Posts tagged pets

Nature’s Herbs Urinary Relief Review

Sometimes we get reviews for products on our websites that just warm the heart and we just have to share.

Natural remedy to break down small struvite and oxalate crystals and help clear kidney and bladder infections and inflammation. Can also be used as a preventative for chronic problems with crystals and urinary tract infections. This is a safe alternative to antibiotics.

“Great item”
By sscemb from enfield ct on 3/8/2010
Pros: Effective, Easy To Use
Best Uses: Daily Care, Older Pets
Describe Yourself: Long-time Pet Owner
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

“My dog was on the brink of us making the horrible decision as to have him put down. He had no energy, barely ate and seemed to be in pain. We like everyone else in the country are finding it hard to make ends meet and couldn’t afford the vet, so we heard about Only Natural and decided to give it a try. We bought the herb best suited for a urinary tract/bladder issues and gave it a try. Within 2 days he was up and around and is now almost perfect. Thank you very much.”

*Our reviews are handled by a third party company “Power Reviews”. Most reviews get published though some may get rejected due to filters for profanity, readability, etc. Sometimes very positive (5 paw) reviews are reject and reviews are never rejected just because of bad reviews. Negative reviews are seen as helpful both to us as a company and to others who use the website. reviews below are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, these testimonials offer the reader information and opinions written by pet owners and / or veterinarians concerning animal health and products that they have used.

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Top Five Only Natural Pet Blog Posts: Probiotics, Coprophagia, Constipation, Fur Loss and Taurine

At Only Natural Pet Store, we are very proud of our informational blog, Holistic Health Care Library, Community Forums and our contributors, including holistic vets, product professionals, our customer care team and dog and cat owners like you!  Occasionally we will be featuring some of the most popular blog posts in a top 5 list as a recap for those that may have missed one of these great articles.

Do you have a particular favorite post or an issue you would like to see explored more in-depth?  Let us know!

Top Five Only Natural Pet Blog Posts, December ’09 through February ‘10

Probiotics for Dogs and Cats

“Probiotics are of special importance in pets with any type of digestive problem, including vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and constipation. They are essential for animals who are, or have been, taking antibiotics; they can be given both during the course of antibiotics and for at least 2 weeks afterwards.” [Read More about Probiotics]

Why do dogs eat poop?

“One of the most common issues for canines is stool-eating, technically known as Coprophagia. There are several reasons why a dog may eat feces, and no one answer is necessarily correct. Basically it breaks down into two main categories; behavior and/or nutrition.” [Read More about Coprophagia]

Constipation in Pets

“Okay, so pet poop is not a particularly pleasant topic, but a surprising number of pets have problems with constipation (abnormal accumulation of feces and difficulty defecating). More serious conditions can result from constipation, such as obstipation (complete obstruction of the colon by feces) and megacolon (damaged nerves and muscles in the colon causing an inability to defecate).” [Read More about Constipation]

Fur Loss – What’s the Problem?

“Hair loss from any cause is called “alopecia” (“aloe-pee’-sha”).  Sometimes you’ll actually catch your pet in the act of chewing, or notice that he’s scratching or grooming more than usual, but more often you’ll glance down and suddenly notice a bare patch where the fur used to be. Areas where alopecia can develop without you noticing are the tummy, tail base, and front legs. Dogs are especially prone to work intensively at an itchy area and develop raw, open sores called “hot spots.” When cats do this, they cause even worse damage because of their rough, barbed tongues.”  [Read More about Alopecia]

The Importance of Taurine for Dogs and Cats

“Back in the 1970s, thousands of dogs and cats were mysteriously dying due to a form of heart failure called dilated cardiomyopathy. At the same time, there were reports of cats going blind that were often associated with cats being fed dog food. But within a few years, the same problems were discovered in cats eating a “premium” cat food sold by veterinarians. Finally, in the late 1980s, the problem, in cats at least, was traced to the deficiency of a basic amino acid called taurine.” [Read more about Taurine]

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Why Switch Foods? (Part 1 & II)

The spice of life is variety, or so they say. If that’s true for people, what about our dogs and cats?

Pet food company advertising would have you believe that feeding one food (theirs!) for your pet’s entire adult life is the way to go. But that concept is all wrong. When you really think about it, it doesn’t even make sense!

