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Christmas can be a dangerous time for dogs' digestion - with turkey, Christmas pudding and tons of sweets and presents around the house, it's easy to miss what your dog has craftily stolen. But it’s not just the festive season that can cause digestive upsets. If you suspect a digestive disorder or notice signs such as diarrhoea or vomiting, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
For every animal - cats, dogs and humans alike - digesting food and absorbing nutrients is vital to overall health and wellbeing. The term 'digestive disorder' refers to any condition that prevents digestion from happening properly, or which alters the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract.
Digestive disorders are one of the most frequent reasons for consulting a veterinary practice. The two main signs to look out for are vomiting or diarrhoea. Sickness and watery or bloody poop may be pretty obvious but more subtle stool changes can be a sign of issues too. Look out for poop that is softer than normal, has blood or mucus in it or poop that has gone a weird colour such as yellow or green.
However, there are also other less obvious signs, such as a weight loss, change of appetite, flatulence, stomach gurgling or sudden inactivity.
If you notice any such changes, you should visit your vet as soon as possible. If a digestive disorder is diagnosed, your vet will discuss the most likely cause with you. The most frequent causes are:
- An inflammation and irritation of the stomach (gastritis)
- An adverse reaction to a food, or simply eating something that has 'disagreed' with your dog
- Inflammation of the small intestine
- Inflammation of the large intestine (colitis) which results in frequent diarrhoea, often accompanied by blood or mucus
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) or the pancreas may not be producing enough digestive enzymes to process food properly
Your vet may recommend changing your pet's food or prescribe medication to help get them back to health more quickly. This is important as vomiting and diarrhoea can lead to fluid loss and dehydration as well as loss of vitamins and minerals. The gut wall will often be inflamed and it also needs the right nutrients to recover quickly.
Ask your vet about Hill's Prescription Diet Canine i/d which is specifically formulated to help your dog's gut heal and recover more efficiently. You can see the difference in as little as three days.*
Hill's Prescription Diet i/d is recommended by vets because:
- It is deliciously appealing to help get your dog eating again
- Has a gentle, non-irritant texture to help the gut recover
- Is highly digestible with a moderate fat content to help the absorption of vital nutrients
- High in electrolytes and B vitamins to replace nutrients lost through vomiting and diarrhoea
- Clinically proven antioxidants to support a healthy immune system.
- Is suitable for short term recovery as well as long-term feeding
- Is ideal for puppies as well as adult dogs. Make sure you ask your vet how much to feed because puppies need more food per kilo of bodyweight than adult dogs do.
- Is available in wet and dry formulas
Once the underlying cause of the digestive disorder has been diagnosed, your vet may then recommend switching to feeding other foods in the Hill's range. Only feed the food recommended by your vet - do not be tempted to 'home-cook' food or mix it with another brand. This could result in the overall meals being unbalanced. You can also ask your vet for advice on feeding several small meals a day, and always provide plenty of clean, fresh water.
By following the recommendation of your vet, you can help your dog quickly get back on their paws. If the signs do not get better (or if they improve and then come back) you should always contact your vet.
* A Multi-centre Feeding Study of the Influence of Dietary Intervention in Dogs with Gastrointestinal Disorders. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. Pet Nutrition Centre, 2003.
Reviewed by Dr. Hein Meyer, DVM, PhD, Dipl-ECVIM-CA and Dr. Emma Milne BVSc FRCVS