Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Probiotics, & Essential Oils

Since it's been so nice out we notice that most people are coming out a lot more. The sidewalks are a bit busier and there are plenty of leftover snacks all over the streets. Barry notices them before we do typically. We try so hard to spot them. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. We are rarely successful at pulling the day old piece of meat from his mouth once he's honed in and slurped it up. He's usually already devoured the chunk and moved on. Luckily, dogs have a specific digestive system that allows them to eat things we cannot (that's not to say that certain foods can't get your dog sick). Or I should say, whole chunks of things. Part of the human digestive system is our saliva which breaks down our food, along with the grinding that our teeth do to break the food up. Dogs have saliva but only to lubricate the food going down their throat, it doesn't aid in breaking down the food like what is needed for humans, and they do not grind their food because their jaws don't move side to side like ours so they can chomp on the food and then swallow it or tear at the food but usually the food stays mostly intact once it gets into their stomach. The dog has such strong stomach acid that if it eats something it shouldn't the bad bacteria in that bad piece of meat will be killed quickly, unlike humans, where our digestive acids slowly eat away and give time for bad bacteria to get us sick. For dogs - their gas and diarrhea is usually a sign of unbalanced flora in their system (not usually being sick from rotten food) and it's not a simple task to pinpoint what needs balanced out. Once again, though, you shouldn't just assume that your dog is a tank and can eat anything. There are many poisonous foods for dogs and some foods that aren't poisonous can still get your dog sick. See, it's very complex as I said.

Sensitive tummy. Silly face.
Now that I've given you the rundown of Dog Digestion 101, it's important to note that I bring it up because either Barry's flora is imbalanced, he has a food allergy, or he's stressed (or even a combination of these).  I know that sounds like it could be nearly anything and that's kind of true. We don't know the culprit, yet. It's not easy to find out the exact reason. The first step we can take is to introduce good probiotics into his diet to find out if he simply needs to be rebalanced. We started looking into good probiotics for him. Something to help balance his bathroom habits a bit. If you follow the blog you know his bathroom habits are sometimes the star of the post. I hate it. He doesn't constantly have diarrhea, but he does have it more often than is normal. So probiotics it is. To start anyway.

I eat plenty of things I shouldn't eat. Not these grapes, though. I won't touch 'em!
We've started using plain kefir. It's got so much good stuff in it with living bacteria that is very gut healthy. Also, kefir is like 99% lactose free so it's good for dogs (and humans) with milk intolerances. We will try this out for a few weeks and see how it goes. This may not solve our issue at all. We've looked into all different types of probiotics and kefir seems to be the way to go for something natural and with plenty of good bacteria loaded into each serving. In fact, there seems to be no probiotic out there that can match the power of kefir - or good organic sour kraut. I'm pretty sure Barry wouldn't eat the sour kraut, though, he's kind of picky, so we went with kefir.

Remember this day? The Easter Egg Hangover. Too many goodies is no good for my
I've also picked up some good quality essential oils. I purchased a blend that is good for stress and have been diffusing that nice relaxing scent into the air during the day for Barry (the diffuser stops and shuts itself off after all the water is gone so it doesn't over heat). I know it sounds over the top along with his delightful and relaxing classical music playing in the background but Barry is a sensitive guy with mild anxiety. His stress or anxiety could be playing a roll with his tummy troubles. I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a shot. Plus it smells so nice and our place smells all herbal and relaxing when I get home. I also bought a blend that is good for achy bellies. It has fennel, ginger, and a few other oils that are known to help ease digestive issues. A single drop can be put in his food and that's enough for him. I wouldn't want to give him too much because essential oils are very strong and I don't believe that too much of a good thing is ever good. I'd rather take it easy on the oils because they are strong and it could backfire and then we'd have another set of issues to deal with.

If it backfires then I'm back to redecorating the place.
We will find out if any of these remedies help him. Maybe they will. If they don't help then at least we tried and know we can mark a couple of items off the list of possible issues. We will stick with this for a while to let everything take it's course. I imagine three weeks to a month of trying all of these things would give us some indicator of success or not. Maybe we'll see a marked difference quickly but I've learned that sometimes things just don't happen over night and it's okay.

I think there is pizza under here.


  1. I'd love to hear how Barry's tummy is doing, my boy seems to have the same problem..poo that isn't necessarily diarrhea but very soft, sometimes it's more normal than others and his diet never changes. He gets treats only somewhat regularly and everything we feed him is high quality and all natural.....I think I'll talk to my vet about probiotics. Thanks!

    1. I'll do an update post soon because there has been a new development, what looks to be an allergy. His main source of protein is chicken and we're wondering if he is allergic to chicken - possibly. We will stick with the Kefir probiotic (you can buy this in a grocery store) and pumpkin (to help keep the poop firm) but will be slowly introducing a new food with a different protein.