For many of us, our pets are our children. So let’s imagine for a moment that you have a child, let’s say a 2-year old boy named Junior (of course!), and let’s imagine taking him to the pediatrician for a check-up. The doctor bustles in, looks Junior over, then plunks a big bag of Yummi-o’s down on the exam table.

“Good news,” he beams. “All the vitamins, minerals and a perfect balance of nutrients that Junior needs are right here in New Complete Yummi-o’s. Now all you have to do is make sure Junior gets three servings every day.” The doctor wags his finger at you as he continues in a serious voice, “Now, since this food is perfectly complete and balanced, you mustn’t feed Junior anything else—no apples or oatmeal or broccoli or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches—because you might cause a nutrient imbalance!”

Well, this sounds a little weird, but you trust the pediatrician—after all, it’s his name you see on all the gold-embossed university degrees on the exam room wall—so you go ahead and put Junior on an all-Yummi-o’s diet.

Time passes, Junior grows, and by golly, it sure is cheap, easy and convenient to feed him. The next year you bring him in for his checkup, and the doctor is very pleased.

“He looks great,” says the doc. “I see you’ve been keeping him on Yummi-o’s. Terrific! Now, I have more good news for you! Yummi-o’s now comes in Life Stages! You’ll keep him on Yummi-o’s Growth until he starts kindergarten. Then he’ll go on Elementary Yummi-o’s until he hits middle school. Then you give him Adolescent Yummi-o’s until he’s 18, when he can be weaned onto the Adult formula. And it gets even better—you can eat it too! New Improved Yummi-o’s is complete and balanced for adults up to 65 years old.”

Ridiculous? Of course! What rational parent would feed a child only one food for years on end? Even if the food were, in fact, complete and balanced, most of us would consider it unnatural, even cruel to the child. Never give Junior a carrot or a glass of orange juice? No fresh food at all? Preposterous!

Then why does everyone think it’s okay to feed a cat or dog that way?

We would think a pediatrician who recommended a single food diet for a child was bonkers, yet when the veterinarian recommends a single food for our pampered pet, we obey without question. But feeding a dog or cat is not all that different from feeding a child.

It’s way past time to bring a little common sense to bear, and common sense dictates that an animal ought to get a variety of foods.

The veterinary literature is full of cases where nutritional deficiencies (or excesses) were discovered, and in virtually every one, the problem arose (or was discovered) because the animal was kept on one food for a long period of time.

Cats, being strict obligate carnivores, have most often been the unintended victims—taurine, copper, vitamin E and potassium deficiencies have turned up in cats fed certain foods (which were, by the way, “complete and balanced” according to the standards at the time) as their sole diet.

Dogs, whose omnivorous metabolism is more adaptable, haven’t had quite as many problems, though zinc and fatty acid deficiencies have occurred on certain poor quality foods.

The Myth of Complete and Balanced

Wait a minute … aren’t we indeed talking about “complete and balanced” foods? How can a complete and balanced food have deficiencies or excesses of nutrients? Unfortunately, even for the best commercial pet foods, there are several places along the road to the retail store shelf where any food’s nutritional value can go astray.

1. The standards by which the food is made aren’t perfect. Pet nutrition is an evolving science, and we don’t yet know all there is to know about it (if we ever will!). Veterinarians have seen many examples of how the particular nutritional needs of a species become known—mainly by stumbling on cases where they aren’t being met.

2. The exact quantities of individual nutrients in a given ingredient may not be known, or may be inaccurately assessed. A shipment of barley might be presumed to have a certain nutritional composition based on analyses of previous batches, but depending on the weather where it was grown, the soil conditions, and the type of fertilizer used, the exact amounts of each nutrient may vary. The same applies to animal-based ingredients.

3. Ingredient quality may be inconsistent or unknown. A vitamin-mineral premix purchased from an outside supplier and added to the food may guarantee minimum levels of each item, but if the quality control on that product was poor, the finished pet food will merely compound the error. Many vitamins and minerals are normally “overdosed” in pet food to make up for loss of those nutrients during processing, transport and storage. Some of these may present a health risk. For instance, iodine excess in cat foods is suspected of contributing to the skyrocketing incidence of hyperthyroidism in older cats; and a zinc overdose in a commercial dog food sickened author Ann Martin’s dogs and started her on a quest through the maze of pet food manufacturing and regulation, detailed in her stunning book Food Pets Die For in 1997.

4. Processing alters many nutrients. The heat used in various stages of pet food manufacturing can alter many ingredients, some for the better and some for worse. Carbohydrates are made much more digestible by cooking, but proteins can be denatured, vitamins can be destroyed, and fats can be damaged by heat. In general, pet food manufacturers are aware of changes that occur in their products during processing, and compensate for heat-sensitive ingredients by adding supplements, such as extra vitamins, but alterations in proteins and fats are not generally accounted for.

5. The pet food manufacturer itself can make mistakes. It’s obvious from feed reports from around the country that virtually every manufacturer—no matter how good, bad or indifferent its reputation—at one time or another fails one or more tests for protein, calcium, magnesium or other nutrients.

6. Increased risk of toxic effects. As many people unfortunately discovered in last year’s recalls, feeding the same food, from the same manufacturer, who continually buys from the same suppliers, can lead to health problems for your animal companion. While some of the recalled foods had such huge amounts of melamine that even one serving was deadly, feeding a variety of foods could have “diluted” the effect of the toxin and caused less harm for thousands of pets.

Next time, we’ll talk about how periodically switching foods can prevent food allergies and finicky eating behavior.

Why Switch Food Part II…

In this post, we’ll continue our discussion about the reasons for periodically switching your pet’s food.

Let’s consider all the different kinds of pet food on the market. When I started veterinary school, there were basically two kinds of pet food: adult, and puppy or kitten (growth/lactation); “light” foods were just coming into the market, although there were no rules at the time about calories or fat content, so the claim was a little questionable.

But looking at dog food today, we find all-life-stages food, baby dog food, puppy food, adult food, mature food, aging food, senior food, food for sensitive stomachs, food for itchy skin, food for small, medium, large, and giant breed dogs, food for Yorkies and Dachshunds and Poodles and Bulldogs and Shih Tzus and Boxers and Retrievers, vegetarian food, high performance food, reduced calorie food, light food, and an array of veterinary diets for dogs with heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, arthritis, digestive problems, cancer, diabetes, bladder stones, dandruff, and dirty teeth.

Cats, being more or less the same general size and shape, have been spared some of this, but recently a spate of new foods for indoor, outdoor, and specific breeds of cats has arrived on the market. And there are designer diets for hairball hurlers, happy bladders, and tartared teeth. And, of course, most of the veterinary diets available for dogs have a feline counterpart.

However, the standards for pet food nutrient levels remain the same today as they were when they were set in 1989 (for dogs) and 1991 (for cats). There is one chart for adult maintenance, and one chart for growth/lactation. (Food intended to treat disease must provide documentation to FDA that it actually works as advertised, but the research is done by the company making the food-–and the claim.) New standards for dog and cat nutrition were just recently published by the National Research Council, but it will likely take several years before they are reviewed and accepted by AAFCO. Until that happens, pet food manufacturers don’t have to abide by them.

Is There Really a Difference?

Is it just me, or is something wrong with this picture? How much different are these foods really from each other—given that they all have to meet the same nutritional standards? For instance, if you look at the ingredient statements on the labels of regular versus large breed foods, they look pretty similar. In any case, the exact nutritional requirements of hundreds of breeds (and infinite combinations of breeds), every imaginable lifestyle, and each animal’s individual metabolism simply cannot be accurately known, at least not with current technology.

Moreover, even an individual animal’s needs fluctuate, depending on the season, activity level, normal variations in hormone levels and organ functions, infections, parasites like fleas, illness, and a host of other factors. A dog who spends a lot of time outdoors in Colorado may need a higher calorie/higher fat food in the winter to cope with the cold, but unless she is extremely active in warmer weather, such a food may put on the pounds if fed year-round. It does make sense to try to match the food to your animal’s particular needs as those needs vary, although whether you can really do this based solely on a manufacturer’s claims for its food is unlikely.

The Allergy Factor

Another pitfall of feeding a single food is the potential for your animal to develop an intolerance or allergy to one or more ingredients. A dietary intolerance is a reaction to something in the food, rather than the food itself.

The list of suspects is a long one and includes flavoring agents, coloring agents, emulsifiers, humectants, stabilizers, thickeners, texturizers, and dozens more. Different manufacturers use different additives, so changing foods periodically may avoid constant exposure to certain ingredients that could become a problem for your animal.

True food allergies are thought to be uncommon (though more common in cats than dogs), but many practitioners and veterinary nutritionists are coming to the conclusion that most, if not all, cases of inflammatory bowel disease are linked to food.

