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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • Orthomolecular medicine (often called “megavitamin therapy”) seeks to use increased levels of vitamins and minerals to help treat a variety of medical disorders. Orthomolecular medicine uses higher doses than daily vitamins as part of the therapy for disease.

    The pet food industry relies on recommendations by the National Research Council to prevent diseases caused by nutrient deficiencies in the “average” pet, yet the NRC has not determined the optimum amount of nutrients or their effects in treating medical disorders. It is also important to realize there is no “average” pet. It is unlikely our current recommendations are adequate to maintain health in every pet.

    Owners should not diagnose and treat their pets without veterinary supervision. Many medical disorder present similar symptoms. Also, megavitamin therapy can be toxic if not used properly.

    The initial approach to orthomolecular therapies involves a hypoallergenic diet free of by-products, chemical preservatives, fillers, and artificial colorings and flavorings to decrease potential hypersensitivity within the gastrointestinal tract.

    Treatment uses vitamin A (10,000 IU for small dogs and cats, up to 30,000 IU for large dogs) and vitamin E (800 IU for small dogs and cats, up to 2400 IU for large dogs). The antioxidant mineral selenium (20 mcg for small dogs and cats, up to 60 mcg for large dogs) is also added to the regimen. Once asymptomatic, a maintenance protocol using gradually lower dosages of vitamins A and E, and selenium are prescribed to reduce the chance for toxicity.

    Ascorbic acid is not used due to its cholinergic effect on the intestinal tract which can worsen diarrhea.

    Plant Enzymes
    Enzymes are used for a variety of functions in pets. Cellular processes, digestion, and absorption of dietary nutrients are dependent upon the proper enzymes. Most commonly owners often think of enzymes as necessary for digestion of food. In fact, enzymes produced by the pancreas are essential for digestion of nutrients in the diet. Once properly digested by pancreatic enzymes, the dietary nutrients can be absorbed by the pet.

    The pancreas produces amylase, lipase, and various proteases. Amylase is used for digesting carbohydrates, lipase is used for digesting fats, and proteases are used by the body to digest proteins.

    While it is true the pancreas produces enzymes to aid in food digestion, additional enzymes found in the diet contribute to digestion and absorption as well and may enhance food efficiency. Natural raw diets contain a number of chemicals, including enzymes not found in processed diets. Processing often alters the nutrients found in a pet’s food, depleting it of important nutrients and enzymes. Enzymes are broken down in the presence of temperatures of 120 to 160 degrees F, and in freezing temperatures. Supplying additional enzymes through the use of supplementation can replenish enzymes absent in processed foods. Even pets on natural raw diets can often benefit from additional enzymes, which is why they are often recommended as a supplement.

    In addition, various stressors such as illness, stress, allergies, food intolerance, age, and various orally administered medications can decrease gastrointestinal function. This results in poor digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the diet.

    How Do Enzymes Work?
    There is nothing magical about the enzymes themselves. They only work by liberating essential nutrients from the pet’s diet. While we don’t know all the things that enzymes do, it is known certain enzyme supplements can increase the absorption of essential vitamins, minerals, and certain fatty acids from the diet. Increased absorption of zinc, selenium, vitamin B6 and linoleic acid have been detected following plant enzyme supplementation.

    Doctors can prescribe pancreatic enzymes, microbial enzymes, or plant enzymes. Pancreatic enzymes are adequate for pets with pancreatic disease where enzyme production and function is inadequate.

    Enzymes have been recommended for various disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease. The plant enzymes are active over a much wider pH range than pancreatic enzymes and are the preferred enzymes for most pets. Plants contain the enzyme cellulase. Dogs and cats do not normally have cellulase in their bodies and that’s why they can only digest some of the plant material in their diets.

    Supplementations that contain cellulase in addition to the normal lipase, amylase, and proteases seem to be more advantageous as these products liberate chemicals such as zinc, selenium, and linoleic acid that might be bound by fiber.

    In one study, supplementing the diet with additional zinc did not confer the same benefits as supplementation with plant enzymes. Apparently, the plant enzymes liberate other nutrients in the diet in addition to zinc resulting in positive benefits that did not occur simply by increasing the nutrient zinc.

    Since response is variable regarding the product used, if one does not help, another supplement might. Since enzymes are inactivated by heat, they cannot be added to warm food or mixed with warm water. Rather, they are simply sprinkled on the room temperature food at the time of feeding.

    Enzyme supplementation is inexpensive, safe, and easy to administer in pill or powder form. Your doctor can help you decide which product and dosage is best for your pet’s condition.

  • Natural Diets
    Dietary therapy is an important part of any treatment plan for pets with inflammatory bowel disease in addition to other conventional or complementary therapies. Avoiding foods which exacerbate the bowel inflammation is important.

