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Hello all,

Just a quick background, my 2 year old Spoo, Cooper, has just been recently diagnosed with EPI. I am now in the process of finding the right food to feed him and need some feedback. Long story short, he was having diarrhea and rapid weight loss for about 2 months. Several vet visits later, we finally figured out the issue. Full details of my original post can be found here: Please help - possible Addison's?

After getting the enzyme supplement, I talked to my vet about food. I had been feeding him TLC dog food since he was a puppy because that is what the breeder was feeding her poodles. But over the years, Cooper has always been on the smaller side and seemed to have trouble gaining weight. He would often have itchy skin and barely touch his food when he got older so I have experimented with other popular store brands - none of which really seemed to work.

A few days ago after being extremely frustrated, I decided to try a frozen raw diet called Primal Pronto. Cooper seems to love it and his stools have started to form (I also fed him boiled chicken and rice) with Panacur powder sprinkled on. He was good for 2 days until we got a call from the vet that he was confirmed for EPI. Just started it this morning so we will see how it goes.

However, when I told my vet I had been feeding him the raw diet, she strongly advised AGAINST feeding him a raw diet because it can cause salmonella or it lacks all of the proper nutrients and suggested we stick with the dry kibble dog food. But I am not so sure about that because there are several people I know whose dogs are doing very well on raw diet food.

I also came across this website explaining all the myths of raw diet food: Raw Meat Diet For Dogs: 7 Myths You Won't Believe

What are your opinions on this? Is it okay to stick with raw diet? If so, are there any supplements or additional food I should add to ensure a completely balanced diet? Or do you agree with the vet and advise against it?
 

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This is one of the ongoing debates amongst dog owners. Some believe raw food is the only "natural" diet for dogs, and blame commercial diets for all the ills that befall them; others, often vets who see the fall out when it goes wrong, are equally passionate that commercial diets are the result of years of research into safe nutrition, and are the best and wisest choice. I have been feeding my dogs a home cooked diet for years - it solves the worry about salmonella and other bacteria, and means I know what they are eating, which is important to me. It does require research to ensure the diet is balanced and that no foods that are toxic to dogs are included, but it can be a good alternative to a raw diet.

If the food you are buying is described as "complete", and meets regulatory and nutritional standards, it should be safe to feed. If you want to look into preparing the food yourself I recommend starting by reading the articles at www.dogaware.com, which I have found to be evidence based, sensible and helpful.
 

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This is something that I have discussed with some of the vets I work with. Part of the issue from the vet perspective is that there are no studies done on feeding raw, whereas there have been studies on many types of kibble. Obviously it's in the interest of dog food companies to do this (and vets know to be looking for properly run studies), but who is going to pay for a study on raw food? The vets I talk to would not recommend anything that has no 'proof' behind it. Sure there are individual stories, but we have also seen owners and pets come down with salmonella related to raw diet.
My personal opinion is that raw is a good alternative, BUT only if done properly (and many people do not put the research and effort into properly feeding raw). And I would not recommend to anyone who has susceptible people or pets in the house- young kids, elderly, immune compromised.
If home-cooked appeals to you, look up Hilary's Blend- they have recipe books and supplements.
 

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The "diet myth" article is loaded with misinformation that is not supported with evidence, Neither dogs nor humans need "enzymes" from their food for digestion, for example. Why not give your doctor's advice a chance for a while?
 

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Vets don't get much instruction in the way of diet and nutrition. Some also tend to be wary of people feeding an improper raw diet. But what you will find is the advice varies from vet to vet. My vet is much more progressive and current on most recent research for things. She is fully supportive of the raw diet I feed and just asked which type I'm feeding and was happy to hear he is on a varied 80/10/10 PMR diet. She said Oh good I like that one!

