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Hi there!

I have two small dogs who have separate problems, but I'm hoping to find a food that I can try to get them both on.

Our first dog ("Goose", male/neutered, Chihuahua Mix, 7 years), had a bladder infection/struvite crystals in his urine about 3.5-4 years ago. He was given antibiotics and a prescription diet (Royal Canin Urinary S.O.), had rechecks, etc. and was given a clean bill of health after his course of antibiotics. We were told to keep him on the diet, so we did. I haven't considered changing his diet because, well, it works. We haven't had any recurrences of the issue, but I recently began researching and was hoping we could find a better & healthier food for him to get on with less fillers and chemicals, but also that we could afford. Again, no problems with struvite crystals (or anything else for that matter) since the initial problem, but we haven't wavered from the food prescribed.

Our second dog ("Joon", female/spayed, Toy Fox Terrier, 4 years) has allergies, of which have been under control but I don't think are 100% better with her current diet. (We don't know what she's allergic to-- her allergies aren't severe, but they are bothersome to her if she isn't on a Limited Ingredient Diet). She's eating Natural Balance L.I.D. Duck & Potato. It seems to do the job alright, but I'm not completely sold on it.

The research I've done for our Struvite dog, is the following:
1. Start giving Distilled water (We were giving bottled/gallon water but no one ever told us it needed to be distilled! Argh!)

2. Berry Balance by Solid Gold

3. pH strips to check acid levels in urine

4. Wellness Core

The diet I'm considering for both of them is the 4th item-- Wellness Core.

Does anyone have any tips/advice/etc. with our situation/plan?


Thanks in advance!


--Meg
 

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For Goose, you want him on a high animal protein diet, and you want him to be as hydrated as possible. Since he is a small dog, if you are open to it, I would suggest giving him raw. The best thing you can do for crystals is make sure that they are properly hydrated, which is very hard to do if you are feeding your dog kibble. Dogs are supposed to get most of their water intake from their food. In addition, struvite crystals develop when the urine is not acidic enough, which comes from being fed a diet that does not have enough meat. My cat suffers from lower urinary tract disease (crystals, sterile cystitis, etc.) but once he switched to raw he hasn't had a single flareup. The thing about the vet food is that it chemically changes the pH levels of the dog's urine, but you can achieve this naturally with a diet high in animal protein :) It is also extremely expensive for no apparent reason lol.

You might want to give us more info. on Joon. Do you know what type of allergies she has? Are you sure it's allergies, or is it sensitivities? Could you give us a rundown of her current physical state? Does she shed a lot, does her skin look red/irritated, does she smell, how is her stool, etc.?
 

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For Goose, you want him on a high animal protein diet, and you want him to be as hydrated as possible. Since he is a small dog, if you are open to it, I would suggest giving him raw. The best thing you can do for crystals is make sure that they are properly hydrated, which is very hard to do if you are feeding your dog kibble. Dogs are supposed to get most of their water intake from their food. In addition, struvite crystals develop when the urine is not acidic enough, which comes from being fed a diet that does not have enough meat. My cat suffers from lower urinary tract disease (crystals, sterile cystitis, etc.) but once he switched to raw he hasn't had a single flareup. The thing about the vet food is that it chemically changes the pH levels of the dog's urine, but you can achieve this naturally with a diet high in animal protein :) It is also extremely expensive for no apparent reason lol.

You might want to give us more info. on Joon. Do you know what type of allergies she has? Are you sure it's allergies, or is it sensitivities? Could you give us a rundown of her current physical state? Does she shed a lot, does her skin look red/irritated, does she smell, how is her stool, etc.?
Do you think the Wellness Core has high animal protein? I guess I could search for that specifically. I would be open to trying a raw diet, if I had the time. Unfortunately, I have a 7 month old baby and a 2.5 year old toddler, and am currently fostering two puppies, so I don't have the time for it. Ha! I would add water to his food additionally. Yes, prescription diets are ridiculously pricey! Ugh!

