Generally, the first indication that your dog has a digestive upset is deterioration in the faecal consistency. This is often followed by associated symptoms such as lethargy, skin irritation and excessive third however, it is very rate for a dog to actually vomit.
In fact their
stomach is able to cope with many challenges that would cause us severe
problems, such as bacterial contamination with E coli, due to the exceptionally high acidity of its environment.
Digestive disorders generally
occur lower down the tract in the intestines, and invariably are associated with a disturbance 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 in the
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. An ideal diet would contain fish and white
rice, which is gentle on
digestion, has an excellent amino acid
profile, and also provides omega-3 oils, which help to reduce inflammation in the
digestive tract. It is also
best toavoid red meats, such as beef and lamb, and the food should be fully cooked to maximise the
digestibility of nutrients such as carbohydrate.
As well as bacterial
disturbance anything that
disrupts the natural rhythmic motion of the gut can also create digestive upset. 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 faecal quality. Again, highly digestive food will
provide the best opportunity for the body to cope with this, and portions
should be small and frequent.
A moderate level of insoluble fibre, 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 fatsince a high dose of fat can cause disruption of the gut
bacteria as well as reduce peristalsisby lubricating the internal surface.