Alicia Pet Clinic Weblog


Loose Stool in Dogs: Why to go grain-free with your pet food

I was recently asked to respond to the following question: My dog often has loose stools. What can I use to fix this problem? I prefer natural solutions.

 

Here is my response:

 

Loose stool in dogs is a super common problem.  There is a short answer and a very, very long answer.  The short answer is to try a bit of canned pumpkin in the food when you are noticing the problem.  Use one tablespoon full in a small dog and two in a large dog in each meal.  That is probably the best, most reliable remedy that is natural.  Sometimes just feeding cottage cheese and rice or chicken and rice for a day or two will do the trick too.  If those things do not help and the soft stool is continuing, it is probably best to seek the care of a vet.  We have a lot of options on very safe medications to use to resolve diarrhea from multiple causes.

 

Here is the longer answer: 

 

Soft stool is diarrhea.  Most people don’t call it diarrhea unless it is straight water, but mild diarrhea is what most people call soft stool.  Sometimes you may see blood or mucous if it is coming from the colon.  Your dog should not have diarrhea more than once or twice per year.  If it is happening monthly, there is probably something serious going on even though they may act normally in every other way.

 

Common causes here in South Orange County are parasites and the wrong diet.  We are diagnosing more and more giardia all of the time.  Giardia is a common flagellated protozoal organism that affects many species of wildlife and is potentially contagious to people.  There is now a great test for it that is very reliable.  If it is diagnosed via microscope, the diagnosis is very likely incorrect.  Roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are also common parasites in this area that can cause diarrhea in all ages of dogs.  These parasites that are all common in this area are the main reason why I recommend Heartgard plus for every dog, especially since most of them are contagious to people.  If the parasites are diagnosed by fecal exam, there are specific medications to treat and eradicate the infection.

 

Diet is probably, in some way or another, the other main cause for diarrhea/soft stool in dogs.  Here is the reason: Dogs are carnivores.  It is best to think of dogs as little wolves, coyotes or dingos.  They are biologically the same. Because of this fact, our dogs should eat like carnivores are built to eat.  That means that their diet should consist of mostly animal with small amounts of fruits and vegetables, but most importantly, no grain.  There is not a single dog in the wild that would ever eat wheat, rice, corn, barley or millet.  Think about this fact and go check your bag of food.  Yep, its right there as the second or third ingredient.  And if you are feeding the most popular food in the US, Beneful, you should be shaking your head.  Grains make up the first 4 ingredients in that food!  

 

About 99% of all pet food in the US has grain in it.  This is due to the origin of the pet food industry 60 years ago and a reluctance on the part of the industry to change things.  Back then, people were feeding their dogs scraps and were really not spending much on that, so the industry needed to offer a cheap and profitable product for people to buy.  Every ounce of grain in food adds more profit to the food.  That formula has really never changed until just recently.  Not only are grains not needed in food (people call them fillers), but they are also very bad for dogs to eat.  The dog intestine is not designed to digest the complex grain proteins, so it mounts an inflammatory response to it, which causes intestinal inflammation and elevates the baseline on allergies.  It also is the wrong way to provide nutrition; like feeding a cow a chicken burger.  The intestinal inflammation is what sets dogs up for intermittent soft stool so often.

 

Do you ever wonder why your carnivore that is at home can’t even eat a small piece of steak without getting soft stool?  Does that make sense at all?  It should not.  What is happening to most dogs is a double whammy.  First, they are eating a grain-based food which is constantly making the intestine mad, so it is easy to push it over the edge and cause diarrhea.  Second, because they are eating a diet that only has about 30% animal or less, the pancreas and the intestine are not producing the normal amount of digestive enzymes to properly digest food.  This is the same reason why you need to transition to a new, grain free food slowly, so that you can give the system time to adjust by ramping up the digestive enzymes over a period of 2-4 weeks.  Switch too fast and guess what happens?  Diarrhea.  

 

 

Some of you reading this may be thinking that you are feeding a great food because it is “organic”, “holistic”, “healthy” or “natural” but if it has grain in it, that is like putting a really high tech filter on a cigarette.  There are no such things as “wholesome grains” for dogs.  

The most appropriate foods are those that do not contain grains and have more animal than vegetables.  Great examples are Orijen (www.championpetfoods.com), Ziwi Peak (www.ziwipeak.com), or Taste Of The Wild (www.tasteofthewildpetfood.com).  Alicia Pet Care Center (www.mypetsdr.com) carries this food and you can also find it at local pet stores like Pet Country (www.petcountryweb.com).  Raw food is another option that I support but it deserves its own write up.

