What Can I Do To Help My Dogs Digestive System
As a dog owner, one of the first things you should do is establish a healthy, balanced diet for your furry friend. You know what they say: You are what you eat, and its true! The healthier your dog eats, the healthier hell be. One thing thats important to remember when feeding your pup is his food can affect his digestive system in both good and bad ways.
Thats why its so important to find out what types of foods your pet does well on before switching up their whole routine too drastically or infrequently. One important factor for a successful digestion process is adequate water intake this increases the production of saliva which helps start breaking down food before it enters your dogs stomach.
As you may know dogs are carnivores by nature and they need protein to sustain their lean muscle mass but they also should not be eating more than 30% protein on a daily basis this will lead to excessive waste products.
Many dog owners are unaware that providing probiotics for their dogs can be a great way to show them love and care. Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria, help keep the digestive system healthy by regulating the bodys natural balance of good and bad bacteria. They do this by producing helpful enzymes and vitamins that aid digestion. A lack of probiotics can lead to stomach upset or diarrhea in both humans and animals alike.
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You Have Constant Heartburn After Eating Certain Foods
“Your stomach and esophagus are part of your digestive tract, and you may be creating too much of an acidic environment,” says Gorski.
How to improve it: “Maybe you are eating too fast, we all do! Take your time between bites. Chew your food. Put your fork down between bites,” says Gorski. “Some foods that can specifically trigger acid reflux are coffee, chocolate, alcohol, greasy foods, highly processed sugary foodsall the fun things. But you need to ask yourself, ‘Is the juice worth the squeeze?’ And in this case, the juice is a miserable pain in your chest after eating that makes doing anything unbearable.”
What Makes A Probiotic
You have to be picky choosy about your probiotics. Many brands on the market wont offer therapeutic levels or prebiotics, and just the presence of a probiotic is not enough.
To balance the microbiome, ease those gi issues, and truly benefit your pet, you need a probiotic that meets specific standards. We walk you through all of them in this guide .
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Incorporate Dog Prebiotics And Probiotics
A healthy gut is essential for a healthy immune system and a healthy dog. In addition, dogs not on the proper diet can experience many health issues, such as allergies, digestive problems, and chronic skin conditions.
Some dogs have a sensitive gut, and they need to be careful about what they eat. When it comes to gut health, a dogs diet needs to be supplemented with prebiotics and probiotics to grow good bacteria in their gut.
The best way to keep your dogs gut happy is by adding prebiotics and probiotics to his diet. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that help improve the guts microbiome by feeding the good bacteria in your dogs stomach.
Meanwhile, probiotics are live bacteria found in supplements or yogurt, which have been shown to help improve digestion in humans and dogs alike.
Treatment Overview Of Digestive System Disorders
Specific disorders and their treatments are described later in this chapter however, some general principles are listed in this section. Eliminating the cause of the disease is the primary objective of veterinary treatment however, a major part of treatment is often directed at the signs of the disease and is intended to relieve pain, correct abnormalities, and allow healing to occur.
Elimination of the cause of the disease may involve drugs that kill bacteria or parasites, antidotes for poisons, or surgery to correct defects or displacements.
Use of drugs to correct diarrhea or constipation is done depending on the specific case. Although such drugs might seem to be a logical choice, they are not beneficial in every situation. For example, diarrhea can actually be a defense mechanism for the animal, helping it to eliminate harmful organisms and their toxins. In addition, the available drugs may not always give consistent results.
Replacement of fluids and electrolytes is necessary in cases where the animal is at risk of dehydration, such as from excessive vomiting or diarrhea.
Relief of distension by stomach tube or surgery may be required if the digestive tract has become obstructed, twisted, or distended with gas, fluid, or food.
Pain relief is sometimes provided. However, a dog being given pain medicine must be watched carefully to ensure that the pain relief is not masking a condition that is becoming worse.
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Introduction To Digestive Disorders Of Dogs
, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The digestive system includes all of the organs that are involved in taking in and processing food. It begins with the mouth and includes the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, rectum, and anus.
The process of digestion begins when your pet picks up food with its mouth and starts chewing. Enzymes found in saliva begin breaking down the food chemically. The process continues with swallowing, additional breakdown of food in the stomach, absorption of nutrients in the intestines, and elimination of waste. Digestion is critical not only for providing nutrients but also for maintaining the proper balance of fluid and electrolytes in the body.
The functions of the digestive system can be divided into 4 main categories: digestion, absorption of nutrients, motility , and elimination of feces.
When treating a digestive system problem, the veterinarians goal is to first identify the part of the system where the problem lies and then to determine the specific cause and appropriate treatment.
Feed Them Nourishing Nutrient
Slowly introduce raw and other nutrient-rich foods from the list above into your dogs diet as soon as possible. If your dog has been eating dry commercial food for years, do this step extra slowly in order to minimize digestive distress.
