Diarrhea is generally defined as more frequent bowel movements that are loose or watery in nature. This imbalance usually lasts for a couple of days but can last longer and become chronic if not treated properly.
There are a number of possible causes of your dog or cat's diarrhea. The more common causes are listed below.
Poor Quality Food
The majority of processed pet foods contain highly refined and low-fiber ingredients. These often poor quality ingredients facilitate the condition of diarrhea in our dogs and cats. Very often ingredients such as tomato pomace or beet pulp are added to pet foods as a source of fiber, however, being by-products (or waste products) of the human food industry, they generally make poor additions to pet foods. In the wild our canines and felines would consume fur, providing ample fiber, and bone, providing bulk, to create normal stools and prevent diarrhea. Ingredients such as ground bone are found in commercially available raw foods and help to create healthy stools and naturally express anal glands.
Additionally, processed pet foods contain so many often low-quality ingredients along with flavors, colors and other synthetic ingredients that it can be quite hard to tell which ingredient(s) may be contributing to your dog or cat’s diarrhea. For example, chelated proteinate minerals found in most pet foods are marketed as being more easily absorbed. Unfortunately, Nature’s Logic, a natural pet food manufacturer, being able to review ingredient data from companies that produce proteinate minerals for the pet product industry discovered some interesting information. First off, all the trace mineral salts used to make metal proteinates (like copper proteinate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, calcium proteinate, etc) are synthetic substances. In addition, without exception, all the proteinates they reviewed used hydrolyzed soy as the protein molecule. The hydrolyzation process also converts protein to MSG. So, in virtually every commercially available canned and kibble pet food you have synthetic substances, soy and MSG. Considering soy products and MSG are often at the top of the list of substances that can cause inflammation and allergic reactions, do you think it is possible that these commercial pet foods could be contributing to your pet’s diarrhea and other health issues? Of course they could!
Poorly digested food is a common problem in our dogs and cats and often contributes to diarrhea. This occurs because larger food particles are not broken down properly into their smaller constituents that allow for normal absorption through the digestive tract and healthy elimination. Instead, these larger food particles can contribute to damage and disease in the digestive tract resulting in inflammation. The body’s reaction to these undigested, inflammatory particles is to eliminate them from the body as quickly as possible resulting in diarrhea.
There are various species of bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoa that can enter your animal’s digestive tract and cause diarrhea. Diarrhea occurs as the body tries to eliminate these invasive organisms along with undigested, fermenting food often related to infection by speeding removal through the digestive tract and out of the body. For example, one particular organism, called Giardia, causes diarrhea by infecting the cells of the small intestine interfering with nutrient and water absorption resulting in diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms.
Chronic diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of a dog or cat’s allergic response to the food they are eating. This reaction is due to the release of inflammatory chemicals, such as histamine, by white blood cells that line the intestinal tract. This is an immune system reaction to what the body views as an invading substance and can produce a powerful laxative effect.
Drugs / Supplements
Certain drugs can cause diarrhea for a number of different reasons. One reason is the body’s desire to remove offending substances from your animal’s body as quickly as possible. This results in digestive waste being moving through the digestive tract more quickly with less time spent in the colon where healthy stool is formed. Another reason is the altering of the balance of digestive flora. This certainly is the case with antibiotics that destroy colonies of beneficial organisms allowing the overgrowth of invasive, opportunistic organisms like Candida albicans. These unwelcome organisms often secrete toxins and interfere with proper digestion. If your dog or cat’s elimination behavior changes soon after the addition of a new medication there is a very good possibility that the drug is contributing to the diarrhea. If you aren’t sure you can do an online search to check for the side effects of the medication you are using.
Another type of diarrhea, called osmotic diarrhea, occurs when certain substances cause excess water to be retained or drawn into the bowels based on the principles of osmosis. Excessive sugar (as with lactose intolerance - a milk sugar) or salt intake can cause osmotic diarrhea as can the use of too much water-soluble molecules, like magnesium or vitamin C, that result in increased fluid retention in the bowel.
Your veterinarian will examine your dog for underlying illnesses and assess for dehydration. He or she may take a stool sample to check for the presence of internal parasites, as well as conduct blood tests to identify a possible cause of the diarrhea. Other diagnostic tests might include radiographs, ultrasound, cultures, endoscopy and biopsy. The diagnostic tests performed and treatment recommended will depend on how long the diarrhea has been going on and the severity of your pet's condition.
In our experience it is most common for a veterinarian to prescribe an antibiotic, like Flagyl (metronidazole), even when the cause of the diarrhea is unknown. Overusing antibiotics in this way is dangerous and leads to imbalances in your dog or cat that can lead to lifelong disabilities as well as the possibility of stronger, antibiotic resistant bacteria strains in the future. Your vet may also prescribe a steroid medication in an effort to reduce inflammation within the digestive tract. This may be necessary for some very short term needs but if the diarrhea is not life threatening then other more natural approaches will be more suitable with less undesirable side effects.
Bring your dog or cat to the vet if severe diarrhea continues for more than a day, or if you observe lethargy, vomiting, fever, dark-colored or bloody stools, straining to defecate, decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice your puppy has diarrhea, as it can be an important indicator of serious diseases in young dogs.
The goal of our Natural Diarrhea Protocol is to provide enzymes that improve your animal's digestion so that poor digestion is not a contributing factor to your dog or cat's intestinal issues. We also use herbs to help reduce the inflammation in your pet's digestive tract and probiotics to replenish thriving colonies of intestinal beneficial flora. At the same time, in a holistic fashion, we want to remove any contributing factors whether these are in your pet's diet, environment or occur during veterinary visits.
