Diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, vomiting, and gastro-enteritis are occasional irritants affecting all pets and people from time to time.
But for some patients, these problems and other bowel diseases like colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, viral enteritis, and reflux can be either very serious ... or cause long term problems that can make your pet miserable.
And it's no fun to be the owner of pets with chronic bowel problems either.
And sometimes the medications we use to treat other problems in your pet cause gastro-intestinal irritation.
Having intensely itchy skin, a tooth abscess, or an ear infection is probably worse than having chronic gut discomfort, but it's still awfully hard to feel good when your gastro intestinal tract is torn up.
With that in mind, if your pet has frequent digestive problems, we offer quite a few products that will probably make your pet happier, more comfortable, and healthier
We talk about therapeutic intestinal diets on another page, but we sometimes use Royal Canin HE for just a week or two as a treatment for intestinal flare ups, so I've included it on this page about supplements as well.
Royal Canin HE for dogs and cats:
I'm not quite sure why this high energy diet works so well at helping pets with diarrhea and inflammation of the bowel but it does. This diet is amazingly effective as a treatment as well as a long term diet for pets with frequent GI problems.
Royal Canin HE is available in dry and canned for both dogs and cats.
Digest-Rite is often effective for chronic diarrhea, gas, and other inflammatory bowel diseases. It contains digestive enzymes (amylase, protease, cellulase, lipase, and pectinase) that break down fats, starches, and proteins ... something that most pets do naturally but something that a lot of pets don't do well ... especially after middle age sets in. And it also contains beneficial amino acids, Yucca schidigera, and probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium, Bifidobacterium thermophilum and Bifidobacterium longum, and Bacticillus subtilus), all of which reduce bowel inflammation, gas, aid in various digestive disorders and often stops stool eating. And even helpful with weight problems. Disgest Rite is a flavored powder you spoon over your pet's food once a day.
There are lots of digestive aids containing probiotics, and the higher quality products seem to be beneficial in a lot of cases.
But I think the reason DigestRite solves chronic indigestion and gastro intestinal problems in so many dogs and cats is not because of the probiotics in the formula, but rather because it contains enzymes that break down starches, proteins, and fats in the upper intestine. This keeps poorly digested food from fermenting and causing so much gas and discomfort in the lower bowel.
A note about Probiotics:
A probiotic, sometimes referred to as good or friendly bacteria, is a microorganism necessary for a healthy and balanced intestinal tract. The prevailing theory for using probiotics is that there are two types of bacteria found in the intestinal tract, good and harmful bacteria. Good bacteria, or probiotics, ensure good health as they supposedly:
1. Produce natural antibiotics, which can fight harmful bacteria.
2. Regulate and increase hormone levels needed for good digestion.
3. Manufacture B group vitamins, biotin and folic acid.
4. Stimulate the immune system.
5. Reduce food intolerance.
6. Increase energy levels.
7. Inhibit the growth of some yeast.
8. Absorb nutrients, antioxidants and iron from food that is eaten.
9. Reduce inflammation.
10. Increase digestibility of food.
Several things can destroy the intestinal bacterial balance in a pet’s gut. Antibiotics and other prescription medications may destroy good bacteria as well as bad. Stress, poor diet, pollutants in the air, water, and environment may also deplete beneficial bacteria.
And at the most recent lecture I attended (Arpil 2014) on bowel diseases, the professor (Dr. Mike Willard of Texas A&M), we were told that the real problem in a lot of cases is that the pet's immune system is simply not working well enough to keep the NUMBER of bacteria under control.
Probiotics can play a helpful role in keeping the bowel healthy, but in truth, clinical results are often disappointing. Part of the reason is that most probiotic products sold for people and pets ... it's a huge, unregulated industry... are nearly worthless either because what's in the product is not even close to what's on the label, or more commonly, because to be effective the lactobacillus and other organisms in the product need to be active (think yeast if you bake bread or cakes) and it takes extremely good quality control and packaging to keep the culture active.
So, if you're going to try a probiotic product for a few weeks to determine whether or not is helps your dog or cat, spend the extra money to buy a quality product from a reputable company. I gather from the lectures I attend that Purina FortiFlora is the brand most used by internal medicine departments of many veterinary colleges. One of the clues that this is a first rate probiotic culture is that the daily doses are individually wrapped for freshness. And that when you open the packet, it has a yeasty odor.
The other clue is that I have quite a few pet owners return to buy more because it works.
FortiFlora Probiotics made by Purina for Cats & Dogs:
This unique supplement contains live active cultures and is recommended for the dietary management of dogs with frequent diarrhea or other bowel problems. It tastes great and can be easily sprinkled on a dog's or cat's food.
Contains a special strain of probiotic that has been proven to promote intestinal health and balance. Promotes a healthy immune system. Contains high levels of antioxidant Vitamins A, E, and C
FortiFlora may help nutritionally manage dogs with diarrhea in many situations including:
Stressful situations such as boarding or change in home environment
Diet change or consumption of inappropriate foods. Soft stool in puppies. Antibiotic therapy
Dr Lapin of Colorado State Veterinary School says it also helps cats fight off upper respiratory disease because of it's beneficial effects on the immune system.
