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Healthy Digestion for your Dog

    There are a number of ways to check to ensure that your dog is digesting her food properly. First, is she eating it? You may be paying big bucks for a specialized food, but it obviously won't do a bit of good if your dog won't eat it. Find a good quality food that she likes (pet supply stores often offer free samples) and introduce it gradually - begin by mixing a small amount of the new food in with the original food so that over the course of a week, you have replaced the old food completely.

    Another thing to check for healthy digestion is your dog's stool. Are they firm and well-formed, not loose or runny? If your dog has loose stools or diarrhea for more than two or three days, a visit to the vet may be called for as there may be parasites or bowel irritation.

    You can also gently palpate (feel) your dog's stomach if he's not eating well or has lost energy to see if it is bloated or tight. He may have gas or some other condition. Again, if this persists for more than 2 or 3 days, take him to the vet to be examined.

    If your dog is throwing up on a regular basis, this is also cause for concern. She may be ill or even have an allergic reaction to an ingredient or ingredients in her food. Again, apply the general rule of thumb and take her to the vet if it continues for more than a couple of days.

    Another factor for healthy digestion is stress. If your dog feels uncomfortable about his eating situation, he may not digest his food very well. For example, if you feed your dog in a quiet area where there is no perceived competition, this may make all the difference. It's a good idea to have meal time be a calm, enjoyable time without a lot of noise and activity.

    If your dog is especially "mouthy" or young and curious, make sure you remove any possible objects he might want to pick up. Eating objects that aren't easily broken down in the normal digestion process can leave your dog with an obstruction or at the least, a serious tummy ache.

    As a general rule, the quality of the pet food which is offered in grocery stores and discount department stores is not very high. Read the ingredient labels; if there is any mention of "by-products" of any kind, avoid it. Spending a little more for a better quality food will help ensure your dog's health and longevity.

    Many pet owners make their own dog food, using human grade or organic meats, grains and vegetables. Preparing a week's worth of food and freezing it will save on prep time; you can simply remove a portion as you need it and let it defrost. There are many recipes on the Internet which can be varied somewhat to accommodate your dog's tastes, age and other factors.

    The old adage that you are what you eat is true not only for humans but for our canine friends as well. An investment in good quality food is worth it in terms of your dog's overall health and happiness.


    Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer