Up to 70% of a pet’s immune system is contained within his or her digestive system.
“The digestive tract has immune cells that provide surveillance and are the front-line protectors to catch potential issues when pets eat something that’s not good for them,” said Michael Hayek, Ph.D., director of companion animal technical innovation for Exclusive(r) Pet Foods. “Since the digestive tract is so large, these cells comprise a large percentage of the total immune activity in dogs and cats.”
To encourage owners to learn more about the importance of pets’ digestion and how it supports their overall health, Hayek underscores the importance of monitoring what dogs and cats eat by offering these tips:
Limit or avoid human food
Resisting an adorable, begging, furry face can be difficult. Hayek suggests reaching for a few extra kibbles or a treat formulated for the nutrition of cats and dogs. However, remember to also limit the number of treats each day.
Avoid extreme stress
Family vacations are a good example. If boarding your pets, keeping them on a consistent diet can support digestive health until they are back to a normal routine.
Be aware of what your pets could get into
Keep garbage covered or in an enclosed space. Look around for small items pets could ingest. Look for anything in your yard they shouldn’t eat, and make sure dangerous foods such as chocolate are out of reach.
“Dogs are naturally curious and want to explore everything,” Hayek said. “I guess you could say they eat first and ask questions later. Having things in the house or backyard they should not get into maybe the biggest threat to their digestive health.”
To support overall digestive health, it’s also important for owners to provide pets with food with ingredients selected for ease of digestion. For example, the Comfort Care Digestive Health Support System in Exclusive Signature pet foods is composed of a combination of fiber (beet pulp), prebiotics (chicory root or yeast) and probiotics. A proprietary yeast is also used as part of the system. The company has conducted research that demonstrated this particular combination supports digestive health when present in the formula.
Hayek recommends, along with providing the right combination of fiber, prebiotics and probiotics, owners consult their pets’ veterinarians if particular problems persist.