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Poodle Health Discuss Poodle health and important health testing for common poodle diseases.

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Old 08-25-2012, 10:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default persistent gastro-intestinal issues...

Starting since she was about 5 months old, our miniature poodle, Lola, now almost two years old, has some sort of chronic digestive problems. In essence:

Every 10-20 days, she progressively becomes less active, refuses food and water, develops very loud (VERY LOUD!) belly noises, stool first becomes much softer (but no diarrhea and no blood) and contains quite a bit of mucus. During such episodes, she tends to want to eat grass and occasionally (but not always) vomits. Typical duration at peak is 1-3 days but seems to not happen suddenly - rather, there is a build up time when the symptoms progressively accumulate. Without any treatment, it seems to oscillate on its own, becoming better or worse.

We try very hard to find some correlations as to what might be causing these symptoms or worsening them. No luck so far.

Food: no apparent differences. Originally on Orijen, today, after trying many different premium brands, settled on 50/50 mix of "Acana Duck" kibbles and "Party Animal" chicken or turkey canned food. Still a problem. Tried yogurt, canned pumpkin, boiled chicken - nothing helps. (One of the strong episodes was after feeding Lola freshly cooked turkey meat - probably pure co-incidence).

Vets:
- electrolytes, liver and kidney function all OK;
- slightly elevated but "not concerning" hematocrit (59%) and lympocyte count (6.283);
- fecal flotation test negative;
- resting cortisol level was 3.2 ug/dL (concluded that it's not Addison's disease);
- cPLI test came out negative (concluded that it's not pancreatitis);
- A wild guess of Helicobacter infestation was made and Lola was on a 20 days course of antibiotics (amoxycillin+ metronidazole) and PPI inhibitor omeprazole to reduce acidity. More or less isolated the poor dog from other dogs to reduce possible stress and re-infection chances. No help at all.
- Pepto-Bismol definitely helps but does not cure. Giving it for two days at the first signs of upcoming troubles seems to greatly alleviate the severity of attacks.
- Vets suggested ultrasound "to see if there are any visible problems" but it requires general anesthesia, is expensive and we are generally skeptical at this point.
- Vets did not so far brought up the "inflammatory bowel disease", which seems to me like a next best guess - but I am skeptical, too. IBD does not sound like a single disease. It's like "respiratory tract infection" - could be any of the hundreds of different things.

Anyhow, the poor sweet dog is quite obviously suffering on regular basis and we quite obviously have no clue what it is that we can best do to help her. Any guesses, hints, suggestions, recommendations and references are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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Old 08-25-2012, 11:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Would the vet be wiling to do a stool culture? I wonder about a chronic bacterial thing that may take longer than two weeks of antibiotics to cure.

Being it seems almost cyclic, is there anything that happens on the same approximate schedule (mowing the yard, treating the lawn, house keeper visit, other visitors,etc)?

My first thought was camplyobactor, but the duration seems rather long.
Campylobacter Symptoms in Dogs | eHow.com

Another thought:
Giardiasis: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I can't make any suggestions however hope you can discover what is causing this problem. Some poodles just have sensitive tummies, however this seems like much more. I have one thing I can do, and that is to pray you find a solution to your pup's problem. God bless you for your patience in working through these problems.
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Old 08-26-2012, 01:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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We have a pug who has had problems with her stomach since she was young (now 11). They sound very similar to your problem. A vet explained to us that the mucous is produced by the body to try to sooth the intestinal wall. The only thing we have found that has helped her is to put her on ONE food and allow her nothing else. No chew bones - nothing. I measure her food as well so that she is not over eating. We do give her a small amount of sweet potato at night because I hide 1/2 of a Pepcid AC Original Strength in it. She takes this before bedtime and it helps keep the acid down during the night.

She still will rarely have the very loud noises and apparently her stomach does bother her during this time. She will be restless. But, she does not have the diarrhea and the episodes are pretty far apart and will only last about 30 minutes. Maybe this could help you.

Good luck.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies, everyone!

@BorderKelpie:
Apparently, no. We tried hard to eliminate all the non-daily routines and still can't see any correlations. Campylobacter we never thought of because it tends to be acute, not chronic (>1.5 years in our case).

@Laceypoo:
Could you please tell what was that "ONE food and nothing else" that you settled on? We are down to a pretty limited and pretty basic diet but, alas, the diet experimentation takes forever before there is any certainty... Also, do you give Pepcid AC on a regular basis for most of these 11 years or is it strictly on a "per need" basis? If the latter, just how frequently does your dog have episodes these days?
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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how has your vet tested for Giardia? This is a tricky, insidious little bug that often throws false negatives in a fecal flotatation. I would ask your vet for a test kit.

My standard had Giardia and my vet advised to bring in 3 stool samples from three consecutive bowel movements.

Additionally, while he was being treated for the Giardia, Finnegan developed a sensitivity to chicken. I tried multiple high end kibbles, but none of them settled his stomach.

A friend of mine told me about Hilary's Blend so I researched it and gave it a try. It worked and I have been using this method ever since. I have had several "wellness" blood panels run on my dog just to make sure everything was in order and all of his levels are repeatedly spot on.

HILARY'S BLEND (formerly THE BALANCER) supplement for home-made meals

Have you been adding digestive enzymes to your pup's food? These help to replenish the flora in the intestinal tract that may be compromised and lacking because of the chronic nature of the problem.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Our pug is eating Fromm Chicken a la Veg. I measure it each day. She gets a small amount of baked sweet potato at night and I hide 1/2 a Pepcid AC Original strength in a piece of it. She has been taking the Pepcid AC every night for about 5-6 years now. She will have an episode about every 3 months now and it will last about 30 minutes!!! It used to last all night and into the next day and happen every week it seemed like.

Thank goodness Lacey has had no problems with her stomach so far and Maggie's is so much better since we started this "program". Just decide on a food, give it to her, and do not switch. Do not give treats or chew bones or anything else. The Pecid AC might help and sweet potato is very easy on the stomach. Good luck.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ultrasound does not require general anesthesia. Find a different vet who will do it without anesthesia if you feel the test is necessary but are not comfortable with anesthesia for it.

I've had 2 dogs have ultrasounds without any sedation. The first was a cardia ultrasound and EKG done together about 6 years ago. The second was my miniature poodle who had an abdominal ultrasound done at about 16 weeks.

I have watched and helped hold dogs for non-sedated abdominal ultrasounds.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have no answers, but just wanted to chime in and say I feel for you. My mini had diarrhea for six weeks (better now for one week) and trying to figure out what was causing it was so frustrating and stressful. I can't imagine doing that for a year and a half.

If it was me, I'd do the ultrasound. Can't hurt and might provide some answers. I agree that it does not have to be done under anesthesia unless they want to do a biopsy?
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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This is my fiance doing an abdominal ultrasound on his golden retriever. His dog was not sedated. For an adbominal ultrasound, the dog must lay on its back. We use a "v-trough", that helps keep the dog from tipping or rolling. I understand that sometimes a v-trough cannot be used depending on what the ultrasound is looking for, and the dog may be required to lay on it's back. If a dog is stressed and panting heavily, the ultrasound may not be possible without sedation.

ultrasound by tortoise11, on Flickr

You can train your dog to lay still, on a table, on it's back, at home. (You'll need to pad the surface to protect his spine and hold his front paws gently to help him balance. If your dog lays still and is not stressed, panting or resisting restraint, you might be able to sway your vet's opinion about using anesthesia.
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