The premier topic for this blog is
also the one most frequently asked about - chronic diarrhea. Whether the pet is
a cat or a dog, at least 80% of the requests for help revolve around this issue.
Chronic diarrhea is usually diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or disease
by veterinarians. First, please ask yourself (and answer honestly) these
1. Has the pet's diet changed
2. Has anything changed in the pet's
home in the last three months? This includes:
Change in location
Change in household residents,
either pet or human, in or out
Change in owner's emotional or
health status in the last three months
Why is this important?
1. Change in diet - it takes the
microorganisms of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) at least two weeks to adapt to any change in diet. This is
especially true when changing from kibble to raw. Ideally, this change is done
gradually, over a two week period. However, that is often not the case.
GIT microorganisms of a healthy, non-stressed
pet present an impenetrable barrier to opportunistic pathogens that are always
passing through. As a consequence, these pathogens are not permitted to
establish or proliferate. In short, they pass harmlessly down the GIT and out
with the feces.
A new diet,
especially as significant a change as from kibble (dominated by carbohydrates)
to raw (dominated by protein) totally shakes up the resident microflora. Many
beneficial microbes that depend on carbohydrates perish and leave gaps in the
protective barrier. These gaps can easily be established by passing opportunistic
Once a pathogen
gets a toehold, it can start utilizing dietary nutrients and proliferate. Many
such pathogens secrete toxins and can make the animal ill.
It also means
food that may have been utilized before, is now able to pass to the colon. In
most cases, very little carbohydrate gets to the colon. It is readily absorbed
by the host. When it gets past the area of enzymatic absorption (the small
intestine), carbohydrates are fermented by microorganisms usually kept in check
in the colon. Their feeding frenzy results in a shift is colon residents,
usually followed by diarrhea.
shifting from a carbohydrate-based diet to one high in protein requires a
metabolic shift as well. Normally, enzymes digest carbohydrates to generate
energy. In the case of a raw-fed animal, energy is derived from the digestion of
protein, via a cycle known as gluconeogenesis (literally "glucose from a new
source"). This cycle is always "on" in cats, which makes them requisite
carnivores. Dogs and humans can turn it on and off. BUT, it takes a few days
before the cycle turns on in these animals.
is a failsafe method of generating energy in non-requisite carnivores. It comes
on after about three days when a person or pet has exhausted all the glycogen, or
animal sugar, stored in the muscles. Usually this only happens when an animal is
The point is, there are three days
when the newly-raw fed pet does not have a good source of energy. The digestive
tract is in upheaval from the switch from carbs to protein, and the animal is
low on glucose. Glucose is the gasoline that runs the animal engine, and it is the
only carb used by the brain.
By the way, raw feeding is analogous
to a human on low-carb or "Atkins" style diets. In both cases, gluconeogenesis
must be engaged to generate energy.
2. Changes in household
occupants, emotional, and health status
Pets do not like
change, they feel threatened by it. Perceived threat (stress) activates the
"flight or fight" mechanism, which is automatic in all mammals. This reaction,
which involves a rapid-fire secretion of hormones, prepares the animal to either
flee or fight for its life.
speaking, the hormones redirect energy away from the GIT, an energy hog, to the
muscles. This means that peristaltic movement of digesta through the GIT ceases.
Since many beneficial bacteria are either attached or non-motile, they starve to
death. Gaps open in the protective barrier, as in the scenario above. The amount
of flow disruption depends on the severity and length of time the animal is
The longer the
animal is stressed, the greater the extent of damage to the protective barrier,
and more likely that the animal will become infected.
peristalsis may have ceased, undigested food continues to (slowly) move toward the colon.
Also as with change of diet, this allows pathogens to proliferate and toxins to
be secreted. It also usually results in diarrhea. Changes occur in the
appearance of the lining of the GIT due to this change in microbial population
and the toxins they secrete. These changes can be seen with a colostomy of
abdominal surgery, and usually result in the diagnosis of IBS or IBD.
Stress is part of life, owners and
pets will experience it throughout their lives. Chronic diarrhea can be prevented, even
under these circumstances. All it takes is awareness and the use of a
concentrated probiotic such as MSE Paste or Liquid Rescue. Ideally, the
probiotic should be used before a planned stressful activity such as a change in
diet or a vet visit. However, since it takes time for pathogens to establish and
proliferate, treatment after the fact is also effective, and can at the very
least, minimize damage.
Treating chronic diarrhea
Unfortunately, it takes so long for
the changes in the GIT to occur that it is easy to disassociate the causes from
the disorders. Every person I have counseled over the last two years who came to
me with a pet with chronic diarrhea has always been able to recall at least one
of the stressful situations outlined above. And within three months of the pet
developing the problem.
Many pets are taken to
veterinarians, who then diagnose them with IBS or IBD and prescribe antibiotics
and other drugs. Antibiotics actually exacerbate the situation. They kill
gastrointestinal microflora indiscriminately, which can weaken the animal's
defenses even further. They also treat this as a lifetime ordeal.
The good news is, if the endogenous
beneficial bacteria can be re-established, the damage to the GIT will heal. The
GIT has an amazing ability for self-renewal. It completely replaces itself every
three days (normally). This is necessary because of corrosive stomach acid and
physically damaging food particles.
The first step is to start feeding
MSE Natural Defense. Natural Defense contains pectin, which forms a matrix as it
absorbs water. This water is only freed after microbial action in the colon.
This helps stop diarrhea, but it must be fed daily. Pectin does not have any
residual effect, it only works while it is in the body.
Natural Defense also contains
several beneficial microorganisms that combat pathogenic interlopers. They help
the endogenous beneficial microorganisms re-establish and get the GIT back in
The re-establishment of endogenous
beneficial bacteria takes time, at least two weeks, and sometimes as long as a
month. Assuming no further stresses. The damaged tissue may take longer to
replace. I recommend that MSE Natural Defense be fed for at least two months.
Natural Defense should be fed dry to
dogs. It can be mixed into canned food for cats, or sprinkled on dry food. Pets
with asthma should not be given Natural Defense. In these cases, MSE Microbial
Paste should be used instead. It also contains pectin, but at a lower level, and it is
trapped in a thick paste.