5 Common Digestive Issues in Pets
You wake up and head into the kitchen to prepare breakfast for yourself and furry pal. After pouring the perfectly measured food into their favorite bowl, you notice they’re not eating. You think, “Well that’s strange. Usually he devours his food in seconds.” Later, you try to play with him, but he doesn’t seem to be in the mood. Maybe he shows his teeth or turns away when his usual pals try to wrestle and chase him. Then, you notice he’s having a hard time going to the bathroom. When he does go, his stool is runny and has a slimy coating. That’s when you realize something isn’t quite right. This pattern is fairly common in pet homes but read on to the 5 most common digestive issues in pets.
A dog and cat’s digestive system consists of the following:
- Mouth, teeth, and jaw
- Salivary glands
- Biliary tract (liver and gallbladder)
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
Contrary to what you may have heard, digestion truly begins in our dog’s and cat’s stomach rather than their mouth, according to Dr. Melinda J. Mayfield-Davis, DVM. However, some might argue that all digestion starts in the mouth. Because in order for your pet’s stomach to digest food, they have to have food in their mouth to begin with.
While it’s true that your dog’s or cat’s teeth and jaw are designed to help bite and chew bones and large pieces of meat, they often swallow their food whole and let their stomach do the rest. (Case in point: Have you ever seen your dog stumble upon a slice of pizza while on a walk? It’s gone in about half a second.) Unlike humans, our pet’s digestive enzymes are found further down their digestive tract. These enzymes help break down the proteins they consume. What’s more, our canine and feline friends produce nearly a 100 times (a heck of a lot) more stomach acid than we do—thus allowing them to break down larger portions of protein.
And according to PetMD, our dogs are able to digest food three times faster than humans. So it’s no wonder they seem hungry all the time.
As for our feline friends, well they typically digest food within a few hours, and usually don’t feel hungry again until 8-10 hours after they’ve eaten.
Your pet’s gut bacteria
Learning the functionality of our pet’s digestive system isn’t the only thing we need to understand. The truth is, your pet’s gut bacteria (or microbiome) actually plays a major role in their immune and brain health. And if their gut flora isn’t properly balanced, they won’t be able to produce the right amount of enzymes they need to break down their food and absorb its nutrients.
An imbalance in your pet’s gut flora could potentially open the door to unwanted symptoms, allergies, and even disease. And it can also hinder their immune response to these health problems. This is a very common digestive issue with pets.
In fact, one of the main disruptors to your pet’s gut flora is medication such as antibiotics, pain pills, chemotherapy drugs, and non-steroidal meds. When it comes to treating a disease or even an infection, these medications can cause a slew of unwanted symptoms, like nausea, stomach aches, loss of appetite, and even social and emotional issues.
Now, we understand that some of these medications are necessary for saving your pet’s life. But if your dog or cat has to be on an antibiotic, then be sure to add some probiotics and prebiotics to their diet to help reestablish balance to their gut flora.
Your pet’s diet also plays a huge roll in proper digestion. Most commercial dog food is full of starches that quickly convert to sugar, leading to inflammatory issues in many pets. These foods contribute to a problematic gut flora which can lead to bigger issues such as dysbiosis. This is a condition where there are more bad bacteria in the gut than beneficial ones.
Here’s the thing… food is medicine for your dog or cat. If you’re not feeding your pet a high-quality diet filled with fresh whole foods (organic meats, vegetables and fruits), then you’re not providing them with the right microbes their gut needs to stay balanced.
So you see, our pet’s digestive system is critical for maintaining the proper balance their body needs to survive. That’s why it’s imperative to become familiar with changes in your pet’s appetite or behaviors, which often points to an issue with their digestion.
5 common digestive issues in pets
Our canine and feline friends are notorious for picking things up from the ground and eating them. Some even like to eat trash or the synthetic stuffing found in their favorite plush toys. So it’s likely your sweet pet companion will endure a few digestive issues at some point in their lifetime. But don’t let that worry you; we all endure digestive problems at one time or another.
In fact, digestive problems are perhaps the most common reason why pet parents take their dog or cat to the vet. If you find yourself in this situation, your vet will determine whether your pet has an acute digestive issue or a chronic digestive problem.
Acute digestive disorders in pets can range from bloating and consuming foreign objects, to worms or having some sort of parasitic infection like giardia. Treatment for these disorders can be costly but manageable with insurance, especially if surgery is required.
It’s important to note that acute digestive disorders can quickly turn into chronic disorders if they aren’t properly taken care of.
Acute digestive issues usually develop suddenly and only last a short time, like a few days to a couple of weeks.
Chronic digestive disorders develop slowly and can worsen as your pet ages, lasting months or even years.
Common digestive disorders in pets include the following…
#1. Pancreatitis in pets
Also known as inflammation of the pancreas, this condition can be an acute or chronic disorder. Snacking on fatty treats during the holidays could cause acute pancreatitis. But for the most part, pancreatitis is considered a chronic condition, one that could threaten your pet’s life.
A healthy canine or feline pancreas releases important digestive enzymes that help break down their food. These enzymes are only activated once the food enters the small intestines.
An unhealthy pancreas still releases enzymes, but they’re activated the minute they are released—causing inflammation and damage to the surrounding tissue. In fact, it’s thought that the activation of enzymes can digest the pancreas itself, thus causing extreme pain for our canine and feline friends.
Signs of pancreatitis include:
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting repeatedly
- Hunched back
These signs of pancreatitis should always be taken seriously and never ignored.
#2. Pet Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is defined as a group of symptoms that occur together. It often causes inflammation in the intestines and a lot of discomfort.
