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Old 11-15-2012, 08:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Hello all. Just to update on what's going on and to inquire if there are any further ideas among readers here.

Since my post in August, our dog had:
- Two courses of fenbendazole (anti-worm plus effective anti-giardia drug). No help at all.
- Bile acids test was done and ruled out a liver shunt.
- Ultrasound was done during one of her episodes and found nothing abnormal.

At this point, the vets suggested a month-long trial diet of "ultra-low allergen food". That would be Hill's "z/d Canine ULTRA Allergen-Free". Lola definitely had some allergic/itching reaction to their z/d kibbles but seems to be doing OK (no new episodes for three weeks) on the canned z/d food (but $3.50/can...). Problem is, the food has consistency of modeling clay and the taste of boiled saw dust. The dog only eats that stuff when she gets really hungry - and even then, it's a real effort to make her start eating.

So, assuming the whole illness really has something to do with the diet (although we've changed scores of dry and canned premium foods/brands), what are our options now? I am thinking that she can't possibly be allergic to ALL non-hydrolyzed food, so we should try introducing "real" foods - one by one, each over a month, as an additive to this canned crap. This is going to be a long process and I am not sure what foods we should put on top of the list. Ground beef, boiled chicken, liver, anything else?
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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My Jake that I lost last year had chronic tummy problems (after I switched him to raw for some reason) and my (holistic) vet pretty much diagnosed it as an internal allergic reaction to certain foods. Certain foods just set him off. He got every test imaginable and cost quite a bit. We could never figure it out. We did rule out all the serious stuff, and I finally said no more when they wanted to the ultrasound, etc. Figured it out to most likely be chicken and just used limited ingred food, no grains, a probiotic, a tsp of pumpkin in his food occasionally, etc. and just worked with it. It was very frustrating. Hope you can figure it out.
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:01 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Ah, just noticed your post -- IMO I would get him off of Hill's for starters.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Pollock View Post
So, assuming the whole illness really has something to do with the diet (although we've changed scores of dry and canned premium foods/brands), what are our options now? I am thinking that she can't possibly be allergic to ALL non-hydrolyzed food, so we should try introducing "real" foods - one by one, each over a month, as an additive to this canned crap. This is going to be a long process and I am not sure what foods we should put on top of the list. Ground beef, boiled chicken, liver, anything else?
Has she finished the trial on the z/d? If not, you shouldn't add anything at all. If you're looking at true food allergies, it can sometimes take as long as 8 weeks for allergic reactions to die down completely once the dog is no longer eating whatever set it off. Are you seeing any improvement?

When you come to the end of the trial and start to try out "real" foods, you cannot feed anything she's ever eaten before. Chicken would definitely be off the list since it's in so many dog foods. It's often difficult to come up with something novel when a dog has eaten a wide variety of kibble.

I've just been through months of the same kind of thing with Cali. I've been tweaking her diet for about 3 months now and finally she was having solid poops this week. I'm out of town right now so have fingers crossed it continues while she's at the sitter's.

I've spent the last 15 years sorting out diets for two Rotties who had IBD. It is a long, frustrating process. Most people make the mistake of moving too fast and introducing too much at once. Just over three months ago I started Cali out on beef and rice, nothing else. In the ensuing time, I've introduced a multivitamin, a calcium supplement, organ meat, a few drops of fish oil, probiotics and a bit of pumpkin. She's still short on Vit D, so the next thing I'll introduce is a D supplement and then the diet will be balanced but it has taken me over 3 months to get to this point. I still haven't managed to get rid of all the itching but some of it is probably environmental so I thought I'd tackle the poops first! LOL

One thing I have learned over the years is that when a dog has an inflammed gut, the diet has to be very low in fat. All commercial diets, even the hydrolyzed ones, meet AAFCO recommendations for fat. My experience has been that often the fat content of these diets irritates the gut further even if the dog isn't allergic to the contents. If I just cook and drain Cali's ground beef, the stools get soft again. I have to cook, drain and then rinse it in hot water to lower the fat content. When you do get to the point of taking your dog off z/d, or adding something to it, make sure it is low fat.

