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July 20, 2020
Generally, the first indication that your dog has a digestive upset is deterioration in the fecal consistency. This is often followed by associated symptoms, such as lethargy, skin irritation and excessive thirst, although, it is very rare for a dog to actually vomit. In fact a dog’s stomach is very robust and can cope with many challenges that would cause humans severe problems, such as bacterial contamination with E coli. This robustness is due to an exceptionally high acidity in a dog’s stomach.
In dogs, digestive disorders generally occur lower down the tract in the intestines. These problems are almost always associated with disturbances in the number and type of resident “friendly” bacteria present in the colon. In some dogs relatively small changes in the composition or digestibility of their diet can elicit quite significant reactions. These responses are often termed sensitivities or intolerances, and can affect around 20% of the canine population. For these dogs it is essential to provide highly digestible food with consistent recipes that are free from ingredients commonly associated with dietary intolerances, such as wheat, beef, soya and dairy products.
There are a number of advantages to Fish in helping with sensitivity, namely it is easily digested; has an excellent amino acid profile; and provides omega-3 oils, helping to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.
Whatever food is used it should always be fully cooked to maximize the digestibility of nutrients such as carbohydrate.
As well as bacterial disturbance another cause of digestive upset is disruption to the natural rhythmic motion of the gut. In a healthy dog the normal peristaltic motion gently pumps the food through the intestines with a rhythm that allows the body time to digest and absorb the contents. Conditions such as stress, anxiety, infection, excitement, and exercise can all disrupt this motion by causing erratic contractions, which generally result in poor digestion and fecal quality. Again, highly digestive food, such as fish, will allow the body the best chance to absorb the contents despite the disturbance. This disturbance can also be reduced by feeding frequently with small portions. A moderate level of insoluble fiber, from ingredients such as beet pulp or pea, can also help to promote peristalsis by physically brushing the inside surface of the intestines, thereby stimulating it to return to its regular rhythm.
Any treats or snacks offered to a dog with sensitive digestion should also be low in fat since a high dose of fat can cause disruption of the gut bacteria as well as reduce peristalsis by lubricating the internal surface.
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