Monday, October 7, 2013

Digestive Solutions: Soothing Your Pet’s Problem Tummy

By the staff at Petagogy

We all hear about digestive problems that commonly occur in humans, but did you know that similar digestive issues can also plague your furkids? Digestive problems in cats and dogs can present in so many different ways, from the occasional soft stool to unexplained chronic fatigue. A healthy digestive system contributes to our pets’ overall health, immunity and nutrition absorption. No matter how high quality your pet’s food is, if your dog or cat’s digestive system does not work as it should the vitamins and minerals in your pet’s food will not provide the maximum benefit to their overall health. Several supplements are available to help improve your pet’s digestive system:

Pre- and Probiotics
Everyone – including our pets – has bacteria in their digestive system. The “good” bacteria that populate digestive tracts promote a healthy digestive system and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. A decrease in beneficial bacteria – through taking antibiotics or due to immune problems, among other reasons – can lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics – which are live, “good” bacteria – may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria, aiding digestion.

If your pet is having tummy troubles, but there’s no reason to believe her digestive bacteria has been compromised, adding a prebiotic is a good first step to help promote a healthy digestive system. A prebiotic is a special form of fiber that acts as food for the bacteria already living in your pet’s gut. Just as humans introduce these healthy bacterias through supplements and foods like yogurt, adding prebiotics to your pet’s diet can support the growth of bacteria in your pet’s digestive system, which in turn aids in digestion and keeps the bad bacteria in your pet’s intestines down to an acceptable level. In Clover OptaGest prebiotic blend, Holistic Blend’s Probiotic and Animal Essential’s Plant Enzyme and Probiotic are some of our favorite supplements.

Goat’s Milk
Raw goat’s milk has many of the same benefits as breast milk. Goat’s milk is highly digestible and has a large number of nutritional benefits with naturally occurring minerals and vitamins. Because it’s so highly digestible, it is a great supplement for pets that are lactose intolerant or have compromised digestive systems and cannot tolerate other forms of supplementation. Goat’s milk is also a natural acid buffer; many studies suggest it is actually a more effective antacid then nonprescription antacid drugs. We LOVE Answers Additional Raw Goat’s Milk for Dogs and Cats.

Pumpkin is a common and easy-to-find supplement for fixing isolated digestives issues. Adding pumpkin to your pet’s meals can help loose stool problems, upset stomachs, constipation, diarrhea, and is great when transitioning your pet to a new food. Pumpkin is rich in many vitamins, fiber and minerals, and also helps promote healthy energy use during the digestion process. Pumpkin contains soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps eliminate waste from the body and absorbs water to slow digestion and aid in nutrient absorption. Insoluble fiber is considered a gut-healthy fiber that adds bulk to your pet’s diet, helping to eliminate or reduce constipation. Adding a spoonful to your pet’s meal provides many digestive benefits—the suggested serving size is 1 tablespoon per 10 lbs of weight as a daily food supplement. 100% Pure Organic Pumpkin from Nummy Tum-Tum is our favorite.

Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid, of which the only other abundant source found in nature is in human breast milk. The fats in coconut oil are similar to fats in mother's milk and have similar nutritional effects. When ingested, coconut oil has been known to improve digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as alleviate digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers and colitis. The bonus: it’s also great for skin and coat and immune health.

The recommended amount to give your pets is 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight, or 1 tablespoon per 30 lbs of body weight. Too much coconut oil can actually damage your pet’s pancreas, so it’s best to give it in small doses (about a quarter of the recommended amount), gradually building up your pet’s tolerance overtime. Any virgin coconut oil from health food stores can be fed to pets, but we love CocoTherapy’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and Chips.

Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies. Petagogy is located at 5880 Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Learn more at

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