Q&A: Recommendations for healing after major abdominal/intestinal surgery?

Q: hello smart raw feeders- my beloved dog had a big health scare this weekend.  he had a blockage in his gut and needed to have 30 inches of his intestines removed.  the vet has put him on a diet of baby food for a week.

my question is how should i handle his diet moving forward now that his intestines are compromised?  i wonder if this will affect the peristaltic action in the future and make digestion more difficult?  i winder if i should stay away from bones now and feed only ground with perhaps extra calcium supplementation?  also what probiotics if any would you recommend when the course of antibiotcs are over to restore his gut flora?

thank you!

A: I am so sorry to hear about your pup’s emergency surgery and removal of the this vital organ (well, part of). I hope he will recover as soon as possible without any complications.  He may or may not have residual issues from this event, but it’s great you are reaching out to do whatever you can to support his recovery and help him heal faster.  Hopefucap-lglutplly, he can heal up quickly and be back to normal soon!

I’d highly recommend the following supplements during this period of recovery:
1) L-Glutamine (best in the powdered supplement format). This amino-acid reduces rates of infection, reduces inflammation, improves gut barrier function, and improves immune function. It is an amino-acid that repairs the lining of the gut so it’s a great choice for this scenario.

Daily dosages for dogs: 1-25 lbs=250 mg; 25-50 lbs=500 mg; 50-100 lbs=1,00 mg; cats: 125 mg. Best if fed in water or broth before meals and at bedtime, but may be added to food.

660599201020_12) SeaCure is a nice supplement to promote/speed healing; it is an especially easy to absorb protein. I recommend it in cases such as this.

3) Probiotics! Please do not make the mistake of waiting to give probiotics after the antibiotic treatment is completed — you can, and should, start probiotics right away. In fact, it is the best way to counter the side-effects of taking antibiotics (more here – see references he provides – I do not suggest your dog take resistant starch at this time). You should start giving probiotics the first day of oral antibiotic treatment and continue them for at least an additional 2 weeks after the completion of antibiotic therapy. It has not been proven but it has been suggested to take probiotics and antibiotics at least 2 hours apart to reduce the possibility of the antibiotic killing the probiotic organisms. However, I have found that giving probiotics 10 minutes after the dose of antibiotics is the MOST effective way to reduce digestive upset, vomiting, inappetence and diarrhea in dogs and cats. Timing really can make a big difference here to curtail these unpleasant symptoms, and while it may seem counter-intuitive, a probiotic “chaser” given 10 minutes after the antibiotic, can be incredibly effective.msb-bottle
As for which probiotic product to choose: MegaSporeBiotic, Primal
(we carry both) or PrescriptAssist probiotics are all very stable, high quality choices for dogs and cats (and people!) that have chronic or mild issues with allergies or auto-immunity resulting in skin or gut problems, or for those that have never taken antibiotics or probiotics before.

However, if your animal has taken probiotics in the past without a dramatic improvement in their symptoms, I’d recommend one of the follo11-strain-50-gram-no-scoopswing products, which are expensive but very good:

The Gut Institute BIFIDO|MAXIMUS Histamine-Free and D-
Lactate Free Probiotic Blend 200 B CFU Daily for Microbiome Management
  or Custom Probiotics brand 11 Strain Probiotic Powder



The diet during this healing period should include lean, yet nutrient dense, easy to assimilate, high protein/meats from truly pastured animals. Sourcing is important here as high quality truly pastured meats are higher in beneficial fat/omega-3s, CLA, carotene, vita A/E/D — and larger quantities of all of these nutrients are needed/very helpful during this healing period.

Also important now is the inclusion of adequate levels of zinc to speed healing and support the immune system — which you can provide through the diet by simply feeding zinc rich foods such as (listed in order of zinc content and also digestibility): fresh/frozen raw, steamed/sautéed or canned oysters; braised calf, beef or lamb liver; raw organic tahini; freshly ground raw organic pumpkin seeds/pumpkin seed butter.


