Allergies, Leaky Gut, and the Gut Microbiota

Official Cause of Allergies

If your dog has been suffering from allergies, like the thousands of dogs we saw in our dog food store over fifteen years, you are going to like what you are about to hear.

Veterinary science has identified three causes of allergies in dogs: insect bites, environmental irritants, and food. The standard protocol is to treat the symptoms with a combination of antihistamines, non steroidal anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, corticosteroids, and other drugs all of which have side effects and relief they may provide is only temporary.

The Gut Microbiota was mostly overlooked

Fifty-five years ago science looked out into the universe and decided to put a man on the moon. Recently medical science, looking at the universe within found something huge in the small intestine called the gut microbiota, that had mostly been overlooked, and is proving to be “a giant leap for mankind” in understanding the impact of diet on the health of the organism.

Amount of research has exploded

The sheer volume of research papers being generated on PubMed, with Gut Microbiota in the title, is a testament to how important this “discovery” is. The total number of research articles, from the time we landed on the moon in 1969 until the year 2000, was 55. In the next ten years from 2001 to 2010 it was 1,200. In the last ten years from 2014 to 2023 it has mushroomed to over 68,000.

The Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota is a colony of about 100 trillion bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microorganisms that inhabit the small intestine, weighs almost twice as much as the brain, and constantly communicates with it. DNA uses about 20,000 genes to build an entire body, while the microbiota, collectively, has over 3,000,000 million genes, and is looking like it’s mission control center for the entire body. Some scientists are beginning to consider it as a separate organ, similar to a second brain. If you have ever had a “gut feeling” - that was your microbiota thinking for you.

The Gut is designed to be Permeable

The wall of the small intestine is only one cell thick and is semi-permeable to allow nutrients to pass through. The inside is covered with a layer of mucus that holds about 80% of the immune system and is a filter to keep waste matter and toxins from getting into the blood stream. A constant diet of grain, potato, and high-glycemic carbohydrates fuels excessive growth of the harmful bacteria in the microbiota which then eats away the protective mucosal lining and results in a gut wall that is too porous. This allows partially digested proteins, waste matter, toxins, and the Candida fungus to leak into the blood stream, and is called Leaky Gut, appropriately.


Leaky gut has long been doubted or denied by most doctors, veterinarians, and veterinary nutritionists, but research into the gut microbiota over the last decade, has confirmed that leaky gut is real.

Leaky Gut is Real

Leading gastroenterologists like Dr Alessio Fasano, the chair of pediatric gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital, who trains every pediatric gastroenterologist who graduates from Harvard University Medical School has acknowledged that Leaky gut is real, along with The Cleveland Clinic and many others. However, because they are waiting for further research to give them a broader sense of what causes Leaky Gut, and the problems it causes, there is still no official medical diagnosis. Which is unfortunate because until they provide a diagnosis, Veterinarians will continue to prescribe drugs that are not effective, instead of a diet change that is.

How allergies are formed

The body takes proteins, which are long chains of amino acids, and reduces them to single amino acids the body can use to grow and rebuild. Leaky Gut causes food allergies when proteins leak into the blood stream before they are completely digested.

The immune system records this partial sequence of amino acids and produces antibodies to attack them. If Leaky Gut continues long enough it eventually progresses into autoimmune disease where the immune system, with a long list of amino acid sequences it has recorded over time, begins attacking healthy organs in the body that have similar amino acid sequences as part of their makeup.

Leaky Gut also allows waste matter and toxins to leak into the blood stream and over time the immune system becomes overworked, hyper-sensitive, and over-reactive to the point where something like a flea bite, that would not bother it under normal circumstances, causes the immune system to overreact. Leaky Gut is reversible if you address the cause of the problem, which is diet, instead of continually treating the symptoms, which is like bailing water out of a boat with a leak, instead of fixing the leak.

Candida albicans is a fungus inside the small intestine that also leaks into the bloodstream as a result of Leaky Gut and, fed by a high-glycemic diet, multiplies and becomes a system wide fungal infection that causes red inflamed skin, rashes, hives, poor coat, runny eyes, hair loss, yeasty ears and paws, and leads to licking, scratching, and gnawing of the skin. These are not allergic reactions to a flea bite. They are the result of the Candida Albicans Fungus in the blood stream, which is called Systemic Candidiasis, or Systemic Candida for short.

Allergy Symptoms are the same asLeaky Gut

The graphic on the screen show the symptoms of allergies which, coincidentally, are the same as the symptoms caused by Leaky Gut and Systemic Candida.

