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Are vet prescription diets worth it?

4404 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  HORSEandHOUND
Hi guys,

My 4 year old chihuahua started getting diarrhea about 3 weeks ago. After the first instance, we went to the vet, and he told us to give him chicken and rice for a few days, and when the stool becomes more solid, start introducing his kibble. The chicken and rice stopped the diarrhea, but literally hours after putting a little kibble into his bowl, the diarrhea started again. Went back to the vet, and he gave us some medicine and told us to keep doing the chicken and rice. The diarrhea took a little longer to go away this time, but it eventually did. We were told to re-introduce the kibble again, and again this caused the loose stool to return.

I assumed, and the vet did as well, that the food (Blue Buffalo small breed) was the culprit. He advised me to try another brand with different ingredients, and also mentioned prescription foods that he sells. They provide Purina's brand of prescription foods, and I know enough about dog nutrition to stay FAR away from anything Purina. So I figured I'd give another brand a shot, and went with Innova EVO red meat small bites. I waited until the diarrhea went away before I mixed some with the chicken and rice, and again, the kibble caused the diarrhea to return.

I'm starting to get worried that this may be serious, so I'm going back to the vet sometime this week. I have a feeling he's going to push the Purina crap, and I just want to know if it's worth it. It's probably more expensive than his current food, and I've been checking the ingredients to their prescription formulas, and they look just as bad as the regular stuff. Is there a chance that it could solve the diarrhea?

Normally I'd just shell out the cash if the vet recommended it, but I just paid $4,500 for cataract surgery, and he's epileptic so he requires medication for that regularly. I love this dog too much to let money dictate his health, but I'm looking to save money wherever I can if it isn't necessary.
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I would stay far away from anything they are trying to sell you. Your situation sounds very similar to another member's on here, CorgiPaws.

Read through this thread, posted under the RAW forum. It might just be helpful...
IMO it's not worth it. Look at the ingredients in prescription diets.

I think instead of treating symptoms, I would have the vet look for the cause. There is a reason for the diarrhea. Find it. If the vet won't do that, find another vet.
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Thanks. I wasn't happy about going prescription, and now I'm fairly certain I'll stick with the chicken and rice until we find the real cause.
Thanks. I wasn't happy about going prescription, and now I'm fairly certain I'll stick with the chicken and rice until we find the real cause.
Just chicken and rice is not a balanced diet over long periods of time.... The real cause might be that its a kibble thing, not an ingredient thing or parasite thing. Kibbles are full of many, many different ingredients and trying to pin point one culprit is going to be nearly impossible. And since your dog went right back to diarrhea after re-introducing the kibble...I would say its a kibble issue that you are going to have with most, if not all kibbles out there.
How long was you dog on Blue Buffalo before the diarrhea started?

Any (insert-dog-size-here) breed adult food is a gimmick, IMO. The only logical difference between small breed and regular adult kibble should be the extruded particle size, but no there is no nutritional difference for a St. Bernard compared to a chihuahua.

I would not think of placing a dog with known digestive problems on EVO red meat; that is a very rich food. Think of it as egg nog instead of regular milk. I have heard of ALOT of dogs not doing well on EVO red meat, even if they have had no digestive problems in the past.

The only time I feel that a vet prescription diet is necessary is when the dog has serious digestive problems and is unable to digest macromolecules into their simple molecule counterparts. In those instances, I agree with a purified diet. That is not the case with this dog since it can digest chicken and rice.
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Well well well, doesn't this sound familur. lol.
I played this game with my Corgi for about ohhh... 7 months?
Ran every test in the book, and other than a few spores, nothing was wrong on paper.
Here's what we came up with a few thousand bucks later.
My Corgi has a problem processing carbohydrates. His body treats them like toxins, and can not absorb them, and it literally leaves "junk" rotting in his system, making for perfect breeding grounds for bacterias. Even the good bacterias in extreme excess can cause problems like diarhea and even vomiting depending on where in the system they are "rotting." Each time we changed foods, and carbohydrate sources, stools would firm up for a couple days but every time, as the new source took over his system, the diarrhea would come back just like before. There is no real test that can confirm this, it's kind of a "when-everything-else-checks-out" kind of diagnosis. I don't even know the real name of it, or if it even has one, but when my vet explained it, he paralelled it to SIBO. It is much like SIBO, but generally a dog will never grow out of it or "get better" after a round of antibiotics like many with SIBO do. It is going to flare up every time any real amount of carbohydrates is ingested, and as long as carbohydrates are a large part of the diet, you will never see improvement. It is a cronic thing that requires treatment throughout the life of the dog. Now for the even worse part. If you just shrug it off and say "oh well, diarrhea forever" then it acn get worse and worse, and eventually wear their immune system down (from constantly fighting the carbs like toxins) SO much that it will shut down, and be unable to fight the toxins, not to mentio any illness or infection.

