Q&A: Coping with tummy troubles

  • Expert advice from Baileys’ canine nutritionist on looking after a sick dog

    Q: My two-year-old German Shepherd keeps being sick and has diarrhea; this has been going on intermittently fora few weeks now and she isn’t herself. She is also quite lethargic. Have you any advice or should I take her to the vet?

    Liz Bulbrook replies: Without wanting to sound alarmist, I would suggest that as this is an on-going problem it would be advisable to get her checked out by the vet. They will be able to establish if there is an underlying problem that is triggering her sickness and diarrhea.

    If the sickness and diarrhea occur together or if the diarrhea is severe then she could easily become dehydrated which can be serious. It is vital she drinks adequately and receives essential electrolytes which she would normally receive in her food.

    On a more general note, assuming she has been regularly wormed, try to establish when the problem is at its worst.

    Is she sick after eating? If so, is she bolting her food? Raising her food off the floor so she is eating at her chest height may help (many pet companies sell special feeding stands).

    Big dogs eating at floor level often bolt their food, gulping in air which leads to bloat. Raising the food to a more comfortable position encourages them to slow their eating down, allowing them to chew properly and digest it more efficiently.

    Offering dry kibbled food can also help because it tends to be more concentrated and contain premium digestible ingredients. This allows for smaller meal sizes placing less strain on the stomach. Feed her at least twice a day at regular times.

    Change of diet

    Consider changing to different ingredients in case she has a feed-related allergy. For example if her normal diet is chicken and rice, try lamband rice instead.

    Avoid too much meat and wet food as the calorie density will not be lower and more will need to be fed. Her lethargic attitude is likely to be due to her not getting enough energy in and basically being unwell.

    If she is eating grass before she is sick, she may be suffering a stomach upset, although some dogs eat grass as a means of finding fibre. Dogs need fibre to keep the gut working efficiently. Levels between 3-4% in the food are ideal.

    Rice is a very good digestible food for dogs. Feeding plain boiled rice with a small taster of her normal food for a couple of days should help stop the diarrhea. Then re-introduce her diet slowly and gradually build up to the recommendedquantities.

    Consider trying a prebiotic supplement like Baileys Digest Plus. Prebiotics (Fructo-oligosaccharides) enhance the population of the beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting gut health to reduce digestive upsets. They could be beneficial in improving the health of your dog’s gut and therefore reduce the diarrhea.

    Read more about canine care:

    You may like...