My suggestion would be to make stews or cooked meals using beef, bison, venison or lamb muscle meat (ground or stew meat) + bit of liver and spleen. Do not feed many vegetables right now and certainly no grains or legumes at all — those will be hard on his system and increase inflammation. For calcium you can choose one of the following supplements: 1/4 TBS of Now Bone Meal powder, 1 tsp. of Seaweed Calcium or 1/2 tsp. of eggshell powder added to every lb of food. This is a necessary balancing supplement (not optional) – it can be added either before or after cooking – the minerals hold up to the heat of cooking ok.

Servings of bone broth made from these same meats (bones, tendons, ligaments, feet, heads, skin) will also be very healing; remember no onion and little to no salt (if you do use salt, be sure to use a natural salt, not regular table salt, please).  Feeding additional gelatin – I like Great Lakes Beef Gelatin – would be helpful, too.

parsley_leaf-product_1x-1403633255Ginger and a small amount of garlic will support healing/reduce the chance for infection, too. You can season to taste with culinary herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, chervil, cumin, turmeric, chamomile, mint — all will be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Just use what you have/can easily find, and what he seems to like best.  Organic, of course!

Bromelain in conjunction with quercetin is an excellent supplement to help speed up healing of the gut; as is Slippery Elm Bark Powder or Marshmallow Root Powder mixed with a bit of raw honey and raw, organic fresh tahini or raw/organic fresh pumpkin seed butter (whatever he likes best – you can make/roll into little balls to eat as treats) — these will sooth an inflamed GI tract and reduce digestive upset.

So long as he heals and starts to feel better and elimination becomes normal again, in about a week or two, you can start to feed less cooked foods/more raw. Usually by 3-4 weeks after this surgery, you should certainly be able to return to his normal raw diet — even including raw meaty bones, if this was normal before. I had a senior Great Dane that needed emergency “bloat” GDV + gastropexy surgery once. Even with some initial unusual/unexplained complications during the first 24-hours afterwards, he was back on raw meaty bones and his normal diet in under two weeks — despite his age, he recovered very quickly with homeopathy and TCM — you will just have to see how your dog does and let his progress guide you. Just remember to proceed slowly as it’s better to be conservative and cautious, rather than bold/daring, in these situations. 🙂

This last part is not specific to your situation, necessarily, but I think it is important to provide this information, as it is related to the topic being discussed, and I hope it may possibly prevent an animal from going through this traumatic and life-threatening crisis. I hope the below information may be of benefit to others:


Please be aware that if he is taking a NSAID (pain/arthritis medication: list of drugs in this class used in veterinary medicine can be found here) or corticosteroids (for allergies or other autoimmune diseases – list of commonly used drugs can be found here) for any reason, one of the most common side-effects of these drugs (no matter what diet he is eating) are gastrointestinal including the very serious issue of bleeding, intestinal blockage, and perforation.  Whenever I have a consultation to discuss diet/nutrition, I always ask about medications the animal is taking, as these types of drugs carry this risk as a common side-effect. If they are planning to continue the drugs, this informs my suggestions for putting together a safe diet for that individual.

So, if your dog is taking either of these types of commonly prescribed drugs, I would reconsider the feeding of whole raw meaty bones while on these medicines, simply because he will be at a higher risk for these possible side-effects.  It may be safer to feed ground meaty bones instead, but the risk remains — even when they eat kibble, canned or cooked purees/baby food. It’s just a side-effect that comes along with these drugs. Of course I know people who are aware of the risk, and yet have decided that the benefits of feeding whole meaty bones outweighs the risk. It’s just important to me that people know so they can make informed decisions.

Alternatively, (of course, it is my recommendation:) you can just completely reconsider using these drugs and move to the use of safer medical options/treatments to manage inflammation/pain or chronic illnesses. A skilled and experienced holistic veterinarian will be able to better manage whatever chronic health issues your animal may have through the use of alternative modalities – chiropractic, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, herbs, etc. This way, you can not only eliminate the risk of the side-effects of using these drugs, but also continue to feed raw meaty bones for the many health benefits they provide!

Hope this helps and that your god boy is on the mend — with many happy, healthy days of meaty bone meals ahead! 🙂