well-being. Science is now demonstrating that the chemical that drives calmness and contentedness, serotonin, 95% is produced and stored in the gut for communication with the brain via the vagus nerve. 60% of the serotonin produced in the gut comes directly from the food digested and the microbes in the gut help stimulate serotonin production. The wrong type of food and poor lifestyle choices are detrimental to the health of the vagus nerve.

The level of exposure to stress the body can deal with in the short term but continued stress or long-term stressful situations puts a massive strain on all the systems in the body and eventually sends the body into major health issues such as cardiovascular disease.

Unless diet, lifestyle, and level of stress are addressed, cleaned up, and properly managed your pet remains in a vicious circle of fight or flight with little to no time for rest and digestion. Scientists know that poor gut health has a link to states of illness and disease, the development of allergies, the body's ability to endure pain, and the lower emotional states such as depression, anxiety, anger, etc.

Common Symptoms of Vagus Nerve Damage

Each animal can present differently and the range of issues vagus nerve damage covers is large and problems with the vagus nerve can lead to other health issues. Symptoms could also be the cause of some other illnesses as there are many common symptoms across a range of diseases and illnesses but one thing all illnesses have in common is inflammation, the body being out of balance from its natural terrain and away from a healthy pH level

This is a broad list and not an all-inclusive. Much more research is needed as studies are limited and oftentimes biased when it comes to vagus nerve damage in animals and the reasons why. However, prior to any major treatment or operations, you should get your holistic vet to confirm the health issues presented are not related to the gut and vagus nerve damage.

Reviewing and either including or excluding this as a cause can potentially prevent your pet from going through any major or unnecessary treatments that don't actually get at the root cause, which in many ill-health instances are gut health and vagus nerve issues.  It's important to understand the difference between primary and secondary problems, especially related to the nervous system, as the right treatment protocol will need to be implemented based on primary and secondary prognosis.

Some common areas of vagus nerve damage are as follows;

  • Abdominal issues. Long-term digestive issues can negatively impact the full function of the vagus nerve and the body's ability to properly uptake and absorb nutrients and can result in health conditions such as IBS or malnutrition, etc.
  • Gut health can impact the vagus nerve's ability to respond to inflammation, and immune response causing imbalances and resulting in auto-immune issues.
  • Psychological problems, cognitive functions, mood and behavioral issues such as anxiety, fear, compulsive disorders, aggression, urinating in the house, etc. can all be related to vagus nerve damage. The gut-brain connection impacts sensory information. The vagus nerve is responsible for carrying around 70% of sensory information to the brain to activate a response from either the sympathetic nervous system (freeze, fight, or flight) or the parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest). Things like memory, concentration, mood changes, depression, the ability to learn, etc. have been linked to vagus nerve issues.
  • Reflexes and Muscle Receptors. The vagus nerve plays a huge part in motor functions and is responsible for passing along signals. Gut-brain health determines the normal or misfire of impulses along nerve fibres for reflexes and muscle actions. For example, changes in your pet's normal reflexes such as persistent coughing, gagging, and trouble swallowing could be vagus nerve damage. Problems with motor function can also impact your pet's sensory perception such as vision and hearing.
  • Movement issues, gait, posture, etc. A leaky gut can mean particulates that would normally never enter the vagus nerve travel up to the brain affecting neurotransmitters that impact and inhibit movement. Some neurological problems and diseases come from the gut leaking into the brain via the vagus nerve. 
  • Cardiovascular health. The gut-brain connection and the vagus nerve determine how the heart rate responds at any given moment and any variability in heart rate will impact how the blood responds to the situation i.e. either high or low blood pressure and the length of time the body remains in that state.

Care and Stimulation of the Vagus Nerve

You can begin helping your pet in a number of ways but look to focus on amending something in the categories of diet, lifestyle, and stress. You know your cat and dog's routine better than anyone so make the changes to fit your individual pet's needs. 

  • Swop your cat and dog over to a raw diet. Raw food is species appropriate and as nature intended. Your pet's entire body is designed to feed and thrive on raw food.  Anything away from that means you're changing the natural health of the gut. As a minimum feed some raw food on a daily basis. 
  • Introduce raw bones. Raw bones are nutritious and produce a deep level of satisfaction on both a physical and mental level that all pets should have some raw bone included in their diet. 
  • Proper exercise and movement are essential for good physical health and emotional wellness. Both cats and dogs need to be able to run at some point through the day. Not only does it aid cardio health it helps stimulate the lymph system to clear toxins from the body and oxygenates the blood helping clear stagnation.
  • Introduce more fun mental stimulation and play. This engages both the mind and body and can help reduce or eliminate stress from the body.
  • Reduce sensory overload from the environment. Turning off all electrics, modems, wifi, etc. at night. Now more than ever it is so important to reduce the environmental impact of electric-magnetic frequencies from technologies, which are constantly bombarding the body and have a huge negative impact on health and emotional well-being. This is becoming more obvious where there are increasing pockets of sick animals and mortality issues presenting with radiation injury where 5G towers have been switched on.
  • Reduce the level of environmental pollutants your pet is exposed to such as household cleaning products. They are full of carcinogenic and toxic substances that have never been proven to provide or support good health. White vinegar works just as well for cleaning and is non-toxic.
  • Stop using chemical flea treatments and vaccines. They are all full of neurotoxins and are damaging to animals' short-term and long-term health as they damage the terrain of the microbiome in the gut which then has a domino effect on the vagus nerve and all other organs. Vagus nerve damage has also been linked to vaccine damage and the onset of neurological conditions in animals.
  • Eliminate all synthetic foods, pet treats, plastic bones, and supplements from your pet's life and substitute them with real food and herbs that support the gut and nervous system, If the food is not fit for human consumption you shouldn't be giving it to your cat or dog. 
  • Upgrade your pet's gut flora by feeding pre and probiotics good healthy fats through real food.
  • Detox heavy metals from your pet.
  • Get a water filter so you can stop giving contaminated tap water to your pet. Fluoride in water is a known neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor, enzyme inhibitor, and mitochondria poison.
  • Look at acupuncture as a way to help stimulate the vagus nerve and rebalance the nervous system.
  • Look to do regular massages at home or reiki to reduce your pet's exposure to stress. This is good for those pets that have suffered any trauma, emotional, physical, or mental.
  • Make sure your pet has a safe and quiet place to go and relax, especially if you have a busy household.

The vagus nerve and the gut should never be underestimated for the key role they have in the health and well-being of your cat and dog. The health of the vagus nerve and how it then activates the body to respond ultimately comes down to gut health.

Whether your pet is in good health or has health issues one thing you can control and start doing immediately, is to help repair and rebuild the gut lining by making dietary changes that support the health of your pet. The further away you are from using real food, real supplements, healthy living, etc, the more you're moving your cat or dog into ill health and dis-ease as the body can only tolerate so much abuse before it begins to go into survival mode and detox the toxins through the expression of cancer, auto-immune diseases, etc. 

NOW, we'd love to hear your feedback so LEAVE A COMMENT and feel free to share this with people you think will love it.

Natural lifestyle, naturally health, naturally thriving!!


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Friday, March 31 2023

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website and articles are based on the opinions of the people at Authentica. The information contained within is not intended to replace that of your qualified vets or intended as medical advice. We are sharing knowledge and information but in no way should this pertain you from seeking proper professional medical/veterinary advice. We encourage you to do your own research and make your own decisions on your pet's health in conjunction with your vet. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy of information. You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements and those of your pet. If you become aware of any material on the website that you believe infringes your or any other person's copyright, please report this by email to info@authenticapets.com so we can immediately rectify the issue.


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