While you may turn to a daily yogurt to help improve digestion, your favorite pooch may also be looking for a way to help him stay regular. Just like their human owners, dogs suffer from irregularity and other digestive concerns. With the help of your veterinarian and a few dietary changes, you can improve your dog’s digestion and get him back to his favorite game of fetch.
Doggie digestive problems arise for a variety of reasons. A diet without the recommended nutrients is often to blame. Certain foods, such as beef, dairy or wheat, often cause allergies in dogs, leading to digestive issues. If your dog tends to find his late night snacks in the kitchen trash can, eating these items may also lead to digestive problems. Symptoms of digestive issues include gas, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Signs may include hard or soft stools. If your dog’s coat lacks shine and appears dull, poor digestion may be the cause.
Before making any changes to try to improve your pet's digestive health, talk with your veterinarian. If regular digestive upset is a problem, conditions such as parasites, intestinal blockage or allergies may be to blame. Medications to remove parasites or surgery to repair blockages may be necessary, and after treatment digestion often returns to normal. If food allergies are responsible for intestinal issues, an elimination diet is required to determine the food allergen. The diet begins with one protein and one carbohydrate source, such as duck and rice. While eating these foods, allergy symptoms, such as digestive issues, should resolve. As you slowly add new food sources, the return of digestive problems may identify the food allergen.
The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing digestive enzymes. With exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, the pancreas fails to produce enough of these essential enzymes, resulting in poor digestion. Causes include pancreatitis or idiopathic pancreatic acinar atrophy, where the production of enzymes responsible for fat, protein and starch digestion is reduced. Treatment includes supplementation with enzyme replacements. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is hereditary in German shepherds.
If medical problems are eliminated, the cause may simply be the food your pooch is eating. Proper digestive health begins with what you put in. Choosing a quality dog food is essential. Look for foods containing probiotics and prebiotics, such as fructooligosacchardies. Probiotics are the good bacteria found in the digestive tract and aid in digestion. Prebiotics, essentially, are the food source to keep the good bacteria healthy. Natural fiber sources, such as beet pulp, are another thing to look for. Complex carbohydrates, such as grain sorghum and barley, provide energy sources while aiding in digestibility. Foods with added digestive enzymes aid in the breakdown of food. Always provide a source of clean, fresh water for your dog, as this reduces dehydration and promotes proper digestion.
- The Whole Dog Journal: How Prebiotics Improve Your Dog’s Digestion and Nutrient Absorption
- PetMD: Healthy Dog Food for Your Dog’s Digestion
- VetInfo: Can Dog Digestive Problems Be Resolved With Human Food?
- WebMD: Caring for a Dog with Food Allergies
- The Dog Daily: Dog Food That Maintains Healthy Digestion
- Purina Veterinary Diets: Gastrointestinal Upset: A Common Problem in the Dog Digestive System
- PetMD: Lack of Digestive Enzymes in Dogs
- Dr. Matt Allworth Community Vet: DIY Elimination Diet for Dog and Cat
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