When it comes to your dog’s health, do you consider digestion a priority? The digestive tract is the foundation of their health, and if you don’t care for your dog’s digestion, their overall health can be negatively impacted.
Your dog has a unique collection of hundreds of different types of single-celled microorganisms (bacteria and other microbes) in his or her digestive tract—this is called the gut flora. Gut bacteria are crucial for both digestion and getting the right nutrients from your dog's food.
Gut flora affects more than you think, and when gut bacteria are unbalanced, disorders like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) can develop.
Today, we are seeing a rise in digestion disorders in dogs AND people. Now more than ever, it’s vital to ensure our dogs’ digestive health. How can you help? Try offering high-quality supplements, like the ones manufactured by Makers Nutrition.
Let’s take a look at some of the nutritional supplements that can help improve your dog’s digestive health.
Vitamin supplementation is a great way to improve dog digestion. Vitamins are important digestive catalysts to optimal enzyme function. This means that without appropriate amounts of essential vitamins, the enzymes designed to help break down and absorb nutrients may not function as well as they should.
Vitamin B12, for example, is often associated with improved digestion. B12 is vital in metabolizing nutrients, as well as aiding in enzyme function during digestion. Dogs that are not getting enough vitamin B12 in their diet, which can be most abundantly sourced from animal proteins, may show signs of poor digestion and nutrient absorption.
All of their essential vitamins and minerals should be included in their diet, but for dogs that show signs of deficiencies, or those eating heavily processed diets that may yield limited quantities of these nutrients, vitamin supplementation can prove beneficial to digestive health.
Similar to humans, due to poor diet habits, your dog may be missing out on some of its required daily nutrients. It can be nearly impossible to perfectly balance all the vitamins and minerals that your dog needs, and this imbalance can lead to insufficient digestion and many other health issues.
Supplying your dog with a multivitamin can help to cover your bases. This will not replace the need for a properly balanced diet, but it can ensure that in combination with proper nutrition, your dog will have enough of each essential nutrient to thrive.
Try NutraVet All-In-One Soft Chews to cover your dog's vitamin and mineral needs.
Another option to improve digestion: probiotics, or good bacteria. They aid in digestion and regulate the immune system. Probiotics produce short-chain fatty acids, inhibiting the growth and activity of harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. They can also help prevent urinary tract infections and have the potential to reduce allergic reactions by controlling inflammation.
It is best to choose a probiotic that is formulated for your dog’s specific needs. A human probiotic may be ineffective, and in some dogs may actually worsen digestive irritability. Be very careful when choosing the digestion-promoting bacteria for your dog.
Some strains of bacteria are beneficial to both humans and dogs, like Lactobacillus Acidophilus, but dogs have unique bacteria that you won’t find in a human probiotic supplement. Look for strains like Enterococcus Faecium or Bacillus Coagulan, like in Baci+.
Supplementing digestive enzymes is another effective way to improve digestion and health. Dogs suffering from poor digestion, due to inadequate diet or other health conditions, will not produce the needed quantities or variety of digestive enzymes to break down food.
In common cases, dogs may have inconsistent bowel movements, suffer allergy symptoms, or struggle with maintaining weight and activity levels. When treated early with an enzyme supplement, you can quickly improve your dog's condition.
Untreated digestive problems can lead to worse and worse conditions. Pancreatitis, referring to inflammation of the pancreas, can be life-threatening. The use of digestive enzyme supplements can reduce the load of the pancreas and allow for better and more efficient digestion.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a rare but severe condition in which dogs are unable to digest food and extract the necessary nutrition. They are also unable to make their own digestive enzymes, so supplementation is required.
Dogs with EPI must be fed powdered pancreatic enzymes before each meal. These additional enzymes do not cure the condition, but they can reduce the workload of the pancreas, and allow nutrients to be broken down and absorbed better.
OVERALL DIGESTIVE HEALING
There are several options before jumping to supplementation as a solution. If your dog has occasional issues, additional fibre may be the best first step. Fruits and vegetables are not only healthy, but a great source of fibre to get your dog’s digestive health on track.
Before administering supplements, it is best to seek the advice of your veterinarian. This will allow you to discover the root of the issue instead of just treating symptoms.
While many dogs benefit from digestive enzymes, they can also experience undesirable side effects such as vomiting, loose stool, and gas if the wrong kind of digestive aid is offered. If there are any signs of these conditions or discomfort after eating, immediately discontinue the use of the supplements.
What supplements do you use for improving your dog’s digestion? Share your favourite product with us in the comments below!