Digestive Health for Dogs – The Importance of Digestive Support for Dogs

Digestive (gastrointestinal) disorders generally impair your dog’s ability to digest and absorb all those great nutrients that keep them healthy and happy. Research is increasingly focused on the gut microbiome and its effect on health and mood.

The digestive tract is a complex system that controls the digestion of food while also influencing brain and immune health. Unfortunately, complications can occur in the gut, causing a manifestation of many common and rare health symptoms.

When dogs experience digestion issues, the typical treatment includes over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed drugs (e.g. Pepcid, famotidine, Omeprazole). These types of drugs contain a histamine-2 blocker that decreases stomach acid production. Side effects can include loss of appetite, headache, constipation, diarrhoea, and drowsiness. Also, these drugs are potentially not safe for dogs with kidney or liver problems. Additionally, dogs with stomach cancer or who are pregnant should avoid these OTC drugs.

It makes most sense to provide your dog with preventative support for a healthy gut and digestion (an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure!) and to do this in a natural, safe and effective way.

As with humans, fibre, acting as a prebiotic, is a great resource for a dog's digestive tract. Fibre is often fermented into fatty acids by the beneficial bacteria naturally found in your dog's intestine. This fatty acid then helps to prevent the overgrowth of any bad bacteria and helps prevent gastric upset and distress and can aid the colon to recover from injury.

Both prebiotics and probiotics are important for your dog’s health. However, they play different roles:

  • Prebiotics: These substances come from types of carbohydrates (mostly fibre) that dogs can't digest. The beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut eat this fibre.
  • ProbioticsThese are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements. They can provide numerous health benefits.

Prebiotics work in harmony with probiotics to support healthy guts and good digestion. This in turn supports the immune system and general health. The combination of prebiotics and probiotics, called synbiotics, are more effective in delivering health outcomes.

Exercise plays an important role in many physiological aspects of health and wellbeing, for both you and your dog, and digestive health is no exception.

Physical activity increases blood flow to the muscles in the digestive system, which massage their food along the digestive tract – a process known as peristalsis – causing them to work more quickly and effectively. Research also suggests that exercise affects the balance of bacteria in the gut.

A holistic approach for managing digestion problems in dogs is the use of herbs. Herbs work with your dog’s digestive system to help naturally achieve the desired long-term result. Herbs are natural with multifaceted benefits that work to ensure optimal health and a strong immune system. The use of herbs also comes with little or no side-effects.

Here are some herbs that help soothe your dog’s intestinal tract and support healthy digestion:

Demulcent herbs soothe and protect the digestive tract membranes. Demulcent herbs include marshmallow root (Althea officinalis), oats (Avena sativa), and slippery elm bark (Ulmus fulva).

Antispasmodic herbs relax any nervous tension that may cause digestive colic. These include chamomile (Anthemus nobile or Matricaria chamomilla), hops (Humulus lupulus), ginger (Zingiber officinale) and valerian (Valeriana officinalis).

Carminative herbs contain volatile oils that affect the digestive system by relaxing the stomach muscles, increasing the peristalsis of the intestine, and reducing the production of gas in the system. Herbs in this category include cayenne (red pepper, Capsicum spp.); chamomile (Anthemus nobile or Matricaria chamomilla), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), ginger (Zingiber officinale), peppermint (Mentha piperita), parsley (Petroselinum crispum), oregano (Origanum vulgare )and rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus).

Hepatic herbs enhance the liver’s activity stimulating the release of gastric juice and digestive enzymes for optimal digestion. Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), turmeric (Curcuma longa), ginger (Zingiber officinale), Siberian ginseng (Eleuthero senticosus) and yellow dock (Rumex crispus) strengthen and tone the liver.

Cholagogues are herbs that increase the production of bile by the gallbladder. Bile helps with digestion. It breaks down fats into fatty acids, which can be taken into the body by the digestive tract. These herbs include artichoke leaves (Cynara scolymu), dandelion root, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), and turmeric (Curcuma domestica).

Antimicrobial herbs may be used when the cause of the digestive upset is microbial, either bacterial or viral. Many herbs have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity; favourites for intestinal conditions include chamomile, echinacea (Echinacea spp.), Oregon grape root (Berberis aquifolium), and thyme (Thymus vulgaris).

Anthelmintic herbs are used to destroy and expel parasitic worms from the gastrointestinal tract. Anthelmintic is used against roundworms, tapeworms and flukes. Infection by these worms causes significant problems including frequently profuse diarrhoea and anaemia of the liver and lungs. These herbs include wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), cloves (Syzygium aromaticum), garlic (Allium sativum), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), turmeric (Curcuma domestica) and ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Bonza includes carefully selected, vet recommended, prebiotic and probiotic ingredients with a blend of herbs and botanicals designed to support your dog’s optimum digestion and overall digestive health.

Prebiotic ingredients: Chickpeas, fava beans, peas, water lentils, oats, cranberries, yucca schidigera

Probiotic: Calsporin® - Bacillus subtilis C-3102

Herbs, Botanicals and Adaptogens: Chamomile, ginger, echinacea, turmeric, rosemary, Siberian ginseng, parsley and oregano 

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