Diets & Supplements used
to treat Gastro -Intestinal Problems

Diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, vomiting, and gastro-enteritis are occasional irritants affecting all pets and people from time to time.

But for some patients, these problems and other bowel diseases like colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, viral enteritis, and reflux can be either very serious or long term problems that can make your pet miserable.  And it's no fun to be the owner of pets with chronic bowel problems either.

Medications like antibiotics, steroids, cancer drugs, and pain medications for diseases like arthritis cause stomach or bowel irritation.

It should make sense to you that what a pet eats is a big factor in bowel diseases.  What you eat can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.

If your pet suffers from any bowel disorders, your vet will consider using special diets designed to help or cure the problem.  He or she may recommend these diets for a short period or as long term management of the disease.

Each of the major companies that produce therapeutic pet diets offer their own diet designed to prevent, manage, and treat the different types of gastro-intestinal disorders we commonly see in veterinary practice. 

Each of these diets are unique (different from each other) in some way so your vet may chose one brand for one condition and another brand for another condition.  For example, Hill's I/D (intestinal diet) has low levels of dietary fat and is an excellent diet choice for pets with pancreatitis whereas Royal Canin's HE (high energy) diet contains high levels of dietary fat and is an excellent choice for viral enteritis but not appropriate for pancreatitis.

We sometimes have to try one or more of these diets to find the one that your pet likes and works the best.

Royal canin HE for dogs and cats:
High energy density  High levels of dietary fat
Moderate levels of high quality, highly digestible protein ,Highly digestible
Optimal levels of mixed soluble and insoluble fiber
Enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, FOS, MOS, and zeolite to help optimize intestinal health
Recommended for:
Acute and chronic diarrhea
Intestinal parasites (e.g., giardia, worms)
Diarrhea due to dietary indiscretion
Short bowel syndrome
Viral intestinal disease
But because of the high levels of fat, NOT recommended for
Pregnant or lactating bitches, Lymphangectasia, Pancreatitis, or Hyperlipidemia

On This Page:

An introduction to the special diets and supplements available for helping with chronic diarrhea, constipation, bowel inflammation, and sensitive "stomach"

On Other Pages:

Nutrition for pets; Introduction and comments on what to feed healthy pets.

Diets used to Treat Urinary Tract Diseases
Diets used to Treat Weight Issues
Diets used to Treat Skin Allergies
Diets used to Treat Kidney Disease

Diets used to Treat Heart Disease                                 
Diets used to Treat Arthritis and Joint Disease

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Hill's I/D Intestinal Diet for dogs and cats:

We've been recommending Hill's id diet for years for dogs and cats with frequent diarrhea, excessive gas, or feeling lousy from frequent indigestion.
Hill's now has a special low fat formula for pets with pancreatitis or hyperlipidosis.

Eukanuba Low Residue Diet for dogs and cats:
I've great success with this diet for cats with chronic or frequent diarrhea. 

Purina's EN Gastrentric Formula
This diet, canned or dry is a good all purpose diets for pets with various intestinal problems including pets with "sensitive stomach".  It's seems to be especially good for "irritatble bowel" cases.
Purina also makes very high quality probiotic for pets.

High digestibility
Source of MCTs (22-34% of fat)
Moderate fat
Source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
Low fiber
Increased antioxidant vitamins E & C
Added Zinc
Enhanced with Colostrum (dry formula)

It doesn't help much to feed a special diet to pets with sensitive digestion or other intestinal tract problems if your pets is feed inappropriate snacks.
Supplements Helpful In The Treatment of Bowel Disorders:

Digest-Rite is a product I find very effective for pets with frequent indigestion, gas, and sloppy stools..

It contains digestive enzymes
(amylase, protease, cellulase, lipase, and pectinase) that break down fats, starches, and proteins ... some pets don't do this well ... especially after middle age sets in. And it also contains beneficial amino acids, Yucca schidigera, and probiotics
(Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium,
Bifidobacterium thermophilum and Bifidobacterium longum, and Bacticillus subtilus), all of which reduce bowel inflammation, gas, aid in various digestive disorders and often stops stool eating. It may even be helpful with weight problems.

Disgest Rite is a flavored powder you spoon over your pet's food once a day.

Probiotics: As pointed out in the paragraph above, probiotics are often combined with digestive enzymes and herbal treatments like Yucca. 

You need to know that while most practioners seem to agree that dispensing probioitic products seems to help a lot of pets ... especially those prone to GI upset due to long term medications ... a lot of other vets and physicians are skeptical of any health claims.

A probiotic, sometimes referred to as good or friendly bacteria, is a microorganism necessary for a healthy and balanced intestinal tract. The prevailing theory for using probiotics is that there are two types of bacteria found in the intestinal tract, good and harmful bacteria. Good bacteria, or probiotics, ensure good health as they supposedly:

1. Produce natural antibiotics, which can fight harmful bacteria.
2. Regulate and increase hormone levels.
3. Manufacture B group vitamins, biotin and folic acid.
4. Stimulate the immune system.
5. Reduce food intolerance.
6. Increase energy levels.
7. Inhibit the growth of some yeast.
8. Absorb nutrients, antioxidants and iron from food that is eaten.
9. Reduce inflammation.
10. Increase digestibility of food.

Several things can destroy the intestinal bacterial balance in a pet’s gut. Antibiotic and other prescription medications may destroy good bacteria as well as bad. Stress, poor diet, pollutants in the air, water, and environment may also deplete beneficial bacteria.

Quackery?  I don't think so.  Probiotics are harmless, they're inexpensive, and a lot of pets seem to feel better and stop having gas, diarrhea, and bowel inflammation after being treated with probiotics.  But most of the internal medicine experts I've heard on the seminar circuit say the medical evidence is questionable.

The most recent lecture I've attended on this subject indicates that quality is critical.  Many products sold are apparently useless.  It's important to use name brands recommended by your vet.  I trust Purina's FortiFlora product.

Fiber supplements: The right amount and right type of fiber in the diet can be very helpful in treating pets prone to diarrea as well as pets prone to constipation.  This is because fiber regulates the amount of moisture in the bowel... Not too much and not too little.

Fiber supplements often help with hair ball problems,
irritable bowel syndrome, colon cramps,
and gas pains.

Fiber supplements designed to ferment slowly
can aid in weight loss programs helping to make
your pet feel full

Fiber supplements are also used in the treatment of dogs with diabetes helping to control the "swings" in blood sugar.

Hairball treats:
Most brands of hairball treats for cats are mild laxative lubricants and can be quite helpful for those cats with hard stools, uncomfortable straining, frequent gagging or coughing. or frequent upchuckers of hairballs.  Other hairball treats of diets claiming to aid in the prevention of hairballs contain either extra fiber and/or enzymes helpful in the digestion and passage along the intestinal tract of hair.  All these products seem to work in a lot of cats and not in others.  It's appropriate to simply try the treats or the diet to see if this is effective in your cat.

Note: a lot of cats ... and dogs ... that pass excessive amounts of hair have skin conditions that need attention.

For the actual treatment of cats and dogs clogged up with hair, nothing seems to work better than any of the many brands of flavored petroleum jelly available at every vet's office and pet store.  But the trick for success is giving a lot more than the directions say.  For cats that are feeling blah or gagging and hairballs are suspected, I recommend giving 1/2 tube daily for 2 days in a row.  If your cat doesn't poop a lot and feel much better after giving this much laxative; it's time to see your vet.