At any rate, like a lot of things in life, there needs to be a balance in the gi tract in regards to the type and amount of bacteria in the bowels. And DigestRite and high quality probiotics often help achieve this balance.
But another thing that needs to be kept in careful balance is the amount of moisture in the bowel. Too much leads to diarrhea. Too little leads to constipation or straining.
This is where dietary fiber or supplemental fiber can really help.
Fiber supplements like Vetasyl: The right amount and right type of fiber in the diet can be very helpful in treating pets prone to diarrhea as well as pets prone to constipation. This is because fiber helps regulates the amount of moisture in the bowel... Not too much and not too little.
Fiber supplements often help with hair ball problems, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cramps, and gas pains.
Fiber supplements designed to ferment slowly can aid in weight loss programs helping to make your pet feel full
Vetasyl is the brand of fiber we recommend.
It encourages natural elimination without the aid of chemicals, while providing gentle, effective relief from constipation. Often works wonders for pets troubled by hair balls. Good for both cats and dogs.
• A natural remedy for digestive issues
• Returns normalcy to your pet’s elimination
• Convenient, and easy to administer
• Contains 100% natural fiber sources
• Formulated without preservatives, artificial flavors or colors
• No reported side effects
How it works:
Vetasyl is sprinkled over food every day to aid in better digestion. The natural fiber source, which includes psyllium and barley, encourages natural elimination without the aid of chemicals.
Other products I sometimes recommend for digestive disorders include:
Activated Charcoal with and without Sorbitol
And quite frequently, instead of supplements, we recommend special, prescription diets designed for cats and dogs with "sensitive stomachs".
It's remarkable how many pets become normal on these special diets ... and then when the owner goes back to using another pet food.... the problems return.
I discuss the benefits of "sensitive stomach" therapeutic diets on another page Check it out.
I've also writen a page about the pet food industry that might shock or at least surprise you.
The AnimalPetDoctor site is devoted to discussing how I treat different medical problems and there is a much more in depth discussion about the causes, dignostics, and treatment of intestinal problems there. And in addition to the interesting page about the pet food industry mentioned above, I've written quite a bit about the history of veterinary medicine, about women in our profession, and also about the "Human Animal Bond".
Oh, I forgot... one more thing. Intestinal parasites are still a frequent cause of poor intestinal health.
Don't forget to check for parasites at least once a year.
And don't assume that just because you're using a monthly preventive that is supposed to control intestinal worms that it is working well.... many worms have become resistant to some deworming products.
This page is about the products and supplements we recommend for pets with frequent diarrhea, colon cramps or discomfort, constipation, gas, and other GI problems.
Also for pets that need to take medication whether short term or long term that might cause bowel inflammation. These include many antibiotics, steroids, pain medications, and phenobarbital.
On Other pages we discuss the special diets and supplements use to treat disease:
The Products we Recommend:
Revolution Frontline Plus Comfortis CapStar Trifexis
Sentinel KnockOut House
KnockOut Premise PrevenTic Collars
Revolution TriHeart Plus Inteceptor Sentinel Trifexis
Panacur ProFender Pyrantel-50mg Revolution Inteceptor Sentinel
And The Very Best Products Available For:
ZymoxHC FoxNest Ear Cleaner Mometamax Acrexx MalOtic
Phytosphingosine Hydroxyzine Tris8 Duralactin OFA's
Phytosphingosine FoxNest Medicated Shampoo Relief OFA's Zymox
FoxNest OatMeal Shampoo Hydroxyzine The Furminator Exotic Diets Genesis Spray BioGroom Natural Scented Shampoos MaloKet
Zymox TriCideNeo Nolvasan Malotic DermaGel Bag Balm
Fly Repellent Vet Wrap
Biotene CET Oral Gel TD
Duralactin FoxNest Joint Health Chews Joint Support for Cats Rimadyl Adequan
Special Diets Duralactin AntiOxUltra OFA's
Reconcile/Prozac DAP Collars & Plug-Ins Elimiodor Forbid Valerian
OFA's AntiOx SAM-e CranVet MultiVitamins PetTinic Milk Replacer Milk Thistle
Bottles & Nipples Slentrol Reducing Diet LeanTreats
Prescription Therapy Diets
Urine Off The Equilizer Eliminodor Pet Candles ThioTrol Skunk
The Furminator OFA's Phytosphingosine
AllerPet for Humans MicroChips Pet Insurance Pet Candles Bag Balm
Dog Appeasing Pheromone Feliway Spray PetGuard
Other products that are often helpful with digestive problems:
FoxNest Hairball Treats:
Hairball Treats are an intestinal lubricant that helps eliminate hairballs and their symptoms, including constipation, straining during a bowel movement, dry cough and vomiting associated with hairballs. It is also a gentle laxative against the formation of hairballs.
Cats really, really like these treats.
Cat Lax and CatNip flavored Cat Lax:
These products are toothpaste like tubes full of flavored petroleum jelly and cod liver oil. Nothing is more successful at evacuating the bowel
We recommend Cat Lax when cats or dogs are suspected to have acute GI upset or clogging.
Note; when you're using petroleum jelly based hairball medications, ignore the directions on the package... the trick to effectively evacuating the bowel is to use A LOT. talk to me about how much I recommend.
Thanks, Roger Ross DVM