It usually takes months to years of exposure to a food to develop an allergy. Allergies are usually to proteins, which are found in animal products, of course, but also in to some extent in the cereal grains commonly used in pet food. Corn meal (also known as ground yellow corn) contains 9 percent protein, soybean flour contains 37 percent protein, and wheat contains 10 percent protein. Corn and wheat are very common allergens in pets.

Switching foods every three or four months, from chicken-and-corn, to lamb-and-rice or turkey-and-barley or duck-and-green peas or rattlesnake-and-quinoa may help prevent your animal companion from becoming food-allergic in the first place. (But remember to carefully check the ingredient list on the package-–a food legitimately labeled “emu-and-amaranth” could actually consist mainly of corn and chicken.)

A Matter of Taste

The last big reason to change foods periodically is to prevent finicky eating habits and enable the gut to handle challenges without catastrophic consequences.

Pet food makers are masters at making the food irresistibly tasty. Consequently, an animal fed a single food may become “addicted” to it. I once got a call from a woman whose cat would not only eat just one flavor of cat food, but it had to have been canned at a particular factory! Cans of the same flavor with a different code stamp were rejected by the cat. She was frantically searching from coast to coast to find more cans from that factory—which had since closed down.

Some foods are produced on a “least cost” basis, and the ingredients may change significantly from batch to batch. “Fixed formula” foods always use the same ingredients. Depending on ingredient quality, such a food may be a better pick. But even fixed formula foods that use the same ingredients all the time may still periodically alter certain characteristics, such as size of the kibble, or flavoring components.

When you buy a new bag of the same food, it could be just different enough from the usual fare that your furry friend will turn up her nose at it. Or you might run out of her favorite food and not be able to get over to the gourmet pet store right away—she’ll just have to eat something from the grocery store for a few days. If you board her, she may get fed whatever the kennel is using (errors can be made, even if you supply your own food).

It’s best to have your animal companion develop more “cosmopolitan” tastes, and be willing to eat whatever you give her. (For some dogs in some situations, training to accept food only from you can and should be done, but that’s an issue beyond the scope of this blog.)

Next time, we’ll get to the nuts and bolts of how to make the switch. The first word of caution: too radical or too abrupt a switch could cause your pet stress and tummy upset. On the bright side, it could keep your local carpet cleaning company busy!

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The Power of Positive Speech

By Dave Goff

People talk to their plants all the time. It is generally accepted that talking to plants assists in the growth and well-being of the plants and can even be therapeutic for the plant care-taker as well. Less well known are the studies that show that what you say is just as important as saying anything at all. Positive reinforcements deliver even better results than general non-committal talking.

Why am I talking about plants? Take a moment and think about the animals around you, and how your speech affects them as well. Animals are very sensitive to sound, tone and stance when people are speaking around them and will often alter their behavior in response.

I would even take this a step further. I actually use the way I speak to my pets as a supplemental therapy. For example, my cat Goliath has always been afraid of my other cats and when he is on my lap I will say things like “Big healthy Goliath, he is so brave and gets along so well with Whirley.” Over time, this has slowly become a reality; Goliath will now face up to Whirley and stand his ground. He is still afraid and more time is needed but the situation is definitely improving.

The most important things to keep in mind are consistency, focus, positive statements and present tense.

  • If you want your message to have an effect, repeat it often and combine it with positive reinforcement; petting, brushing giving treats, etc… This will associate good feelings with the message you are trying to convey. Repetition and consistency in message are key here.
  • Keep your message focused. In the case of Goliath I am focusing on his ability to get along with one of our other cats right now. As I have seen progress in that area, I have recently started working on his ability to get along with our other cat. If I were to say “Goliath gets along with other cats” the message is more diffuse and won’t have as quick an effect. Also, leave out conditional phrases with “if” in them. Waiting for a condition to occur before a change is made means it may never happen.
  • Keep your messages positive. It is always better to say “You are a good dog that knows what he should chew on” than it is to say “You are a good dog that will STOP chewing my furniture.” Generally we think in terms of things we don’t want our pets to do but it is important to turn the message around to the positive and focus on what we do want them to do, or even how we want them to be.
  • Keep your message in the present tense. If I were to say “SOMEDAY, Goliath will be brave and get along with Whirley…” it would never happen. As they say, tomorrow is always a day away, and someday is even further away. Some people may feel that it seems like lying, but that doesn’t matter. You have to focus on what you want as if it already exists, including in the behavior and well-being of your animals.
  • I add in a statement regarding “healthy” in my speech every time, such as “Big healthy Goliath.” There is simply no reason not to.