 

If your dog is having intermittent diarrhea in spite of a diet change to a better and more biologically appropriate food, you should seek care from a veterinarian.  They should test and treat for the simple and common things first, and if that does not resolve things, a deeper search is warranted.  I have a dog at home that we had to take to surgery for intestinal biopsies that showed that he had moderate inflammatory bowel disease.  This is the same as Crone’s disease in people and is a very bad problem in dogs.  After reading this article, I’m sure you could guess what caused that: years of feeding grain-based food.  He is now off of all medication for IBD and having normal stool on Orijen.

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52 Comments so far
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Thanks Dr. Matt. See you again on Tues. w/ Mopsy.

Comment by lori ploeser

Amazing! We have a 2 year old English Bulldog that had very soft stool. We had him on Solid Gold Holistique Blendz to try to control his weight but I’m going to switch to TOTW. I heeded your suggestion about pumpkin with his food and within 2 days his stool is normal. Thank you!

Comment by Rick

:”‘ I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information ;*~

Comment by Candy Paint

thank you!!

Comment by Deb Mace

I have been feeding Kibbles & Bits along w/ Royal Canin small adult. my puppies never have a solid stool!

Comment by Deb Mace

I hate to say it but the quality of those foods for a preferential carnivore are suspect. Hopefully slowly switching to a grain free food will do the trick. Start with at balance limited ingredient diet first as the animal content is pretty mild. Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

Thanks this is very informant for every dog
Lover.

Comment by Ralph

could it be malabsorption syndrom for daily loose bowels?

Comment by tommi

It definitely could be. A standard work up for chronic go issues is possible and should include tests for pancreatic problems that could cause malabsorption. An intestinal biopsy is the final test typically.

Comment by drwheaton

thankyou soo much i am really broke and you saved me a vet visit i ‘d have to beg money for Tequilla thanks you also god bless

Comment by Elaine

Best comment I’ve ever received! Awesome

Comment by drwheaton

Our puppy, Molli, not only had diarrhea, but also very smelly stools. I switched her to a holistic turkey and sweet potato, grain free food and she finally has solid stool with no odor! Grain free has made all the difference!!!

Comment by Shauna Spear

Thanks so much for this advice. My dog has loose stools and I just checked his food and it has 30% cereal. I am on the track of cereal free food now. I am in the UK and don’t know the brands you suggest.

Comment by Jo

I dont know if Acana is available in the UK but their website is http://www.championpetfoods.com. That is my favorite food. Be sure to transition slowly over about 2 weeks. Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

Hi. Very interesting reading. My Bernese pup (6m) is on Acana and his stool is both loose and smelly. The vet can find nothing wrong from a sample. We have tried the pumpkin – and it workd but at $2 a sachet every two days, it’s getting expensive. Any ideas? Thanks Rebecca

Comment by Rebecca Mullen

Rebecca,

Sorry for the delay. Im hoping that things are now resolved but if they are not, I have addressed this question several times for other people Check out the comment section for more info.

Good luck and if you have more questions, dont hesitate. I will respond more quickly next time.

Comment by drwheaton

My little McGuire is 13 and has had tummy issues since he had his bladder stone removed in March. Trying to come up with a diet so no new stones would be created has been crazy hard. I’ve been making his food based on a diet to raise his PH but that includes rice which I now see isn’t such a good idea. I’m amazed at what we do to take such good care of our four legged children only to find out we’re not doing them any good. I simply find it all very confusing and at the rate I’m pulling my hair out over what is right…I’ll be the only bald woman in my town.

Comment by Dawn Santagata

Dawn,

I think most “recipes” are not complete and balanced so I would go with a manufactured grain free food like Acana and add Potassium Citrate assuming that what you had was a calcium oxylate stone. Make sure to get your vet to prescribe that additive to the food and get the urine checked to make sure that the pH is in the proper range for oxylates (around 7.5) and add a bunch of water to the food to make the urine more dilute. You are looking for a specific gravity of the urine to be around 1.025 or less.

Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

I am currently feeding my 8wk old german shepard puppy 4 health puppy. She constantly has loose stool. I was wondering if it could be the food? Also when she was wormed at 6 weeks ago she had dead worms in her stool and since then she has litlle white specks in it. She was wormed again on Sunday and i havent seen any whole worms this time..but, she still has loose stools..help!!

Comment by Kathy

Kathy, unless you are in Orange County, CA, Im going to be of limited help to you. A puppy with diarrhea is most of the time going to be due to parasites. Make sure your vet checks for giardia and sends poop to a lab if at all possible as you will get better results. Deworming is complicated and there are many products so it is not to be assumed that all worms are taken care of with “dewormer.” A course of broad spectrum, symptomatic medication (metronidazole/Flagyl) is often very helpful. I would not switch quickly to a grain free food until you solve the diarrhea issue with your current grain based food. You should absolutely eventually switch away from 4 Health Puppy food as it is a typical grain based food but wait until you have fixed the stool issue.

Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

Thanks for your article, really interesting and makes perfect sense. I am now on the hunt for a supplier in the uk of one of the brands you mentioned for my 3 yr old English bulldog. Orijen looks good but I am a bit worried about the 38% protein levels as have read this is too high for bulldogs and can irritate skin and cause itching issues, in you experience is this correct?
Many thanks

Comment by Kerri

Kerri, Hopefully you can find something in the UK that will work for you. The info on high protein foods causing issues in dogs is not correct. Most of the time, the high protein myth revolves around kidney problems. See this info: http://www.mypetsdr.com/images/APCC/pdfs/myths_of_high_protein.pdf. But the allergy situation in bulldogs is almost always an environmental allergy (not hay fever) called atopic dermatitis. Watch the video we did on this here: http://www.mypetsdr.com/pet-health/pet-health-videos/allergy.html Food does play into this situation if you are feeding a grain based food as the intestine will mount an inflammatory response to grain and that will contribute to the allergies, but not cause them.

Hope this all helps. Best advice I can give you if you have a bulldog: get pet insurance yesterday at http://www.gopetplan.com

Take care and good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

After slowly switching over to orijen his stools seem better and he is pooping much less often! But have noticed he drinks so much more than previously ( should I add water to the biscuit before putting down for him?) also he seems to be suffering from a bit of itchy skin, someone suggested adding cod liver oil – what’s your thoughts on this? Or should I try a lower protein level food like acana?

Thanks

Comment by Kerri

Sorry for the delayed response.

Im glad that your switch worked well for you. Dogs will drink to maintain their water balance. When they eat dry food, they drink more than if you were feeding any canned. Generally that is not a huge deal. If you think that the drinking is more than it should be, you should take your dog to the vet for testing. Water intake for a dog should be no more than 60ml/kg/day. You will have to do the math on that and see how much is actually being consumed.

Itching has many different potential causes. Check out the video here for help: http://mypetsdr.com/pet-health/pet-health-videos/allergy.html

The lower protein Acana is what we generally recommend now for most dogs anyway due to the ease of transition. It will have no bearing on itchiness or water intake though.

Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

I have always fed my Frenchies a grain free diet with no Issues. My 4-1/2 month old has been on Merrick Duck and Sweet Potato (switched from Turkey PureVita about 4 weeks ago), after doing fine on it for two weeks he’s suddenly gotten severe diarrhea. $800 and 8hrs in the animal ER, Iwas advised he “must have gotten into something”. He was on a bland diet for two days, whichsseemed

Comment by Julie

Con’t….his bland diet seemed to faux things. Now back on the Merrick Duck & Sweet Potato his stools are very soft again. I’m confused that he was on this food for two weeks with no issues and suddenly he’s got poop problems. Help!

Comment by Julie

Julie,

That can happen for sure and it really sucks when it does. Remember that food is food and it is a good idea to eat as best as you can. Biologically appropriate, eat what you are built to eat, whatever you want to say, that is the goal! However, dogs are living beings and tend to eventually get sick. Puppies are notorious for being higher maintenance during their young age period and this may be one example of that. There are many potential causes for diarrhea in dogs and your vet will have to treat in a way that will get results. Hopefully it will be easy to treat with minimal testing but if that does not work, you could own a dog that has a problem or is destined to have one. Usually when I have a puppy with diarrhea, I test for parasites, including a giardia ELISA test and treat symptomatically. Often we give an injection of Polyflex and then start metronidazole and a probiotic. That is usually the start for a simple case of diarrhea. Obviously, if there were to be vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, etc. a completely different approach is called for. I usually recommend doing just what you have done with food and if you cant get back to normal with grain free food, we suggest a bland, grain based food for a little while and basically feed the best food that we can without regards to grain to obtain the best poop quality. We keep trying to wean back to grain free every so often and if the wean fails, we extend the time to retrying the wean the next time.

