Digestive disorders are one of the most common reasons for consulting a vet

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Christmas can be a dangerous time for dogs' digestion - with turkey, Christmas pudding and tons of sweets and presents around the house, it's easy to miss what your dog has just slipped away with. If you suspect a digestive disorder or notice signs such as diarrhoea or vomiting, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

For every animal - cats, dogs and humans alike - digesting food and absorbing nutrients is vital to overall health and wellbeing. The term 'digestive disorder' refers to any condition that prevents digestion from happening properly, or which alters the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract.

Digestive disorders are one of the most frequent reasons for consulting a veterinary practice. The two main signs to look out for are vomiting or diarrhoea. However, there are other less obvious signs, such as a weight loss, change of appetite, flatulence, stomach gurgling or sudden inactivity.

If you notice any such changes, you should visit your vet as soon as possible. If a digestive disorder is diagnosed, your vet will discuss the most likely cause with you. The most frequent causes are:

•    An inflammation and irritation of the stomach (gastritis)

•    Developing an adverse reaction to a food, or simply eating something that has 'disagreed' with your dog

•    The small intestine may be inflamed or have an excessive growth of bacteria (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO)

•    Inflammation of the large intestine (colitis) which results in frequent diarrhoea, often accompanied by blood or mucus

•    The pancreas may be inflamed (pancreatitis) or it may not be producing enough digestive enzymes to process food properly

As a result, your vet may recommend changing your pet's food or prescribe medication to help get him back to health more quickly. That's because vomiting and diarrhoea can lead to fluid loss (dehydration) as well as loss of vitamins and minerals. Also the gut wall will often be inflamed and need the right nutrients to recover quickly.

Ask your vet about Hill's™ Prescription Diet™ Canine i/d™ which is specifically formulated to help your dog's guts heal and recover more efficiently. You can see the difference in as little as three days.*

Hill's Prescription Diet i/d is recommended by vets because it:

•    Is deliciously appealing to help get your dog eating again

•    Has a gentle, non-irritant texture to help the gut recover

•    Is highly digestible with a moderate fat content to help the absorption of vital nutrients

•    Contains the correct levels of vital minerals to replace those lost through vomiting and diarrhoea

•    Features our Superior Antioxidant Formula to support a healthy immune system

•    Is suitable for short term recovery as well as long-term feeding

•    Is ideal for puppies as well as adult dogs

•    Is available in wet and dry formulas

Once the underlying cause of the digestive disorder has been diagnosed, your vet may then recommend switching to feeding other foods in the Hill's range. However, only feed the food recommended by your vet - do not be tempted to 'home-cook' food or mix it with another brand. You can also ask your vet for advice on feeding several small meals a day, and always provide plenty of clean, fresh water.

By following the recommendation of your vet, you can help your dog quickly get back on his paws. However, if the signs do not get better (or if they improve and then come back) you should always contact your vet.

Hill’s Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome food for dogs and cats is clinically proven to help promote healthy stool in as little as 24 hours. This first-of-its-kind nutrition, made with Active Biome+ ingredient technology, nourishes the gut microbiome to support a pet's digestive health. Speak to your veterinarian or visit www.hillsmicrobiome.co.za for more information.

* A Multi-centre Feeding Study of the Influence of Dietary Intervention in Dogs with Gastrointestinal Disorders. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. Pet Nutrition Centre, 2003.

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