Once you do change your dogs diet, avoid giving them any type of processed treats or human starch foods, like sweets. Instead, add a little coconut oil to their diet in order to help keep bad bacteria at bay.
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Whats Happening Inside Your Dogs Gut:
- The intestinal wall is selective in what it allows to get through into the bloodstream. The gut wall contains something called tight junctions that create this barrier.
- The microbiome, or the normal gut bacteria in your dogs GI tract, also plays a role in protecting your dog.
- The liver is the third line of defense. After the intestines digest food. Nutrients are absorbed into the blood. The liver then detoxifies the blood of harmful substances.
Leaky gut syndrome is due to increased intestinal permeability. It leads to substances like toxins and allergens entering the bloodstream. Permeability in the gut wall can occur if the tight junctions open up allowing many different particles through. The particles that leak through the gut lining trigger an immune response because the body sees them as foreign. The immune response leads to inflammation within your dogs intestines and their body. When the gut lining becomes irritated and inflamed, the tight junctions become weaker. This allows even more undigested food and harmful substances into the bloodstream. The liver usually clears out these harmful substances from the blood. But, if too many escape into the blood, the liver cant keep up and becomes overworked. The immune system will start the inflammatory process against these invaders. Leaky gut is a vicious cycle: inflammation leads to a leaky gut which leads to more inflammation
What Causes Leaky Gut
There are many causes for leaky gut. A few of the most common causes include a highly processed diet, medications, stress, toxins, and vaccines.
Diet is an important part to healing the GI tract. Many pets are fed highly processed kibble that contains artificial ingredients, antibiotic-ridden, poor quality meat ingredients, and many contain poorly absorbed, cheaper protein fillers. Our pets also do not respond well to genetically modified foods, like wheat, corn and soy, which fills many of the pet foods.
GMO foods are cheaper and can tolerate being sprayed with pesticides like glyphosate, which has major repercussions for our pets health.
Lets talk about glyphosate and GMO foods for a minute since 90% of pet foods contain GMO products.
Between 85-95% of genetically modified crops worldwide are engineered to be grown with herbicides based on glyphosate . How does glyphosate work? It kills plants by inhibiting certain enzymes in the shikimate pathway. Humans and animals do not contain these pathways, however, the microbes in our GI tract do.
Essentially, by eating plants that have been sprayed, we are killing our beneficial bacteria in our GI tract which then leads to leaky gut. This then leads to chronic inflammation and many of the diseases we see in our pets today.
Imbalances in the gut bacteria have been linked with many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, obesity and depression in people.
These facts show why its important to know whats in your pets food!
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Bladder And/or Bowel Emptying
Shortly before or when a dog dies, the bladder or bowels may empty. Diarrhea may seep out.
This can be surprising with a dog who hasn’t eaten much previously. The truth is that whether a dog eats or not, the body still produces waste which will need to be eliminated.
Bladder and bowel emptying happens as the bodys muscles relax. Keeping towels under the dog may absorb messes.
You Struggle With Constipation
“Your diet may be low in fiber which may help with constipation and bloating,” says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, author of The Small Change Diet.
How to improve it: “I would suggest gradually increasing one’s intake of high fiber foods, such as fruit, veggies, 100% whole grains, and legumes, along with drinking more water,” says Gans. “A gradual increase is advised because some individuals are prone to bloating as their body adjusts to higher fiber intakes. Also incorporating some type of daily activity to move your body more may help as well.”
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Cancer May Cause Gastrointestinal Issues
Cancer may occur in the digestive tract as a mass, or as an inflammatory condition throughout a large area of the digestive tract. Even cancers outside of the digestive system may cause gastrointestinal problems for example, mast cell tumors elsewhere on the body can increase acidity in the stomach. Treatment may be targeted at the cancer directly, as well as supportive care to provide relief from symptoms.
Your Dogs Behavior And Appearance
As well as diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and regurgitation, your dog may exhibit changes in their behavior and appearance that can signal digestive problems. For example, chronic digestive issues result can cause an inability to absorb all the nutrients the body needs, leading to weight loss and a dry, dull, brittle coat.
Appetite changes, along with flatulence and abdominal discomfort, may be a sign of problems in the small intestine, and if your dog exhibits many of these signs frequently,this could indicate they are suffering with chronic gastrointestinal problems.
Getting to know your dogs eating habits and other bodily processes is the first step in recognizing when they may have a digestive issue. If their behavior has changed significantly, including showing signs of vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, its crucial to visit your local veterinarian so they can advise you on the best course of action.
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Why The Microbiome Is Important
The bacteria and microorganisms of the microbiome have important functions in your dogs body:
A healthy microbiome means a healthy dog. But if the bad bacteria gets out of control, theyll survive by attacking your dogs body. And that weakens your dogs gut health.