As a side note here, I always offer to people not to refer to their dog or cat as “bad.” In the heat of the moment it is difficult not to respond with “Bad dog!” when your pup has been destructive or misbehaves. But I believe it is important to remember that the action was bad, not the dog. Your dog is a good dog that did a bad thing. If you constantly refer to your dog or cat as a “bad dog” or “bad cat”, you will most assuredly end up with a bad dog or cat.

Again, positive speech can be useful as a supplemental therapy. I wouldn’t count on positive speech alone to fix any issue, behavioral or health related. Rather, view it as a supplement to other therapies and strategies that are already in use. For example, to help Goliath get along with his roommates, we use Phero-Soothe for Cats (there is also a dog version), Flower Essences and other environmental and behavioral strategies.

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Constipation in Pets

Okay, so pet poop is not a particularly pleasant topic, but a surprising number of pets have problems with constipation (abnormal accumulation of feces and difficulty defecating). More serious conditions can result from constipation, such as obstipation (complete obstruction of the colon by feces) and megacolon (damaged nerves and muscles in the colon causing an inability to defecate).

The colon, the last part of the intestinal tract, is a large muscular structure ending at the rectum. It contains most of the intestinal bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These bacteria finish up the digestion of protein. By-products of this process include short-chain fatty acids that nourish the cells lining the colon. Some of these lining cells absorb water, while others secrete mucus to lubricate the stool and keep it moving along.

Constipation is uncomfortable, even painful. Dogs may have accidents indoors. Cats may defecate (or try to) outside the litterbox, because they associate the discomfort with the box itself. Other signs of constipation include straining to defecate, irritability, painful abdomen, lethargy, and poor appetite or even loss of appetite.

Most pets defecate once or twice a day. Dogs have a strong reflex that triggers an urge to defecate after eating; cats are a little less motivated. A constipated animal may only defecate every 2 to 4 days, or even less. Usually the stools are hard and dry, because their long stay in the colon allows for absorption of most of their water content. However, occasionally a constipated pet can appear to have diarrhea, because liquid stool is the only thing that can get around the stuck mass of feces.

Causes for pooping problems include congenital abnormalities, neurologic problems, pelvic injury, obstruction (by hair, bones, etc.), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Dogs typically become constipated secondary to another issue, such as injury or surgery. Small breed dogs appear to have more problems than larger breeds. In cats, the cause often remains unknown, but even a dirty litter box may cause avoidance; constipation results from holding the stool too long. Hooded litterboxes are a particular problem because they hold odor in, potentially making the box environment extremely unpleasant for the cat.

The initial treatment for constipation is usually a change in diet. Historically, pets have been put on high-fiber dry foods. Fiber modulates intestinal mobility. Depending on the type of fiber and the circumstances, fiber can either speed up or slow down digestion. It’s therefore used for both constipation and diarrhea. Light, senior, and hairball foods all contain increased fiber, and there are also several medical high-fiber diets.

Changing to a high-fiber diet often helps, at least initially. However, eventually these foods seem to lose their effectiveness over time. More fiber, such as canned pumpkin, may be added. Again, sometimes this produces a temporary improvement. Yet many animals, especially cats, continue to have problems.

Since fiber encourages water absorption and increases the amount of stool produced (because it is indigestible), many experts have swung the other way and are now recommending “low-residue” diets to minimize stool volume. “Low-residue” means that the food is highly digestible and produces minimal waste; fiber is typically low in these diets.

Dogs and cats are carnivores who digest protein and fat best, but there is controversy about carbohydrates; it is clear that many cats are carb-intolerant. Carbs contribute to obesity in both dogs and cats, and obesity is common factor in constipation. By this theory, the best food would be high fat, high protein, and low fiber, as well as high moisture. One would think that such a food would also be low fiber, but that is not necessarily true; always check the Guaranteed Analysis (available for each food on our website). Most canned foods fit this description, as do most raw and homemade diets. Dry diets are higher in fiber than canned, and can cause dehydration in cats, contributing to the problem.

Treatment for constipation depends on the severity of the problem. For mild cases, occasional enemas may be all they need. For severe blockages, the animal must be anesthetized for manual extraction of the feces (a process my vet tech graphically but accurately refers to as a “dig-out”). Water balance is also crucial in constipated animals, especially cats. Subcutaneous (or even intravenous) fluids may be needed to boost their hydration.