    Severe inflammation of the intestinal tract can cause increased absorption of large food particles that normally do not cross the intestinal barrier possibly causing the formation of auto-antibodies, which may lead to autoimmune diseases and further intestinal damage. Bacteria and yeast may overgrow in the intestines of pets with chronic gastrointestinal disease and who are treated for extended periods of time with antibiotics; and may contribute through toxin formation to leak guy syndrome and food allergies or hypersensitivities. Many of these pets may require chronic therapy with medications and or natural supplements. Dietary therapy is quite helpful in these pets and when combined with appropriate supplements in pets with mild disease, may be the only therapy needed.

    The diet for pets with gastrointestinal disease should contain highly digestible nutrients. The typical diet is low in fat, contains hypoallergenic and easily digestible carbohydrate and protein sources. Diets requiring minimal digestion reduce digestive enzyme production protecting the intestinal tract. Excess fat aggravates diarrhea; excess dietary sugars and glutens are not easily digested in pets with gastrointestinal disease. Fiber may be added during the recovery stage if needed to allow continued healing or to prevent diarrhea in pets with chronic gastroenteritis; potatoes and vegetables serve as healthful, natural sources of fiber.

    Boiled white rice, which is highly digestible, is the recommended carbohydrate source. Alternatively, tapioca or potatoes can be used if pets cannot tolerate rice, which is rare, or if they will not eat rice-based diets. Glutenbased grains can cause persistent diarrhea due to gluten sensitivity and are not recommended.

    Proteins that are highly digestible and have a high biological value, such as cottage cheese or tofu, are recommended. Cottage cheese is easily digested and most pets do not have milk protein allergies. Meat can also be tried, although some pets may lose tolerance to meat and develop a temporary sensitivity to meat during injury to the intestinal tract cause by vomiting or diarrhea. Additionally, meat stimulates more acid to be secreted in the stomach than tofu. If meat is to be fed, low-fat beef or preferably chicken or turkey can be tried.

    Diet For Dogs With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    Dogs with gastrointestinal disease need diets with highly digestible protein that are also low in fat. Low-fat cottage cheese (1/2 to 2/3 cup) is used to provide protein (tofu with 1/8 tsp of added salt can be used if the dog refuses cottage cheese).

    Brown or white rice (2 cups) is an easily digestible carbohydrate source (boiled or baked potatoes can be tried if the dog refuses rice). Potassium can be added using supplements such as Tumil-K (available through veterinarians) or by adding 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt supplement.

    This diet would provide approximately 500 kcal with 27 grams of protein and two grams of fat.

    Include, two to three bonemeal tablets (10 grain or equivalent) or 3/4 teaspoon of bonemeal powder to supply calcium and phosphorus, with a multi-vitamin mineral supplement using the label instructions is added as the pet improves.

    Alternatively, a natural product from Standard Process (1 Calcifood Wafers or 2 Calcium Lactate with each 2 bonemeal tablets) can be used.

    When possible, natural vitamins made from raw whole foods, rather than synthetic vitamins (although both can be used in combination) are preferred, as the natural vitamins also supply plant phytochemicals, enzymes, and other nutrients not found in chemically-synthesized vitamins. Catalyn from Standard Process can be used in this recipe, at a dose of 1 Catalyn per 25 pounds; Canine Plus (VetriScience) could also be used following label dosages.

    Fresh, raw or slightly steamed vegetables can be used as a top dressing for the diet for extra nutrition and variety as the pet improves. Most vegetables provide approximately 25 kcal per 1/2 cup.

    In general, the above recipe supplies the daily nutritional and calorie needs for a 12-13 pound dog. The actual amount to feed will vary based upon the pet's weight.

    Diet For Cats

    Cats with gastrointestinal disease can do well with slight variations to this basic diet.

    1/3 to 1/2 pound ground meat (turkey, chicken, lamb, beef )

    1/2 to 1 large hard-boiled egg

    1/8 teaspoon salt substitute

    100 mg taurine

    You may add 1/4 to 1/2 cup brown or white rice. You may also prefer to use Tumil-K instead of a salt supplement.

    This diet provides approximately 275 kcal with 30 grams of protein and 16 grams fat.

    One to two bonemeal tablets (10 grain or equivalent) or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of bonemeal powder to supply calcium and phosphorus with a multi-vitamin mineral supplement using label instructions is added as the pet improves. Alternatively, you may use 1 Calcifood Wafer or 2 Calcium Lactate tablets for each two bonemeal tablets.

    When possible use natural vitamins made from raw whole foods, rather than synthetic vitamins. Or a combination of both. Catalyn can be used as the natural vitamin, at a dose of 1 Catalyn per 10 pounds. NuCat (VetriScience) could also be used following label dosages.

    Fresh, raw or slightly steamed vegetables can be used as a top dressing. Most provide approximately 25 kcal per 1/2 cup, although most cats will not eat vegetables. In general, the above recipe supplies the daily nutritional and calorie needs for a 9.10 pound cat.

    NOTE: Before you start to feed your dog or cat a home-prepared diet, it is strongly recommended you discuss your decision with your veterinarian or a holistic vet in your area.