Apologies for the lack of information on Joon-- I tried posting and had more information but my internet timed out momentarily and I had to retype the post and left a lot out. I do not know which allergies she has, though I suspect environmental because her feet are the main issues-- only her back feet, though. They become red and inflamed, she licks them and they are stained from licking (as well as her back nails). We haven't had her tested because it's super expensive, and it isn't so severe that we've had to take that route. For whatever reason, though it appears to be environmental, diet change has helped. Her coat is fabulous, no excess shedding, she smells fine, great stools. I'm not sure what the difference between allergies and sensitivities is.. but I haven't noticed her being affected by something in particular.
 

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Do you think the Wellness Core has high animal protein? I guess I could search for that specifically. I would be open to trying a raw diet, if I had the time. Unfortunately, I have a 7 month old baby and a 2.5 year old toddler, and am currently fostering two puppies, so I don't have the time for it. Ha! I would add water to his food additionally. Yes, prescription diets are ridiculously pricey! Ugh!

Apologies for the lack of information on Joon-- I tried posting and had more information but my internet timed out momentarily and I had to retype the post and left a lot out. I do not know which allergies she has, though I suspect environmental because her feet are the main issues-- only her back feet, though. They become red and inflamed, she licks them and they are stained from licking (as well as her back nails). We haven't had her tested because it's super expensive, and it isn't so severe that we've had to take that route. For whatever reason, though it appears to be environmental, diet change has helped. Her coat is fabulous, no excess shedding, she smells fine, great stools. I'm not sure what the difference between allergies and sensitivities is.. but I haven't noticed her being affected by something in particular.
You could try the prepackaged raw diets out there. Or even an air dried/dehydrated raw might work better than kibble. I have personally never fed Wellness Core, but I do believe there is a higher amount of animal protein in it than the vet prescribed foods. Since your dogs are so small, it may be possible for you to do something like ZiwiPeak, or Nature's Variety Instinct (raw line). Or even incorporate canned foods into their diet so that they get more moisture.

Allergies are when you see a flareup right away after ingesting a food, or being exposed to whatever environmental trigger. Sensitivities develop over time (and this I believe is mostly towards food). How are her ears? Do her feet smell like fritos by any chance? She might have a yeast infection on her back feet only. What are you feeding Joon? I would suggest trying a povodone (sp?) iodine soak for her back feet. My friend's newly adopted dog was biting at one of her paws so much that she actually ripped the black part off. After doing the soaks for a week or so, her feet stopped itching and healed nicely :)

EDIT:
Also it doesn't take that that long to do raw. I am a full time uni student, work 20 hours a week, and I have two cats and my dog who are all on raw. Sometimes I buy the ground premade mixes, but usually I will just spend $40-60 for like 2 months of food, and package them all in one go (Usually takes a couple of hours), and then I can just forget about it, take a couple of containers to defrost in the fridge, and that's it until I run out of the food :) Recently I did a huge batch for Meeko for $39.50 which was ~6-7 kgs worth of food, which will last him 2-3 months (he's 7 lbs, my cats ~10 lbs, so very cheap to do raw). But having kids is probably more difficult since that's a "full time" job hehe.
 

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You could try the prepackaged raw diets out there. Or even an air dried/dehydrated raw might work better than kibble. I have personally never fed Wellness Core, but I do believe there is a higher amount of animal protein in it than the vet prescribed foods. Since your dogs are so small, it may be possible for you to do something like ZiwiPeak, or Nature's Variety Instinct (raw line). Or even incorporate canned foods into their diet so that they get more moisture.

Allergies are when you see a flareup right away after ingesting a food, or being exposed to whatever environmental trigger. Sensitivities develop over time (and this I believe is mostly towards food). How are her ears? Do her feet smell like fritos by any chance? She might have a yeast infection on her back feet only. What are you feeding Joon? I would suggest trying a povodone (sp?) iodine soak for her back feet. My friend's newly adopted dog was biting at one of her paws so much that she actually ripped the black part off. After doing the soaks for a week or so, her feet stopped itching and healed nicely :)