The present concept of allergies is that an outside allergen, like a flea bite,

CAUSES the allergic response, but if the flea actually CAUSES the response, then why do some dogs react and others do not? Veterinary nutritionists do not have the answer, but consider this:

Dogs are not born with allergies, and neither are wolves. However, at some point, 1 in 4 dogs will DEVELOP allergy symptoms, while wolves will remain symptom free. Wolves and dogs are the same species and 99.9% of their Mitochondrial DNA is identical, which is the same difference between various races of humans so, if it is true that insect bites and environmental toxins actually CAUSE the allergies, one would naturally expect that wolves would be affected as well, but they are not.

It is not Flea Bites causing allergies

A more logical explanation, suggested by the research, is that it is not the flea bite, or other allergens, that CAUSE the allergic reaction but the immune system itself that has become hyper-sensitive due to Leaky Gut and overreacts to something a healthy immune system would barely notice. A constant diet of grain, potato, and high-glycemic carbohydrates eventually cause dysbiosis in the microbiota that leads to Leaky Gut, Systemic Candida, and an overwhelmed, hyper-reactive immune system.

Wolves eat a diet of meat and fat and most dogs are fed a diet primarily consisting of grain, potato, and up to 75% carbohydrates - and there is the source of the problem, hiding in plain sight.


The true source of the allergic reactions is diet induced Leaky Gut, not a flea bite, and the proof is that the dietary solution for leaky Gut also resolves the symptoms. Unfortunately, the influence of diet is generally discounted or ignored by the medical community in western culture, which is trained more extensively in the application of pharmaceuticals and drugs than it is in the use of nutrition as a solution.

When I was younger I experienced similar symptoms and for ten years my doctors had no idea what to do about it. Finally a doctor of Chinese medicine diagnosed me with Leaky Gut and Systemic Candida, and told me diet is the cause and diet is the solution. The tests proved positive and I was put on a diet of no grain, potatoes, high-glycemic carbohydrates, or sugar in any form. It healed Leaky Gut and Systemic Candida and in a few months I  was healthier than I had been in over a decade.

To see if the diet that healed leaky gut for me would work on our customers dogs we hired a Ph.D Animal Nutritionist with a Ph.D in gut biology and asked him to design the healthiest kibble possible without grain, potato, high-glycemic carbs, or sugar in any form.

Our customers began using it and the reduction or elimination of allergy symptoms was dramatic and within a year we were selling more of it than all the other food in the store combined. We finally just put pallets of it near the check out counter.

Some will tell you not to believe any thing you hear unless it comes from the large corporations or veterinary nutritionists. One such veterinary nutritionist, who was instrumental in starting the debacle that suggested peas could lead to heart disease in dogs, which embarrassed the FDA when it proved completely unfounded after five years of focused research, has made the following statement in her blog, and I quote, ““…and while grains have been accused on the internet of causing nearly every disease known to dogs, grains do not contribute to any health problems and are used in pet food as a nutritious source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.” End of quote.

In fact there is plenty of solid empirical evidence that grain does cause harm, for anyone willing to see it. We saw it in our dog food store, and there is an abundance of literature and research linking grain to Leaky Gut and Autoimmune disease. Grain also contributes to the overweight and obese epidemic among dogs which is considered a serious health problem by most nutritionists. (Check out the video “Why are 2 out of 3 dogs overweight or obese” on YouTube).


The main argument for grain was a test that showed grain can be metabolized by dogs, but the implication that it is healthy, simply because it can be metabolized, is false. People can metabolize sugar but that does not mean it is healthy to eat a few cups of it a day. Grain, especially in excess, can cause dysbiosis in the microbiota that leads to Leaky Gut, allergies, and autoimmune disease, so the statement “…grains do not contribute to any health problems“ is also false.

Ultimately, incontrovertible proof of the premise that Leaky Gut is caused by diet, healed by diet, and is primarily responsible for allergy symptoms, will be evident when you put your dog on a proper diet and watch Leaky Gut, systemic candida, and their symptoms fade away. The solution to a problem is its own justification, as well as proof and validation of the premise it is based on.

Thanks to research into the microbiota, science is finally revealing the biological mechanism that connects diet to Leaky Gut and allergy symptoms and proves Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, right when he stated, “All disease begins in the gut.”


Here’s to the health of mans best friend

I’m Richard Darlington, CEO of Brothers Dog Food