Digestive Problems in Dogs and Cats
While cats are known for their dietary finickiness, dogs are known
to eat just about anything. Despite the difference in their eating
styles, both cats and dogs often develop digestive problems which
have unpleasant consequences for both the animal and caretaker.
Diarrhea and vomiting in cats and dogs are some of the more common symptoms of digestive disorders. Peptic ulcers, colitis, enteritis, IBD and IBS, bloating, excessive gas (flatulence), gurgling or rumbling in the stomach, watery stools or constipation are also common symptoms of GI problems in pets.
Natural products containing probiotics, glutamine, digestive enzymes and other nutrients can help to heal the intestinal lining and prevent some of these symptoms from reoccurring in dogs and cats.
The Digestive System
The digestive system is made up of the stomach, liver, pancreas,
and intestines. These organs, along with enzymes and the body's
own beneficial bacteria, work together to transform food into energy
and healthy tissue.
When the gastrointestinal tract is working properly, your pet will
have fresh breath, a good appetite, firm stools, less flatulence
and plenty of energy.
When the GI tract and digestive organs become compromised, the
result can be constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, inflammatory bowel
disease (IBD), flatulence and other disorders. (See the links to the right for more information on these symptoms.)
Fortunately, many digestive disorders are temporary and resolve
themselves in a day or two. In other cases, where parasites, bacteria,
food allergies or other food sensitivities are to blame, your pet
may benefit from taking supplements which contain glutamine,
fiber, probiotics or enyzymes to help restore
their digestive system to a healthy state.
There are a wide range of symptoms associated with gastrointestinal
disorders. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Weight loss usually the result of vomiting or diarrhea. The
weight should easily be regained when the digestive system becomes
healthy. If the animal continues to loose weight, your veterinarian
should investigate other causes.
- Excessive gas, burping or rumbling in the stomach.
- Change in the stools.
- Mucus indicates an imbalance in the colon.
- Black stools indicate bleeding in the upper part of the
- Gray stools indicate liver problems.
- Yellow or orange stools indicate an imbalance.
- Large volume* of stools indicate improper absorption of
nutrients. (*Unless you are feeding your pet a vegetarian
diet or one high in fiber, which will normally result in a
larger volume of stools.)
- Disinterest in eating.
ALERT: If your animal is experiencing
the following symptoms, see your veterinarian immediately:
- Blood in the animal's stool or vomit.
- Excessive panting or shaking are signs of distress and may indicate
an obstruction or ingestion of a toxic material.
- Dehydration as a result of severe vomiting or diarrhea lasting
more than a few hours.
- Dry heaves.
- Inability to keep water down.
Digestive Supplements for Dogs and Cats:
NaturVet's Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics
Vetri-Probiotic Everyday for Dogs
Complete Probiotics for Pets
Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics
Fast Balance GI
Seacure for Pets
All-in-One Powder Supplement
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
If your pet shows any of the general signs for more than a few
days, a veterinarian should be consulted to rule out other causes
such as food allergies, foreign objects or internal disorders resulting
from endocrine, pancreas, liver or kidney diseases.
Your veterinarian will test the blood and urine to rule out liver
or kidney conditions and may perform a fecal exam to rule out parasites,
giardia and bacterial infections.
While the causes and symptoms of GI problems are
varied, most dogs and cats can benefit from a more healthful diet and the inclusion
of nutrients that help repair the intestinal wall, reduce inflammation
and restore the proper balance of good bacteria.
Maintaining cell wall integrity (not allowing food
particles to pass through) and having the proper balance of beneficial
bacteria will help to get your pet back on tract to having a properly
working digestive system.
Probiotics are the great equalizers.
Probiotics are useful to help repopulate the
gut with healthy bacteria. These "good" bacteria are essential
to proper digestion and help convert food into nutrients. They also
compete with harmful bacteria for intestinal wall space and nutrients
which allow them to grow and reproduce, thereby controlling the
amount of bad bacteria found in the intestinal tract.
Bacteria gets out of balance when an animal experiences
frequent bouts of diarrhea, regularly eats a poor-quality diet and/or
has been taking antibiotics for long periods.
Probiotics are a safe and effective way to restore
the healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. When taken regularly,
they reinforce the beneficial bacterial colonies in the intestines
and help to keep the harmful bacteria in check.
Additional support may be needed to reduce inflammation
of the intestinal lining or to aid with digestion.
- Lactobacillus sporogenes - A probiotic
that has been shown to help treat diarhea caused by bacterial
- L-Glutamine - An amino acid which fuels
intestinal cells and helps maintain mucosal cell integrity.
- Slippery Elm - An emollient that provides
soothing protection for the mucus membranes of the intestinal
- Saccharomyces boulardi - a beneficial
yeast that decreases intestinal permeability.
- N-acetyglucosamine - Helps heal the inflamed
bowel lining by supporting glycoprotein synthesis.
- DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) -
supports the healing process in the intestinal lining by increasing
blood flow and reducing muscle spasms.
Click here to see all our supplement for Digestive Problems in Dogs and Cats.
Fasting, detoxification and diet are some of the first steps
to take for many digestive disorders. For more information about
treating specific conditions, see these webpages: Constipation, Diarrhea, and Inflammatory