EDIT:
Also it doesn't take that that long to do raw. I am a full time uni student, work 20 hours a week, and I have two cats and my dog who are all on raw. Sometimes I buy the ground premade mixes, but usually I will just spend $40-60 for like 2 months of food, and package them all in one go (Usually takes a couple of hours), and then I can just forget about it, take a couple of containers to defrost in the fridge, and that's it until I run out of the food :) Recently I did a huge batch for Meeko for $39.50 which was ~6-7 kgs worth of food, which will last him 2-3 months (he's 7 lbs, my cats ~10 lbs, so very cheap to do raw). But having kids is probably more difficult since that's a "full time" job hehe.
Oh, I see! That makes sense (allergies vs. sensitivities). I suppose it seems to be a sensitivity. Her ears have never had problems, and her feet have smelled like fritos since she was a puppy-- I've never suspected them to smell yeast-y but perhaps a soak wouldn't hurt! She currently eats Natural Balance LID Duck & Potato. Where would I buy a Povodone/iodine soak?

Your friends poor dog! I'm so glad she was able to find the cause & allow her feet to heal.

As far as pre-packaged raw diets, we have a dehydrated diet that we use only as a treat because they're so expensive.. We'd like to cut back on cost if possible, so sticking to a kibble is preferable, and obviously taking the precautions necessary to make sure both dogs are being taken care of. (i.e. checking pH to make sure acid is high in urine, etc.) Canned food is a possibility, however.

Yeesss... It's hard enough for me to meal plan/get dinner on the table for the humans in the family, so for now, I'm gonna say I don't even want to venture down that route. Maybe one day when I don't have as many needy babies. :)
 

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Oh, I see! That makes sense (allergies vs. sensitivities). I suppose it seems to be a sensitivity. Her ears have never had problems, and her feet have smelled like fritos since she was a puppy-- I've never suspected them to smell yeast-y but perhaps a soak wouldn't hurt! She currently eats Natural Balance LID Duck & Potato. Where would I buy a Povodone/iodine soak?

Your friends poor dog! I'm so glad she was able to find the cause & allow her feet to heal.

As far as pre-packaged raw diets, we have a dehydrated diet that we use only as a treat because they're so expensive.. We'd like to cut back on cost if possible, so sticking to a kibble is preferable, and obviously taking the precautions necessary to make sure both dogs are being taken care of. (i.e. checking pH to make sure acid is high in urine, etc.) Canned food is a possibility, however.

Yeesss... It's hard enough for me to meal plan/get dinner on the table for the humans in the family, so for now, I'm gonna say I don't even want to venture down that route. Maybe one day when I don't have as many needy babies. :)
That fritos smell is a sign that your dog may have a yeast infection (search up Dr Karen Becker and yeast on Youtube!). It may be that your dog is suffering from a chronic yeast infection. The best thing to do for Goon now would be to switch to a grain free kibble with the least amount of carbs (I'm going to suggest Orijen because it has lots of meat, but many other forum members here prefer Acana which is from the same company but with less meat), and start feeding Goon probiotics. The thing about NB is that it has a lot of veggies that count for carbs, so even though it may have her other intolerances under control, she may still be struggling with the yeast. Except for certain breeds, dogs are not really supposed to smell. If you notice a wet doggy odour about them, it's probably yeast too.

I think the dehydrated diet you are referring to is probably ZiwiPeak, which is very expensive, I agree. Maybe stick to high animal protein kibble that is grain free, and give grain free cans (I like Wellness Core, Instinct and ZiwiPeak) as well.

I'm going to suggest Orijen over Wellness Core because Orijen has recently changed their formulas so that it mimics the prey model raw diet (but in kibble form), so it uses lentils instead of potatoes (lower glycemic index), and has lots of meats and organs in their blend. You may notice a bit of diarrhea, maybe some regurgitation, once you start them on this food since their stomach acids probably will not be strong enough at first to break down all that meat (since they are both on foods that has a lot of veggies/grains). I would also suggest feeding a quarter cup less than the recommended amount (always ignore the "active dog" part of how much to feed).
 