Good luck with everything,

Comment by drwheaton

Thanks!!

Leroy (puppy) was tested for parasites, negative; however, he was given an anti parasite medication to sprinkle on his food for three days, just in case something was missed. He was also on Metronidazole for one week, to take for any possible gastrointestinal infection. Also, I’ve had him on a probiotic since I brought him home at 9 weeks. He had an x-ray and an ultrasound, looking for anything that may have been lodged, also, thankfully, negative.

I have a 3yr old Frenchie that is allergic to everything under the sun, the Merrick does really well for her and I’m hoping this bout with the puppy is temporary as I don’t want to have to give two separate types of food; I will, but uuugghhh, really hoping I’m not going to have to go there.

I occasionally give organic sweet potato for upset tummy, gas, is this something that I can use to firm up stool as well?

Comment by Julie

You could give sweet potato but I think I would add canned pumpkin into the food to bulk it up until the soft stool completely resolves. Frenchies are notorious for Atopic dermatitis and if your adult is not showing you that she is itchy by licking her feet, etc, I would be surprised. You might wanna watch this vid too for that one: http://mypetsdr.com/pet-health/pet-health-videos/allergy.html

Take care,

Comment by drwheaton

TAHNKU A LOT LOT LOT LOVED THE MEDICINE
IT WAS DOIN WELL ON MY PUG PUP
AWSOME DOCTOR
WISH U WOULD STAY WITH US FOR EVER AND HELP US
TANKU A LOTLOT LOT LOT LOT LOT LOT LOT LOT LOT

Comment by HARINI MALINI

Your advise to feed a grain-free diet makes perfect sense to me, however, I’m in a bit of a quandary. I have a 8 month old Great Pyrenees who was diagnosed with Panoesteitis 4 months ago. It was suggested that I feed him a low protein diet ( although there is no real evidence to back this up.) Consequently, I have changed food several times (Innova and Solid Gold both for large breed puppies.) My Pyr has had diarrhea since we got him. Initially, he did have Giardia which he was treated for and has since tested negative. Then the Pano hit and he was on pain medications. The diarrhea always persisted but We always attributed it to the Giardia, the pain meds, etc. now that he has been without pain meds for 3 weeks and his diet consistent for 3 weeks, he still has diarrhea. With Pano potentially reappearing, and being a large breed dog, would you suggest the switch to a non-grain higher protein food?

Sorry I was so long winded, I appreciate your advise.

Comment by Cheri

Cheri,

Ugh. I feel your pain! What you might be dealing with is a carry over from the giardia infection. We service over 40 different rescue groups here so we have a ton of experience with the giardia deal as many leave shelters with it. We have found that approximately 15% of dogs that get giardia get a temporary “inflammatory bowel disease” syndrome which makes them very prone to diarrhea for up to 9 months after the giardia infection is cleared. Based on what you are saying, (assuming that the giardia was treated with Panacur) I would suggest a pro-biotic and changing the diet to Special Needs Diet by Canine Caviar http://mycaninecaviar.com/product/special-needs-dinner/ as it is pretty much the only non prescription food that we have found to work really well with this group of dogs. Its absolutely worth a try! I know it is a grain based food and this blog is about avoiding grains but there are definitely dogs that cannot tolerate the higher animal content associated with grain free foods and almost all of the time that you take a dog that is currently having diarrhea and switch them to grain free, it will make the problem worse.

I would suggest that you do the switch and keep him on the Special Needs for as many months as you have had the soft stool plus one and then try to wean him slowly off of that onto a grain free food. While I am not a huge fan overall of Natural Balance due to quality of their ingredients and their multiple recalls pointing out their poor quality control, I think that their Limited Ingredient Diet line is the easiest grain free food to switch dogs like yours over to. That is because they are very low on the animal content (another reason for my reluctance in recommending them to everyone) and the only company I am aware of that does a grain free food that has a lower meat content than vegetable.

Feel free to let me know how it goes.

By the way, it is unlikely that you will fix the panosteitis with food and I am not a believer that it is caused by food. Low protein food recommendations never make sense for a preferential carnivore and typically come from someone that is not thinking for themselves and is repeating misinformation. Carnivores need animal protein.

