Sensitive stomach: ingredients that make a difference
Many factors can contribute to your cat’s sensitive stomach. It can be helpful to understand certain ingredients to look for when choosing a Sensitive Stomach formula, as well as certain ingredients to avoid. PetSmart veterinary expert, Dr. Simon Starkey shares what you need to know.
Cats with sensitive stomachs can be affected by a variety of gastrointestinal conditions which may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. These conditions can include food allergies and intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease or even cancer.
Checking with your veterinarian is always recommended, especially when the onset of symptoms is sudden, severe or outwardly affecting your cat’s health. For milder cases of occasional vomiting or diarrhea, many Pet parents find significant relief for their cat by feeding a formula designed for sensitive stomachs.
There are several different brands and types of sensitive stomach foods on the market for cats, each using one or more nutritional strategies to help provide relief to cats with gastrointestinal upset. Here are a few key ingredients to look for and some common allergens to avoid.
Many people have heard about probiotics and perhaps even seen ads on television promoting them for people. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms, sometimes known as good bacteria. These bacteria are believed to promote intestinal health a number of different ways. You can find a variety of beneficial bacteria in sensitive stomach formulas such as Lactobacillus acidophilus or Enterococcus. Certain yeasts are also known to help aid digestion, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Although many people have heard about probiotics, prebiotics are less familiar. A prebiotic is a type of dietary fiber that changes the makeup or activity of gastrointestinal bacteria, thereby promoting intestinal health. Although there are few published studies on the effects of prebiotics in cats, several pet food manufacturers have incorporated them into sensitive stomach formulas based on promising research in people, rodents, pigs and dogs. Look for prebiotics like fructooligosaccharides, mannooligosaccharides or chicory, beet pulp or pea fiber.
While it may sound odd to many of us, the addition of small amounts of various clays to pet foods can improve digestion and reduce the frequency and severity of diarrhea. These clays are known to reduce the impact of harmful mycotoxins in farm animal feed as well as reduce the severity of E. coli diarrhea in pigs. Unfortunately, as with prebiotics, few, if any, studies have reported the benefits of dietary clays in cats. Due to the benefits seen in other animals, several manufacturers have begun adding clays or related compounds to sensitive stomach formulas. Look for ingredients like sodium silico aluminate or sodium bentonite.
Beef, dairy, fish and lamb are the most common proteins associated with dietary allergies in cats. Look for sensitive stomach solutions that are free of these protein sources.