Dogs are the number one family pet across the country and they are so beloved that they become more than just a pet to people: they become a family member. It stands to reason that, as your dog is a part of your family, you’d want to do everything that you could to take care of it and make it a priority in your home. Falling in love with a pet is easy, but keeping them healthy, happy and living as long as they can isn’t so simple.
As a human, you probably turn to a probiotic or live yoghurt to keep your digestive system running regularly, but you can’t do the same thing for your pooch. Just like us, our dogs suffer from irregularities and digestive issues and they can develop for many reasons. One of the biggest issues for dogs is getting the right nutrition into them, and with so many choices of pet food on the shelves it can be really easy to get confused and not know what it is you should be feeding them. If you don’t have the recommended nutrients in their diet, you could be causing digestive issues without even intending to. There are foods like dairy and wheat which can cause allergies, which in turn lead to issues in their digestion. Despite popular belief, you can’t just feed your dog anything and everything; there are rules to what you give them and also rules to follow to ensure that they don’t get your food.
It is fairly easy to spot when your dog has digestive issues. Dogs with the following symptoms should be checked over by a professional to ensure that their issues can be cleared up in no time at all:
- Bad gas
You can tell a lot about the digestive health of your dog by the lack of shine in their coat and a change in their stool. If you can spot that your dog has stools that are far too soft or like rocks, then you’re going to be alerted to an issue much faster.
Before you try and make major changes to their diet, you need to speak to your vet. Parasites and allergies can be to blame if the issues are lasting for too long, but sometimes it’s not about addressing potential allergies. Your vet can advise whether your dog’s digestive issues are down to a contamination issue in their food, allergies or parasites. Allergies and parasites can be controlled with medication and if necessary, surgery to remove blockages. Once treated, your dog’s discomfort will end, and digestion can return to normal. Sometimes though, the issues with your dog come down to the food that they eat. This news story will tell you that this year, a pet food company has had a lot of their food withdrawn from the shelves due to contamination. Studies showed that pentobarbital – the drug that puts pets down – was found in the food. The suspicion is that the drug made its way into the food during the rendering process, which goes to show that if more investment were made into the safe handling of pet food during the processing stage, mistakes like this wouldn’t happen. You can learn more about companies like Cablevey Conveyors, who care about how pet food is handled and transferred, avoiding the risks of contamination. Proper digestive health in your dog starts at the beginning: with what they are eating.
Choosing a quality dog food is an absolute essential for your dog. Probiotics are good bacteria which is normally found in the digestive tract and prebiotics keep that bacteria healthy. It makes sense then that you need to find food that has it in spades. Gastrointestinal disorders affect the stomach and the large and small intestines. A healthy digestive system is an essential for a dog, as they use the nutrients in their food for energy. Good dog food also helps to build the tissues in their body and repair damaged ones. A gastrointestinal disorder can cause malnutrition in your pet, which can be distressing for both you and your dog – it can also lead to dehydration which can be fatal. There are a lot of different disorders relating to digestion in your dog, and your vet will be able to run through a barrage of tests to figure out the problem with your dog. There are some breeds of dog that are prone to digestive issues and some of these issues have been listed below for you:
Colitis. Common in people, it’s also a problem for dogs who don’t have the right digestive health. It’s a chronic inflammation of the membrane lining of the colon which is caused by a parasite called whipworms. It can also be caused by polyps, allergies and even a change in the food you are giving your dog. It’s common in puppies and dogs under the age of 5, and if you have noticed mucusy or bloody stools, it’s time to call the vet.
Constipation. Dehydration is a common cause of constipation in your dog, as is eating materials like bones and foreign objects. Feeding your dog a high fibre diet and allowing plenty of access to fresh water can solve the problem. A coat that is lacking in shine and is looking dull can give you clues that your dog is constipated and in pain.
Pancreatitis. The pancreas is located behind your dog’s stomach, which means that it can get very irritated by a lack of good digestive health. Foods that are far too high in fat – especially food that has been given from the table – can cause pancreatitis. Other causes are diseases and trauma, but more often than not, the issue is in the food that you are feeding your dog.
We already listed the symptoms of digestive disorders earlier on. If you have recently adopted a new dog, you won’t be aware of the food that they were eating and comfortable on before they came to you. It can come as a surprise if your adopted addition starts to display some of the symptoms that we listed earlier, especially if you’ve never dealt with them before. A big part of handling a dog with digestive issues is going to come from patience and steady monitoring. If the vet has prescribed a medication for your dog to take, you need to get it filled as soon as you can and follow the instructions. Dogs are suckers for cream cheese or peanut butter, so putting a pill in that can be a far easier way of getting their medicine down them. Some of the medications cannot actually be taken with food, and if that’s the case check out this article about how to get a pill down them calmly.
While you are monitoring your dog, check for dehydration regularly. This can include checking their gums for wetness and checking the skin at the scruff of the neck for quick retraction. It’s important to watch for signs of dehydration because it can lead to organ failure if you leave it untreated. Watch how much water that your dog drinks and report back to the vet if there is no water being emptied. You need to keep an eye on your dog when they are healing, especially if they are vomiting or have diarrhoea. Going outside for as much fresh air as possible is important – you dog will need to be able to stretch their legs, and it’s far easier on your carpets when they have digestive issues! Some dogs like to eat grass to help empty their stomachs, so don’t panic if your dog vomits after eating it.
To prevent issues in the future, make sure that you are feeding your dog a better food and make sure that you transition them slowly onto the new food over ten days. Don’t change too quickly, or you could end up with a sicker dog. Find out what your dog was eating before they got to you and take time mixing new and old feed so that they gradually get used to the new meals. You should also dog-proof your home so that your pup can’t get hold of foreign substances that could hurt their stomachs. Cleaners, chemicals and medicine should be put away where they can’t get it. Keeping the toilet seat lids down and covering the bin will also help; dogs shouldn’t have too much table food as it’s very rich and can really do them some damage.
There’s nothing lovelier than owning a pet in the house, but if your dog isn’t well, you have to act quickly to ensure that you get your pet back to their best health quickly. Don’t hesitate to speak to a professional if you are suspicious of their eating behaviour and digestive health. Your pet matters more than your vet bills, and they’ll be back to their best in no time at all with the right care and attention.