Some Healthy Habits to Keep Your Dog Free of Digestive Issues
Digestive disorders in dogs can range from serious to just ‘stinky’. And it is widely agreed that it’s best to avoid all of them. All creatures, big and small, will experience some level of digestive discomfort in their lifetime – the gurgles or foul flatulence – but an ongoing or escalating digestive issue could become serious. Here are 7 simple things that will help dodge digestive disorders in dogs.
1. Feed a Healthy Diet
This is where it all starts… and it’s unfortunately not as easy as it sounds – mainly because you’ll have to look past the glossy commercial dog foods. First, understand this: little written on those pretty labels are required to be true – and any researching of major dog food factories will reveal that there are a few huge companies that own most brand names and many things these commercial brands list as foods are everything but nutritious. Do your own research if you don’t believe me, but here’s a list we have compiled over the years – of Brands/formulas we Recommend, and offered by quality-conscious manufacturers. Check back often, as these smaller companies (with great reputations) are sometimes bought out by the “Nestles” of the world – and thus swiftly kicked off our list. When big money is involved, some people don’t mind selling out their virtues.
The bottom line is, real nutrition – that kind that is really absorbed and used – is fundamental to a dog’s digestive system. Veterinarian Anne Smith says it best…
“Nutrition is first. Gastrointestinal strength relies on proper bacteria to improve digestion and support the immune system. Most immune functions and all of the components of the immune system reside in the bowel, so fundamental care and support is critical. They (dogs) need to be eating real food as a foundation.”
Dr. Smith and other holistic vets also recommend looking for a food that has prebiotics included in the ingredients. Prebiotics are a special form of fiber that helps stimulate the growth and function of the good bacteria (probiotics) within the gut. Which brings us to #2.
2. Supplement with Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes
Probiotics and digestive enzymes are the primary supplements needed to maintain a healthy digestive system. They are also fundamental for the proper absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. A strong, balanced digestive system means a strong immune system – and these ‘seemingly invisible’ benefits strongly contribute to better health throughout the body. More energy, healthy skin and coat, and sturdy joints are all highly related to a healthy gut. These supplements are easy to find, inexpensive and well worth your time to add it to your dog’s diet.
3. Avoid Feeding from the Table
I know this can be a hard one – those sweet longing eyes can make it difficult to not share everything from French fries to ice cream. But don’t. This thing can really disrupt the balance of a dog’s digestive system and undo any good you may have already accomplished with a healthy dog food and supplements. If you simply must share, do so in moderation and only offer food that you know he will digest well – lean meat like chicken or beef and some fresh veggies will likely do the least damage.
4. Don’t Overfeed
Some dogs are just like some people – they just don’t know when to stop eating. If you have such a dog, be proactive. Find out how much your dog should be eating every day and portion out his food over regular feeding times.
5. Avoid Ingestion of Foreign Objects
Most people have heard of baby-proofing a house, and in many ways doggy-proofing a house is much the same. Be mindful of small objects like toys, pens, and shoes. Some dogs wouldn’t dream of eating your new decorative pillow while others will eat the whole couch. Pay attention to the things your dog goes after and make them inaccessible – at least until such time that he is trained to avoid them on his own.
6. Avoid Dehydration
Water is as important to a dog as it is for us. They need about an ounce of water for every pound of bodyweight every day – more depending on his amount of exercise or if he’s in very warm conditions. Keep plenty of clean and fresh water readily available and in more than one place. Inside, outside, upstairs and down. The right amount of water is key for a healthy digestive system, waste filtering, circulation and body temperature. Good hydration also flushes out harmful toxins that can accumulate throughout the body.
7. Keep Stress As Low As Possible
Some dogs are more prone to anxiety than others, but all dogs can develop stress under certain conditions that can impact his digestive health. A change in diet or environment can stress out even the mildest of dogs. Switching up his daily routine may also throw him for a loop. Some change is unavoidable, and some change is good – just be attentive to how your dog responds to these things and take the extra time and effort to help him feel comfortable with his new circumstance.
Many of these pointers are just plain common sense but all bear mentioning for the key role they each play in a dog’s healthy digestive system. When implemented together consistently, they form the foundation for a long, healthy and happy life.