I do not think salmonella is a concern. Wolves evolved to be able to handle days old rotting meat. They have very high stomach acid for this purpose. A properly TRANSITIONED dog will have no issue with raw. Kibble requires a lower stomach acid to digest, so it is not advised to do a mixed diet of raw and kibble for these reasons. As a biologist with certain tendencies, I have researched every possible issue that I've heard of regarding raw and PMR diets and am satisfied enough to feel that it is the best option to feed my dog. If you have any specific questions regarding certain nutrients, feel free to ask me as I've probably already researched them.

Personally, if I was advising you, I would suggest a raw diet with no veggies and no carbs because dogs do not digest veggies well. But other people like to debate that, so I don't want to get into it too much. I always personally recommend a PMR diet over a BARF diet because it will have the most bioavailable nutrients. There are plenty of complete diets available following PMR guidelines, though with many you also want to add egg and fish to the diet as these are important. Misha was weaned straight to PMR and at 9 months he is the healthiest, most physically fit dog I've ever seen.

Last note: For dogs with EPI, it is strongly advised to include pancreas in the dog's diet. This is likely not included in most complete raw diets but your dog might benefit from it as an addition. I would research it. If you want to do this and are having trouble sourcing it, let me know because I have a source.
 

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My vet also recommended against it especially because my dog has ulcerative colitis, no need to add additional stress of infectious meat. I do home cook for my dog so I do have to be cognizant of a fully balanced diet. I’m sure with the same care one can construct a balanced raw diet.

My biggest concern which is never completely addressed is the contamination issue. if you read Consumer’s Reports or the USDA reports all raw meat, beef, poultry etc. is contaminated in the US, often with more than one bacteria. Other countries have similar issues although they may have a lower or higher % of contaminated meat. Dogs touch the contaminated raw meat with not only their throat, but their face, around the lips, tongue, maybe their nose, paws and perhaps legs if using their paws to help eat bones. The parts of the dog that touched contaminated meat can easily touch other parts of the dog when they lick themselves or scratch. They are touching the floor and other surfaces and objects including other pets and people. You can’t sterilize a dog after eating. You can’t even clean them as thoroughly as you would a cutting board or your countertop. There are young children and immuno-compromised people who could become very ill or die coming into contact with a dog that eats raw. Even I as a healthy adult could suffer food poisoning symptoms. You can make your dog eat in a crate on a special towel but you can’t limit the exposure to contamination. This alone stopped me from even considering.

I also don’t feed bones to my dog, raw or cooked. My vet has seen quite a few dogs with teeth broken. Our own dear Mollymuima, who doesn’t post often anymore because of health issue , had her dog break two teeth and had to have them removed.
 
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My vet also recommended against it especially because my dog has ulcerative colitis, no need to add additional stress of infectious meat. I do home cook for my dog so I do have to be cognizant of a fully balanced diet. I’m sure with the same care one can construct a balanced raw diet.

My biggest concern which is never completely addressed is the contamination issue. if you read Consumer’s Reports or the USDA reports all raw meat, beef, poultry etc. is contaminated in the US, often with more than one bacteria. Other countries have similar issues although they may have a lower or higher % of contaminated meat. Dogs touch the contaminated raw meat with not only their throat, but their face, around the lips, tongue, maybe their nose, paws and perhaps legs if using their paws to help eat bones. The parts of the dog that touched contaminated meat can easily touch other parts of the dog when they lick themselves or scratch. They are touching the floor and other surfaces and objects including other pets and people. You can’t sterilize a dog after eating. You can’t even clean them as thoroughly as you would a cutting board or your countertop. There are young children and immuno-compromised people who could become very ill or die coming into contact with a dog that eats raw. Even I as a healthy adult could suffer food poisoning symptoms. You can make your dog eat in a crate on a special towel but you can’t limit the exposure to contamination. This alone stopped me from even considering.