Leaky Gut In Pets And Why It Matters More Than Ever
Have you ever had your pet decide they didnt like their food anymore?
Theyre not gaining weight, so you know youre not feeding them too much, but you start to wonder why arent they as interested in their diet. Usually, they are on a dry kibble diet when it happens.
What is going on?
Leaky gut or dysbiosis is when the balance of good bacteria in the GI tract is outnumbered by the bad bacteria leading to inflammation in the intestinal lining or mucosa. This inflammation allows bacteria and toxins to leak through into the bloodstream.
Your pets immune system reacts because it sees them as foreign. Over time this leads to chronic inflammation and other symptoms and diseases.
Food allergies can be seen suddenly because food is now seen as an invader by the body. Dysbiosis is more commonly recognized by holistic or integrative veterinarians than the traditional veterinary community. The consequences of not treating dysbiosis can be devastating for our pets health.
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Signs Of Leaky Gut In Dogs
If your pup has leaky gut, theyre probably suffering from at least one and probably more of these mysterious cause symptoms:
These symptoms often point toward a leaky gut but it can be very hard for even your vet to properly diagnose.
Thats partly because these symptoms may seem to have other causes, and partly because the symptoms can shift for example, itchy skin can disappear but be replaced by fatigue or joint pain.
But the longer leaky gut goes untreated, the more intense your dogs discomfort will become.
That’s why the best way to help your dog is to proactively support a healthy gut barrier and a healthy gut microbiome.
Signs And Symptoms Of Poor Gut Health In Dogs
Poor gut health can manifest in many ways â from the obvious signs of diarrhoea and vomiting to the more subtle symptoms of abdominal tenderness and lethargy. The challenge for pet parents is that many digestive issues can appear similar, even though they may be due to very different causes and underlying health conditions. So how do we identify whatâs normal, whatâs a temporary hiccup, and what requires more urgent veterinary attention? Letâs start by outlining some of the more common signs and symptoms that may indicate that our dogâs gut health is compromised:
- Increased and/or worse smelling flatulence
- Excessive drooling
- Blood or mucus in the stools
- Reluctance to move or inability to get comfortable
- Hunched or âprayingâ posture
- Abdominal tenderness
- Whining or yelping when handled
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You Have A Yeasty Dog
We all have some yeast in our gut already its completely normal because they are members of the gut biome community. But a healthy microbiome is diverse and balanced, so if there is an overgrowth of yeast, it becomes problematic and can cause all sorts of g.i. upset.
If your pup is experiencing yeast infections in the skin or ears, that could also have come from the gut, meaning it started in the gut and invaded the rest of the body.
Flooding the gut with good bacteria can inhibit yeast growth and restore the balance to the microbiome, which eases g.i. upset too.
For a complete guide to managing yeast infections in dogs, head here.
Treatment For Bloat In Dogs
Treatment of simple bloat can be quite straightforward. Dogs are usually hospitalized to receive large amounts of intravenous fluids and sometimes medicine. Theyre also walked often to stimulate movement of the gastrointestinal tract to help move the gas and food quickly through the body.
A dog with GDV requires more intense care that typically includes:
Intravenous fluids with electrolytes to aggressively treat shock and improve circulation to vital organs.
Pain medications and often antibiotics to treat discomfort, shock and any death of tissues from the loss of circulation.
A procedure to decompress the stomach by removing gas from the stomach to allow blood flow to the lower half of the body. In some instances, this helps untwist the stomach.
Electrocardiogram to monitor for any heart abnormalities which frequently due to toxins from decreased circulation.
Surgery is performed as soon as the dog is as stable as possible. Depending on the severity of bloat, a vet may have to untwist the dogs stomach and/or spleen, and remove any part of the stomach wall that may have died due to loss of blood flow. The vet will also stitch the stomach to the body wall in a procedure called a gastropexy. This significantly reduces the risk of rotation of the stomach in the future.
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Leaky Gut And Food Intolerance
Arguably the most common symptom of leaky gut looks a lot like allergies
If your dogs gut is permeable, proteins can leak out before theyre digested. And thats a problem
Your dogs immune system recognizes foreign invaders by their proteins. So if a virus were to get into your dog, the immune system would attack it. It would then file away the information about the protein in memory cells. This memory makes sure the immune system can quickly recognize and destroy the same invader if it comes back.
So over time, your dogs food can trigger the same immune response that bacteria and viruses would.
This is called food intolerance or hypersensitivity.
If the gut is healthy, proteins from your dogs food cant pass through the gut lining until theyre digested. When proteins are digested, theyre broken down into small units called amino acids. Your dog wont suffer the same immune consequences because the proteins have first been dismantled into harmless parts.
So one of the biggest signs of leaky gut is food intolerance but thats not the only sign.
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