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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Could you please help me pinpoint digestion issue with my terrier mix, Rosie?

(Raw feeders, while I respect and understand your choices, please don't suggest that we feed her raw as we are not going to do that - I really don't want this thread to turn into a raw/kibble debate.)

Rosie is a rescue dog, a terrier and maybe dachshund mix, is about 2yo, and weighs 14 lbs. We adopted her in February and have had some challenges since then wrt loose stools and occasional diarrhea.

The chronology is this:

1. Rescue people fed her Science Diet, so that’s what we started with on 2/21. Ironically, her stools were absolutely fine on Science Diet.

2. By late February we started transitioning her to Blue Buffalo ("BB")/small bites. Her stools on BB were always rather mushy and hard to pick up. They were also sometimes frequent (could be as many as 4-5 a day).

3. Our vet, who is very versed in good dog foods, told us that the hallmark of a healthy stool is the ability to pick it up whole. This was not normally the case with BB (i.e. that was the exception).

4. On April 30, after roughly two months on BB, she developed out-and-out diarrhea. That night we had to take her outside two or three times. We gave her nothing for one day, then put her on cooked chicken & rice per Internet research and vet instructions.

Vet said she sometimes sees these issues with BB in some dogs, and told us to find a grain-free food with a single-source protein (preferably chicken as it is mild), or a single-source protein with only one grain, not wheat or corn and preferably rice or oatmeal. Once stabilized we were to transition her to that food.

5. I researched per vet instructions and chose Wellness Core/Poultry (grain-free food, turkey & chicken; 34% protein).

6. Soft stools and occasional diarrhea returned during transition to Wellness Core. I wondered if the high protein (high relative to BB and Science Diet) made the food too rich for her. After doing a lot of reading, I decided there was no point in continuing on this path.

7. On May 15 we started transitioning her to California Natural chicken & rice. We did a slowish transition over ten days, and there have been very good periods of firm poops, but on Monday of this week we had a very loose stool and then drippy stuff mid-day. So there we are again.

8. Per the vet, who we saw last Wednesday (left her a stool sample), we should stay the course for 2-3 weeks since it can sometimes take that long for a dog to sort itself out wrt a new food.

Stool sample shows no parasites etc.

If after 2-3 weeks there's no change we are to return to the vet, who will do bloodwork and probably put her on an Rx dog food. I'm leery of an Rx dog food because I understand they are pretty crappy wrt the ingredients.

9. On Tuesday morning I started putting a tablespoon of canned pumpkin in her food, which she ate very happily. By Wednesday evening, her stool was ok - somewhat loose but ok - and then this morning it was fine. Absolutely fine.

So, here we are.
...
I've been mystified by the loose stool on California Natural given how few ingredients it has. Theoretically she should be fine on it, especially since she was fine (wrt stools that is) on Science Diet.

So why does the response change when we add pumpkin?

So last night I did some more reading, and on this forum I came across this post from BoxerMommie:

http://dogfoodchat.com/forum/dry-canned-dog-food/84-california-natural.html#post1525

She wrote, "The one negative with CA Natural is that it is REALLY low in fiber on their Chicken and Rice and Lamb and Rice formulas so dogs that need fiber to either bulk things up (ie not have the runs) or more fiber to get things out (ie not get constipated) it won't work well for them. Also their Herring and Sweet Potato formula is not gluten free so if your dog has a gluten allergy like mine you'll either have to choose the chicken, the lamb, or another food. Unfortunately where I like the food ingredients, my dogs need at least 4% fiber in their food (CA Natural is 1.5% for the chicken and 2% for the Lamb) and my dog has a gluten allergy so out goes to Herring formula. But if your dog doesn't need a high fiber diet and/or doesn't have a gluten allergy it's a good food.

So I'm now wondering, if the pumpkin (fiber) we are adding is helping her with the digestability of California Natural (which has lowish fiber), does that mean that she would do better on a food with a higher fiber content, e.g. Natural Balance?

Or would we be chasing windmills, since Wellness Core has relatively high fiber (4%)? On the other hand, Wellness Core has lots of other ingredients, any of which could theoretically have been a diarrhea trigger for her.

