The “Whey” forward for your dog’s gut health.

June 8, 2023

Researched and written by Kari du Plessis (Ph.D.) for WagawheyⓇ.

Lately, gut health has become the buzzword on everyone’s lips when approaching holistic health topics in humans. Research has shifted gears towards understanding how the gut lies at the center of maintaining overall health.

With our understanding of the gut constantly expanding, we are now beginning to explore the possibility of treating numerous mental and physical health ailments through achieving gut health alone. At the core of this new understanding of digestive health is the concept that our gut health relies mainly on the amount and ratios at which specific microorganisms are present in the lower intestinal tract.

The gut-brain-skin axis.

The gut microbiome serves as the communication network between our brain and gut. But how?

The microorganisms in the gut produce neurotransmitters that deliver crucial messages to the brain about the body’s health status. The brain then initiates the synthesis of appropriate hormones that bring about biochemical changes throughout the body. This communication network helps the body protect itself against diseases and other harmful imbalances via the so-called gut-brain axis.

Similarly, the skin relies on a separate, but interconnected microbiome. The skin’s microbiome communicates with the gut microbiome via the gut-brain-skin axis.

Via this gut-brain-skin axis, the skin microbiome, much like the gut microbiome, communicates with the brain that induces biochemical changes in the gut and ultimately, the skin. Through this remarkable communication network, the skin is our body’s first line of defense against infections and harm from our physical surroundings.

When an imbalance is caused in the composition and ratios of microorganisms in the gut, it can induce a state of dysbiosis. This so-called gut dysbiosis has a significant impact on the gut itself and has also been implicated in countless mental health problems, compromised immunity, skin ailments, digestive issues, challenges in weight management, diabetes, and the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Gut health in dogs.

The dog gut microbiome has evolved considerably with such close contact with their human companions and a more human-like diet. Researchers have found that dogs have lost bacterial families during domestication from their wolf ancestors and gained another from humans. In fact, the domestic dog’s digestive system and gut are more similar to that of humans compared to many other mammals4!

Therefore, it is no surprise that our canine companions often suffer from the same gut-related diseases we do.

Veterinary research is also beginning to reveal that your dog’s gut health is just as important in disease prevention and treatment as in humans.

Dog skin problems are arguably some of the most frustrating and stubborn health challenges faced by pet owners. Among these diseases is canine Atopic Dermatitis (cAD) which causes pruritic, inflamed and itchy skin. Although common among domesticated dogs, there is no known permanent cure for this devastating condition. Treatment of this disease is challenging and requires ongoing medical intervention to maintain a reasonable quality of life for dogs that are affected.

Some breeds are more likely to develop cAD, but symptoms are also further aggravated by airborne irritants, secondary yeast or fungal infections, the dog’s diet and dietary allergies.

Recent research has revealed that both the cAD-affected dog’s gut and skin microbiome is in an altered state. Furthermore, fecal microbiota transplantation from healthy dogs was effective at healing cAD by restructuring the gut microbiome profile of dogs with cAD back to a healthy state.

Remarkably, these findings propose that some dog skin ailments could be treated through gut health intervention alone!

This remarkable potential of gut health in dogs is coming to light in studies focused on other ailments that affect your dog’s health. For example, similar to findings in human studies, dogs with osteoarthritis show an altered gut microbiome profile and, as in humans, a low level of chronic inflammation is implicated as a potential cause.

Where to start with your dog’s gut health?

The causes of gut dysbiosis are complex. Genetic predisposition, treatments with antibiotics, poorly formulated dog food, and certain diseases are all culprits that influence gut homeostasis in dogs.

In an effort to remedy this, a wide range of gut support supplements are becoming available, with varying degrees of success. Probiotic supplements are known to play an important role in supporting microbiome management, but there is a new kid on the block when it comes to achieving gut health.

Truthfully, it’s not new at all!

It is what we commonly know as whey protein and it has been used as a health-promoting liquid for centuries.

Despite being well-known in muscle and bodybuilding circles for years, the mechanisms of its health benefits were poorly understood. Furthermore,  the quality and purity of whey products vary tremendously and consumers are not always aware of these differences. Whey product labels may also promise the presence of highly beneficial peptides and enzymes within the product, but the ability of the body to effectively utilise them in their extracted form may be limited.

Ongoing research is revealing whey’s potential as a supplement powerhouse with health benefits that far outreach muscle building when taken in its purest form: lactoserum.

What is Lactoserum?