Last edited by caroline429; 11-16-2012 at 06:51 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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@caroline429
No, she's only done 3 weeks of z/d diet but it's incredibly frustrating and I have hard time seeing where it goes... She does not eat that z/d food! She is eating progressively less and less of it (instead of getting used to and eating more). It's gotten to the point where her daily amount is something like two tea spoons! Lola lost a lot of weight and we just don't know what else we can do or how she can manage another five or so weeks, eating like that.

As for improvements... Hard to tell. Some symptomps seem to have disappeared (no loud gurling, no lethargy, not much eating grass) but loose stools (although tiny in volume, now that she eats so little) and hardly any drinking seem to persist. She also now sleeps a lot more, particularly in the morning. We think it's because she is getting weak from not eating much.
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:19 PM   #16 (permalink)
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We had a toy poodle who had a very sensitive stomach her whole life. She lived to be fourteen years old. While I know many won't agree, the only food she did well on was the very small kibble Science Diet. We tried several higher quality foods, but that was what kept the 5 3/4 pounds on her. We also found out when she was very young that we could not give her any kind of treats or chews that had any kind of dye in them. She could only do the plain beige colored puppy treats and not have any problems. Several times the vet had us do the rinsed ground beef and rice for Patches when she had some issues which was fine except we would find rice from one end of the kitchen and dinning room to the other. Seems she would pick out all the ground beef and leave rice everywhere. I didn't know a little dog could make such a mess with cooked rice. I am so very sorry to hear that Lola isn't feeling well. Hope you are able to find out what is going on.
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:47 AM   #17 (permalink)
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My Sophie had occasional tummy rumbles from the time I got her (6 yo) until she died. It wasn't as bad as what you describe, but it certainly was a problem. The GI noises were loud and she was clearly in some pain.

As you have done, I paid a lot of attention to her diet. My practice is to have kibble available all day and to add about 1/4 pound of meat for supper. So I started keeping track of what she was fed. I found that the number one culprit was fatty chicken meat. She was OK if she just got the breast meat (which she loved), but she definitely reacted if she got skin or fatty thigh or leg meat.

In general, when a dog gets an upset stomach, my vet recommends feeding white rice and boiled meat (chicken or beef). I'm not sure he'd recommend that as a steady diet, but you might want to try it for a while, or add it to the food that she doesn't like.

I always use meat that has been raised on grass with no added hormones or antibiotics. If you can get it from a farmer, beef heart is a good option because it is nutritious but not too expensive.

Also, I found that Pepto Bismal was effective in stopping Sophie's tummy rumbles. I used a syringe to squirt it at the back of her cheek so that she would swallow it.
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:03 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I noticed that the OP's dog has been fed a poultry based food each time (chicken, duck). Many dogs have become sensitive, or even allergic to poultry based kibbles.

I would try a fish based kibble. Acana Pacifica or (grainfree; potato is the starch), or Evo Herring and Salmon (the Evo has limited ingredients and no potato or grains, which some dogs are sensitive to, as well) may help.
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:13 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Pollock View Post
@caroline429
No, she's only done 3 weeks of z/d diet but it's incredibly frustrating and I have hard time seeing where it goes... She does not eat that z/d food! She is eating progressively less and less of it (instead of getting used to and eating more). It's gotten to the point where her daily amount is something like two tea spoons! Lola lost a lot of weight and we just don't know what else we can do or how she can manage another five or so weeks, eating like that.
Where this is meant to go is to calm down all allergic reactions so you can then introduce some novel foods. While the theory behind z/d is good, it is not always sucessful for a couple of reasons. One, as I mentioned, is the fat content and also the type of fat. It contains soybean oil which is primarily omega 6. Omega 6 is proinflammatory. If you want to calm down an inflammatory response, whether it is skin or gut, it is better to use an oil that is primarily omega 3.

