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The Virtues of Pumpkin and Yogurt for Doggy Digestive Ills

"Borderstan""Tori Tyree"

Canned pumpkin (not raw!) can help when your dog has an upset stomach. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tori Tyree. Questions? Leave a comment or email Tori at tori@borderstan.com. Her column on pets runs biweekly.

Dogs get upset stomachs for any number of reasons. Growth spurts, stress, and eating rawhide or too many treats will cause digestive problems. So will picking up chicken bones on 14th Street NW in front of Popeye’s, “McDonald’s dog food” , the moon, or squirrels  tormenting them from the outside window sill. The list goes on and on.

Usually an upset stomach is not a huge reason to be concerned. However, since we live in the city and have to deal with the repercussions in public places —  getting a dog’s digestive system back to normal quickly is really important!

Some people will immediately see their vet and end up feeding a bland prescription diet — or even ask for prescription medicine. Unless the dog is having digestive issues for weeks at a time, this doesn’t have to be the way to go. In a lot of cases, it’s not a good idea to give your dog a prescription drug — you are putting chemicals into your dog’s system when he really just needs a little time to reset and get back to normal.

Now, a little disclaimer: Some dogs genuinely have digestive issues that need medicine. I’m simply suggesting that you try other methods first before you grab the chemical solution. This is one of the most common dog problems today, and it has one of the easiest solutions.

Has Anything Changed?

The first question I ask when a dog starts having problems is, “Has anything changed?”

Is the food different or was it purchased from some place new? I just had a client who’s dog had been randomly throwing up and had some loose stools — but was his normal energetic self. What was wrong?

The answer to the dog’s upset stomach ended up being simple. The owner had bought the same brand of food that she always had bought. But, she had purchased it from a different store and the bag of food had been sitting on the shelf too long. Once she stopped feeding that food, everything went back to normal. Note: I always tell people to check the expiration date, especially if you are shopping at a large “super store.”

Canned Pumpkin, Yogurt and My Reset Program

At the first sign of digestive distress I begin a reset program that goes as follows.

Eliminate all treats, including rawhide and bones.

Fast the dog for one meal. You may feed broth and a small amount of boiled brown rice, but that’s all. I promise it won’t kill him (or you), even if he gives you those eyes!

Next two meals. The next two meals should be boiled chicken (with broth) and rice. Top this off with canned pumpkin. Now that it’s fall and Thanksgiving is approaching, I head to the store and stock up on canned pumpkin for the year! I use about a tablespoon for each 40 lbs. of dog.

At this point your dog should be closer to normal. If so, you can continue on to the next step. If not, stay with this plan for one more day. If the dog is still having problems, take them in to see the vet. If at any point during  this process your dog is lethargic or won’t eat at all, then go to the vet. This is really only a fix for dogs that are otherwise healthy and energetic.

Third meal. The third meal you will begin adding in one-half of his regular dog food to a mix with rice and broth. You should add in plain yogurt. Greek yogurt is best because it has more probiotics in it than regular yogurt; you are trying to add digestive enzymes into your dogs system. I usually keep a tablespoon of yogurt in each feeding for the next week.

If he reverts back to having an upset stomach, eliminate the food you have been feeding regularly. There is obviously something that does not agree with your dog’s body and it’s time to make a change. Keep your base of chicken and rice, and begin slowly adding a new food into the mix. This process should only take four or five days. Feeding a dog just a little more than chicken and rice for any length of time is not a good idea either because they are missing essential vitamins and minerals that will keep them healthy.

In a week’s time (or less ) your dog should be back to normal without any of the prescriptions or expensive bland dog food diets.

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