A short comprehensive guide on Digestive troubles, FAQs, fun facts, and more.

“Food, the source of life,

Which gives our body the powerful might!

Well balanced food, which is also light

If tasty, is hearts’ greatest delight!”

We love our food, right from tasty home-cooked meals to urban street side food, we really love indulging in delicious, mouth-watering, yummy, scrumptious food. Our furry best friends are no exception to this. No two furry paws are the same. Some like chicken rice, some prefer packaged dog food, while some are quite stringent about their food habits.So, yes it depends entirely on the individuality of different pets, what they prefer or like and what they dislike in particular. In today’s blog, we are going to discover some of the common ailments or disorders pertaining to the digestive system which essentially is one of the most crucial systems inside our bodies. This system helps to digest the yummy food our pets’ relish. But what could possibly go wrong? Technically speaking, there are quite a number of diseases as well as disorders [derangements] which can affect the integrity of this system. Let’s start at the very beginning, lets understand the nitty-gritties and find the solution for all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what not’ questions. Let’s GET, SET, DIGEST!

WHAT IS THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM?

Small cells make up a tissue and many tissues make up an organ, these organs go on to form systems or otherwise termed as organ system which are specialised to function in a certain manner. Digestive system is one such organ system which is involved in the process of digestion which essentially is at the crux of the living body. Digestion helps to supply the body with essential nutrients required for its optimal functioning. Digestive process provides us with essential minerals, energy, protein in the form of amino acids, etc. also, this system is involved in providing essential supplements to the body via the digestion-assimilation process for processes such as healing, repair etc. this system begins at the mouth or oral cavity and ends at the recto-anal region. This system functions in 4 phases:

Phase 1: Ingestion

This phase involves the intake of food via the mouth [with harmony of teeth and tongue]. Through this process, the food is broken down into small morsels such that it becomes comparatively easier to swallow and digest. It is interesting to note that, dogs too have taste buds which helps them to notice and differentiate between various types of foodstuffs.

Fun Fact: Dogs have about 1/6th power or sense of taste. We, humans have roughly 9,000 taste buds, whereas dogs on the other hand have only around 1,700!

Also, did you know, taste buds have a whole different role to play other than enjoyment? Yes, taste buds are so evolved such that they can help or aid in differentiating between potentially harmful, dangerous and poisonous foodstuffs. Dogs are blessed with a strong sense of smell which also plays an important rolein acquiring foodstuffs. Food or food product which does not smell good, or in other words smells suspiciously bad, could possibly help your pets in figuring out whether or not these food items are palatable in nature and are safe to eat.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG IN INGESTION:

Saliva plays an important role in mixing of the food as well.  Improper chewing of food due to: too rapid eating, bone-gums problems or gulping food quickly can contribute to indigestion. Eating rapidly can lead to problems such as bloating, upset stomach or indigestion. Over-eating is also a major problem which can lead us to another set of problems such as vomiting, diarrhoea coupled with indigestion.

However, these conditions are rather mild and can be controlled easily.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Ensure that you give small meals
  • If your pet has a problem of eating quickly, give them small meals but at regular intervals.
  • Ensure you give well cooked meal [if you have raised your pets on home-cooked food]. Avoid giving raw food
  • Ensure that the rice-morsels are not clumped such that your pet may not end up gulping small rice balls as a whole.

Very rarely, or let’s just say, on case-to-case basis, too rapid eating or gulping of bones can potentially end up choking your pet. These bone(s) may get lodged in the oesophagus which is a passage canal which helps to transport the food from the mouth to the stomach for the next step which is the process of digestion.

Phase II: Digestion

Here comes the home-run! The defining or the most important process in the entire event of digestion. Yes, digestion itself! This is the most crucial aspect of the entire process as it is the main functional unit or the engine which drives the train compartments. Digestion as a process occurs exclusively in the stomach, while some part of the small intestine too aids in this process by providing various enzymes for digestion. There is a perfect balance between various enzymes which digests different types of feed stuffs.

For instance, the carbohydrates are digested by the enzyme amylases, the proteases digests the protein component whereas the lipases are involved in lipid [fats] digestion process.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG IN DIGESTION?