Core Recommendations Suggested products are included in the Core Diarrhea Package found below.
Our "Core Recommendations" form the backbone of our Natural Diarrhea Protocol. They consist of the supplement recommendations we feel are the most important to provide to your animal companion for this condition. They are displayed individually or as a package at the bottom of this page along with other helpful products from which you may make additional selections. Pet foods can be purchased at your finer, local pet stores. If you desire more individualized attention please feel free to use our Consultation Form to provide detailed information about your dog or cat so we can better help you.
Core Recommendation #1 - Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics
Since diarrhea can have many causes, we can not be certain what caused this episode in your dog or cat. But one thing we can be certain of is that promoting better digestion and maintaining thriving colonies of beneficial flora lining the digestive tract will result in a healthier dog or cat. Enzymes will help your animal digest their food quicker and more thoroughly and probiotics have numerous benefits for not only better digestion but a healthier immune system and protection against invading organisms that can help prevent future bouts of diarrhea.
Core Recommendation #2 - Diarrhea Relief Formula
Since diarrhea is the result of some sort of irritation to the digestive tract that the body is trying to flush out, our first course of action is to address this issue. This involves the following:
Whole Food Nutrition
With a condition like diarrhea your dog or cat needs the highest value nutrition possible to provide the body with what it needs for maintenance and repair. Because of this we highly recommend a raw food diet. Raw food is how carnivores, like canines and felines, have evolved to eat and they do best on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Kibble diets are also harder for an animal to digest and this is the last thing your pet needs at this point. Poor digestion is related to inflammatory conditions like diarrhea, arthritis and allergies. In addition, because commercial pet foods contain so many different ingredients that are typically poor quality, waste products of the human food industry, it can be difficult to determine which ingredient may be contributing to your pet's condition.
If a raw food diet is not your cup of tea, the next best thing would be a cooked, whole food diet. There are now many quality premixes to choose from to which you can add your own raw or cooked meat. If you decide to make a homemade diet please research the proper way to do this and make sure to add a calcium source like our Seaweed Calcium. For a quick and easy way to add high-quality protein to your dog's diet take a look at our Whey Protein Isolate. For more information and some product recommendations read our article How to Feed Your Dog or How to Feed Your Cat that can be found in our Education section.
This formula contains a cold-processed whey protein isolate supplying the important amino acid glutamine, colostrum that provides anti-inflammatory proline-rich polypeptides and healing growth factors that help to repair damaged tissue along with organic Aloe vera that provides soothing, anti-inflammatory and healing benefits. All these nutrients are important to the growth and maintenance of intestinal cells and can greatly benefit dogs and cats with inflammatory bowel issues.
This is a great remedy to have on hand for those times your dog or cat gets an upset tummy with or without diarrhea. The organic herbs in this formula work wonderfully to relieve gas, indigestion and nausea that can make your pet feel awful. This can be given daily before or after meals or kept in the fridge to use as needed.
Our Daily Multi Plus is formulated with organic, whole foods that are extremely important to an animal's nutritional needs but are often missing from the majority of canine and feline diets. This special formula provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandulars, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are so beneficial to the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. In this formula you will find the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants recommended by the veterinarian community for this condition - only in an organic, whole food form!
*Since our Daily Multi Plus contains our Digestive Enzyme and Probiotic Formula you can use this product as an alternative now or when your animal feels better. The reason we recommend our Digestive Enzyme Formula as a "Core Recommendation" now is because we are trying to keep it simple at first because some animals with diarrhea can be sensitive to new ingredients.
If you feel that your dog or cat has come into contact with a microorganism that is causing their diarrhea, either because you recently went for a hike or to the dog park, then a treatment with an antimicrobial would be of benefit. Our formula contains organic herbs that help to stimulate the immune system while providing antimicrobial activity effective against bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi. This formula makes a great alternative to broad spectrum antibiotics that destroy beneficial organisms throughout the entire body causing imbalances that can last the lifetime of your dog or cat leading to chronic conditions like diarrhea.
Many animals we see are having problems with hypochloridia, or low stomach acid output. Feeding a kibble diet raises the alkalinity of your pet's stomach resulting in incomplete digestion, but dogs and cats can have problems properly digesting other foods as well. This contributes to many inflammatory issues in the body such as diarrhea, irritable bowel issues, arthritis and allergies. Our Herbal Digestive Tonic contains organic herbal bitters tinctured in organic apple cider vinegar that help to acidify the gut and stimulate gastric, intestinal and gall bladder (bile) secretions to supercharge digestion.
When your dog or cat is suffering with an imbalance there will be an increase in free radical production that can further damage tissue and cause premature aging and possibly other disease. We want to provide your animal with high quality antioxidants to neutralize these free radicals along with other nutrients to aid the body's healing and rebuilding processes. This special blend of microalge is able to travel through the digestive tract and provide nutrients on a cellular level without the need for digestion. In addition, nutrients from the microalgae are able to cross the blood brain barrier and the retinal barrier for amazing effects on the brain and eyes as well as the entire body.References
Are the chelated proteinate minerals added to my pet food I use better than a non-chelated form of a mineral? Retrieved from http://www.natureslogic.com/bl_faq/are-the-chelated-proteinate-minerals/
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