5 Ways to improve your pet’s digestion.

Is your dog experiencing gas, diarrhea, or discomfort? Over time, poor digestion can lead to depression, anxiety, and malnutrition. If you’re reading this, it’s not too late to make a change for the better. Learn about 5 ways to improve your pet’s digestion for good!

1 – Make the switch to fresh food.

The first step in resolving a pet’s chronic gas or loose stools is to make the switch to a fresh food diet. Be it raw or homecooked, many pet parents report relief from these symptoms simply from making the switch. Chronic digestion problems can be caused or exacerbated by several aspects of processed pet food. These can include:

Poor quality ingredients.

Many processed pet foods contain poor quality ingredients, poor quality supplements, and cheap fillers. Meat meals and byproducts from rendering plants, as well as low-quality supplements with poor bioavailability, are just some of the examples.

Rancid fats from storage conditions.

The fats and fatty acids in dry pet food can often go rancid due to air exposure and storage temperatures. Most dry pet food packaging is not airtight, allowing oxidation and rancidity. Additionally, many pet parents may store dry food in plastic containers, which are often not cleaned of oil and crumb residue from the previous batch of food before adding a new bag.

Mold and mycotoxins.

The storage and manufacturing of the grains, nuts and legumes used in processed pet food results in a certain level of mold and mycotoxins. Aflatoxin is a carcinogenic mycotoxin that every pet parent should know about and avoid. The FDA allows 20 micrograms per kilogram of aflatoxin to be in dry pet food. However, these amounts can be higher if the food is not regularly tested and monitored. Additionally, retail suppliers such as pet and feed stores can occasionally cause mold within their dry feeds if the bags are mishandled and improperly stored.

2 – Simplify the diet.

There are several dietary adjustments to a normal raw diet that can also be made to help resolve loose stools and gas. Simplifying the diet can be helpful for transitioning to raw, troubleshooting unexpected digestive upset, or soothing chronic digestive conditions.

Reduce fat.

Fat has been unfortunately vilified in both human and canine nutrition. However, fat is an essential nutrient and an essential energy source which helps to absorb fat soluble nutrients and makes up a large part of the brain, cell membranes, hormones, and more. Healthy natural fats and fatty acids are not the enemy, but too much fat does have a laxative-like effect. High-fat diets should generally be avoided for dogs new to raw, or for dogs with chronic digestive medical issues. Additionally, a temporary bland and lean raw diet for otherwise healthy dogs experiencing unexpected digestive upset can be helpful.

Increase fiber.

Fiber from vegetables or supplements helps to regulate stool consistency and act as prebiotics to feed beneficial gut bacteria.

Temporarily remove organs from the diet.

When first transitioning to raw or in times of unexpected digestive upset, rich ingredients such as red meat, liver, and other organs should be temporarily avoided for adult dogs. Keep the diet simple with lean white meats, lean meaty bones, and plenty of fibrous vegetables.

Try an elimination diet.

While simply switching to a fresh diet is often the solution for many dog’s digestive health, sometimes a more in-depth approach is required in order to troubleshoot chronic gas and diarrhea. Some dogs have intolerances or allergies to specific proteins or other foods, which can result in diarrhea and gas if these items are fed. Every dog is an individual in their intolerances, and allergy tests are often inaccurate. Therefore, the most trustworthy method to pinpoint trigger ingredients is an elimination diet starting with PMR grinds. In the case of chronic gas, avoid cruciferous vegetables—like broccoli and kale—and any other trigger foods for that individual. You can read more about the proper procedure for elimination diets here.

3 – Don’t forget about the gut.

Many dogs have poor microbiome health due to consuming a carbohydrate-heavy processed diet and an overuse of antibiotics without accompanying probiotic support. Studies have shown that switching to a raw diet changes the bacterial composition of the gut microbiome, creating more varied and healthy bacterial populations. The bacteria that occupy your pet’s gut can greatly impact their mental and physical health. AnimalBiome is a company which offers microbiome testing and consultations which can provide detailed information about the health of your dog’s microbiome. 

Switching to a fresh food diet, including fiber/prebiotics, and including natural probiotics such as kefir or fermented vegetables can help improve a dog’s digestive health. If these natural options are not available, or after antibiotic use, supplemental probiotics can also be helpful. We offer a probiotic and herbal supplement blend called Probiotic: Soil Based Probiotic that can be added directly into food. It’s ideal to rotate probiotic sources and take breaks to promote microbiome diversity. A healthy gut microbiome supports healthy digestion!

*In rare cases, it is important to note that some dogs do not tolerate certain types of probiotics well, such as cases with medical conditions like SIBO. Consult your veterinarian or pet nutritionist if your dog has any of these conditions.* 

4 – Incorporate natural digestive enzymes.

While the gut microbiome can influence digestion, there are other processes to consider as well. Believe it or not, the digestion process in our pets begins with their noses and mouths! Just like us humans will begin to salivate at the smell of good food, a dog’s body will begin to move into a digestive state when they smell a meal. Digestive enzymes start in the saliva, as well as being produced from the small intestine and pancreas. These enzymes are compounds that break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into smaller absorbable particles through chemical reactions. Fresh foods contain natural enzymes as well, which are destroyed by the high heat processing of kibble and canned pet foods. For dogs who struggle with chronic digestive problems and malabsorption, feeding a fresh food diet and adding supplemental digestive enzymes can be beneficial.

5 – Don’t stress, don’t guess!

Dogs and cats are energetic and pick up on our stress and anxiety. If you are stressing about your pet’s food, they may be picking up on your energy and any resulting anxiety that they may experience can contribute to digestion issues.

We understand that there are many consumer choices when it comes to what is best to feed your pets and knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. Our advice? Don’t stress, and don’t guess! Choose a nutritionally balanced, high quality premade raw option, like our Carnos blends for easy feeding, or work with a professional nutritionist to formulate balanced DIY recipes you can make at home. If you are here, you are already one step closer to improving your dog’s life. Book a free consultation to learn more about our products. Our goal is to improve your pet’s digestion, health, and wellbeing for good.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended for educational purposes only. You are responsible for your pets’ health and safety. We encourage you to research topics further and consult with your Veterinarian or Pet Nutritionist before modifying your pets’ diet. If you’d like more one-on-one guidance, we offer consultation calls with our in-house raw feeding experts.