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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi, everyone! I decided to join because I'm having some long running issues with my dog. She is a 12 year old rat terrier. As long as I have had her (8 years) she has had dry skin (scratching her back produces dandruff, as does bathing her). She is also allergic to flea bites. For most of the time I have had her, she has had a paw/leg licking habit. This has worsened over the past year or so. The vet has always told me that she probably just has arthritis and shrugged it off. Also over the past year, she has been having inconsistent stools. Some days they are formed and normal color/consistency. Other days they are oily and soft. Some days she has diarrhea and passes a few drops of blood. Sometimes it's mucusy. Generally when I decide it's time for the vet, she goes back to normal.
She is indoor exclusive and has eaten Pedigree small dog food for most of her life. Thinking that it may have been a food issue, I recently (about a month ago) switched her to Nutrish Chicken and Veggies (Rachael Ray brand). This has not made a difference thus far.
I'm beginning to think her incessant foreleg licking and paw nibbling are related to the digestive issues and are rooted in a food allergy. Her forelegs are stained from all the licking and there are days where she must be walked 5-6 times to fully evacuate her bowels.
I have done reading on dog food allergies and would like to try to rule this out. She is an elderly dog and taking her to the vet causes her a significant amount of stress (and also puts significant stress on my funds). If I can narrow it down to a food allergy and eliminate this from her diet, we'll both be very happy. Does anyone have any recommendation on where to start?
 

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First off welcome to DFC, we are always happy to help.

Second, food allergies are very difficult to pin point. Especially with a commercially prepared food like kibble. I have a dog that has food sensitivities and she only gets raw food. That way I know precisely what she's eating every day...as there is only ONE ingredient. Kibble has so many ingredients, how to effectively rule one out over the other?

A lot of people tend to blame protein sources right off the cuff....my dog is allergic to chicken. Well, I've seen diagnosed chicken allergy dogs do fantastic on a raw diet that starts out with nothing but chicken.

Have you considered doing a home prepared diet, even if its home cooked food?
 

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Nutrish is a step up from pedigree, but it is still a pretty low quality food. I would look for a food with no corn, no soy, no unnamed flavors, and no menadione (has been linked to liver toxicity). Nutrish is not that great, it would be better to find a food that is grain free. It may not be a matter of a food allergy, but just low quality foods for most of her life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for your swift replies! Yes, I would consider a home made diet for her. My concern with feeding this way has always been that she was obese when I got her due to an ignorant owner feeding her table scraps. I know these are two very very different things! But seeing how much pain she was in and weaning her off of all of that was so distressing for me. I have always tried to do best by her, but am coming to terms with the possibility that what I feed her every day could be the source of so many of her problems!
I would love to get recommendations from users here on alternative diets. Be they kibble or home prepared. I do have concerns with certain aspects of raw feeding. Her teeth aren't that great anymore and she is a rather small dog. She cannot have chew treats any more as they cause her dental pain. For these reasons, I am not looking to add bones to her diet. That in mind, I'm sure people here have many other suggestions, both raw and otherwise.
I'm sure I'm not the first to say so, but cost is also a large factor. I am currently unemployed, and while my animals always come first, rent is important too.
 

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I would try home cooked for her and see how that goes. Depending on your location price shiuldnt be all that much different between kibble and home cooked. I personally don't know much about cooking but I know there are plenty of recipes online
 

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I would definitely suggest raw. Although I have never tried it, home cooked seems a LOT more difficult because of all the veggies and sometimes fruits you have to add. When the meat is cooked, it loses much of its nutritional value, and that is why you have to add in all the veggies and stuff, which I don't like too much because they are much harder for a dog to digest than raw meat. Prey model raw is easy, and can include ground bone-in meats to provide a bone source as well as not hurt her teeth. As a student on a budget, cost was an issue for me too, but if you find a good source of meats it can come out pretty cheap. I joined a co-op which has been very helpful for my finances lol. A rat terrier is pretty small so it will be even cheaper. I have two dogs, 8 pounds and 3.5 pounds, and I only make a 30-50 dollar purchase ever few months, and sometimes there is cash left over for special treats from central market like quail eggs or Jack's favorite, their St. Louis-style pork ribs :). Buy a good "base" meat in bulk (like pork, beef, or chicken) and you will probably be able to get her treats ever so often. Sometimes a butcher will even grind it to make it easier for her teeth too. Once she has transitioned through chicken and turkey, you could try giving her a quail neck or a quail wing. They are very tiny and very soft, especially the wing tips. Very delicate, and hardly an effort for my 3.5 pound terrier to chew. Also fish bones are very soft, so if you ever do raw you could do whole small fish.

