Pet Digestive Problems

Gastro-intestinal upset in pets is quite common and may include such conditions as;

  • colitis
  • IBD
  • IBS
  • pancreatitis
  • parasitic infections
  • bacterial infection
  • food allergies or sensitivities

Some GI disorders are long-term or chronic in nature while others are acute, being relatively short-lived and self-limiting and the pet returns to normal relatively quickly.

How it Affects Pets

Symptoms of GI imbalance are varied and will depend on the dog and the underlying cause. They may include diarrhea, loose stools, constipation, rumbly tummy, mucus or blood in the stool, vomiting, regurgitation, excessive gassiness, lack of appetite, etc. Some individual dogs and breeds seem to be more prone to sensitive stomachs and/or “gassiness” than others.

A survey of 6,289 Honest Kitchen customers showed a 75% improvement in digestion issues while eating The Honest Kitchen pet food.  
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Many chronic GI issues are related in some way to a food intolerance or sensitivity. Acute GI upsets can also be caused by stress, eating something bad out of the rubbish bin, drinking bad water, an abrupt change in diet, finding a special “treat” on a daily walk, etc. But, many pets have low-level food sensitivities, meaning their body has a mildly adverse reaction to a particular ingredient.

What Types of Foods Do Holistic Vets Recommend?

If food sensitivity is suspected, then an elimination diet is a good place to start. This involves feeding a simple bland recipe, like turkey or sweet potatoes, for a period of several weeks.

Once digestive issues settle down, other food ingredients can be added back into the diet one-by-one, with a period of several days between each new ingredient. Monitor your pet for any adverse reactions such as a recurrence of diarrhea or vomiting.

A grain-free diet is recommended for pets with colitis or a sensitive GI tract. Grains may cause many adverse reactions especially when there is an excessively high grain content in the diet, or if the grains are highly processed such as with corn gluten meal or wheat middlings. GM grains may be more likely to cause inflammatory reactions in the GI tract than conventional or organic whole grains. A limited-ingredient diet can be helpful for some dogs, as well.

Other Modalities to Consider

  • Digestive enzymes are helpful as are good quality probiotics containing lactobacillus and acidophilus. This helps to improve intestinal absorption of the nutrients in your pet’s food. For mild imbalance, plain yogurt with live cultures may be of help.
  • The natural anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 fatty acids may also be helpful when added to the diet.
  • Herbal remedies to consider include: Slippery elm, marshmallow, calendula, pumpkin seed, pectin, and plantain. Many of these herbs are included in our Perfect Form supplement.

To find holistic help with your pet’s digestive problems, see our list of integrative veterinarians and holistic practitioners.

For Dogs with Digestive Problems, Try These Dog Diets:

Grain Free Beef Recipe – Beef, low-carb, active adults, puppies, pregnancy, nursing

Limited Ingredient Chicken Recipe  – Chicken, lower-carb, limited ingredients, active adults, puppies, pregnancy, nursing

Grain Free Turkey Recipe – Turkey, low-carb, active adults, puppies, pregnancy, nursing 

Grain Free Chicken Recipe – Chicken, adult maintenance, moderate activity 

Grain Free Fish Recipe – Haddock, whiting, salmon, low-carb, low-fat, lower-calorie, adult maintenance 

Grain Free Fruit & Veggie Base Mix – Vegetarian foundation mix, combine with meat for a complete meal, adult maintenance

Meet the Author: Lucy Postins

Lucy Postins is founder and Chief Integrity Officer at The Honest Kitchen. She is a companion animal nutritionist who started The Honest Kitchen in her kitchen in 2002. She is passionate about advanced nutrition and holistic health including complementary modalities such as herbalism and homeopathy. Considered an expert in her field, Lucy frequently writes articles for local and national media, conducts radio interviews and educational spots, and occasionally holds educational seminars for pet owners on the importance of good nutrition. She also recently authored Dog Obsessed, a guide to a happier, healthier life for the pup you love.

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