Like us, our dogs and cats are no strangers to experiencing digestive issues. These problems can stem from an imbalance in gut bacteria, the wrong diet, or from disease or malfunction in any of the digestive organs. No matter the cause though, there are often steps you can take to improve your pet’s digestive issues.
To begin with, understanding the parts of the digestive system and their basic functions is important:
Esophagus: pathway connecting the mouth and stomach.
Stomach: where partially digested food is stored and broken down.
Small Intestine: the first part of the intestinal tract where most digestion and nutrient absorption takes place.
Large Intestine: the last part of the intestinal tract where water and nutrients are absorbed.
Pancreas: produces enzymes that digest food and break down fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
Liver: produces bile and substances released into the bloodstream; metabolizes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Colon: where food waste becomes fecal matter and is stored until bowel release.
If there is a problem in any one of these digestive organs, it could result in symptoms including sluggishness, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, etc. Your holistic veterinarian can help you narrow down possible causes of digestive issues.
No matter the cause of your pet’s digestive issues, taking a careful look at their diet should be a top priority. Because dogs and cats are carnivores, they do best on a high-protein, low fat diet. An all raw meat diet or a diet supplemented with raw meat can be extremely beneficial since the enzymes found in raw meat can help to support enzymes naturally found in your dog or cat’s body, helping them break down and digest food.
Other Ways to Support your Dog or Cat’s Digestion
- Regular Exercise: A dog’s digestive system can store large amounts of food for long periods of time, but the more exercise a dog gets, the faster their digestive system will convert food into caloric energy. Likewise, obesity in cats has a negative impact on their gut microbiome and overall health. Active cats tend to have a decreased risk for developing chronic digestive diseases.
- Prebiotics and Probiotics: These ingredients either support (prebiotics) or contain (probiotics) the “good” microbes needed by the gut to digest food. They also help the body make B vitamins and support the immune system. Probiotics are especially helpful if your dog or cat has recently been on antibiotics for any reason. Proguard Probiotics for Dogs or for Cats contain three strains of “good” bacteria which promote healthy digestive function.
- Digestive Supplements: Sometimes your dog or cat may need even more digestive support and this is when a digestive supplement may be beneficial. Containing anti-inflammatory properties which soothe the digestive tract, Slippery Elm Powder is also high in fiber, making it useful in the relief of both diarrhea and constipation.
Digestive issues in our pets are common, but armed with the right knowledge, pet guardians can help to reduce symptoms and help their dog or cat feel better.