THE GOOD NEWS: It's totally manageable. A vet will recommend: steroid shots as needed (mine was every two weeks) the highest dose of antibiotics that can be given (mine told me to watch for lameness, uncoordination, dragging of hind limbs, etc. due to the high dose) and a perscription diet. The treatments are to keep the carbs in check that are in EVERY dog food, including whatever RX diet is perscribed.

WHAT MADE SENSE TO ME: I chose to skip out on putting my one year old puppy on such extreme treatment and took matters into my own hands. I knew that dogs had no real need to carbohydrates in their diet. (they use fats like we use carbs) so it made more sense to me to simply eliminate the carbohydrates, skip the control treatments, and see how it worked. I put Grisom on a prey model raw diet after learning everything about it here, and he has now had solid poo for four weeks. I get that some people don't want to go raw, and this is the kibble section, so I won't go on about it. A home prepared diet (raw or cooked) is the only way to eliminate the carbohydrates- NO dog food caters to this issue, none.

I am not saying for sure this is what is wrong with your dog, it just sounds exactly like what I went through with my Corgi, Grissom. This is what worked for us, this is what gave us results, and I'm simply sharing that. I am not a vet, I can't diagnose, just sharing what we went through.

ETA: Through Grissom's 7 month ordeal, he always had great energy level, healthy coat, teeth, gums, everything checked out fine. He JUST had diarrhea. It was tough to keep weight on him at times, but not always and this wasn't a symptom until after about 4 months of diarrhea. He had small amounts of diarrhea many many times each day. He never really acted sick at all except for a few select days through the whole process.
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Why would your dog do well on chicken and rice if he had an intolerance, if you will, to carbohydrates? Was he just never on that diet long enough to adjust to the rice and accumulate the troublesome microbes?

Why would your dog do well on chicken and rice if he had an intolerance, if you will, to carbohydrates? Was he just never on that diet long enough to adjust to the rice and accumulate the troublesome microbes?
Exactly right, though I'd not say he "did well" on it as I never kept him on it for any length of time, just a few days or so, and it would firm him up, until about three to four days in that too would give him diarrhea. Same results with oatmeal and chicken, and barly and fish.

It was backwards with Grissom, because any time we made ANY adjustments, he would be solid for a day or two, then back to diarrhea. Added probiotics, problem solved for a while, added yogurt, worked for a few days, changed from Innova to EVO (disaster) to Cali Nat, to mixtures as listed above. Everything was one big mess after a couple days.
After removing these things from his diet, and keeping him on meat, bones, and organs only we have had absolutely solid poo for four weeks.

Most dogs will never have these kinds of issues, ever. Though carbs aren't NECESSARY, they can be TOLERATED by most dogs, and then there's a few with issues, Grissom being one of them.
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He was on the Blue Buffalo for about a year with no problems before this started. When we first gave it to him, mixing it with his other food didn't work because he would just pick out the BB pieces. This caused no problems. I buy the small breed formulas because of the size of the kibble. My dog is picky enough as it is, and the smaller sizes make it easier for him.

So should I try something other than EVO?

He's actually shown a little improvement over the last day. The stool is still runny, but it's slightly more solid, and not as mucousy or gassy as it was before.

Corgi, that sounds exactly like what Sam's going through. Other than the diarrhea, he's absolutely fine. No lethargy, vomiting, or any other symptoms. Just the diarrhea. I'm just hoping finding the cause isn't as complicated as it was in your case.
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I hope you find your answer soon. It was a long, complicated road for us, but the solution was rather simple, and that's what we live with forever. You could boycott the kibble and try the raw diet. I saw results that i couldn't believe within three days.
Have a fecal done where they send it off to a lab to look for giardia and coccidia. This sounds classically like giardia.... ask me how i know :rolleyes:
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