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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks! I haven't posted in a while because Rusty has gotten settled and we've developed a nice little routine that's working for us as far as his reactivity, but we're still struggling with his diet so I thought I'd see if anyone here has any thoughts on the matter.

Fairly early on we realized that Rusty had some sort of food allergy or sensitivity that was causing occasional vomiting, diarrhea and itchy skin. We still haven't been able to pin-point any one ingredient that's causing problems, but up until recently we had found a food and some treats that were working for him. For the last couple of months he's been getting Purina Pro-plan Salmon for sensitive skin, and for treats I was using cheese cubes and tuna fudge made with King Arthur flour substitute.

Then early last week he had a pretty bad bout of diarrhea. It was the first time in a while and I think my husband has gotten kind lax about Rusty's diet and started giving him nibbles of food from his plate, so I wasn't particularly surprised or concerned, just figured we needed to get back on track and start being vigilant again. A couple days in and the diarrhea was clearing up and things seemed more or less back to normal, but Rusty was still refusing food and I decided to add some boiled rice to his kibble to encourage him to eat. It breaks my heart to hear his stomach growling I just have a hard time waiting it out. Anyway, the rice and kibble triggered a whole new bout of diarrhea. I figure it must have been the rice, but that doesn't make sense because rice is literally the third ingredient in the Pro-plan. Rice is also the first ingredient in the flour substitute I use for his tuna fudge. Still though, I don't see what else it could be. So back to plain kibble, but Rusty seems to now be convinced that it's the kibble that's causing his stomach upset even though he's been eating it for months with no problems (none that I'm aware of anyway). He's refusing the food and his stomach was growling again. He was clearly hungry, begging for other food and gobbling his cheese and tuna fudge, just refusing the kibble. Out of desperation I went to the store and got him a different food, something called I Love and You Lamb and Bison. No real reason for this choice other than that it doesn't have rice in it. He loves it, begs for it and hoovers it down when we put it in his bowl. He gets far more excited for it than he ever did for the Pro plan. He's been eating it for a couple of days and his digestive problems have subsided. His itchies seem to have worsened very slightly (honestly this could be my imagination, sometimes I over think things), but at least he's eating and not having other problems.

Obviously we're going to have to go to the vet and revisit the allergy questions, but for now is it safe enough to feed him a grain free food? I know that they can cause heart problems for dogs. Is that true even if I feed it short term? Also, is it possible that plain boiled rice would cause him problems even though he didn't seem to be having any trouble with the Pro plan or the treats made with rice flour? Is it possible that this food that he's been eating with no problems for months has suddenly started to cause some sensitivity? Maybe the Pro plan never did agree with him and I just didn't know because he wasn't having any major reaction. It's not like he can tell me.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 

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When a dog refuses a food, listen. YEARS ago I was feeding a young dog some top of the line granular food. It was VERY highly rated and VERY expensive. She refused it. I added stuff.. she ate it reluctantly. Then she got sick.. some diarrhea and acted for all the world like she had Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. Took her to the vet and he said "change foods.. " and he suggested (of all things) just plain old Purina Dog Chow.

That fixed things (and eventually I changed her to better food that she liked and toward the end more RAW.. but that is a whole 'nother topic). She did not have EPI.

So, if your dog when hungry refuses a food stop feeding that food. That is my recommendation.

As to the itchiness, the dog that got Purina Dog Chow (for a little while) also had itchiness (atopy). It would start in June and disappear after the first frost in Autumn. It was something in the environment. She ended up on Apoquel.. which worked very well (I wish now I had tried Cytokine injections due to the side effect in Apoquel that can lead to injuries or bruising becoming and infected mess). In the case of this dog her initial allergy issues were in the days before there were any good treatments for allergies in dogs and she would get a shot of Depo (Depo Medrol [Methylprednisolone Acetate]) about 2-3 times a year.. not good but the only thing back then.

I currently have another dog that also has allergies. In her case it seems to be marginally autoimmune. Apoquel works well on her but when I run out of that I am going to try Cytokine. She is also a more "mature" dog and her first bouts where in the days before Apoquel. She has also had a shot of Depo a few times.