The second reason is that the protein particles in these foods are not always hydrolyzed small enough so that the dog's body doesn't recognize them. I'm not at home at the moment, so can't look it up, but I have a book that contains a research paper studying the hydrolyzed foods and it found that sometimes the protein was still recognized. Since the primary ingredient in this food is chicken, and just about every dog with allergies who's ever eaten kibble is allergic to chicken, if any of the protein is still intact the dog will react for sure.

All of this is well and good in theory but if your dog won't eat the food, then I'd think it is time to move on to a different plan of action. I know that everyone says a dog won't starve itself to death and while that may be true, they will certainly starve themselves into losing weight. My Cali was a terrible eater when kibble was the only thing on the menu and when she was at the petsitter's, she refused to eat at all. Since I've switched her to a homemade, cooked diet, there are no problems.

Can your vet provide guidance for a homemade elimination diet? It would involve feeding two novel foods, and only those foods, for a period of 6 - 8 weeks. Same theory as the z/d, but certainly tastier for the dog if it's "real" food.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Pollock View Post
As for improvements... Hard to tell. Some symptomps seem to have disappeared (no loud gurling, no lethargy, not much eating grass) but loose stools (although tiny in volume, now that she eats so little) and hardly any drinking seem to persist. She also now sleeps a lot more, particularly in the morning. We think it's because she is getting weak from not eating much.
It does sound like she could have IBD. Although IBD is a catch-all term for a myriad of different conditions, the dietary approach is pretty much the same so you don't necessarily need to know exactly which condition it is. I didn't realize until just recently that IBD is considered a hereditary problem in all three sizes of poodles.
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:05 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Everyone, thanks for the replies. Unfortunately, Lola died yesterday. Maybe our experience will help others... Here is how it all went:

1. While on z/d diet, she had sudden and severe onset of symptoms. Diarrhea, constant vomiting. Vets, emergency, IV line, etc. followed by endoscopy and colonoscopy with biopsies taken. Don't know results of the biopsies but the scoping indicated scarring in the stomach and inflammation in the small intestines. Gave her a bit of "real" food, she ate enthusiastically.

2. She was recovering from anesthesia very, very badly. In 24 hours, she still could not walk normally.

3. On top of that, within a day of taken home, she developed terrible UTI (trying to pee 50 times within 20 minutes, etc). There is no way anyone can know but it's entirely possible that UTI was a result from contamination after colonoscopy. Stopped eating again, very weak.

4. Taken to the vets again. Subcutaneous water injection, prescribed antibiotic - cephalexin (250 mg capsules, twice a day; she is normally 17 lb, at this point, after hardly eating for three weeks, she was probably down to 12-13). The vet gave her first capsule but she continued to refuse any food.

5. Within 3 hours of the antibiotic, we noticed some swelling around her eyes and the fact that she has trouble standing. From that point on, things progressed very quickly - she was deteriorating by the second. In about 30 minutes we were at the emergency again; while in the car, it was obvious that Lola has trouble breathing and that her heart rate is slowing down. In the vet clinic, right at the moment of moving Lola to the vet student hands, she died. Presumably, it was extremely rare reaction to the antibiotic but the truth is that no one willl ever know for sure and it could be a combination of many factors.

Lola was exactly one month shy of two years. Of which she spent 1.5 years suffering from her never properly diagnozed illness. We miss her immensely but I can't help thinking that maybe it's a good thing that she died from a freak coincident. Otherwise, we would probably kept her going in misery for god knows how many months or years...

If we ever get another dog, we will never feed even a milligram of the commercial food. At this point, I believe that the whole "IBD" and "food intolerance" simply must be related to the garbage we feed our pets (although we tried many other foods, she ate various Acana kibbles most of the time; most of the time she was able to eat, that is).
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