Signs of IBS in pets include:
- Excessive gas (burping, stomach rumbling, etc.)
- Weight loss
- Lack of interest in food
Causes of IBS can range from stress, fear, anxiety, and lack of exercise.
Signs of IBD range from frequent vomiting and diarrhea, to weight loss and lethargy. Blood or partially digested food are often found in their stool or even in their vomit. Unfortunately, it’s unclear what causes IBD in our pets. But some researchers believe it’s triggered by inflammation—all the more reason to steer clear from inflammatory snacks, treats, and pet foods.
#3. Colitis in pets
Pet colitis is inflammation of the colon (a.k.a. large intestine).
Signs of colitis range from frequent diarrhea to straining after they defecate. Blood is often found in their stool as well as mucus (fat). Vomiting and weight loss can also be a sign of colitis, but they occur in less than a third of cases. If left untreated this can become a chronic condition.
The main cause of colitis in pets is stress. Parasites, trauma, allergic response, and IBD can also contribute to colitis.
#4. Pet Intestinal Permeability (or “leaky gut syndrome” in pets)
For those who have no idea what leaky gut is, it’s exactly how it sounds. It’s when the lining of our pet’s small intestines becomes so irritated that it forms little gaps, allowing toxins to leak out into their body. Their immune system then steps in to try to heal it, but this only creates chronic inflammation—which then can open the door to other digestive disorders and health problems.
#5. Nausea and lack of appetite in pets
Have you noticed that your dog or cat is no longer interested in eating their food? Maybe you’ve even seen them throwing up or dry heaving. Nausea and lack of appetite are common signs that something just isn’t right with your pet.
Here are few reasons your pet might be suffering from nausea or lack of appetite:
Stress and anxiety –– Our pet’s gut microbiome and brain are intimately connected, meaning they communicate with each other. So their feelings of anxiety, stress, and even depression can affect their body and digestion in a profound way.
This may explain why some dogs don’t feel like eating, or feel nauseous and tired, when their owner is away.
Poor gut flora –– An unbalanced diet can greatly disrupt your pet’s gut flora. Even harsh medications have a negative impact on their gut microbiome.
An unbalanced gut flora can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which then prevent your pet from feeling strong and healthy. It’s best to find a biologically appropriate food for your dog or cat, and stay away from poor quality commercial pet foods. Remember, “Food is Medicine!”
As for medications…
Medication side effects
Most over-the-counter and prescription medications cause a number of unwanted side effects like nausea or poor appetite.
These medications include:
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Pain meds
- Behavior drugs
- And more
If your pet has started a new medication or has been taking a certain prescription for a while, it could be the culprit behind their change in appetite or nausea.
Inflammation and undiagnosed pain
Undiagnosed pain could be another reason that your pet companion isn’t excited about eating. And we all know inflammation is often a major contributor to most, if not all, health problems.
You see, pain and inflammation go hand-in-hand. And unfortunately, our pets don’t understand what’s going on when they experience either one. They just know something isn’t right, so their only response is to lie around, sleep, and avoid eat much (or at all) until they feel better.
Examples of undiagnosed pain include:
- Sore teeth (or other mouth issues)
- Stomach cramps
- Organ problems (Liver, Gallbladder, Kidney, etc)
- Digestive upset
- Ear infections
- Hip and Joint inflammation
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Nerve Pain
Again, poor diet and even medications can play a huge role in increasing unwanted inflammation and pain.
Inflammation and stress in pets
As you can see, inflammation and stress seem to be the most common themes when it comes to our pets’ digestive discomforts. But thankfully, there are a few ways we can help:
- Purchase biologically appropriate pet food
- Try making your own pet treats with dog- and cat-safe ingredients
- Eliminate or reduce excessive stressors from your pet’s life
- Make sure your dog or cat gets enough exercise
- Don’t feed your pet table scraps or harmful sweets like chocolate and xylitol
Incorporate probiotics and prebiotics into your pet’s daily regimen
- Consider giving your pet a digestive enzyme supplement
- Try giving your pet slippery elm for IBD symptoms
- Mix some organic, low-sodium bone broth into their food (contains L-glutamine)
- Treat your pet with a tablespoon of organic, unsweetened canned pumpkin
- Administer CBD oil or CBD treats to your dog or cat
You see, hemp-derived CBD has been praised in countless studies for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. And according to research, phytocannabinoids like CBD have been shown to correct the response of inflammation by readjusting the production of immune cells. It’s also been shown to relieve nausea and increase appetite.
Other studies show that CBD could potentially reduce inflammation caused by IBD.
Studies have also shown that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties could possibly boost immune health and reduce oxidative stress, which as we know can contribute to chronic inflammation.
Not to mention, CBD has a well established safety profile, with less worrisome side effects than most prescription medications.
Your pet’s digestion and CBD
Here at All Paws Essentials, we know first hand just how helpless it can feel to see your canine or feline friend suffer from digestive health problems. That’s why we offer various strengths of Pet Friendly CBD oil and CBD pet treats.
All of our products are free from the following:
- Heavy metals
- And other bio-contaminants
We also use high-quality, organic (MCT) coconut oil to help increase the bioavailability of our hemp-derived CBD. And all of our products are 100% THC-free.
When it comes to your pet’s digestive health, it’s important to have high-quality, easy to use, thoroughly tested products always on hand.
And that’s our main focus: To provide you with federally legal, reliable, third-party tested, and highly-effective pet CBD products that are safe for your faithful companions to consume.
For more information, please feel free to reach out to us here. We are ready and available to answer any of your questions or concerns.