I also don’t feed bones to my dog, raw or cooked. My vet has seen quite a few dogs with teeth broken. Our own dear Mollymuima, who doesn’t post often anymore because of health issue , had her dog break two teeth and had to have them removed.
You are correct about bones. Only certain raw bones are recommended for raw feeding, and never cooked bones. Any weight bearing bones of non-poultry animals are off limits for feeding for this reason. They are too dense. Poultry bones are much softer because they are mostly hollow, and they are safe for eating. But most people still stay away from weight bearing bones in big birds like a turkey. We do feed ribs, neck, and tail bones of sheep and pigs. They are softer. Most raw feeders won't even feed stuff like antlers because they are very unsafe if chewed in a certain manner.

The bacteria issue is not something I worry about because dogs are gross and get into nasty things no matter what you feed them. If you look at studies, kibble fed dogs are just as likely to have nasty bacteria in their poop as raw fed dogs. Yeah, the likelihood of different strains are a little different. I would argue actually worse for kibble fed dogs. And we're talking about an animal that licks its butt, rolls in dead animals, and other nasty things! No matter what you feed, your dog will be gross. Plenty of immuno compromised people have dogs, including raw fed dogs. I think the important thing would be washing hands before you eat, and not letting your dog lick your face if you are immuno compromised. No matter what she/he eats. That tongue may have just been somewhere really gross. Even poodles. Misha is much cleaner than the average dog, but he'll still grab a rotting dead animal any chance he gets or shove his face into a pile of peacock poop if he can manage it. And if you walk your dog in a park, they're going to step on other dogs' poop. And lick their feet. And then you. Misha knows not to lick faces. But that has nothing to do with what I'm feeding him.
 

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The "diet myth" article is loaded with misinformation that is not supported with evidence, Neither dogs nor humans need "enzymes" from their food for digestion, for example. Why not give your doctor's advice a chance for a while?
Not sure I follow on why you said dogs do not need enzymes. My dog was just diagnosed with EPI, and vet said he needs enzyme supplement to help him digest his food.
 

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Vets don't get much instruction in the way of diet and nutrition. Some also tend to be wary of people feeding an improper raw diet. But what you will find is the advice varies from vet to vet. My vet is much more progressive and current on most recent research for things. She is fully supportive of the raw diet I feed and just asked which type I'm feeding and was happy to hear he is on a varied 80/10/10 PMR diet. She said Oh good I like that one!

I do not think salmonella is a concern. Wolves evolved to be able to handle days old rotting meat. They have very high stomach acid for this purpose. A properly TRANSITIONED dog will have no issue with raw. Kibble requires a lower stomach acid to digest, so it is not advised to do a mixed diet of raw and kibble for these reasons. As a biologist with certain tendencies, I have researched every possible issue that I've heard of regarding raw and PMR diets and am satisfied enough to feel that it is the best option to feed my dog. If you have any specific questions regarding certain nutrients, feel free to ask me as I've probably already researched them.

Personally, if I was advising you, I would suggest a raw diet with no veggies and no carbs because dogs do not digest veggies well. But other people like to debate that, so I don't want to get into it too much. I always personally recommend a PMR diet over a BARF diet because it will have the most bioavailable nutrients. There are plenty of complete diets available following PMR guidelines, though with many you also want to add egg and fish to the diet as these are important. Misha was weaned straight to PMR and at 9 months he is the healthiest, most physically fit dog I've ever seen.

Last note: For dogs with EPI, it is strongly advised to include pancreas in the dog's diet. This is likely not included in most complete raw diets but your dog might benefit from it as an addition. I would research it. If you want to do this and are having trouble sourcing it, let me know because I have a source.
From reading your post, it sounds like you are cooking your own raw diet food for your dog(s)? Do you have any opinion on raw diets sold in stores? The few that comes to mind are Primal Pronto and Natural Instinct. Both are stored frozen in the freezer. I would prefer to buy dog food as I do not have the time to cook food for my dog due to my busy schedule.
 