Good luck,

Comment by drwheaton

Loose stool is actually a very common problem and thank you so much for providing such a simple and workable solution that will help several dog owners. Nice post!

Comment by Book printers new york

Our dog has all of a sudden shown signs of allergy to something but it has occurred at the same time that he had a fecal test and was diagnosed with giardia. We’ve had him on the two drugs you mentioned and the follow-up exam came back negative but your comment leads me to believe that the residual effect of giardia might last months. I’m trying to figure out whether the soft stools he exhibits is the result of the infestation or an allergic reaction. By the way, a 9 yr old golden retr. He licks his paws, rubs his face in his bedding, and scratches at his side and rear quarters. Had him on prednisone for a while but the excessive urination was unbelievable. Now treating him with benadryl just to ease the symptoms.

He has been eating Innova senior since he was 3 yrs old. I’m wondering whether he might now be reacting to grains.

Sorry for the rambling.

Comment by greg sutherland

Sorry for the delayed response.

I think you are dealing with two different issues. Lets talk about the gut first.

If he was diagnosed with giardia and cleared it and is continuing to have soft stool, he may indeed be falling into the category of giardia dogs that are “torn up” in their gut for up to 9 months. In my practice, this happens in about 15% of my giardia cases. You could try one of the Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet foods like this: http://www.naturalbalanceinc.com/product.aspx?ProductId=16&product=L.I.D.+Limited+Ingredient+Diets%26reg%3b+Sweet+Potato+%26+Bison+Dry+Dog+Formula&ProductCategoryID=12&category=Dog+Dry+LID+Limited+Ingredient+Diets first. Hopefully that would work to help with the stool issue and if not, you could do the most likely food to fix this category of dog: http://mycaninecaviar.com/product/special-needs-dinner/

On the allergy situation, it sounds like your dog is likely having symptoms of Atopy or Atopic Dermatitis. While food plays a role in this issue, I find that grain generally only adds about 15% itch to this problem. Dogs having skin issues completely related to food is called a food allergy and that affects only about 3% of dogs with allergies so it is much less likely the case. You could address both issues at the same time by switching to the above bison food and using that for 3 months to prove that it is not food related. If it fixes the issue, you are done and never switch away from that food. If it does not fix the issue, you know you are dealing with an environmental issue and then you have to address that separately. Check out this video for more info on the allergy front: http://mypetsdr.com/pet-health/pet-health-videos/allergy.html

Hopefully this will make it all clear. Lemme know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

I feed my dog Nutro Wholesome Essentials. It has Chicken, brown rice and oatmeal. She never has loose stools.

Comment by Dorothy Brown

Dorothy,

Im glad for you that your dog is having normal stools on this grain based food. There are many many people that feed preferential carnivores grain and their dogs do ok. What you are not able to measure is the impact that grain is having on the overall immune system or in the gut. It takes a lot of inflammation to cause symptoms and sometimes all we see is the dog who has other inflammatory conditions like allergies, etc. Dogs fed like yours keep vets busy. ;) Remember that what you are feeding is absolutely opposite of what a dog would eat in the wild which should make little sense to you.

Also, I had a grandpa that smoked every day of his life until he died at 80 in his sleep. Does that prove that smoking is safe? Things to think about…

Comment by drwheaton

Hi my name is Katia
My puppy 5 months has soft stool at all times except when. He’s on hill prescription id
It’s very expensive to keep him on that
I changes his food a moth ago and it is like chocolate mouse
I’m not sure what to do with him. He’s had all his deworming

Comment by Katia

Katia,

Depending on where you live, it could be that your pup has parasites that the deworming didnt get. Giardia is the most likely one to cause chronic soft stool in pups. If this is the case, switching to a high animal content, grain free food will make it worse. Temporarily, I tend to put these guys on this food: http://mycaninecaviar.com/product/special-needs-dinner/ and they invariably get better (combined with treatment for the giardia with Panacur for 5 days, a probiotic for a couple of weeks and if there is diarrhea, metronidazole for about a week or so.) Then, I keep them on that food for twice as long as the diarrhea was happening. In your case, if your pup was having soft stool (mild diarrhea) for a month, he would go on this food for 2 months and then try again to gradually switch over to a food like Acana grain free.

Make sense? Make sure you take a stool sample into your vet and make sure they are doing not just a fecal float for parasites (ideally that is done at the lab and not in the hospital) but they are also adding a giardia ELISA test.

Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

Hi there, You have done an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this website.

Comment by green mountain coffee beans

It’s been shown recently that one of the possible reasons dogs were domesticated – when wolves and other canids did not- is the fact that dogs have enzymes that allow them to eat starch that comes from grain and vegetables, not meat. The image of dogs being only carnivores is incorrect, they are omnivorous.Thus dog food is also nutritious and balanced in a natural way (it contains mainly cereals).

My two cents.

Comment by Lorenzo Segovia

Lorenzo,

Thanks for your comments. I think its wonderful that people all have opinions and that we live in a society that allows for free speech. That being said, I could say that I have an opinion that our world is just a construct of a computer model that is being played out inside the head of a highly advanced alien species. Its my opinion and I have a right to have it and share it with people. However, that doesnt make it true.

First question is, do you call a Lion a carnivore? You should. They are strict carnivores (as all are cats on this planet.) Yet, they eat animals that have eaten grasses and they end up eating their stomach contents. Does this make them an omnivore? Jump to a feral domestic cat. They eat 95% field mice as their normal diet and the mice eat grains and seeds. Does that make the cat an omnivore when they eat those items in the mouse gut? Jump to a wolf, coyote, dingo, etc. Preferential carnivore. Not omnivore. Its all the same story to help you get ok with feeding low quality, biologically inappropriate ingredients that are highly profitable fillers put in by the pet food manufacturer. Dogs have only been eating these items routinely since pet food manufacturers were born in the western world about 70 years ago. That is absolutely not going to go over well in a gut that has evolved over millions of years to eat something entirely different.

Another easy way to get your head around this issue is to look at tooth structure. True omnivores have teeth like us humans. We are built (have evolved over time) to eat pretty much everything. This part is too complicated to do in one sentence and deserves its own blog post, but we should basically be eating like our monkey cousins: mostly fruit and vegetables, small amounts of meat. Think or look up the Paleo diet.

There is absolutely nothing “nutritious and balanced in a natural way” about adding a highly inflammatory substance that is completely foreign to the species that is eating it. The only things on this planet that should be eating grains are those that have evolved by eating those things. Bugs, birds and rodents.

Keep reading logical blogs like this and you will eventually get your head around this issue.

Comment by drwheaton

My poodle has soft stools almost every time he goes poop. The only time he doesn’t seems to be after he gets a chicken wing (twice a week) then his next movement is more solid. I feed Orijen and Natures Variety Instinct kibbles in rotation and they also get raw. Both are probably the best kibbles on the market and I still have loose stool problems with my poodle. He also gets heartgard plus every month. I can’t figure it out. I don’t want to have to use pumpkin because I feel that’s just covering up the problem. I see a trip to my vet in my near future…

Comment by Randi

Randi,

You may not need to visit the vet on this one. When I wrote this blog, I definitely was solidly in the Orijen camp and since that time we have found that about 15% of dogs just cant handle it due to the high animal content. I would suggest going to a food that has a little less animal content, like Acana. After sending at least 10 dogs out the door every day on Orijen for over a year, we switched over to Acana as our recommended food due to the constant number of dogs rolling with consistent soft stools. Again, its not everybody, but with the numbers we are talking about here its a few dogs for us a week.

Try switching the food up and then if you continue to have issues, work through it with your vet.

Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

Our 4 year old Westie is having intermittent soft stools. This has been going on for a few months now. She even had blood in her stools. She has been on grain-free Fromm diet since we got her 1.5 years ago. The vet put her on Flagyl and she continues to have soft stools. After 2 stool samples, no parasites were found. We are at a loss. HELP.

Comment by linda

Linda,

Im sorry about the delay here. This blog was really not set up to be a help hotline kind of thing so I sure hope you have gone back to your vet for some more help.

There are many many conditions that could explain your dog’s issue and your vet can help you through that.

My approach to dogs with diarrhea issues is fairly straightforward and is pragmatic (results driven.) First visit, we test for intestinal parasites and giardia through an outside lab and treat with Flagyl (metronidazole) and a pro-biotic for at least 7 days. If problems persist, we may try a round of a different antibiotic (usually Tylan) and maybe a diet change temporarily. After that has not resolved the issue, we then can more reliably think that we have a real issue going on so the standard gi workup then happens. At any point along the road, our patient can turn us away from this path with their symptoms resolving or their test results moving in a particular direction.

