Pet Diet and GI Issues: What You Need To Know

Dog by lake
Dallas is a healthy, young labrador who enjoys his life with his human parents and one other dog. Seeing that Dallas had some tartar buildup on his teeth, his mom went to the pet store and bought a bag of Blue Buffalo dental treats to help with the issue. She brought them home and gave Dallas one, being sure to monitor him so that he safely chewed it up, and thought nothing more of it.

Overnight, while his parents were asleep, Dallas began to vomit blood. By morning, he was refusing to eat specially prepared boiled chicken and rice and couldn’t keep any water down. Shortly after his parents tried to feed him breakfast he started drooling, became lethargic, and was too weak to even stand up. They knew that they needed to rush him to the vet ASAP.

After several diagnostic tests Dallas’ parents finally had an answer for his sudden symptoms. His stomach and pancreas were severely irritated and he was officially diagnosed with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) and needed to be hospitalized for treatment.

Fortunately, Dallas is home today and is on his way to recovery from the ordeal. However, the question still remains; is Blue Buffalo safe for pets? Which brand of food and treats are best for my pet?

Pet food diets that are too rich in nutrients can actually cause problems like what Dallas went through. Symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, and lethargy are signs of gastroenteritis or pancreatitis. A more severe form of gastroenteritis is hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) which includes symptoms like bloody vomit or diarrhea and severe systemic dehydration.

While there are many pets that do fine with Blue Buffalo and similar foods, it’s always best to research any pet diet that you’re considering to make sure that it follows certain standards. The best method to choosing the right food for your pet is to thoroughly read labels and check for the following components:

  • Meat as the first ingredient (not a grain or meat by product)
  • No sugar added
  • Not a grain free diet
  • No “raw” ingredients
  • AAFCO approved

Further resources and detailed information on pet diets can be found in the resources below:
Selecting the Right Pet Food
Reading Labels
What’s in the Ingredients List?
WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee: Recommendations on Selecting Pet Foods
Frequently Asked Questions & Myths

If you’re having chronic issues with your pet’s health and their diet, it may be best to consult a veterinary nutritionist. Speak with your veterinarian about a referral if you’re considering further help.

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At Happy Tails Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Greensboro, NC, our kind and knowledgeable team is available to provide gold standard emergency vet care for you and your pet. We’re available in the late night and early morning hours during the week, and 24/7 on weekends for your convenience.