Should we consider the pumpkin, or maybe brown rice added to her food, as a routine solution for the long haul? Or does the fact that she can't (at least so far) digest this food well w/o a fiber supplement mean that it's the wrong dog food for her?

Are we still in a transition phase with California Natural (it's been almost two weeks), and should we consider trying to cut back the pumpkin after she's had a few days of solid stools?

I would appreciate any thoughts you can offer.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Also, a question about the pumpkin

Does the pumpkin help her to digest the food, or does it only bind the food (and she is not digesting it properly)?

If it's not helping digestion, then we would need to find a different food (if she needs the pumpkin to digest the California Natural, that is) - correct?

Thanks for any help you can offer.
 

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Gee, do you think your dog is allergic to some or most of the stuff thats in pocessed dog food??????????????????????????????????????????????????????
 

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Lots of dogs have sensitivity to chicken - could that be what's happening with your pup? I switched to Orijen 6 Fresh Fish after discovering that chicken was the culprit and have never looked back!

Pumpkin helped us for a time on my dane pup's old kibble, but not very much. It's also important to note that pumpkin can act as a binder, but using too much, too often can cause diarrhea.

A prescription of metronidazole might help make your dog a bit more comfortable while all this is going on.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Scarlett's Mum

Lots of dogs have sensitivity to chicken - could that be what's happening with your pup? I switched to Orijen 6 Fresh Fish after discovering that chicken was the culprit and have never looked back!
I wondered about that, but she produces beautiful poops (LOL) when she is on the "stabilizing" diet of cooked chicken & rice. Still, that is a possibility.

What would you think about trying Natural Balance fish & potato? Might that be a better food choice? We don't want to put her on a dog food merry-go-round (DH rolled his eyes when I mentioned Natural Balance), but at the same time I question whether California Natural + pumpkin is a reasonable long-term solution.

Pumpkin helped us for a time on my dane pup's old kibble, but not very much. It's also important to note that pumpkin can act as a binder, but using too much, too often can cause diarrhea.
Thanks; I will keep that in mind. So far it has acted as a binder. (But is it only binding, and not assisting w/digestion of the food?)

A prescription of metronidazole might help make your dog a bit more comfortable while all this is going on.
I will google this. Thanks.
 

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I've usually seen lamb and fish formulas help dogs with digestive issues better than chicken. Have you tried the CA Natural lamb and rice yet?
 

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Haha! I am OBSESSED with poop, so I know exactly what you mean when you say 'beautiful'!

IMO, if you have to keep adding stuff to a kibble to make it work, then it's not working. I have no experience with Natural Balance...is that one of the ones made by Diamond? I try to stay away from foods produced by big corporations.

I'm totally in love with Orijen 6 Fresh Fish (and have posted a bajillion times on it already) and would recommend that one if you can get it in your area. I had digestive issues with my dane pup for months and this kibble cleared it all up in 24 hours. I never have to add anything to her food, except for when I want to give her some flavour variety.

Metronidazole (nicknamed 'flagyl') is a really great med for upset tummies. It firms things up and settles the stomach. Really cheap prescription, too.

As for the pumpkin, firming things up and aiding in digestion are really one and the same. If you're not having firm poops using pumpkin, then you're not really helping digestion.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We have not tried that

I've usually seen lamb and fish formulas help dogs with digestive issues better than chicken. Have you tried the CA Natural lamb and rice yet?
but we do have a bag of it. Would you suggest transitioning her onto that?

I really hate to keep trying different dog foods - but maybe that is the only way.

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks again

Haha! I am OBSESSED with poop, so I know exactly what you mean when you say 'beautiful'! .
I know, I KNOW! I've never dedicated so much brain space to poop (well, maybe when my kids were infants).

I
IMO, if you have to keep adding stuff to a kibble to make it work, then it's not working. I have no experience with Natural Balance...is that one of the ones made by Diamond?
I agree with this, which is why I'm leery of pumpkin as anything more than a short-term fix.

Natural Balance is made by an independent pet food company:

Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance® Pet Foods :1

It is well-rated at the dog food ratings sites.

I'm totally in love with Orijen 6 Fresh Fish (and have posted a bajillion times on it already) and would recommend that one if you can get it in your area.
I'll consider that, thanks. I live in a large metro area and there are a lot of "boutique" pet shops here, with lots of food options.