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From reading your post, it sounds like you are cooking your own raw diet food for your dog(s)? Do you have any opinion on raw diets sold in stores? The few that comes to mind are Primal Pronto and Natural Instinct. Both are stored frozen in the freezer. I would prefer to buy dog food as I do not have the time to cook food for my dog due to my busy schedule.
Yes I do make my own (referred to as DIY, not cooked as we feed it raw) but you are right that pre-made "completes" are the easiest option. In the UK there are tons of options as it's super common to feed raw there. In the U.S. it's still growing so it's a little more work to find good ones. I'm not really sure about which ones you can find in stores as I've never looked. Primal mixes contain veggies so I personally wouldn't feed. Their grinds look like they are nowhere near to a complete diet, so would need so much added that it wouldn't be worth it. Natural instinct is also one with veggies. Most found in stores will likely contain fillers like veggies because it's cheaper to make them with fillers. The only good dried options I know of are Ziwipeak and Vital Essentials, but for a spoo these would be ridiculously expensive. I feed them as treats. My raw group has a supplier list for different states, but many of these also ship. And many of them will sell "complete" grinds. An example is Raw Feeding Miami, which is local for me so I get most of my stuff from them. You can purchase complete grinds from them that follow the PMR percentages. You will need to add fish (or fish/krill oil) and egg, but that's easy to do. Then you would just want to rotate your proteins (3-4 proteins per week so like chicken on Monday, beef on Tuesday etc.) They ship for around $17 which is not bad at all. A complete grind will usually have meat, heart, bone, liver, and another organ like kidney. Though you may find some that are whole prey grinds meaning that they literally just remove the gut of an animal and grind the rest. That's actually the healthiest option! Here is a supplier list if you want to see if there's anybody local that sells good completes.

 

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Hello all,

Just a quick background, my 2 year old Spoo, Cooper, has just been recently diagnosed with EPI. I am now in the process of finding the right food to feed him and need some feedback. Long story short, he was having diarrhea and rapid weight loss for about 2 months. Several vet visits later, we finally figured out the issue...

I had been feeding him TLC dog food since he was a puppy because that is what the breeder was feeding her poodles. But over the years, Cooper has always been on the smaller side and seemed to have trouble gaining weight. He would often have itchy skin and barely touch his food when he got older so I have experimented with other popular store brands - none of which really seemed to work.

A few days ago after being extremely frustrated, I decided to try a frozen raw diet called Primal Pronto. Cooper seems to love it and his stools have started to form (I also fed him boiled chicken and rice) with Panacur powder sprinkled on. He was good for 2 days until we got a call from the vet that he was confirmed for EPI...

However, when I told my vet I had been feeding him the raw diet, she strongly advised AGAINST feeding him a raw diet because it can cause salmonella or it lacks all of the proper nutrients and suggested we stick with the dry kibble dog food...

What are your opinions on this? Is it okay to stick with raw diet? If so, are there any supplements or additional food I should add to ensure a completely balanced diet? Or do you agree with the vet and advise against it?
I hadn't heard of EPI before, and read about it here on PetMD. Pancreatic disorders (as far as know) are often the result of a bad diet. Not your fault that what you used to feed him wasn't good; dog food companies like fast food joints use the least amount of healthy foods (think "organic") to have maximum profit.

The most important part of your post (for me) is that you found something that worked - and it's real meat. This is combined with how your dog has been hating his food for years and barely touching it and having itchy skin. I'll take a good guess that hated for a good reason beyond taste.

Fmj is right that breeders and dog owners have disagreed for ages about raw vs. cooked. I've read about breeders who have for generations of raising their standard poodles feed only raw and those dogs look good and healthy.

If the concern is salmonella, why not heat up the Primal Pronto for a couple minutes with each serving? I feed mine cooked meats mostly boiled chicken, or ham, or eggs, and some veggies like cooked broccoli or sweet potatoes or kale. I leave out a bowl of dry food and I switch brands when they tire of it. In the past couple months they've been liking Science Diet dry kibble. I'll need to switch them again soon from this, b/c it's not as good as many other (and pricier) dry foods, see link below).

