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Cleo is 18 weeks now. She had a bout of giardia when i brought her home at 11 weeks, and had meds for that (she's been clear for a while). And since then she has been on a probiotic. She recently had to take Clavamox for a couple days due to some lady problems... That led to very loose movements (had to hose down the lawn where she went--but that happened occasionally before). To get her gut straightened out again, the vet told me to feed her a limited diet for a few days: white rice, chicken breast, and super lean ground beef. She said she might not go at all for a couple days because of the rice, so not to be alarmed, etc. But, lo and behold, after the very first meal, she started having totally normal firm stools, twice a day (she missed one in the past 2 1/2 days), like i have not seen in the whole time she's been home. Cleo loves this diet. Can't get enough of it. Although some of that may be that i cut out treats almost entirely, except plain Charley Treats, so she might be more hungry!

The vet agrees that the stool situation probably warrants trying to change her food. When i got her she was on something with a lot of legumes, so i changed her to Wellness Complete puppy (not grain-free) about 5 weeks ago. It has peas, but a lot less, and the vet said as long as it wasn't grain-free, it was okay. Now, i think i want her off legumes entirely, for one thing. The vet recommends the usual (Pro plan, royal canin, hills, in addition to Wellness). While i get the whole "many years of research" thing with those companies, I'm trying to avoid wheat, corn, and soy in her regular food, but not the other grains. That was why i chose Wellness to start with. I know those foods work for a lot of people, but don't want to trade a food that seems to have good, fairly simple ingredients for a food that has more fillers and additives, especially since it seems Cleo is sensitive to something. But maybe that's the wrong way to think about it?

One thing I wonder, is it the kibble i'm feeding her, or is the problem really the training treats? (I'm guessing it's the food, because i've changed the treats now and then, and the stools have always been soft.)

The vet would like me to keep her on puppy kibble, not all life stages, so that eliminates a number of brands, and i'm having a hard time figuring out what to do. A lot of the brands I often see recommended either don't have a puppy food or they were on the list to avoid because of DCM. I'm also confused about large breed vs regular puppy food. The vet said to get regular (cut off being 60 lbs?). Last time i was there, Cleo weighed 25.5 lbs, and the vet said her adult weight will be at least 50lbs. With standard poodles, i don't see how they can go by weight, though. They're on the thin side, but they're large. i will go with what the vet says, but i still wonder what is best in that case.

So--anyone have luck switching to something that kept the stools firm? Please advise!
 

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I am sorry you've had a hard time with these issues and hope you find a good permanent fix ASAP.

For a puppy you should use the regular food as training treats out of the regular portion so you don't feed too many calories.

Remember that carbs are not innately bad, but rather do offer the major calories of many perfectly decent diets. Some dogs will be sensitive to some carbs (Lily can't deal with corn, Javelin is a no oats guy and Peeves is no for legumes). All three of our dogs can have wheat and eat pasta (whole grain, cooked al dente) as a major component of every meal. I home cook because to feed all dogs the same diet I have a very limited ingredients list. However home cooking has to be done carefully to ensure that the diet is nutritionally complete and calorically adequate.

The limited rice, chicken and ground beef you have been giving to settle Cleo's intestine is okay for the short run, but is far from nutritionally complete.
 
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Yes, i totally agree, she can't stay on rice and chicken for long--this was just a 3-day thing. Tomorrow i'm putting her back on her normal diet, and we'll see.

I feel for you with cooking for all those dietary restrictions! I have many, many restrictions myself, and often that means different meals for me than for the rest of my household. It's a pain. I will keep that in mind about carbs. I just read that things like barley and wheat bran can lead to loose stools, and i think her food has barley in it. Not sure if that's the problem, though.

I try to use her kibble for training or rewards for certain things, but for high value stuff, like anything we do outside, or anything in the car or at puppy class--or when i'm trying to introduce a new behavior, i need something more exciting. I was using ziwi peak beef or lamb treats, some cloud star soft beef or chicken treats, and bits of lowfat cheese. i don't think she eats a ton of treats, more variety than volume, and i try to make them very small.