Metronidazole (nicknamed 'flagyl') is a really great med for upset tummies. It firms things up and settles the stomach. Really cheap prescription, too.
Thanks - I'll talk to the vet about that.

As for the pumpkin, firming things up and aiding in digestion are really one and the same. If you're not having firm poops using pumpkin, then you're not really helping digestion.
With the pumpkin, she is producing firm poops - but as you point out above, if you have to add something to the kibble then it's not the right kibble. What I worry about is whether she is actually digesting the kibble, or whether the pumpkin is simply acting as a "glue" for food that hasn't really been digested well.

Thank you again for all of your feedback - very helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Unosmom

I would try an alternate protein source like fish, duck, venison, etc. If that doesent work maybe Natural balance reduced calorie formula since it has higher fiber content.
Are fish, duck, and venison easier on the stomach than chicken is? I have heard that about lamb as well.

I appreciate your thoughts.
 

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I have heard that dogs can develop an intolerance to chicken, beef and even lamb because its been the mainstream ingridient for so long. Also someone I know has a dog with pancreatitis and IBD and cant hold the food down, they need a low protein, high fiber diet and she said the dog had issues with turkey as well as common allergens like wheat, soy and corn.

I forgot to mention, another food to try it Natures Variety, you can go to this link to get buy 1 - 5 lb bag and get 1 free, its a good deal if youre trying to find something that works since it can get pricy. They have both grain free and regular kibble from different protein sources.
Welcome to Nature's Variety | Nature's Variety
 

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I would do a lot of research before I would ask the vet for any Flagyl for the pup and make sure it was 100% necessary. There are many side effects to it and some dogs can be very susceptible to it. I lost a beautiful puppy to a bad reaction to Flagyl that no one was expecting. It was the second dog that I lost while at a vets to a medication reaction so now I am extremely careful about letting them receive any medication unless they REALLY need it and there is no other alternative.
As far as the food goes, one of my babies has food allergies and I finally figured out that it was the oils in the food that were making her have the soft stools and the diarrhea. She can't handle any olive oils or salmon oils that they add to the foods. I always thought it was chicken until I finally narrowed it down. Now I have to just look at the fine print and make sure they don't add any of those oils (or wheat). The food she does best on actually has pumpkin in it (Innova Adult canned , and Senior Plus Kibble) so maybe that would work for you.


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Discussion Starter #15
Update

She had a textbook-perfect poop tonight after we fed her. My husband thinks, and I think I agree, that we should slowly cut back the pumpkin over the next few days (reduce to a half-spoonful, then less, etc.) and see if she does ok.

If she doesn't, we will reevaluate and likely choose another food based on this thread.

We are inclined not to go back to the vet because she will see this as a medical problem with a medical solution, and I'm not sure that I agree that this is a medical problem.

Do you agree this is the right course? If not, what would you do?

Thanks again for the time you took to help me today. I so appreciate it.
 

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I worked for vets for years and personally never found any that knew anything about feeding dogs properly. They all insisted on doing skin biopsies, trying out their "special diets", and in my Lhasa's case, using special eye drops on her red eyes when I knew they would clear up as soon as she quit stealing her brothers food!
They all have to sell their food that lines their shelves in order to make a profit and that's the bottom line. I also research every medicine they give my dogs because I've had two of them die from bad reactions that neither vet was aware of but was listed in the literature. Of course, the same is true for human doctors.
As far as the food goes, I adopted Rocky from a rescue group and he was on Science Diet puppy and had diarrhea when I got him. I also had to add pumpkin to his diet while I slowly switched him over to a better food. Even though he was switching to Innova Puppy and then to Orijen, it took some time for him to adjust to them and he was gassy and had soft stools for several weeks. So I just kept him on the pumpkin for awhile and he was fine with it. I probably kept him on the pumpkin for two weeks while I slowly reduced it and got him used to the new food. I figured it didn't hurt him and he liked it. Now he does great on those foods and only gets diarhea if he eats anything with wheat in it. As long as she is doing good now, I would keep her on one food for awhile and let her insides get calmed down. California Natural is one of the foods my Lhasa Apso can eat and is in her rotation. She gets the canned but not all the time because it doesn't have enough meat in it for my preference. You may eventually start your pup on another of the premium foods but I would let her get regular for awhile on one food.
 