There are a wide variety of reasons which could trigger malfunctioning of the digestive system. Let’s look at these causes one by one.

  1. Infectious agents: In the world of medicine, these two twin brothers of pathogenicity i.e., Bacteria and Viruses are the kings of infections. Obviously, the lesser-known brother i.e., fungi sometimes have a role to play but generally for the digestive system, the credit goes solely to Bacterias and Viruses.,

Viruses such as Parvovirus, Adenovirus, etc. have a huge role in contributing to GIT upsets. While we all know the power parvovirus possess. This virus particularly affects the younger puppies who are not vaccinated and/or have very weak immunity who attract this infection when in close proximity of affected puppy or carrier animal. Bacterias on the other hand have a different route of action. It is important to note that our gut or the intestines already are lined up by useful or friendly bacterial colonies. When these Bacterias are disturbed, due to any reasons, the disease causing Bacterias end up getting a chance to attack and colonise thus creating systemic diseases. 

  1. Malabsorption: Malabsorption is again a broader term as absorption process can be hampered by many reasons. Some of the Reasons include:
  • Chronic Pancreatitis [Inflammation of the pancreas]
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Food Allergies
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics
  • Rapid Bowel movements 
  1. Trauma and other causes: In cases of ingestion of foreign body such as toys, clips, bow-ties, nails, battery etc there is a higher risk of trauma [in case of metallic objects or objects with sharp edges]. Some of the foreign bodies end up passing through the digestive system rather quickly not creating a ruckus or leaving the system without harming any parts. Some of the foreign bodies may not be as kind enough. The classical signs of foreign body ingestion and/or obstruction includes:
  • Missing object from home
  • Vomiting frequently
  • Listless and dullness
  • Refusing to eat

It is important to note that, in case you are suspecting foreign body ingestion it is best to take your pet to the vet immediately to get diagnostic procedures such as USG, Xray etc. done to locate and plan further steps of action. 

  1. Liver and its crucial role: The major organ or rather the largest organ of the body- The liver is very important in digestion process at the site of small intestine- i.e., the duodenum. The bile which is produced in the liver is stored in the gall bladder which is released time-to-time depending upon the digestion process. The liver also functions as a detoxifying machine which helps to detoxify various chemicals or harmful substances or drugs [medicines] so that our body is relatively unharmed from the potential threat of ingesting harmful items. 
  1. Intestinal malfunctions:Although not involved in digestive process, intestine by and large stays at the core of immunity and absorption process. Intestines are blessed with certain micro-structures called as the villi or villus which aids in the absorption of food items previously digested with the help of stomach. Intestines also has a storehouse of lymphatic tissues [GALT: Gut associated lymphoid tissue] which helps us to build immunity and stay healthy. The stronger your gut health, the stronger are you! However certain issues can arise in this vital organ as well: 
  • Infections extending from the stomach: It is commonly termed as Gastro-enteritis which is suggestive of the fact that both the gastric [stomach] as well as the enteron [intestines] are closely intertwined micro-systems 
  • Rapid bowel movements:Due to certain health conditions, such as infections, or due to dietary reasons [e.g., Feeding milk to a lactose intolerant dog] there is rapid movement or peristalsis of the intestines which causes malabsorption as well as diarrhoea. Other conditions such as Inflammatory bowel syndrome, Lymphoma can trigger rapid bowel movements thus contributing to diarrhoea. 
  • Infections affecting the intestinal cells: As mentioned before, parvo virus, one of the most notorious viruses replicated in the crypts or intestinal cells, thereby causing sloughing of membranes, bleeding and bloody-diarrhoea. 
  • Too slow movements of the bowel: With diet less rich in fibres is major contributor to slow peristalsis or slow movement of the intestines which causes a condition commonly known as Constipations. This derangement can end up triggering a multiverse of other health conditions.

HOW ARE THESE CONDITIONS DIAGNOSED?