Her food does have oats, so i wonder if that's an issue for her. Some of the treats have small amounts of wheat. I also wonder if dairy is a problem. i'm going to avoid it for a few days and see if that helps. She self-regulates, she definitely doesn't overeat, but i can see that the treats might have more calories. When she's had a lot of treats, say on a puppy class or training day, she eats less for dinner. It would be better if she ate her food!
 

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I’d be very interested in what you decide on. I tried lots of different foods for Dobby before settling on Wellness Core. His poop was mushy on everything until the wellness.

Then this whole grain free heart issue stuff came up, so I’ve been mixing in Pro Plan to see how he would do. My best friends shelter is part of the Purina food program, and all her dogs and cats eat pro plan, so I’m giving it a try. His poops aren’t
bad, but they aren’t great either.

For Trixie, once we cleared up her campylobacter infection, her poop is great regardless of what food she’s eating.

I would like to mention, the poop volume has stayed consistent with them eating Pro Plan. I wasn’t expecting this, based on my last experiences with non grain free foods. So I have been very pleased with that. They each get about 4 cups of food a day, so I was expecting lots more “output”.

Maybe we have been sold a load of crap about grains. Previously, I fed raw for many years, and have also cooked for my dogs. I’m just not in a place where that works for us right now.


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I have had a dozen foster dogs and feed raw. However, they have to be able to eat kibble or they are not adoptable. One dog I had to give probiotics in his food, but that is not difficult. Otherwise, they all did fine on Taste of the Wild, which is grain free. It is a high rated food by dogfoodanalysis.com but not as rich as the tip top foods. And less expensive. It is sold at Tractor Supply so I could always get it.

Most people will feed the dog what you tell them to, so it's good to recommend one that is easy to find. On another note, my standard poodle did not do well on Pro Plan, and we gave it a whole month- 20 pounds. I don't know what's in it, he did well on Max Nutro (until the bloat), but I think TOTW is better.
 

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MustLoveDogs there are prepared diets I could feed, but not one for all three of them which is what moved me to cooking. It is a lot of work, but over all I think we have healthier dogs for it. I didn't think that you thought you could feed the chicken/beef/rice diet as a permanent diet, but I often restate some things that not everyone might be aware of for the benefit of "lurkers" who are searching broadly for information.
 
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If you go on the Chewy website you can specifically search for food without specific ingredients, namely peas. I think it's hard to recommend certain foods because of individual dog specific allergies. Chewy will accept returns/provide refunds if you find your dog has a bad reaction to a food. Once you find a food you think might work, remember to do some research on it.
 

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dogs4life, i didn't know that about chewy--I will try that search. And i just bought this 15lb bag of wellness complete puppy from them! if we have to change, maybe i'll return it.

I know a lot of people feed raw and their dogs have good stools, but my vet doesn't want us to do that before the dog is a year old, and i'm not sure i'll do it then, at least not primarily, especially since Cleo has had parasites, i'm a little leery of it.

As far as the grain-free foods, i am trying to avoid them, b/c i do think grains are fine for most dogs, but i'm also trying to avoid the most commonly problematic foods, in case she's sensitive. It seems like rather than offering a GF option, so many companies switched to ONLY offering GF, when it seems unnecessary for most dogs, and who knows if it's even healthy, as we're now learning, because of the substitutions that are made for the grains. Certainly some dogs have sensitivities, and need that special food. I am a human with a chronic GI disorder, and I can't eat wheat, barley, oats, etc etc etc. But because that kind of human diet became a fad, often waiters don't take me seriously when i explain my restrictions.

Beanatx, I was considering trying Farmina ancient grains, but i see it's made overseas and seems a little hard to obtain. (I definitely don't want anything with legumes at this point.) I looked at Victor, but it is All Life Stages. So, i'm still looking...
 

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Sorry she has been having bouts of the mashies. I feed Renn Victor All Life stage/puppy. This food works well for him. He has hard stool that is easy to clean up. I also at times feed the Victor Select high energy, it does have grain but not corn or wheat.
https://victorpetfood.com/products/grain-free-active-dog-puppy
We feed Victor to our Lab and toy poodle is on Farmina kibble in the morning and Answers Raw at night. Farmina has come out with Ancient Grains kibble you might want to check out.
 
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