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Happy Tums, Happy Bums: Digestive Health in Dogs

Posted by ROBERT MACLEOD on
Happy Tums, Happy Bums: Digestive Health in Dogs

Walk into any cafe or restaurant in the UK, and you’re likely to find a menu littered with helpful symbols highlighting vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and dairy free options. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s increasingly commonplace for food and drink establishments to recognise the many digestive needs of their consumers. 

But it’s not just human food and drink leading the way. As human needs evolve, we’re becoming more and more aware of how digestive health can also play a massive part in the overall wellbeing of our four-legged family members. 

This knowledge is part of the reason why McDug even exists - once we found out that Bruce’s ill health was down to the dog food we were feeding him, we made it our mission to create a healthy alternative that would help other dog owners like us. 

Healthy dog food

So as a dog owner, what should you be looking out for when it comes to dog digestive health? 

Bowel habits

The most common signs that your dog is suffering from digestive issues caused by your dogs diet are through watching their bowel movements. Constipation, diarrhoea or vomiting are all immediate signs that something is not right. If your dog is suffering from any of these, you should seek professional medical advice from your vet. 

Stress

Much like with humans, when dogs are under stress it can negatively affect their digestion because it makes changes within the gut microbiome. The release of the hormone cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) causes health challenges to your dog. 

To determine if your dog is stressed, look out for behavioural changes including:

  • Aggression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Avoiding touch with humans or fellow dogs

Weight

If your dog suddenly loses weight, or has weight gain, it can be a sign that something isn’t right. Obesity can be a serious health concern for dogs, just as much as losing weight without explanation can be. Both circumstances warrant a trip to the vet to investigate what’s happening. 

How can you support good gut health in dogs as a dog owner?

Whether you have a large breed, small breed, senior dog or adult dog, the most obvious way to help your canine pal maintain a healthy digestion system is through their diet and feeding them healthy dog food (and we’ll come onto that more very shortly!) but there are a few other things you can do to help. 

Give your dog regular exercise

Just like a post-meal walk is good for our digestion, an active lifestyle is great for your dog to keep them happy inside and out. When your dog exercises, happy hormones are released into the system, combatting any stress or agitating factors. 

Look out for pre- and pro- biotics in dog food

It doesn't matter if you opt for raw food, wet food or dry dog food - you want to make sure whatever you choose has the right ingredient mix to meet your dog's health needs. All of the McDug dog food recipes have added pre-biotics which may help promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria and aid digestion. We use MOS (Mannan-oligosaccharides) and FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharides) which are both nutritional supplements that encourage the growth of friendly bacteria in the large intestine.

Steer clear of the most common allergens

If you suspect your dog’s food is making them unwell, visit your vet and discuss whether there might be an allergy or intolerance at play. You might find that switching (safely) to a hypoallergenic diet will help. You can read more about hypoallergenic dog food in our blog here.

The most common allergens include grains and wheat, which is why across the McDug range we’ve kept our recipes grain free for healthy digestion in your dog. We often use sweet potato as the chosen carbohydrate in our kibble recipes - it's a slow-release energy source that doesn't irritate sensitive tummies. And if we don't use sweet potato, we've opted for rice to keep our dry dog food perfect for dogs with intolerances.

You might also find it's the choice of meat causing a problem in your choice of dog food. It's not uncommon for dogs to be intolerant to chicken, salmon or other specific protein sources. Where this is the case, it's important you find pet food that contains a single protein without any hidden extras (this is where it comes in handy to understand the ingredient list - check out this blog for help)

Boost your dog’s health with the power of superfoods

Superfoods pack a healthy punch by adding vitamins and minerals to every meal - as well as being extra tasty. Browse our Superfood 65 range here where you can find grain free recipes crafted with high-quality protein sources and added superfoods to boost the health of your dog.

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