Usually, pets’ do not exhibit any rapid or sudden changes [of course some exceptions are there] it usually illuminates in the form of vague symptoms such as refusal to eat food, which we may overlook upon considering our pets’ to be ‘moody’ or ‘picky eater’. Our pets do have some form of natural immunity which may be due to prior immunisation or which helps to resist or rather fight the infection in the sapling stages. However, when a certain threshold is crossed, there are evident signs and symptoms which we may observe. Let us understand how we diagnose these conditions on the basis of diagnostic aids and history taking.

1. VET’S VISIT: THE HISTORIC EVIDENCE & CLUES TO DIAGNOSIS

The most important aspect of diagnosing a case is via the process of history taking. Your veterinarian may ask you certain questions based on the symptoms and signs you may have noticed. For instance-

  • What signs are being exhibited by your pet?
  • Is your dog/cat vomiting, if so, how frequently?
  • Does your pet have episodes of diarrhoea? If so, how frequent? What is the colour/ consistency and nature of the faeces?
  • Does your pet pass stool or faeces on daily-regular basis?
  • Doe s your pet exhibit signs of straining while passing faeces?
  • Is your dog constipated?
  • If vomiting, what is the colour/content of the vomitus?

These are just a few sample questions which may be asked to you on your visit to the vet. This helps the doctor to establish a firm solid base as the foundation on which the building of diagnosis and the roof of treatment can be safely and aptly be placed on.

2. DIAGNOSTIC AIDS TO THE RESCUE.

With modern times, we are blessed with the scientific techniques and machineries which helps the vet to diagnose the pet further. For example, in cases of foreign body engulfment,the vet may suggest x-ray and/or USG to help locate the foreign body inside the alimentarycanal. Now, with the help of other tools such as laparoscopy etc. foreign body can safely belocated as well as removed from the patient’s body.Use of a particular diagnostic aid depends upon the type of problems your pet may befacing. In case, your pet has a history of chronic diarrhoea your vet may suggest faecalsample test (for worms/eggs/parasitic infections/ protozoal infections) or in case ofvomiting and diarrhoea consistently, a blood test along with liver function tests and kidneyfunction tests may be warranted. These tools are comparable to the roots which helpstrengthen the base of diagnosis.

TREATMENT: THE HAPPY WAY OUT.

The most beautiful feeling is seeing our sick furry friend dancing and gleaming with joy postrecovery. This recovery period varies from a time span of few days to a week. Some minorissues such as food allergies can resolve spontaneously on the grounds of withdrawal ofallergenic food items. Treatment protocol is based majorly on the diagnosis. If the digestiveupset was due to worm-load, the treatment is rather simple (deworming drugs, etc.) On theother hand, if parvo virus infection is established as the causative factor, the treatmentinvolves cascade of drugs including antibiotics, anti-nausea, anti-diarrhoeal drugs coupledwith Fluid Therapy such as Ringer’s lactate etc which is also called as saline in commonterms.

It is interesting to note that, these infections are easily overcome with the help of goodimmunity and strong gut health. Digestive troubles are quite common given that our petsmay not be so nice on Santa’s list and may end up eating something not-so-good for theirhealth, or may have comparatively weaker immunity or may accidentally come in contactwith a sick / carrier pet. However, there is a need to emphasize on the fact that immunity isthe key to success. Diseases may appear to be big bold and dangerous, but our immunitypossesses the natural power to be bigger, bolder and more powerful. This immunity needs agentle push from our side as well, in the form of –

-Building immunity

-Promoting good gut health

Me and My digestion is one such supplement which along with the conventional treatmenttherapy provides a push to boosting gut health and promote better recovery. Me & MyDIGESTION Pet Supplement is a unique formula of valuable supplements for Dogs & Catswhich helps in maintaining gut health of your lovable pets. It thus maintains the pH of gutduring gastric disturbances like biliary obstruction, vomitions, dyspepsia, food poisoning orany ailments to protect your pet’s health. 

Gut health is primarily very important in helping our pets to fight the gastro-relatedinfections. Good food, well balanced diet, proper timely deworming, proper diagnosis and treatment along with care and proper management of gut health is very crucial to help ourpets walk the dangerous path of diseases rather easily and safely. Me and my Digestion isone such supplement which helps boost and promote good gut health and along with conventional therapy is a golden key to recovery.

So, let’s, GET, SET, DIGEST!!