Gut health is important for humans and for our pets. Just as we take care of ourselves we want to make sure to take care of our animal companions. Two of the most common symptoms of gastrointestinal issues in dogs and cats are vomiting and diarrhea. Chinese call vomiting, Violent Chi, Chi meaning energy. Diarrhea is letting all of your natural fluids go out of your body. Neither state is healthy.
Throughout my career as a veterinarian, the most common questions I get asked surround a healthy gut and what can be done to keep our dogs and cats feeling their best well into old age.
Stop the food and rest the gut
If your dog or cat has diarrhea the first thing to do is try to give the gut a rest. Remove food from your pet for 12 hours. Don’t withhold water, in fact, increase the water intake if possible.
A great at-home tip to help harden stool is to serve your pet rice water. Just boil rice, once cooked, remove the rice and chill the water. Then serve your pet the water. (Don’t forget to chill it to room temperature first!) The rice water serves as a natural binding agent and will help harden the stool.
Another recommended tool to help support proper GI tract structure and function during times of digestive upset and stress associated with garbage gut, food sensitivities, age, and traveling is my Quick Relief Pro tube. It’s a mega probiotic with B vitamins that you use 3-4 times a day for two days and this will help stop diarrhea naturally.
When to call the vet
If you have bloody diarrhea, or if diarrhea doesn’t clear up in a day or so, consult your vet. Most times they will need you to take a small poop sample into them to be analyzed for parasites. Dogs and cats can get parasites such as worms from eating garbage or bad food affecting their gut health. Again, for daily gut health, I recommend using our G.I. Balance. But if your dog or cat is prone to getting parasites then you could use my all-natural G.I. Balance Plus Supplement.
A pet’s vomiting can also be a sign of gastrointestinal issues. It’s important to understand the difference between regurgitation and vomiting.
- Regurgitation: Happens immediately, if they eat and all of a sudden they are vomiting, food falling out of their mouth, it’s regurgitation.
- Vomiting: If it’s 1.5-3 hours post-eating, and you get vomiting, it’s true vomiting and something is wrong.
Regurgitation is more common in cats than dogs and although it isn’t as serious as vomiting, it’s still a sign of an unhealthy pet as it burns and erodes the esophagus.
Here are 3 easy tips to try to stop regurgitation in dogs and cats:
- Raise your animal’s food and water bowl off the floor to match their height. Use an elevated food bowl or stand for the bowl so that your pet is not constantly catching the food or water right in their esophagus. If they eat or drink too fast, when they pick their head up they will just regurgitate it out.
- Slow your dog or your cats eating time down and try to get them to take smaller bites. With bigger bites, most animals swallow their food without chewing and too much gets caught in the esophagus. An easy at-home trick is to boil (and then cool) some rocks and put them in the elevated bowl so your pet has to work around the rocks for their food, therefore, forcing them to take smaller bites. You can also find special bowls made specifically for this purpose.
- Give your pet daily probiotics.
If it’s 1.5-3 hours after eating and your pet vomits it might be an illness requiring vet intervention. A good way to gauge this is to immediately take the water and food away to let the stomach settle down. After about 2 hours, reintroduce just a small amount of water. If your pet is able to keep water down, you can reintroduce food slowly after several hours.
If vomiting persists, take your pet’s temperature. Normal for a cat is 100, normal for a dog is 101.5 (with there are variables of about 1 degree if your dog or cat is constipated sometimes temperature can be a little lower.) You can buy a digital thermometer at a pharmacy, put a little plastic coating over the tip with some vaseline, insert in your pet’s rectum (very gently) and leave it for a minute or a minute and a half.
If the temperature is elevated and you have vomiting and diarrhea, call your vet immediately.
When you have gastrointestinal problems, you want to keep the food as soft as possible, when you are reintroducing food back to a dog that has been vomiting.
In my house, sweet potatoes are my go-to secret for a natural way to calm the gut down particularly after vomiting or diarrhea. Just whip them in a food processor and put a little bit on top of the food they are already eating. Cooked sweet potatoes and barley also help dogs with diarrhea have a firmer stool.
The purpose of probiotics
It is a great idea to add a daily probiotic like our G.I. Balance daily, to your pet’s food. Probiotics help with putting the good bacteria and enzymes back in your gut. We have all kinds of bacteria that help us digest our food but sometimes they’re not as effective as others. More animals than not need to be aided with enzymes and probiotics just to keep the natural flora and fauna which is the bacteria in balance in the gut, especially our senior pets.
I’ve also found in my practice that lean meat is far better for most dogs and cats for gut health and allergies as well as to have a diet that consists of lean single protein foods. Many people try turkey, venison, or rabbit. Some of the newer formulas even contain kangaroo and crocodile.
With a few changes in your pet’s diet and some extra help with probiotics, you can ensure your animal companion ages healthy and happy.