Basic Digestive Health

Many aspects of modern life can cause problems in the digestive system. Often pet owners are told that their pet’s digestive weakness is normal. If not cared for, a minor digestive weakness can develop in to more serious long term health issues.

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Many aspects of modern life can cause problems in the digestive system. External conditions such as travel, separation, storms, diet change, etc., can cause anxiety or stress that may result in digestive problems. Within the body advanced age, strenuous exercise, illness, a processed diet, genetic factors, parasites, medical treatments, and antibiotic use will all have a negative effect on your pet’s digestive health.

Often pet owners are told that their pet’s digestive weakness is normal. If not cared for, a minor digestive weakness can develop in to more serious long term health issues. It’s important to understand that a majority of your pet’s immune system is directly connected to their digestive system, thus digestive problems and immune systems problems are often closely related.

SYMPTOMS OF POOR DIGESTIVE HEALTH

  • Excessive shedding & itching, skin odor
  • Weak immune system
  • Flatulence & bloating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Allergies
  • Bad Breath
  • Weight issues
  • Hairballs

Digestive Enzymes
Pets experiencing any of the stressors described above will benefit from supplementation with digestive enzymes. Overall, pets eating highly-processed diets (dry and canned food processing kills naturally occurring enzymes), and elderly or sick pets should always be on digestive enzymes. Plant-based enzymes maintain their stability in a very wide pH range, which makes them the most effective choice no matter what the health of your pet’s digestive system is. The four key enzymes for dogs and cats are:

  • Protease for Muscle – Provides protein digestion in the stomach and small intestine to build muscle
  • Amylase for Energy – Digests starchy foods to release simple sugars for energy.
  • Cellulase for Fiber – Provides dogs and casts with the enzyme to digest cellulose, reducing the bulking effect of fibrous foods.
  • Lipase for Overall Health – Digests fatty acids allowing the pet to absorb Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamins A, D, E and K .

Prebiotics/Probiotics
The other important tool in the natural digestive health toolbox is beneficial bacteria. A dog or cat’s digestive system is home to hundreds of different species of both beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria. These intestinal bacteria exist in a delicate balance that influence the way your pet digests food and absorb nutrients.

These naturally-occurring beneficial bacteria (“probiotics”) play a critical role in many aspects of your pet’s immune response. They help to resist infection, and keep the potentially harmful bacteria at bay by helping control their population. They also fight toxins and other internal stresses that can threaten a pet’s health. Animals that seem to have unexplained intestinal problems may have an imbalance of bacteria in their gut. Antibiotics also kill beneficial bacteria, contributing to an imbalance. Supplementing your pet’s diet to increase the level of beneficial bacteria in the gut is an important way to improve digestion and the immune system.

Prebiotics and probiotics are not the same thing

  • Probiotic: live beneficial microorganism (including bacteria). Not stable at higher temperatures, so refrigerated products will have more live organisms.
  • Prebiotic: non-digestible food ingredient that stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the digestive system. Most often used are fructooligosaccharides (FOS). They do not require refrigeration.

How Do I Use Them?
It can be confusing when there are a variety of products to choose from. Here are our recommendations for some common scenarios, use good judgement for your specific animal, or work with a holistic vet or non-vet practitioner.

Feeding Dry or Canned Food Diet with No Signs of Ill Health

  • Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes & Probiotics
    or
  • InClover OptaGest

Feeding Dry, Canned, or Fresh Food Diet with Some Signs of Ill Health

  • Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes & Probiotics
    or
  • InClover OptaGestPLUS
  • Animal Essentials Prebiotic
    or simply
  • InClover OptaGest

After Antibiotic Use or Surgery, or with Serious Digestive or Immune Problems

  • Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes & Probiotics
    or
  • InClover OptaGestPLUS
  • Jarrow PetDophilus
    or
  • Metagenics UltraFlora
    or
  • Natrol BioBeadsMay also benefit from
  • The Honest Kitchen Perfect Form

 

Any time you start a new supplement, it’s a good idea to give your pet’s body time to adjust. Give half the recommended dose for the first 4-7 days, then go to the full amount.

An otherwise healthy dog experiencing surgery or other short-term set-back will probably be fine with one month of use. Animals with long-term problems need to use these supplements for at least several months, perhaps years.

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