Interestingly mine won't eat hamburger anymore from the store where I shop, and I noticed that ground beef stopped tasting good last year. They will eat strips of real beef I buy sometimes, the kind often used for Asian cooking in a wok or for beef stews. I don't know what or if the farmers have been doing to the cows lately, but my dogs don't like hamburger any more. I trust their sense of smell picks up some chemical, excessive or added hormone, something, in the meat beyond taste.

I'm not a vet, but I'd follow my dog's lead with the Primal Pronto and would only heat it up a bit, and supplement with kibble. Check out Dog Food Advisor site for 5-star dry dog foods and others. They are not affiliated with any dog food company. Good luck!
 

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The "diet myth" article is loaded with misinformation that is not supported with evidence, Neither dogs nor humans need "enzymes" from their food for digestion, for example. Why not give your doctor's advice a chance for a while?
Not sure I follow on why you said dogs do not need enzymes. My dog was just diagnosed with EPI, and vet said he needs enzyme supplement to help him digest his food.
I think she’s referring to normal, healthy dogs. Normal healthy animals produce the digestive enzymes that they need to break down their food and absorb the nutrients. Your dog is not normal because it has EPI. You now have to add the pancreatic enzymes to his food to specifically break down the food. The enzymes in raw meat aren’t specifically pancreatic enzymes. Enzymes are biological molecules used to speed up reactions in the body, some function to break down food for digestion but others catalyze other kinds of reaction. Obviously eating raw pancreas would supply pancreatic enzymes. Eating a chicken leg wouldn’t.
 
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I feed home cooked and developed my recipe from a computer program that calculates making the diet nutritionally complete and calorically adequate based on an ingredients list which will then tell you what to supplement. I don't have the program since it didn't have a Mac version. A member here ran it for me based on my ingredients list.

Personally I will not feed raw because one of our dogs has a tendency to take food away from the bowl, put it on the floor and eat it in various rooms. BF and I both have chronic health concerns that make me not want Salmonella on the floors all over. As to enzyme supplementation, enzymes are proteins and one of the first major chemical digestive funchtions (aside from starch hydrolysis as a mammal chews) is powerful proteolysis in the stomach, meaning enzymes sprinkled on food just before consumption won't have a chance to do anything useful since the enzyme molecules of the supplement will be destroyed by the protein digesting enzymes of the stomach. It may be a bit different if an enzyme supplement were added and mixed in well with food long before the food was eaten, but the time needed to completely break down the food ingredients is probably considerable and woul just turn the food to mush that I doubt my dogs would eat. The idea of supplementing enzyme powders on top of food just before it is eaten has always seemed like a big myth made of the stuff that is eliminated from the distal end of the digestive tract.
 

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EPI is rarely caused by a poor diet, it is generally related to either an autoimmune issue (the way that juvenile diabetes often is) or to chronic pancreatitis- which could be related to diet, but it would have to have been pretty bad/ inflammatory (and I highly doubt that is the case here).

to enzyme supplementation, enzymes are proteins and one of the first major chemical digestive funchtions (aside from starch hydrolysis as a mammal chews) is powerful proteolysis in the stomach, meaning enzymes sprinkled on food just before consumption won't have a chance to do anything useful since the enzyme molecules of the supplement will be destroyed by the protein digesting enzymes of the stomach. It may be a bit different if an enzyme supplement were added and mixed in well with food long before the food was eaten, but the time needed to completely break down the food ingredients is probably considerable and woul just turn the food to mush that I doubt my dogs would eat. The idea of supplementing enzyme powders on top of food just before it is eaten has always seemed like a big myth made of the stuff that is eliminated from the distal end of the digestive tract.
I'm assuming you are referring to general enzyme supplementing in a normal healthy dog? When it comes to treating EPI, I can assure you that the supplementing makes a huge difference, and there has been lots of research done on it, particularly since humans can have the same problem.
 