Once the animal is “cleaned out” by whatever means, you’ll definitely want to take steps to prevent the problem from recurring. Several options are available; some animals may need only one of these, while others need a combination of several of them.

Canned, raw, or homemade diet. High-moisture diets keep hydration normal, and these diets are far more digestible – and produce far less waste – than dry food.

Fiber. Because canned and homemade diets tend to be extremely low in fiber, addition of a small amount of ground flaxseed or powdered psyllium (available in bulk at most health food stores) may be needed for some animals. Flaxseed is an excellent choice because it also contains Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and its high content of lignans may help prevent some types of cancer.

o Missing Link Canine Formula

o Missing Link Feline Formula

Digestive enzymes and Probiotics. These products aid digestion and may help prevent constipation as well as other tummy issues. Products I like include:

o Vetri-Science Acetylator
o Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes & Probiotics
o Pet Naturals Digestive Support for Cats and Dogs

• Herbs. There are many herbal formulas available for people, but many of their ingredients are too harsh for pets. Safe herbal formulas for pets include

o Only Natural Pet GI Support
o Only Natural Pet Laxa-Herb Herbal Formula
o LoveMyPet Tummy Ease

• Lactulose. This is a syrup that holds water in the stool and keeps the stool soft; therefore it’s easier for the animal to pass. The taste, which is extremely sweet, can be an obstacle for some pets. Fortunately, lactulose now comes in a mild-tasting powder (Kristalose) that can be encapsulated by a compounding pharmacy, or simply added to canned food.

Other stool softeners, such as DSS (docusate sodium). Your veterinarian can prescribe these.

Petroleum jelly (e.g., Vaseline®). This is the primary ingredient in most over-the-counter hairball remedies (Laxatone, Kat-a-lax, Petromalt). Petroleum jelly can be given by mouth. Most pets tolerate it, many come to like it, and a few even relish it. Give 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon per day for a cat or small dog, preferably separate from meals. It is completely harmless and inert in the body. (Vegetable oils do not have the same effect because they are digested and absorbed before reaching the colon.)

Cisapride (Propulsid). This drug was withdrawn from the market for humans because of dangerous side effects, but it is considered safe for pets. Your vet can order it from a compounding pharmacy. It seems to work best in combination with stool softeners.

Lubiprostone (Amitiza) was recently approved as a drug for humans. Your vet can advise you on whether it is safe and appropriate for your pet.

Note: Cisapride and Lubiprostone should not be used simultaneously)

• Pediatric glycerin suppositories. Although they may not appreciate having a suppository pushed into their rectums, most pets tolerate it. Your vet can advise you on technique and frequency.

• Enemas. Many pet guardians have (necessarily) gotten very good at giving enemas at home. Mineral oil, K-Y jelly (in a 1:1 ratio with warm water), soapy water, and just plain warm water are all fine; you may have to experiment to see which one works best for your particular pet.

• Fluids. Your veterinarian can show you how to give subcutaneous fluids at home if needed.

Slippery Elm. This powdered herb can be added to canned food (add extra cool water) or made into a syrup. Its mild taste is well tolerated by most pets.
• Exercise. Obesity is a risk factor for constipation. Staying active prevents weight gain, and helps stimulate the intestines and keep things moving. Brisk walks and fetching games are great for dogs. If your constipated cat is also a couch potato, you can introduce regular play sessions with an interactive fishing-pole type toy, like the Kitty Lure Caster or Swizzle.

• Stress Management. There is always an energetic or emotional component of any chronic disease, and stress plays a significant role in many gastrointestinal conditions. Flower essences can be very helpful.

• Surgery. If there is damage to the nerves and muscles of the colon, a “sub-total colectomy” is the last resort. This surgery removes the colon, and joins the small intestine to the rectum. Unless and until the small intestine develops more colon-like functioning, the result is chronic diarrhea. However, the animal will be much more comfortable.

If your pet is chronically constipated, the most important thing for you to do is be observant. Look for early signs of constipation; straining, abdominal discomfort, decreasing appetite, etc. Be aware of how often your pet is defecating. If he does not produce adequate stool for more than 2-3 days, call your vet, or begin home treatments if you have established this routine. Constipation is far easier to treat when it’s caught early. Later on, treatment will be far more expensive, and there is a greater chance of irreversible colon damage.

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