For a dog with weight issues, I think raw is a great diet. It is very easy to control weight and stool consistency with raw (you said she had inconsistent stool), and it is much easier to tell what they need more of. My dog had a bit crumbly poop this morning, so I know that the amount of bone I gave her last night wasn't needed. I had given her the bone since we added in a new protein two days ago, goat, but her poop told me that she can handle a day with a bone-less goat meal. This means her tummy is stronger and can handle richer meats for at least a whole day with no bone. If her poop was soft and not firm I would add in more bone. This would be an advantage to you because you can help her poop by adding in more/less bone source. Also, once you had transitioned through raw, your dog will need less bone and you won't need to worry about getting ground bone or very soft bones like quail, which can sometimes be hard to find depending on where you live.

Either way you go, home cooking or raw, it is definitely not like giving table scraps. Human table scraps usually have additions like butter, ketchup, grease, spices, marinades, etc. Preparing meals especially for dogs is much better, since all you add is plain foods. It will be great for her body. Definitely check out the Prey Model Raw website mentioned in the post above, I love it! Very helpful.

I also wanted to add that if you feed raw, they poop at pretty much the exact time every time. I feed around 12-1 pm and around 8-9 pm, and they always poop around 7-8 at night, and around 10-11 when we wake up and take them on their morning pee pee. 99% of the time they poop within 10 minutes. Sometimes they don't even poop in the evening, that is the great thing about raw. You feed less (meat is made up of mostly water) so they poop less, like 1-2 times a day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you very much for the thorough, helpful information. I will definitely check out the website. I have a locally owned butcher fairly close so I'll look into what is available. She is not a toy rattie, she should weigh about 15 lbs (currently 17), so I assume I'll be feeding her around a cup of raw. I would love to see an improvement in her health and energy. She's getting quite old, her eyes are going, her hearing is going. Anything I can do to make the time she has left enriching and healthy, I am willing to put in the effort and money.
I know human table scraps are not in any way comparable to a raw, dog specific diet. But we are raised into a societal mind set that dogs eat kibble and that's just the way it is. I want better for her, so time to scrap that ingrained fallacy and do my research.
Thank you all for your input.
 

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Thank you very much for the thorough, helpful information. I will definitely check out the website. I have a locally owned butcher fairly close so I'll look into what is available. She is not a toy rattie, she should weigh about 15 lbs (currently 17), so I assume I'll be feeding her around a cup of raw. I would love to see an improvement in her health and energy. She's getting quite old, her eyes are going, her hearing is going. Anything I can do to make the time she has left enriching and healthy, I am willing to put in the effort and money.
I know human table scraps are not in any way comparable to a raw, dog specific diet. But we are raised into a societal mind set that dogs eat kibble and that's just the way it is. I want better for her, so time to scrap that ingrained fallacy and do my research.
Thank you all for your input.
You dont measure raw in cups, you go by ounces. You will start her out on around 2% of her ideal body weight, so about 4.5oz per day! :wink:
Cornish game hens or chicken would be perfect to start her out with!:thumb:

Yes start out reading the link and then let us know if you have any other questions! :thumb:

Oh and welcome to the forum!:wave:
 
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Welcome to you and your dog from the bottom of the world. I hope that you find a satisfactory solution for your senior dog's health problems. I hope that you try either homecooked or raw for your dog, either way I think you will find it won't cost you very much (if you are in USA) as your dog's nutritional requirements will be small. Premade raw will be quite expensive so try and avoid that.
My dog was kibble fed before I got him at aged 5 (possibly other things as he was a racing dog) and he had a very dull coat when we got him. Now it is very shiny and soft and he seems to do very well on raw even though we pay more for meat here in NZ.
I think once your dog gets used to raw even gnawing on the odd bone she will really enjoy her food. Many people on this site have changed their dog's diet later in life and many have had good results.
Obviously raw is not for every dog but I really think it is worth a try.
And I reiterate what Dane Mama (who is very well versed on such things) says and that kibble has sooooo many ingredients it would be hard to pinpoint her allergies.
ps. one of my friend's who has a greyhound and a kelpie/staffy X feeds her dog a combination of cooked meat and stock with rice, commercial dog roll and raw (+bones) at different times. Both her dogs are in very good health with good teeth.
 
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