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My girl's brother, Milo, was diagnosed with EPI. It is an inherited condition and they can essentially starve to death, even while eating well, because their pancreas does not produce the enzymes necessary to utilize the nutrients in their food. Milo has recovered well with enzyme replacements and proper diet. His Mom joined a facebook group which was a great source of information regarding diet and the replacement enzymes. If I remember correctly, Milo eats a specific formula from Taste of the Wild and his Mom gets his enzymes fom someone she connected with in the facebook group. EPI is very treatable, but you can not just guess at what to feed....it has to be specific formulas. It is a condition which must be treated for the life of the dog....it does not go away. Humans with Cystic Fibrosis also have EPI and are treated with special diet and replacement enzymes. Milo lost nearly 1/3 of his body weight before he was properly diagnosed and has gained his weight back along with regaining his vim and vigor. He will be 4 yrs old in February and is doing very well. I wish you well finding the correct diet and the proper enzyme replacements.
 

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starvt yes I was thinking normal dogs or people regarding enzymes. Since EPI means the subject isn't making enough of their own enzymes replacement therapy is in order. I am not sure all people get that concept which is of course essentially related to things like not being able to swallow insulin.
 
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Catherine, the enzymes people with cystic fibrosis take are in delay released capsules so the enzymes are released in the intestine bypassing the stomach. They don’t sprinkle enzymes on food. When my daughter was younger and we lived in another state, she had a good friend with cystic fibrosis who often slept over or came to dinner at our house. She had to take quite a few before eating.

I would assume that enzymes for a dog with EPI would take similar enzymes in a time delayed capsule? If my dog had EPI I would join that group that Viking Queen recommended.
 

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@rjr3790 I'm sorry to hear about your dog's diagnosis. I'm glad that his condition can be managed with medication, as stressful as that will be to maintain for you. I don't feed raw in line with our vet's advice, and because of reasons mentioned by @Skylar -- it carries a higher pathogenic risk to people. It seems too complex to me to figure it out on my own, but I am impressed by @Raindrops 's wherewithal in undertaking it!

I became ill this past year and ended up in a naturopath's care, and after a lot of money and natural attempts at healing, I'm better, but I'm still ill. The idea behind naturopathic medicine is that the body wants to heal itself. But it is so hard to figure out exactly what it is that the body needs to do that. With any autoimmune disorder, the interplay of variables which lead to the presentation of the illness is so complex. You can have the genetic vulnerability and it never be triggered, or you can get unlucky and something in the environment flips the switch, but it's never just one thing, it's a synthesis of stressors and gene combinations. I say this because I don't want you to stress out taking more control over what happened than you truly are responsible for. We can only do the best we can, but we can't control everything. If we had it all figured out, disease wouldn't exist anymore, but in this world, disease will always be a reality. You're doing right by your pup by getting him the enzymes he needs to digest his food, wherever you end up with his diet. Before we bought our poodle, I talked to many breeders, and even the very most reputable ones, with world champions, had some incidence of autoimmune disease over their years of breeding. I hope my words are of some comfort to you...

The raw diet seems to me a lot like a paleo diet for dogs. There are some reasons that some people may not adjust well to a paleo diet that may be worth reading about. It's not always easily digestible, since it's mostly protein based, and proteins are more difficult to break down, I imagine especially for a dog that is digestively compromised. Grains of course have their drawbacks, too, reputedly causing inflammation and blocking nutrient absorption if not prepared correctly. The modern diet is spotted with many deficiencies (boron, magnesium, vitamin K2 to name a few), which unfortunately affects our pets as well. People also don't tend to get enough Vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids. (Be careful with fish oil supplements, they can go rancid easily). Even when people advise a nutrient dense diet, it can be hard to find food that is truly nutrient dense due to soil depletion and poor feeding practices. All that is to say, there is no perfect diet. I'm not saying that to discourage you, but contrarily, to encourage you. Whatever you end up feeding him, you're doing the best you can, and that's what our pets ask of us.
 
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