Managing Pet Gastrointestinal Issues With Nutrition

Managing Pet Gastrointestinal Issues With Nutrition

Gastrointestinal problems comprise the most common ailments seen in both dogs and cats.

These can range from a short-term upset tummy (such as Vomiting and Diarrhea) to a chronic or more serious ailment (such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Pancreatitis). In all cases, some simple guidelines can help avoid the most common problems.

Ongoing GI Issues

For animals that are prone to GI illness:
  • Feed on a twice daily routine schedule and pre-measure food
  • Monitor stools on a regular basis for parasites
  • Stop medications that promote GI upset such as Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory medications (Rimadyl, Metacam, Previcox, Deramaxx, etc.)
  • Avoid processed foods and ingredients (such as by-products and preservatives)
  • Eliminate or limit grains and gluten rich foods (wheat and wheat by-products)
In addition, it’s important to consult a veterinarian for pets suffering from chronic ailments in order to screen for other problems that may lead to GI illness such as kidney, liver and pancreatic diseases, foreign bodies, cancer and other problems.

Acute GI Problems

For acute problems with vomiting and diarrhea, a simple rest from food and water for 12-24 hours can be very helpful followed by a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice. Gradually wean back to regular diet over 3-5 days.

GI & Food Intolerances

Elimination of foods that have allergenic potential (such as corn, chicken, beef, wheat) can be effective for pets with suspected food intolerances. For these pets, it may be helpful to try an 8-week trial of a limited ingredient diet (limit to one protein source and one carbohydrate source) and give no other foods or treats.


For pets prone to constipation, increase water consumption, fiber content and daily exercise.

Natural GI Remedies

Finally, trusted remedies for GI problems that may prove to be helpful include the addition of a daily probiotic (such as The Honest Kitchen's Instant Goat's Milk) with or without a prebiotic (ingredient that helps promote growth of probiotic bacteria, such as inulin), acupuncture, food with natural digestive aids (such as pumpkin) and herbal remedies (such as The Honest Kitchen’s Perfect Form).

Dr. Leilani Alvarez

Leilani Alvarez, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVCHM is an integrative veterinarian, utilizing both conventional and holistic modalities and is employed at the renowned Animal Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Alvarez is the director of The Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation & Fitness Service at NYC’s Animal Medical Center. She practices Integrative Medicine, which includes therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy and physical rehabilitation, which help to increase the overall health of a patient and can often increase the success of conventional treatments.
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