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Why Chicken and Rice is an outdated approach for GI issues in dogs

If your dog has ever had a sensitive stomach, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues, have you been told to “feed chicken and rice”?

It’s everywhere. Even conventional veterinarians who are opposed to people food will tell you, “feed chicken and rice“ if your dog has a sensitive stomach, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues. Here are the reasons why we at Poochie Moochie Edmonton do not suggest this.

Rice is bland and helps to settle an upset stomach, for us humans. That’s for humans! Sometimes what works for humans will also work for dogs and cats. However, in the event of a sensitive stomach, this is not the case!

Why is that? 

Humans produce a lot of amylase. Amylase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates. Dogs have very little amylase by comparison and if their intestines are stressed out, they have even less amylase. So if you feed them rice, you’re likely to make things even worse. We know dogs and cats have little nutritional requirement for carbohydrates in their diet.

Rice is a grain and a carbohydrate. It is inherently inflammatory. It is far too starchy to be part of any dog's daily diet, let alone one that is suffering GI tract inflammation. The high starch in rice spikes blood sugar, and can also be contaminated with toxic arsenic.

It takes a lot of work for the body to break down carbs. This job is handled by the pancreas. The duct from the gallbladder is right across from the duct of the pancreas. The gallbladder contains bile. Bile breaks down fat. 

So what’s left? Carbohydrates. The primary job of the pancreas is to digest carbohydrates! Sure, the pancreas has a small function of digesting fat and protein; but the primary job of the pancreas is to digest carbohydrates.

So if a dog has an upset stomach, it is possible that it has a upset pancreas. If they do, then why would we feed rice, which makes the pancreas even more irritated? 

Vet’s believe and will tell you that pancreatitis is a fat problem. That is mainly in part because they do a blood test to evaluate the function of the pancreas. It measures pancreatic lipase. (Lipase is an enzyme that digests fat – AKA lipid.) So if the pancreatic lipase is high, the dog has pancreatitis. This does not mean the illness is a lipid or fat issue, it just means the lipase is high, but we should absolutely stop feeding carbohydrates because the primary enzyme made in the pancreas is amylase. 

Why are the majority of conventional veterinarians continuing to tell people that their dog has pancreatitis and absolutely must avoid fat?

Could it be marketing? Could it be that nutritional training is not the main focus of vet school?  Is it trusting the Sales Reps from the ‘Big money kibble’ industry? Your guess is as good as ours, but our pets are our responsibility and digging into ingredient labels is one way to protect them. Take a look at all of the vet prescribed food. (If you aren’t already aware, the ingredients are listed by weight.)

See above, the number one ingredient in a vet prescribed food for a dog with pancreatitis is RICE. Followed by cheap replacements for animal proteins.

Every single veterinary student learns in the first year of vet school that the primary function of the pancreas is carbohydrate metabolism.

“Any information on nutrition received after veterinary school usually comes via a handful of petfood manufacturers that sell through the veterinary channel. That information is by its very nature prone to be limited and biased.” - Dogs Naturally Magazine

An important side note to point out is the long list of synthetic vitamins and minerals. 

You might wonder, isn’t the addition of these vitamins and minerals a good thing? 

To put it simply, there are not enough nutrients in processed foods to prevent disease. When a meat, grain, vegetable, or fruit is cooked or heat processed in any manner, nutrients are lost. Synthetic vitamins, prepared from chemicals instead of nature, are frequently less active biologically than their natural counterparts, thereby reducing any beneficial effect they may have. In order to gain AAFCO approval, a pet food must meet a standard vitamin and mineral requirement. The least expensive way to meet this requirement is to add an accepted blend of premeasured synthetic vitamins and minerals to a processed diet. 

Generally, too much of a whole food source, like oranges or brussels sprouts, will at worst cause diarrhea; however, the body can recognize and expel the excess appropriately. This doesn’t happen with an overexposure to synthetic vitamins and minerals.  There is even a case of a pet food manufacturer accidentally adding too much of a synthetic vitamin into the recipe, which led to the death of many dogs. 

There is also the concern of where the synthetic vitamins were sourced. Synthetics from China is a valid concern.

A body can thrive on smaller amounts of whole food source vitamins than it can on synthetics.

This is why when you feed a complete balanced raw meal you do not have to add extra supplements, because your pet is extracting the nutrients they need directly from the whole food source.

When we’re talking about general dietary distress and look at the chicken and rice concept, it would be more appropriate to feed chicken only. As a white meat it is easy for a dog or cat to digest. Unless of course the animal is sensitive to chicken, which unfortunately is typically the case. Chicken is one of the two most common protein intolerances or sensitivities to many dogs. The likely culprit for that is most people are feeding factory farmed rather than organic chicken. Factory farmed chickens are fed grains (often GMO grains, pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics and vaccinated 3 times in its 30 day lifespan. No wonder our dogs have a problem with chicken.) 

What do we suggest?

A sick dog will naturally fast and this is recommended to give their digestive system a break. Fasting for dogs is safe for 24-48 hours. 

Bone broth is excellent because it sits well in their stomach and can be given during fasting. This is also great for enticing picky dogs or cats. It is full of vitamins, minerals and protein. It can also help rehydrate your pet after an illness. Bone broth even has the ability to fix leaky gut. Leaky gut is when the junctions in the intestinal track have little holes in it. This can cause autoimmune reactions and leeching of toxins into a dogs system. The collagen helps to tighten these junctions. Poochie Moochie has bone broth by Open Farm and Primal.

A better approach for calming your dogs upset stomach would be pure pumpkin which is high in fibre and is a natural bowel modulator which helps diarrhea and constipation. It is also high in antioxidants therefore will boost your pets immune system! At Poochie Moochie Edmonton we carry Pure pumpkin purée by Big Country Raw. We also offer powdered pumpkin by North Hound Life and Thrive. Just add water when serving! These are great options because they’re more shelf stable.

Cooked sweet potato is another good choice when it comes to feeding your dog with an upset stomach. 

Sweet potatoes have fiber and nutrients that can help calm your dog's stomach. They're also low in fat and easy to digest, making them an ideal food for dogs with sensitive stomachs. 

Instead of chicken, boiled turkey would be a much better option. Because it is also a white meat it’s easy for your pet to digest and typically pets who have allergies to chicken are okay with turkey.

Lastly slippery elm is a natural supplement that is clinically proven to protect and soothe your dogs intestines and stomach from irritation and inflammation, which can be caused by diarrhea or vomiting as well as other inflammatory bowel problems.

So please. Skip the rice. It’s a cheap filler, has very little nutritional benefit and could be making things worse, especially in dogs with pancreatitis. There are many other easily digestible options out there and we’d love to help you improve your pets health naturally, the way their body is designed!



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