Medical Library for DVMs
Nutrients that Aid in Protecting the Gastrointestinal Tract
- September 18, 2019
- by Erin Hatcher, DVM Scientific Services Veterinarian, Royal Canin USA
Clinically managing each case can be challenging due to diagnostic limitations, multiple pathophysiologies, or the presence of concurrent diseases. Regardless of the source, when it occurs, gastrointestinal upset is a motivating factor for owners to bring their cat or dog in to see the veterinarian.
Zeolite, prebiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids are three nutrients, when found in some veterinary therapeutic diets, that can help support the short-term recovery and longer-term disease management of patients.
Zeolite may not be a common nutrient that is discussed in the day-to-day veterinary profession, however its benefits, when added to pet food, are surprising. This nutrient, chiefly extracted from volcanic rock, is potentially a great benefit for a patient’s gastrointestinal tract. Zeolites have three main effects in the animal’s digestive tract. First, they form a protective covering on the surface of the intestinal mucosa. Second, they absorb a surplus of water, and thirdly they absorb toxins.
What about prebiotics? While probiotics are well known in the veterinary community, prebiotics are a nutrient less commonly known in pet nutrition. Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary carbohydrates that stimulate growth of the normal beneficial bacteria in the GI tract. The result is the production of short chain fatty acids during fermentation that enhance intestinal immune function.
There is always a delicate balance of beneficial bacteria and detrimental bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract.
Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) provide an environment favorable to the development of the beneficial bacteria, which in turn, may decrease the relative amount of detrimental bacteria. Mannanoligosaccharides (MOS) have been shown to have beneficial effects on microbial populations and enhance immunity in the intestinal tract.
The addition of omega-3 fatty acids to the diet has been shown to alter the fatty acid profile of the gastrointestinal mucosa, while reducing the degree of inflammation in experimental models of colitis. The essential functions of omega-3 fatty acids include anti-inflammatory actions, improving brain development, and stimulating the learning capacity of puppies. Due to their biological roles, omega-3-fatty acids are used in therapeutic pet food for not only gastrointestinal disease, but many other inflammatory disorders whether acute or chronic-osteoarthritis, chronic renal failure, and skin disease, just to name a few.
Talk to your local Royal Canin sales representative to find out more about the nutrients in our therapeutic diets.
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