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Thanks Chowder

I worked for vets for years and personally never found any that knew anything about feeding dogs properly. They all insisted on doing skin biopsies, trying out their "special diets", and in my Lhasa's case, using special eye drops on her red eyes when I knew they would clear up as soon as she quit stealing her brothers food!
They all have to sell their food that lines their shelves in order to make a profit and that's the bottom line. I also research every medicine they give my dogs because I've had two of them die from bad reactions that neither vet was aware of but was listed in the literature. Of course, the same is true for human doctors.
As far as the food goes, I adopted Rocky from a rescue group and he was on Science Diet puppy and had diarrhea when I got him. I also had to add pumpkin to his diet while I slowly switched him over to a better food. Even though he was switching to Innova Puppy and then to Orijen, it took some time for him to adjust to them and he was gassy and had soft stools for several weeks. So I just kept him on the pumpkin for awhile and he was fine with it. I probably kept him on the pumpkin for two weeks while I slowly reduced it and got him used to the new food. I figured it didn't hurt him and he liked it. Now he does great on those foods and only gets diarhea if he eats anything with wheat in it. As long as she is doing good now, I would keep her on one food for awhile and let her insides get calmed down. California Natural is one of the foods my Lhasa Apso can eat and is in her rotation. She gets the canned but not all the time because it doesn't have enough meat in it for my preference. You may eventually start your pup on another of the premium foods but I would let her get regular for awhile on one food.
I think you are right, that we should keep her on the same food for a time to see whether it will work. It has only been two weeks (not even quite two weeks) and that time has included the transition.

So you would continue giving her pumpkin for a little while, say a week or two?
 

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I would let her keep having the pumpkin for awhile. Innova and Solid Gold include pumpkin in their food for the nutrients and here is what the Innova web site says about it
"Pumpkin is a rich source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, fiber, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and pantothenic acid. " Sweet Potatoes work also. I used them for my human babies when they were little!
So it's not hurting her to have it in her diet. If you ever want to know about something you are adding to her diet, you can go to Innova's website and click on their ingredient list and they will tell you what each item adds to the dogs diet in terms of nutrition. Dog's don't NEED pumpkin but they like the taste and it helps with the transition to a new food so I used it when I switched Rocky to grain free or whenever Chelsy is having trouble with her colitis. (which hasn't had a flare up since I found out about the oils). It's a lot better then sticking an immodium down their throats or dosing them up with harsh medications and it gives a them a chance to get used to a new food. I wasn't sure Rocky was going to take to the Orijen but after two weeks of semi-soft stools and gassy puppy, he's now absolutely perfect on it so it was just a matter of adjusting to grain free for him. You have to watch the treats too. He got diarhea on some treats we bought that were organic but turned out the be made primarily of wheat. So double check your treats because it can only take one or two to set them off and you might think it's the dog food.
 

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Thanks again so much - and about treats

You have to watch the treats too. He got diarhea on some treats we bought that were organic but turned out the be made primarily of wheat. So double check your treats because it can only take one or two to set them off and you might think it's the dog food.
I have become super-cautious about them - for the past ten days she has only had the occasional piece of California Natural kibble as a treat. Nothing else.

I have some Evo grain-free treats but am avoiding giving them for now since we don't know what might set off her digestive tract.

Thanks again.
 

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Update, and a big thank you to you all

for helping me so much.

Since I posted two weeks ago, Rosie has stabilized beautifully on California Natural. Her poops are firm and her fur (which was spotty when we adopted her) has grown in nicely and is very shiny and healthy-looking. I swear she looks healthier than she did just two weeks ago.

The pumpkin really helped Rosie with the loose stools, and two weeks later, she is now down to a quarter-teaspoon of pumpkin once a day and is still having consistently good stools. Given that, I'm pretty sure that it was/is a transition thing for her (not needed long-term) and so we can eliminate it altogether this week.

I have also been adding Animal Essentials Probiotics to Rosie's food once a day. This seems to be helping as well.

Thank you SO MUCH for your help with this. I can't tell you how grateful I am for this board!
 
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