The point is that allergies are often blamed on food and more often they are not food related. My vet told me neither dog exhibited like a food allergy (licking feet was one thing that he mentioned that neither dog did ). This does not mean your dog does not have a food sensitivity. Just tossing that out there to talk to your vet about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When a dog refuses a food, listen. YEARS ago I was feeding a young dog some top of the line granular food. It was VERY highly rated and VERY expensive. She refused it. I added stuff.. she ate it reluctantly. Then she got sick.. some diarrhea and acted for all the world like she had Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. Took her to the vet and he said "change foods.. " and he suggested (of all things) just plain old Purina Dog Chow.

That fixed things (and eventually I changed her to better food that she liked and toward the end more RAW.. but that is a whole 'nother topic). She did not have EPI.

So, if your dog when hungry refuses a food stop feeding that food. That is my recommendation.

As to the itchiness, the dog that got Purina Dog Chow (for a little while) also had itchiness (atopy). It would start in June and disappear after the first frost in Autumn. It was something in the environment. She ended up on Apoquel.. which worked very well (I wish now I had tried Cytokine injections due to the side effect in Apoquel that can lead to injuries or bruising becoming and infected mess). In the case of this dog her initial allergy issues were in the days before there were any good treatments for allergies in dogs and she would get a shot of Depo (Depo Medrol [Methylprednisolone Acetate]) about 2-3 times a year.. not good but the only thing back then.

I currently have another dog that also has allergies. In her case it seems to be marginally autoimmune. Apoquel works well on her but when I run out of that I am going to try Cytokine. She is also a more "mature" dog and her first bouts where in the days before Apoquel. She has also had a shot of Depo a few times.

The point is that allergies are often blamed on food and more often they are not food related. My vet told me neither dog exhibited like a food allergy (licking feet was one thing that he mentioned that neither dog did ). This does not mean your dog does not have a food sensitivity. Just tossing that out there to talk to your vet about.
There certainly could be other things going on. We've been dealing with a yeast infection in his ears so that has been the focus of our recent vet visits, but I guess we need to make an appointment to talk exclusively about this issue. I'm starting to wonder if it's an allergy at all. He gets a dose of claritin every day because he used to get sneezy when we went outside and his eyes would get gunky. The claritin has helped with those issues, but maybe he needs something different. I find vet visits frustrating these days because there's so little face to face time with the vet. Things get rushed and forgotten.

We've switched his food of course. He's doing quite well on the new stuff. He loves it so much and is doing so well that I would like to continue feeding it to him, but as I mentioned it's a grain free food and I know that is problematic. It's also a food that is billed as a 'lamb and bison' food, but chicken meal is the second ingredient. Chicken itself isn't a problem, I just find it disingenuous at best that the manufacturer doesn't make that known in the marketing, but that's a whole other issue and has nothing to do with the dog's problems.

Thanks for your input. Your suggestions are appreciated.
 

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I started feeding a grain free diet when we got our new pup. While researching ingredients, I found the grain free seem to have more ingredients that I'm looking for. On paper they looked good. I'm feeding Acana puppy btw. It includes freeze-dried chicken and turkey liver for accelerated palatibility.

I read about DCM as well. But from all the research I did, I noticed it wasn't scientifically proven and the study was inconclusive.

I think it was mostly due to the lentil and pea ingredients added in the place of grains. Apparently beans and peas interfere with the k9 body's ability to absorb amino acids like taurine. On the other hand I hear all over the place that dogs don't digest grains well at all. The fight between various dog kibble brands is enough to spin my head.

So as far as I am thinking, if it's a decent food with good ingredients and you're happy with your dog's health on the food and he likes it, stick with it. Pretty sure you can test for a taurine deficiency.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I started feeding a grain free diet when we got our new pup. While researching ingredients, I found the grain free seem to have more ingredients that I'm looking for. On paper they looked good. I'm feeding Acana puppy btw. It includes freeze-dried chicken and turkey liver for accelerated palatibility.

I read about DCM as well. But from all the research I did, I noticed it wasn't scientifically proven and the study was inconclusive.

I think it was mostly due to the lentil and pea ingredients added in the place of grains. Apparently beans and peas interfere with the k9 body's ability to absorb amino acids like taurine. On the other hand I hear all over the place that dogs don't digest grains well at all. The fight between various dog kibble brands is enough to spin my head.

So as far as I am thinking, if it's a decent food with good ingredients and you're happy with your dog's health on the food and he likes it, stick with it. Pretty sure you can test for a taurine deficiency.
I haven't taken much time to research this, but the things I have read do seem to be 'inconclusive' as you said. Interesting that you say that about taurine as this food lists taurine specifically as an added ingredient.