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That fritos smell is a sign that your dog may have a yeast infection (search up Dr Karen Becker and yeast on Youtube!). It may be that your dog is suffering from a chronic yeast infection. The best thing to do for Goon now would be to switch to a grain free kibble with the least amount of carbs (I'm going to suggest Orijen because it has lots of meat, but many other forum members here prefer Acana which is from the same company but with less meat), and start feeding Goon probiotics. The thing about NB is that it has a lot of veggies that count for carbs, so even though it may have her other intolerances under control, she may still be struggling with the yeast. Except for certain breeds, dogs are not really supposed to smell. If you notice a wet doggy odour about them, it's probably yeast too.

I think the dehydrated diet you are referring to is probably ZiwiPeak, which is very expensive, I agree. Maybe stick to high animal protein kibble that is grain free, and give grain free cans (I like Wellness Core, Instinct and ZiwiPeak) as well.

I'm going to suggest Orijen over Wellness Core because Orijen has recently changed their formulas so that it mimics the prey model raw diet (but in kibble form), so it uses lentils instead of potatoes (lower glycemic index), and has lots of meats and organs in their blend. You may notice a bit of diarrhea, maybe some regurgitation, once you start them on this food since their stomach acids probably will not be strong enough at first to break down all that meat (since they are both on foods that has a lot of veggies/grains). I would also suggest feeding a quarter cup less than the recommended amount (always ignore the "active dog" part of how much to feed).
Orijen-- okay. So it sounds like that might be a good option for both dogs since my dog with Struvite Crystals needs to have a large amount of meat in his diet for high acid reasons, and the food is grain free for my allergy dog. Right? I never follow how much to feed on the bag.. Every dog is different, and every dog eats a different amount appropriate for them.

The dehydrated diet we have is from The Honest Company-- one of this forum's sponsors, actually. My Mom bought it for them after Joon had a pretty major dental surgery in which she needed a soft food diet for at least 2 weeks. (She's healed now, though.)

Is there a probiotic you recommend?
 

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My Jasper has Struvite Crystals and a UTI that will not go away and they wanted to put him on a special diet. I refused and opted for the Soild Gold Berry Balance supplement. I LOVE IT!!! It has worked wonders for him. None of the antibiotic's ever helped his UTI or crystals. I put him on the SG BB supplement and with in 2 weeks all the crystals were gone and the UTI was no more. :) I couldn't be happier with my choice to use it. I am now cutting him back to getting it only once a week.
 

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Most of what is posted here is very valid and a very intelligent conversation. Simply, some may think too simple, but an acid environment will invite crystals. And yes, meat protein is a valid and proven solution. Many diets out there are "meat rich" but beware a dry diet showing meat is not meat but a slurry, a wet form of meat and the final product contains low meat protein value. Raw diet is easier than you think and having 2 small dogs it can cost less than buying "special" formulas. Locate a meat rich diet, preferably one with meat meals which are very high in percentage of meat protein then lessened by the addition of whole grains versus the new grain frees which are loaded with starches (potato, tapioca, pea starch), add chicken broth to moisten if you wish, and for now replace 50% of the suggested amount with raw meat (hamburger 80/20 is fine). In the beginning less total volume of food is best and always supply water/broth available. This will also strengthen their natural immune system and limit if not make the symptoms of "allergies" disappear.
Scott, crystals are already present in any dog/cat urine. It only becomes a problem when the crystals are not being flushed out by the urine (i.e. they are chronically dehydrated and the acidity levels are not high enough to break them down). Furthermore, not all dog foods are made of "slurry". There are plenty of reputable dog food companies (Champion for example) that use real, free range, hormone/antibiotic free meats in their food. There is no need to buy a special formula, just one with more meat. All of the foods suggested above have meat and meat meal as the first few ingredients (Orijen's original formula is first 5 ingredients, and the new one modeled after the prey model is like the first 8 or 10 ingredients, so a really big deal).

And you should really never feed kibble and raw at the same time... They digest at completely different rates. Kibble takes 14-16 hours, raw takes 4-6. That's a huge difference. I also would never even eat preground hamburger meat myself... and there is no reason to use ground meat anyway if the OP is going to do raw. The more the meat is processed, the more chances of it being infected with more bacteria. And chicken broth has a lot of salt, which wouldn't be any good for hydrating the dog anyway.
 
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