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27 Aug 2015
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PAW

Pet digestive health

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A dog's digestive system is an amazing mechanism that takes in food and digests it to provide key nutrients for the body. That's why its important to maintain good digestive health for long term pet wellbeing.

Typical Digestive Health Issues

The digestive system converts food into all the nutritional building blocks your dog needs to grow and develop, however sometimes this system can become unbalanced, leading to potential health issues. The two most common issues seen by pet owners is diarrhoea and flatulence. If your dog is suffering diarrhoea or excessive flatulence it can be discomforting for them and embarrassing or messy for you. Depending on the indications there are a number of things you can do to make things more comfortable for your pet and avoid those unwanted smells!!

Diarrhoea

Gastro (gastroenteritis) in dogs is commonly caused by the “bad” bacteria dominating the digestive tract resulting in diarrhoea, flatulence, bloating and poor general health.

Diarrhoea can be caused by a number of different diseases but is often related to infection, inflammation or parasites in the digestive system. These diseases alter the bacterial balance in your dog’s digestive system, causing the bad bacteria to outnumber the good bacteria.

Infection related diarrhoea

Bacterial infections occur when the bad ‘opportunistic’ bacteria (eg. E-coli, Salmonella and Clostridia) dominate in the gut and adhere to the gut lining. This allows toxins (not nutrients) to be absorbed into the gut wall which can reduce nutrient absorption and make your pet unwell.

Inflammation related diarrhoea

Inflammation in the digestive system can cause bad bacteria to outnumber the good bacteria. Without sufficient good bacteria, food is not efficiently digested and the protective bacterial barrier along the gut lining is reduced. This allows partially digested food, or foods that are intolerant in the body to be absorbed causing an allergic response and inflammation (eg. Inflammatory bowel disease). The gut wall becomes inflamed and nutrient absorption is reduced which may cause diarrhoea.

Parasite related diarrhoea

Parasites in the gut (eg. Worms) can cause inflammation of the gut wall which affects the good bacteria’s ability to provide a protective barrier. While treatment is required to kill the parasites, improving the good bacteria numbers helps restore intestinal balance for a healthy digestive system. Probiotic supplements can help restore the good bacteria levels to maintain a healthy digestive system. However if the diarrhoea symptoms persist then you should consult your veterinarian.

Embarrassing Smells

Frequent flatulence can be caused by a number of factors including eating cheap dog food, too many treats or leftovers, or even your dog eating their food too fast. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce excessive gas, including: Introducing a premium dog food Reducing treats and leftover foods Give your dog a quiet place to eat Frequent exercise Increasing the good bacteria in the gut

Are there breeds that suffer flatulence more than others?

Suffering from flatulence is more common in some dogs than others, typically because of:

  • Anatomical shape Dogs with deep chests, such as Sighthounds and some working breeds, brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs, pugs, pekingese, and boxers, are prone to flatulence due to excessive swallowing a lot of air when breathing because of the positioning of their noses.
  • Eating behaviour Breeds that eat rapidly, swallowing excess air in the rush to consume their dinner suffer flatulence. Some breeds such as the Labradors are known for this behaviour although competitive eating with any breed of dogs can also cause this to occur.
  • The Importance Of Good Bacteria 

    Without the right levels of good bacteria, the digestive system cannot digest food and absorb nutrients efficiently, which can lead to issues such as flatulence and loose stools. Thus promoting levels of good bacteria is essential for digestive health. In a healthy gut, the good bacteria:   

    • Enhances food digestion resulting in better nutrient absorption.

    • Provides a protective barrier by adhering to the gut lining.  

    So the next time your dog is suffering from excessive flatulence or diarrhoea consider your pet’s diet, digestive system and whether they are getting enough good bacteria.