Good Guts! - Part Two - Finding a Solution
20 CommentsTuesday, 19 February 2013 | Kate
Here's the second part of our article on how to maintain a healthy digestive tract for your dog. In case you missed it last week you can read part one here.
A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is the best way to maintain healthy guts. A balanced diet for dogs depends on the breed, age and activity levels but is generally comprised 22-25% Protein, 25-28% Fat and around 50% Carbohydrates. While these are the recommended guidelines, the ideal diet for any dog is one that's tailored specifically to the individual dog. For example, a young puppy needs lots of protein while it's young but an older dog won't need any more than the recommended amount. Changing their diets every few months will mean they have the best chance of avoiding food allergies and can become stable on varying diets. This needs to be done slowly however because dogs' digestion do not react well to sudden changes in their diets.
Probiotics are the naturally occurring 'good bacteria' found in the body. These bacteria help to increase digestibility of foods and are a vital part of the digestive system. Good quality probiotics will be natural and organic with no added sugar or flavours. Adding probiotics such as Yumpro BioActiv to your dog's food is an excellent way to top up these beneficial bacteria. It's a good supplement to have to hand if your dog is on anti-biotics or other drugs for any length of time as this will upset the pH balance in the gut.
In simple terms prebiotics are healthy food for the probiotic bacteria in the digestive tract. They feed the probiotic bacteria so that they can do their job well. Yumpro BioActiv contains both probiotics and prebiotics so you can top up your dog with both at once. Prebiotics are also found in beet pulp, raw oats, inulin and soybeans.
Not to put too fine a point on it but fibre provides good roughage and keeps your dog regular. Fibre helps waste pass through the digestive system at an ideal speed so it's important to get the right amount.
These are powerful antioxidants that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables; what they do is to help neutralise 'free radicals' in order to maintain healthy cells. While essential to the body, oxygen molecules can turn into free radicals which can actually cause serious damage to the other cells in the body. They can contribute to the aging process as well as diseases like cancer, heart disease or a decline in the immune system or brain function.
Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that have an extra electron present. They damage the body by taking an electron from another cell to stabilise themselves however, this just creates another free radical in the process. This can cause a chain reaction and in seconds thousands of free radicals can be created.
Normally the body can control these with naturally occurring antioxidants but a deficiency means that free radicals are left to do their damage. Antioxidants have the ability to stabilise or deactivate free radicals before they damage other cells.
Antioxidants are found naturally in Vitamins C & E as well as Beta Carotene (which the body converts into Vitamin A) which can be found in fruits and vegetables so these are an important part of the diet in the correct amounts. If you want it in a treat try Papaya, Sweet Potato or Carrot treats.
BARF stands either for 'Biologically Appropriate Raw Food' or 'Bones and Raw Food' but they both describe a diet consisting of uncooked meats and bones. The argument of this kind of diet is that the heat used in cooking commercial dog foods destroys all the nutritional content and value in the food and is therefore redundant as a diet.
Those in favour of BARF diets postulate that feeding a dog a raw food diet more akin to their evolutionary predecessors is much more healthy and beneficial. If these diets are followed it is important to thoroughly research them as well as a dog's nutritional requirements so that you can make sure to give them all the nutrients they require on this diet.
Solving the Problem
Consulting your vet is the best way to insure against digestive problems but to ease the symptoms of an upset stomach Yumpro BioActiv is your best bet. It's full of probiotics and prebiotics that promote healthy digestion and helps to create a digestive environment that is unattractive to bad bacteria.