Dietary Canine Colitis Management with Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are carbohydrates made of two naturally occurring sugars. They’re connected to fructose units attached to glucose units. Research has shown that supplementation of fructooligosaccharides in the diet plays an important role in managing Colitis. Canine colitis, or the inflammation of the colon (large intestine), is a common ailment that affects pets of all ages and breeds. Colitis may be either acute or chronic with bacteria, parasites, fungi, allergies and trauma being some of the causative factors of the condition. The major clinical sign of colitis is diarrhea. Studies reveal a third of all dogs presenting with diarrhea suffer from colitis. In addition to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines, in recent times, FOS also plays an important role to control colitis.

Factors that Increase Susceptibility to Colitis:

  • Stress
  • Consumption of contaminated food
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Parasite infections

What Is Colitis?

The colon is responsible for the storage of stool, the digestion of unabsorbed nutrients and the absorption of water. Due to the inflammation of the colon, the dog’s body is unable store stools. Since the colon’s ability to absorb water is hampered by the infection, diarrhea is a common symptom in dogs with colitis. Other symptoms of colitis are straining and showing a sense of urgency, the presence of blood and mucus in the stools. There is also a change in the consistency of the stool. Colitis is often hard to diagnose and its best to conduct a vet check when in doubt.

Sources of FOS

FOS are found in fruits and vegetables. The Jerusalem artichoke is believed to have the highest concentrations of FOS. Bananas, onions, garlic, barley, wheat, chicory, leeks, tomatoes, and asparagus are other sources of FOS. Iams and Royal Canin both offer FOS enriched diets for dogs.

Health Benefits of FOS

FOS, unlike other carbohydrates, aren’t digested in the small intestine. Like fiber, they’re digested in the large intestine. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and gas are produced as a result. SCFA provide energy to the cells of the colon and this is crucial for their normal functioning. FOS also remove disease causing bacteria from the large intestine and inhibit their growth. Importantly FOS are probiotic in nature, and thus have the ability to promote the growth of bacteria beneficial to the dog’s health. This in turn, helps boost the immune system, promotes digestive health, and supports healthy detoxification and excretory processes of the dog. Since FOS also protect against intestinal inflammation, they inhibit the growth of malignant tumors in the gastrointestinal tract.

Other Benefits

FOS effectively increases mineral and calcium absorption in the body. Thus, they help to maintain the health of the colon and often prevent and reverse diseases of the colon. In addition to these varied positive effects, FOS are beneficial in problems related to lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and inflammatory bowel syndrome.

FOS are fermented by the colonic bacteria with energy and gas as the resulting byproducts of this fermentation. Hydrogen and carbon dioxide are the gases produced. These cause flatulence in the dog and thus discomfort. If the pet suffers from persistent flatulence, it’s advisable to reduce the amount of FOS added to the diet. Extra exercise is also beneficial in such cases.