NUTRITION plays a key role in the management of gastrointestinal disease in dogs and cats, and it is possible to manage some cases by dietary therapy alone. Dietary components can have a negative or positive effect on the bowel. A diet may contain toxins, allergens, toxic dietary excesses or nutritional deficiencies. It has a direct effect on intestinal physiology, affecting motility, cell renewal rate, bacterial flora, enzyme and ammonia production, and volatile fatty acid content. In humans, for example, diet has been shown to have an effect on the incidence of bowel cancer and, while this has not been studied in depth in cats and dogs, it is possible that the same may be true in these species. This article describes the effects specific essential nutrients may have on the normal and diseased gastrointestinal tract in cats and dogs.
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