He sure does love it though. I've never seen him act this excited about a dry dog food. Then again it could just be novelty. He's been eating the same food for months. I would imagine that gets pretty boring. I'm wondering if some kind of rotation might be the solution.
 

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The peas and beans are the issue. Peas snd beans also boost crude protein but that protein is indigestible to the dog. Chicken fat is in ALMOST all kibble because it is readily available and it is cheap. Chicken meal and fish meal are also common for the same reason chicken fat is used...

If you want total usefulness/digestibility of the food, you need to feed raw.

I feed raw to one dog. Thr other gets kibble AM and raw at night. She decided she no longer wanted her raw breakfast. I feed her 4 Health from Tractor Supply and it is not grain free. It has a rice base. She likes it. She will be 11 in June. If she wants kibble for breakfast, she gets kibble. She wants her raw at night. She gets whatever she wants at this age.

All my dogs also get Vertex supplement.

Remember, when a manufacturer comes out with a new kibble, they may have good ingredients. IF the food becomes popular, other manufacturers jump in and make a similar product. As the market grows and all compete against each other, they start to look at ingredients and think "what can I replace in this mix that is CHEAPER so I can increase my profits without raising the price and be more competitive." Do not think for a minute that any of these companies CARE about your dog. As long as dogs seem to like the food and they don't die.. and the manufacturer retains their profits it's all good.

I am glad your dog responded to a human OTC antihistamine. Most do not. I have been down THAT road to no avail and my vet helped me but said it is rare for a dog to respond (and we were back to Depo).
 

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To add to the DCM thing: I've not heard anyone express concern about it over here in Europe. That doesn't mean it's all fake, it absolutely needs further research. The lentil connection in particular. But it's not the epidemic that it was originally made out to be, DCM is still incredibly rare with or without the diet connection, and I wouldn't take it into consideration at all for a short-term diet unless you have a dog who already has heart issues or a breed extremely prone to DCM.

There's two big factors to take into account too. The first being that more cardiology issues in dogs are being diagnosed over recent years in general due to advances in diagnostics, dogs living longer on average, and owners being more proactive with vet care. The second being that more dogs are eating a grain free diet now than in the past, which means that with ANY disease we're going to see an increased number of animals diagnosed eating grain free. I found this study interesting, not perfect by any means mind you, but interesting. The data so far just isn't strong enough to make me change my dietary choices - though it's worth noting that I've always rotated brands and formulas anyway.
 

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my dogs cardiologist advised not to feed grain free. so I am going with the professional heart drs advice. thats just me.
 

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my dogs cardiologist advised not to feed grain free. so I am going with the professional heart drs advice. thats just me.
That's fair, I did say avoiding grain free should be a higher priority with dogs with a known heart condition or a breed prone to DCM. I just haven't seen the evidence yet that most healthy dogs require what may be a significant dietary change away from foods that are working well for them, especially if they have other dietary restrictions already. Everyone can and should make their own choice about what they feel the risks are for themselves and their dogs, but there is more to the story than grain free bad grain inclusive good.
 

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I haven't taken much time to research this, but the things I have read do seem to be 'inconclusive' as you said. Interesting that you say that about taurine as this food lists taurine specifically as an added ingredient.

He sure does love it though. I've never seen him act this excited about a dry dog food. Then again it could just be novelty. He's been eating the same food for months. I would imagine that gets pretty boring. I'm wondering if some kind of rotation might be the solution.
Most kibble add taurine as a supplement. It's degraded with the heating process as well. The raw freeze-dried ingredients contain more taurine. Taurine can be supplemented with a bit of sardine once a week and raw bones if it concerns you.

PS Some of these food companies claim that there is not enough lentil to counter the taurine in the meat ingredients, don't know how much science there is to that.

About rotation, what I have noticed is it causes more pickiness. Like the dog may hold out to see what's offered next. But I do find that making mealtime fun is more effective (for my pup anyway). Food dispensing toys and puzzles like snuffle mats are awesome, or even doing a fun training session for his food instantly makes it more appealing. We do dance moves like weaving between my legs, jumping through a hoop (my arms forming a circle), jumping over my lap, walking down the catwalk like a show dog, etc. Just my experience.
 
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