Here’s a story of how probiotics helped diffuse a scary situation for one of my own pets! I hope it helps give you some ideas of helpful strategies to try the next time you encounter a digestive emergency.
A few nights ago, my healthy adult dog, Hina, got really sick.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary — she had beef liver and sprouts for dinner, chewed on a large, size-appropriate bone for 20 minutes (as she often does), and had a perfectly normal day.
Hina didn’t sleep in her usual sleeping spot that night. I wondered about it, but she didn’t seem to present any other strange symptoms so I let it go.
The next morning she woke me up to take her out…As we walked downstairs, I noticed that she had pooped in one of our rooms, and then proceeded to vomit up foam and a few bits of food (including a few small pieces of bone). But no blood! Phew! But I was still freaked out because she was so bloated, she could barely walk. Thankfully, she had another good poop once outside. No blood.
It was a good sign that she was passing things okay, but she was still bloated and in pain (touching her stomach caused her to groan). I wondered… a twisted stomach, perhaps? But usually large breed dogs are the ones to have this problem. Hina is small dog. It didn’t fit.
But still! Bloat was concerning. What could it be, I wondered?
I called Dr. Scott Sims to come over and x-ray her intestines to see if she was blocked up with bones (or something else). The x-rays concluded that no bones/fragments were present, though I could see a lot of gas built up. Perhaps her intestines were blocked with something opaque? Or perhaps she was poisoned?!
What goes through one’s mind in an emergency situation can be scary.
“Oh…she’s gonna die”
“Have to do emergency abdominal intestinal surgery”
“Perhaps…the bone she ate part of might have perforated her intestines causing peritonitis”
Dark thoughts can easily envelope one’s consciousness and prevent one from being able to see more clearly and make good decisions.
What to do? I decided to start with probiotics to repopulate her commensal population of good bacteria in her GI system so they can “fight off” any infection and improve digestion. I started with a product for dogs and cats called Protegrity GI. I dissolved it in coconut water and syringed it down.
How about the vomiting? She vomited once more. So I sliced up some ginger (1/2 thumb-sized piece), and squeezed out the juice into a 1/3 cup of coconut milk. After 15 minutes of simmering, I cooled the solution down and gave Hina 1 teaspoon every 3 hours. The first time she took the ginger coconut milk solution she vomited again about 30 minutes later.
I was worried!
Perhaps she was blocked with something that would not show up on x-rays? Vomiting after the administration of liquids could mean there is a blockage somewhere. To treat the vomiting, I added peppermint oil to her treatment plan and gave her about 2 drops per dose. She did not like this at all! But after she took it, the vomiting stopped. I then gave her another dose of probiotics (Protegrity GI).
Hina continued to be bloated and be in pain. I had to give her some relief so I gave her an injection of Torbugesic (a morphine-like drug for internal pain) so she could rest and sleep through the night.
The next morning she felt better but was still bloated, although a little less so. No vomiting. But no pooping either!
I decided to give her an enema using aloe vera juice, probiotics (Theralac + Protegrity GI), chamomile and peppermint tea. I repeated this process two more times. Hina did not like this treatment, but took it well without a struggle. She is a trooper!
Valerie, my office manager and trained homeopathic doctor, observed her symptoms and gave her homeopathic Belladonna. Within 15 minutes, her pain subsided and she lay her head down to rest. We continued to give her homeopathic Belladonna (given for acute symptoms with inflammation) every 15 minutes, then every 30 minutes, and after 3 hours of this treatment (and another dose of oral probiotics) she began to relax more and more and went to sleep.
Four hours later she got up and acted like nothing ever happened and wanted to eat. :)
What Caused the Issue?
So what caused the problem? The potentially “bad” liver she ate the night before? Pieces of bone or bacteria on the bone?
It was fish water!
Earlier that day, before this all started, I had watched Hina drink from one of our “lily pad ponds” (large pots around our yard, filled with fish and plants) and thought nothing of it.
But after she stabilized, I had a chance to reflect on her daily activities and I realized what the culprit was! Toads will sometimes sleep in the ponds at night from time to time, and contaminate the water with lots of bacteria. The fish pond is the perfect breeding ground for these kinds of bacteria! I’ve found 2-3 toads and frogs each day, several times a week, and though I keep moving them off the property, more return to my ponds to sit in the water.
The pathogenic bacteria in the pond water caused the bloating, and the toxic secretions of the toads/frogs caused pain and partial acute digestive distress, when Hina ingested it after drinking the water.
Take Home Points
Giving probiotics (such as Protegrity GI and Theralac) when your pet has GI symptoms cannot hurt and usually will improve the situation. You can mix them with yogurt for ease of administration.
Making herbal teas (ginger, chamomile, catnip, peppermint) that quell the vomiting and discomfort in the intestines is another home treatment to help an ailing pet…until you can get your pet to the vet!
And make sure your pets aren’t drinking out of water vessels with little reptile critters in them!
We also prayed and had all our friends pray for our little dog, and I am sure this made a big difference too!