Supporting Your Pet's Digestive Health

Written by: 

Dr. Danielle Conway, DVM ACVIM Nutrition Board Eligible, CVA, VSMT  

Nutrition board-eligible veterinarian with extensive experience in integrative medicine and nutrition.  

Paw Prints


There are many ways you can support your pet’s digestive health. This is a meaty topic. First, we will discuss general supportive measures of gastrointestinal health, next we dive into how fiber in general supports their digestive health, then we’ll explore the individual fiber types, and lastly we’ll highlight the fiber sources in ButcherBox For Pets Premium Nutrition.

General Supportive Measures for Gastrointestinal Health in Pets

Ensure Adequate Hydration

Ensure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Proper hydration is essential for digestive health and overall well-being. Adequate hydration helps break down food more efficiently, aids in nutrient absorption, and supports smooth bowel movements. It also helps to prevent constipation and maintains the balance of essential bodily fluids, ensuring your dog's organs function optimally.

Promote Regular Physical Activity

Regular physical activity can help promote healthy digestion and prevent constipation. Take your dog for walks, play games, and engage in other forms of exercise to keep them active and stimulate their digestive system. 

Regular exercise also ties into stress management. Many dogs in our country are under-exercised, which can lead to obesity, behavioral problems, and stress. These issues can affect gut health and cause pet owners to mistakenly believe their dog has a “sensitive stomach” when, in reality, the dog is simply under-exercised and stressed. 

dog and owner walking outside getting exercise

Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language

It’s important to learn to read your dog’s body language. If you’re not sure where to start with understanding your dog’s non-verbal communications, work with a certified trainer who uses positive reinforcement. Once you learn to read your dog’s body language, you can identify stress signals and minimize known significant stressors in your dog's environment as much as possible. 

And always provide a comfortable and safe living environment, establish routines, and offer plenty of opportunities for mental stimulation and relaxation.

Routine Veterinary Care

I would be remiss if I did not mention routine veterinary care. Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog's overall health and address any potential digestive issues early on. Also, ensure that your pet receives an annual fecal parasite test and is on preventatives. Parasites and illness have a profound negative impact on GI health.

The Importance of Diet in Pets’ Digestive Health

I have saved the most effective tool for last – diet. One of the most important ways to support your pet’s overall health and support their gut is to feed a high-quality, balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Look for dog food that contains high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

ButcherBox For Pets Premium Nutrition uses highly digestible ingredients. When lower quality ingredients are utilized, undigested larger units of protein and carbohydrate can reach the colon and cause osmotic diarrhea, which in turn promotes an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria.

Probiotics and Gut Health for Pets

Another great way to support your pet’s gut is through the promotion of a healthy and diverse microflora. The use of probiotics in a healthy dog is debated among gastroenterologists and nutritionists. There are some data to suggest that the microbiome transiently shifts only while your pet is on the probiotic, and the moment it is stopped, your pet's microbiome shifts back to its original population. Some experts advocate for only using a probiotic as needed if your pet is experiencing GI symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.), while others advocate for regular use. 

There is excellent research to support that a quality therapeutic strength probiotic can be very helpful after antibiotic therapy and that dietary therapy with a probiotic should be the first line of treatment for pets with routine and acute onset of diarrhea. The use of metronidazole (an antibiotic that is used to treat a wide variety of infections)  should be reserved for only when absolutely necessary as it can negatively impact the microbiome long-term after use, even after a short treatment. 

A complicating factor for choosing a probiotic is that they can be of variable quality. Studies have found that what is on the label does not always match what is in the bottle. This is an issue with supplements in general and why choosing a trusted company such as ButcherBox For Pets is so important.

Fiber and Its Role in Pets’ Digestive Health

The most straightforward and impactful way to support the microflora is through the diet itself by feeding a broad spectrum of fibers. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as food for probiotics, helping the probiotics thrive in the gut. 

Fiber comes in many different subcategories. The two most recognized categories are soluble and insoluble. Both types are essential for maintaining a healthy gut and supporting the diverse community of microorganisms that reside there. Here's an overview of various sources of fiber and how they influence the microbiome:

Soluble Fiber


Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. Good sources include oats, barley, legumes (beans, lentils), fruits (apples, oranges, berries), vegetables (carrots, broccoli), and seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds)—many of which can be found in ButcherBox For Pets Premium Nutrition as well as their Chicken & Quinoa Recipe Topper

Impact on the Microbiome:

Soluble fiber is fermented by beneficial bacteria in the colon, producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate. SCFAs provide energy for colon cells, help maintain gut barrier function, and modulate immune responses. They also create an acidic environment that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.

Insoluble Fiber


Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to stool, promoting regular bowel movements. It's found in whole grains (wheat bran, brown rice), vegetables (celery, cucumbers), and the skins of fruits and vegetables.

Impact on the Microbiome:

While insoluble fiber is not fermented to the same extent as soluble fiber, it still plays a role in promoting gut motility and supporting a healthy microbiome. It provides roughage that helps move food through the digestive tract, preventing constipation and promoting regularity.

Resistant Starch


Resistant starch is a type of starch that resists digestion in the small intestine and reaches the colon intact, where it serves as a substrate for bacterial fermentation. Sources include under-ripe bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, whole grains, legumes, and certain seeds.

Impact on the Microbiome:

Resistant starch promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon, particularly Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. Fermentation of resistant starch produces SCFAs, contributing to gut health and metabolic benefits.

Prebiotic Fiber


Prebiotic fibers are a subgroup of soluble fibers that selectively stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Examples include inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and resistant starch.

Impact on the Microbiome:

Prebiotic fibers act as food for beneficial bacteria, promoting their proliferation and diversity in the gut. By enhancing the growth of beneficial species, prebiotics help maintain a balanced microbiome and support various aspects of health, including digestion and immune function.

Fiber Sources in ButcherBox For Pets Premium Nutrition

Girl and dog in kitchen with ButcherBox For Pets Premium Nutrition dog food on counter

I will round out our adventures in fiber by highlighting the fiber sources in ButcherBox For Pets Premium Nutrition and how they support your pet’s gut health.


Fiber Content:

Quinoa is a pseudocereal that is often considered a superfood due to its rich nutritional profile. It contains around 2.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams when cooked. This fiber content contributes to its reputation as a beneficial food for digestive health.

Other Nutrients:

Quinoa is rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, and manganese. It is a good protein source for omnivores but I do not recommend relying solely on plant sources to meet the needs of our omnivorous carnivores such as the dog.


Fiber Content:

Millet is a small-seeded grass commonly used as a staple food in many parts of the world. It contains approximately 1.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams when cooked.

Nutritional Profile:

Millet is rich in nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. It is also a good source of antioxidants.

Pearled Barley

Fiber Content:

Pearled barley is a processed form of barley where the outer hull has been removed. It contains about 2.0 grams of fiber per 100 grams when cooked.

Nutritional Profile:

Barley is rich in nutrients such as fiber, vitamins (especially B vitamins), and minerals like selenium and manganese. Barley also possesses a nutty flavor and chewy texture that dogs enjoy.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways you can support your pet's digestive health. By ensuring proper hydration, regular exercise, routine veterinary care, and a balanced diet rich in high-quality fibers, you can significantly enhance your pet's gastrointestinal well-being. ButcherBox For Pets Premium Nutrition offers a variety of fiber sources that can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, contributing to your pet's overall health and happiness.

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