Digestive problems

Digestive problems

Dogs are really good at clearing their dishes when it comes to food – The day will come when your dog decides to stop eating. There can be a number of reasons why your dog decides to change its eating habits. Firstly you have to rule out any medical reason why this has happened. Some reasons are a bad tooth or teeth, gum disease, thrush (candidiasis) or a digestive problem.

If your dog skips a couple of meals this is not a problem for them but it does pose a big problem for us as owners. Alarm bells ring and you start panicking, it’s at that point you start presenting you dog with all kinds of foods and treats. Still not eating! Ask for advice “what do other people do when their dog stop eating? You try the suggestions put forward, the dog still doesn’t eat! It then turns into a frenzy for you and a game for the dog.

What you have to realise is that your dog has had a tailored diet to suit their needs and environment and you cannot go on what other people feed their dogs. For instance, I feed my dogs on raw, It gives them the correct amount of nutrition and they enjoy their meals. If I decided to feed them dry pet food it would cause an imbalance within the body and could result in diarrhoea and sickness. The reason: the digested system would have to process the food an entirely different way than it has been used to.

When making any change to your dog’s diet it should be done gradually over a period of time. If your dog has been used to wet food and you give then give them dry food, it would mean your dog would have to drink more water, more water means the kidneys would have to work harder. The pancreas would now have to process more fats and proteins. The stomach its self would produce more bile and digestive juices which could make your dog feel as though its stomach is full and liver its self would produce more enzymes. The bowel and gut are where the good and the bad bacteria live. They can live in harmony for years but as soon as there is a change in your dog’s diets all hell can break loose and this could result in diarrhoea. All these conditions just mentioned can cause your dog to be in pain and to be off colour. If you had stomach pain and was feeling under the weather would you eat a Sunday dinner?  I don’t think many of you would. Most of us can have days where we don’t eat properly and are quite happy at snacking on bits and pieces. Some dogs are doing just that, it’s not an illness it’s just they don’t feel like eating that particular day. If that happens don’t look at it as though it is a problem. If the dog walks away from its dish take it up until next feeding time. Your dog is not going to collapse and die of starvation if it hasn’t eaten for a few days. If a dog is that hungry it would eat whatever you put in front of it.

We are to blame for a dog being a picky eater. Due to all the different products available on the market we decide what we think is right for our dogs rather than choosing the correct diet for your dog. If we like gravy surely the dog would want gravy! We like crunchy food, they like crunchy foods! We prefer beef, they prefer beef. Many of us are programming our dogs to eat foods which may not be suitable for their digestive systems.

If a dog stops eating it could be a physiological reason. If your dog was sick after eating a meal it can then associate food as a bad thing and so it stops eating. We then realise the dog has stopped eating, what do we do? Make a grab for human food, we offer the dog tinned fish, fresh chicken, fresh beef, tinned soup, corned beef, sliced ham and you get the picture anything to tempt your dog to eat. We tend to forget that most of our foods are processed. The majority of it has added salts, sugars and fats as well as vegetable proteins and other additives and preservatives. Again this upsets the digestion process of the dog and usually causes other problems like dehydration due to the salts, high blood sugar readings and the liver and pancreas would be under a lot of pressure to process them.

In some of the above for mentioned foods, they contain a product called soy. Soy can be very harmful to dogs and can cause cramping of the stomach. If this happens usually an owner or a vet cannot physically see this happening. Blood test results show high enzymes which say’s the liver is not functioning properly and the blood glucose level is high as well as a raise ketones in the urine. The dog will then refuse to eat anything due to it making them feel ill.

So how do we overcome this problem? You have to go back to basics, treat your dog as though it was a puppy.

I suggest the first couple of meals to be as bland as possible, i.e. Turkey, it has less fat than chicken, so it gives pancreas and the bile ducts a rest. Brown rice so that your dog feels full but in effect is light so it is less likely to be vomited back up. A tablespoon of natural live yoghurt, this will help stabilise the good and bad bacteria making the stomach and the intestines more settled when food is present. You can also try white fish, keep away from oily fish. (You can also try baby food in jars, they are full of nutrients which are safe for your dog and will be gentle on the tummy).  Give small meals at first, maybe 2 large tablespoons every 4 hours. This gives the digestive system a rest. Try changing the times of meals and change where your dog usually has its food. If it eats in the kitchen try feeding your dog in another room. Try to relax and don’t show your dog any concern if it doesn’t eat. Try feeding your dog at the same time as yourself. It’s better to eat as a pack than as an individual in your dog’s eyes. Remember we are going back to puppy days when siblings ate together.

Food always tastes better to a dog if it’s stolen. If your dog won’t eat pretend to be preparing food and knock some turkey on the floor. Carry on doing what you’re doing and ignore the dog. If the dog walks away from it leave it on the floor chances are the dog will be tempted back. Try putting their food on a plate; leave it somewhere so they can steal. I know it may be going against owners rules but if it gets the dog eating do it.

Once the dog’s tummy has settled start to introduce the original food you gave them as a puppy. In other words, puppy food wet or dry.  Add this slowly to the meals so that their digestive systems can adjust. Puppy food is ideal because it contains herbs and nutrients which are essential to maintaining the dog’s health while they are feeling off colour.  After a few weeks introduce the adult food that you’re dog enjoyed and was healthy on. This process can take weeks or even months, don’t make the mistake of trying to rush things otherwise you’ll be back to square one.

It only takes one meal to upset your dog’s digestive system but it can take over a month to correct it.

Only change your dog’s diet if there is a medical reason to do so and then contact a canine nutritional advisor rather than a vet to help decide what  diet your dog needs.