During the initial stages of cheese making, rennet, an animal-sourced digestive enzyme isolate, is added to milk.  Lactoserum, also known as cheese whey, is a by-product of this natural cheese-making process. Its main components are 70% lactose, 14% whey proteins, some residual fats, and minerals.

It is, however, its unique protein content that is of particular importance.

It is comprised of a wide range of bioactive peptides and enzymes. Many of these peptides remain intact when ingested and passed through the stomach and small intestine, only to unleash their gut-healing goodness in the large intestine.

Lactoserum: a gut health super-supplement. 

In the context of gut health, some of the most important lactoserum peptides to consider are lactoferrin (Lf), immunoglobulins (Igs), glycomacropeptide (GMP), lactoperoxidase (Lp), and sphingolipids. These peptides fulfill a complex interconnected range of functions that impacts gut wellness in several ways. Here is a summary of some of the numerous ways in which bioactive peptides support gut health:

Natural antibiotic

Igs can bind toxins produced by bad gut bacteria and hereby alleviate infection symptoms like chronic diarrhea and dehydration. Lf hijacks iron from iron-hungry harmful bacteria and gut bacteria while simultaneously providing Lf-found to good bacteria. This causes the population ratios to shift towards a more beneficial gut microbiome.


Prebiotics do not contain live microbial strains but rather provide a nutrient source to the beneficial bacteria and other microbes already present in the gut. The main carbohydrate in lactoserum is lactose a powerful prebiotic. Furthermore, Lf possesses such prebiotic qualities as well. These compounds support the development of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, both of which are beneficial bacteria that play an integral role in maintaining a healthy gut. Along with several non-carbohydrate components of whey protein, calcium in lactoserum further serves as a powerful prebiotic in the gut.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action

Many metabolic reactions in the body produce potentially harmful free radicals like reactive oxygen species (ROS). These ROS are readily disarmed by the body’s antioxidant systems. When there are excessive ROS species present or antioxidant levels become depleted, free radicals can accumulate and cause a state of inflammation that is considered to be the root cause of most illnesses.

Glutathione (GSH) is a powerful ROS-quenching antioxidant that is produced within the body. The amino acid, cysteine, is one of the most prominent rate-limiting precursors to the production of GSH and is abundantly available among lactoserum protein constituents. It has been shown that treatment with hydrolyzed whey peptides could increase GSH levels by more than 60%, thereby dramatically increasing antioxidant activity.

Given the availability of these and many other potent antioxidants in lactoserum, it can be utilised as an effective anti-inflammatory that can promote gut health and prevent downstream diseases naturally.


Igs, Lp, and Lf all contribute to healthy immune system function. This is partially achieved by shifting the microbiome profile to promote the growth of beneficial microbes in the gastrointestinal tract through the targeted natural antibacterial activity of Lp and Lf, while Igs simultaneously bind toxins produced by gut bacteria.

Which “whey” to go for your dog’s gut health?

The term “functional food” refers to food that provides health benefits that transcend its nutritional value alone. Depending on the method of production, lactoserum can act as one of these highly beneficial functional foods.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the functional qualities of lactoserum are lost during the production process on a large scale. Lactoserum often undergoes ultrafiltration or heat treatment when production requires a product with a higher protein content. Many of these processes remove some of the bioactive enzymes and carbohydrates, thereby inadvertently removing the functional capacity of these peptides and ultimately the remarkable additional health benefits of lactoserum.

The functional goodness of WagawheyⓇ for your dog’s gut health.

WagawheyⓇ is a 100% naturally derived lactoserum powder containing all the enzymatic goodness for gut health support. From the initial stages of the cheese-making process, WagawheyⓇ ensures the integrity and stability of the renneting process to enhance the bioavailability of the enzymes in the lactoserum. This unique addition makes the beneficial compounds more readily absorbed by your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.

The natural hydrolysis of the original whey protein is followed by dehydration for ease of use as a powder. The addition of clean, cool water activates the anti-inflammatory, prebiotic, and other immune system support superpowers of lactoserum for your dogs.

The verdict.

A balanced gut and skin microbiome in dogs is at the core of holistic health. Diet, genetic predisposition, and various health interventions can worsen gut dysbiosis which may lead to a range of ailments. Some of these ailments include persistent, pruritic skin conditions.

Lactoserum, commonly known as whey, naturally contains a range of bioactive peptides and enzymes that can dramatically improve the gut and skin microbiome of dogs suffering from a wide range of diseases, including atopic dermatitis.

WagawheyⓇ is an all-natural lactoserum powder that contains gentle, powerful bioactive enzymes that can potentially improve your dog’s gut health and overall well-being.

Literature reviewed:

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