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GI Supplements

November 9, 2015

The next in our supplement series pertains to the more common supplements used in veterinary medicine for digestive support.  Our digestive tract relies on a healthy and well liver, stomachpancreas, small and large intestine to process our food, to utilize its nutrients, and also to eliminate waste.

Remember, supplements can cause negative side effects if used improperly therefore it is important to communicate with your veterinarian before starting a supplement for your pet. 

Denamarin:  Denamarin is a liver supplement used in cases of acute and chronic liver damage.  It contains SAM-e and Silybin which aid in liver cell repair, regeneration, and protection.

Dose: Follow the instructions on the packaging or on the dosing label provided by your veterinarian.

Digestive Enzymes:  The most common condition in which we use digestive enzymes would be in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).  In this disease the pancreas does not produce the enzymes needed for break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates which can lead to malnourishment.  Typically this supplement is started under the direction of your veterinarian after your pet has been diagnosed with EPI.

Dose: Follow the instructions on the packaging or on the dosing label provided by your veterinarian.

Fiber: There are 2 types of fiber that can of benefit to digestive health – soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber attracts water and turns into a gel therefore slowing digestion. Soluble fiber can also serve as an energy source the good bacteria in our gut.  Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and can speed up digestion.  There is one unique source of both insoluble and soluble fiber – psyllium.  Because of its mixed properties, it can be beneficial for both ends of the GI upset spectrum (constipation and diarrhea). An easy source of psyllium can be found in flavorless Metamucil powder.  This can be mixed with food or water.

Dose:  These are starting dose suggestions but need to be tailored to desired effect

          K9 – 1/4 tsp twice daily(toy breeds) up to 3 tsp twice daily (giant breeds)

          Feline – 1/8-1/4 tsp twice daily

Ginger Root:  Ginger has been shown to have anti-nausea properties.  It is widely used as a spice or ingredient in human foods, snacks, ales, and teas.  It can also be found in a concentrated capsule.

Dose: 25-35 mg/pound up to twice daily

Glutamine: Glutamine is an amino acid.  It is a major source of fuel for our intestinal cells and hence supports the integrity of the intestinal lining.

Dose: 0.5-4 grams divided per day, depending on the size of dog/cat

Kaolin Pectin: Kaolin is a natural clay and pectin is a natural soluble fiber. This combination can be used in some cases of uncomplicated diarrhea.  BE AWARE, that kaolin pectin is not the same as the known over-the-counter medication called Kao-Pectate.  Kao-pectate, as well as Pepto-Bismol, contain the medication bismuth subsalicylate which dogs and cats can cause serious side effects in dogs and cats.  Sources of pure kaolin pectin can be found for purchase online.

Dose: Follow the label instructions

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Just as discussed in our skin supplement series, omega-3 fatty acids (best found in fish oil) is a natural anti-inflammatory.  It is also a highly digestible source of fat for both dogs and cats.  For that reason, this supplement is widely used for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Dose: 300 mg/10# body weight per day

Peppermint: Peppermint is used for its ability to alleviate nausea as well as its ability to tone down cramps and gas from an over-stimulated gut.  That is one of the reasons it is commonly used in chewing gum and teas. Peppermint can also be found in a concentrated capsule form.

Dose: 25 mg/pound body weight per day 

Probiotics:  Probiotics are a vital supplement for GI protection and wellbeing. Having a predominant population of good bacteria in our guts alleviates GI discomfort, reduces inflammation, and improves overall immunity.  In general it is best to purchase a veterinary specific probiotic product to ensure you are supplementing with the most effective bacterial strains but in a pinch you can look for human grade sources of probiotics (such as yogurt and kefir).  The probiotic product we currently carry is called Fortiflora.  It comes as a cat and dog-specific flavored powdered.

Dose:  Give according to the instructions on the packaging

Turmeric: Turmeric is proposed to have several beneficial impacts on the digestive tract.  It is hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and also a powerful antioxidant.


Dose: 10-50 mg/pound 2-3 times per day

Vitamin B12: In small intestinal disease, the absorption of Vitamin B12 can be compromised.   A lack of Vitamin B 12 in particular can lead to weakness, fatigue, stomach upset, weight loss, and diarrhea or constipation amongst other symptoms.  Vitamin B12 is best supplemented by injection since a diseases small intestine would not absorb an oral preparation.

Dose: Give according to your veterinarian’s instructions

Coming in 2 weeks – Supplements for Cancer


Written by:Dr. Jen Seidl

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