So, its a full blood panel to rule out problems outside of the gi tract, then a gi panel (b12 level, folate, pli, tli), then an abdominal ultrasound to check for problems outside the gi tract, tumors or partial obstructions in the gut, and to see if there is thickening of the gut wall which makes inflammatory bowel disease more likely. If things are not clearly diagnosed with these tests and the gut is thickened, a biopsy of the gut would be recommended and can either be achieved with an exploratory surgery or with scoping. Usually this is the last test and if the process is followed, likely a diagnosis will be made based on the biopsies that will allow an intelligent approach to treating for the primary condition.

Its complicated and confusing at first but if you have a great vet, this is likely their approach too.

Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

I also believe in a grain free diet for Dogs. It is the only food I feed.

But here is something that confuses me: “Sometimes just feeding cottage cheese and rice or chicken and rice for a day or two will do the trick too”…… “There is not a single dog in the wild that would ever eat wheat, rice, corn, barley or millet”

So… Avoid rice and grains unless they are sick and then it’s okay to feed them rice?

Comment by Amanda

Amanda,

That is a great question. It is truly a confounding principle but it does work. I can tell you that over the years, I have tried virtually every possible approach to this situation.

While it makes biological sense to continue to feed a high animal content, grain free food in the face of whatever intestinal issue is going on, it doesnt work out well for the individual. Animal proteins do make the gastro-intestinal tract work hard to digest them and while a food item like boiled rice may not be biologically appropriate for them, they seem to be fairly easy to digest in the short term. Long term, I do think that the inflammatory response to these grains will set dogs up for issues which is why they should be avoided. I also think that if I were to rewrite this blog (which I should do…someday) I would say to try to feed potato or sweet potato with cottage cheese or white meat chicken, etc instead of the cottage cheese and rice deal.

Here is an analogy that I tell my clients: It may be very healthy for us humans to run 5 miles a day but if you have a hurt knee, that statement becomes untrue and impossible to pull off. The same is true for a dog that has some kind of intestinal problem. They just cant pull off the digestion of a high animal content grain free food and their diarrhea will tend to worsen with this approach.

I try to get the dogs gut under control and then slowly switch over to the desired food.

Hope this helps!

Comment by drwheaton

are there any good dog food in supermarkets? Can you list them?

Comment by cigalechantamimi taylor

Im pretty confident in saying that you will not find a high quality, grain free food with good quality control in manufacturing at a supermarket. Problem is that retailers are obviously profit driven. The lesser quality foods are sold at such a large margin by the retailers that selling one of the preferred foods (which are much less profitable to the retailer) will end up cutting into their profits. The most important factor in this equation is the ignorant consumer that is making their pet food purchase without thinking about their ingredients. Until we have a better informed public that refuses to buy foods like Beneful, we will have supermarkets and pet stores that are still more than willing to put those foods on their shelves. Stores will not be pressured into carrying better foods when they see the lesser quality foods with higher profits for them keep flying off the shelves.

I honestly dont know when or if this will ever happen. There are a lot of pet owners out there that need to be educated and they just arent getting it. The commercials on TV are constantly dripping their convincing story on the consumer, their vet may be complacent or working under their own agenda and the stores selling food are usually staffed by misinformed people that may be working with whatever the store has decided to stock.

Best thing to do really is to find your local, mom and pop pet store and figure out with them the appropriate food for your pet that fits within your budget.

Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton

I have a toy Pom and we moved to a different climate and we made the change about 2 months ago.( she is 8 yrs. old) I don’t know whether she has picked up some kind of a parasite or what. Her stools just seem to be so mushy and just in the last two weeks. I felt at first the change from warm sunny fla. and a complete different life style here in the north maybe upsetting her system. Her eating is just fine and she does and always has drank a good deal of water. We are in a new place, she now has alot of other dogs in family she has to deal with and of course a different place to live. She is on Evo the ancestral diet and always has been (Grain free). After two weeks of the loose stools should I have her tested? The grass is different and the environment. I don’t know whether to allow a little more time or its better to act now.

Comment by Sandi

Shelley,

It is very unlikely that a change in location would be the cause of the soft stool (mild diarrhea) unless it involved exposure to a parasite or extreme stress. After two weeks, I definitely think it is appropriate for you to seek care for her. Likely she will have her stool tested for parasites (including giardia hopefully) and get some treatment.

Good luck!

Comment by drwheaton




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