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Discussion Starter #1
My puppy is now 9 months old and I believe he has a food allergy to something as he has stools which range from loose to completely liquid depending on what he's eaten. The vet prescribed Royal Canin HP dog food which he has been on while I try to figure out what causes the diarrhea and he seems to do very well on it. I could just give up and keep him on this food forever, but it is a little more expensive than I'd like and I'd really like to know what his food allergy is so I can avoid it.

I can rule out meats easily enough by giving him beef/chicken/etc. while he's on the Royal Canin and seeing what happens, but how do I test other foods? For example, I read that among common dog allergies are wheat, soy, and eggs. I guess I could crack an egg on his dog food and test his reaction to that, but how do you test wheat and soy allergies?
 

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Yeah, I might end up having to stick with Royal Canin HP since it works. I've tried Fromm, Nutro, and Wellness so far. He didn't do very well on Fromm or Nutro and while he did okay with Wellness, he decided he didn't like to eat it once I switched him over to only Wellness.

I should add, it's not that I want to feed him wheat or soy. Those were just examples of things I'd like to figure out if he's allergic to so I can rule out things he can't eat without spending a bunch of money on dog foods that make him sick.
 

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Diamond is now making a non-RX HP salmon-based diet that's significantly less expensive than the vet-supplied food, but it does have a lot of peas in it. You can find it on Chewy:
https://www.chewy.com/diamond-care-sensitive-skin-formula/dp/170120



The fact that he's better on the HP food probably signals that he has a protein allergy, as the HP processing makes the protein non-allegenic. Most food allergies are actually protein-based in dogs, so your odds are higher that's what his issue is. Chicken is high on the list.



The best thing I ever did for my food-allergy dog was put him on The Honest Kitchen's Preference base-mix, plus raw beef (one of the few proteins he does well with). There's something about it that's "cooling" to his GI tract (lots of veggies with quercitin could be helping...hard to say). This one is flax-free, and flax seems to be an allergen for some dogs (and it's in LOTS of food, unfortunately):;
https://www.thehonestkitchen.com/dehydrated-grain-free-fruit-and-veggie-base-mix


Interestingly, when we figured out he could eat this and be fine, we tried to transition him to a kibble with similar ingredients, and he reverted to bloody diarrhea very quickly. For him, kibble seems to be part of the problem.
 

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Allergy testing might be the place to start. My dog is allergic to white potatoes and green beans. Zero issues with proteins.
 

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Thanks for sharing the links to the dog food. I'll definitely be looking into those options. I didn't realize there were base mixes for raw feeding, so if that's an option that makes raw feeding more approachable for me.

So far, all I know for sure is that he has no problems with beef, chicken, or salmon. I'll be testing out lamb this week so we'll see how he does.

Jax08, do you have any recommendations for how allergy tests? I have heard about them, but I didn't know if they actually worked or not.
 

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Royal Canin HP dog food has crap ingredients for any dog let alone a growing pup. Unless your pup absolutely has to have it to survive I would dump it. Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Chicken Fat, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavors - horrible stuff. I would start with a limited ingredient food, less to be allergic to. But you must at the same time watch your calcium and phosphorous levels with a growing GSD pup. Have you checked for giardia and coccidia? They can both cause havoc in a pups stools. I treated my pup with Kochi Free

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002MV9UDS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1


And Panacur C
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000296N7S/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

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That's a good point about the ingredients not being the best. It's another motivating factor for trying to move off of Royal Canin HP. I had the same thought about limited ingredient foods. He seemed to tolerate the Wellness limited ingredient food pretty well, but just decided he didn't like it - after I bought a 25 lbs bag of it. :(

He has been tested for giardia and coccidia and those came back negative.
 

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First of all you have a 9 month old pup that has been on 4 different foods, two months should be minimum to test a food and it can take a few weeks to switch some dogs over without having issues.
My first thought any time a dog has loose stools on any food is over feeding. I have no clue why vets never question that. Second issue is parasites, or infections. I am hoping that your pup has been fully vetted?
I never buy big bags of food, I buy the mid sized bags and put the kibble into am airtight container. I always keep the empty bags until the food is gone and most stores will take back food that isn't working for your dog and exchange it or refund your money.
The other thing I often did especially if I was going to do a hard switch on food was a 24 hour fast. Condition permitting of course. No food or treats for a full day and then multiple small meals spaced a couple of hours apart. It gives their systems a chance to catch up and clear out.
Constantly switching foods is not going to help. Find a food and stick with it, just remember to switch slowly.
 

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Jax08, do you have any recommendations for how allergy tests? I have heard about them, but I didn't know if they actually worked or not.
You can do a blood test. Simple blood draw at the vets. The price for the panels seem to vary depending on the area. I had both panels done (food and environmental) for under $500.

Or you can go to an allergy specialist (veterinary dermatologist) and have a skin panel done. Not sure the cost but this is the preferred method for allergy testing and more accurate.

Testing was the best thing I ever did. My dog is now on allergy shots, off meds, and doing great. Before the shots, I was going to have to pull him from IPO because he couldn't track. This year, he's tracking like a machine again and no itching.

For a dog with allergies, a food like Royal Canine HP is exactly the food to be on. It made with Hydrolyzed Protein. It is specifically for dogs with allergies and food sensitivities. Look that up. So if your vet put him on it, then leave him on it to soothe his system and give his body a break. After all, it may not even be the proteins....it could be the potatoes and green beans.
 

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I'm with Jax08 on continuing to feed RX food until you and your vet have a plan, if it's helping your dog. A dog with true food allergies that are uncontrolled is going to live in a state of inflammation when it's eating food that sets it off. That has a cascading effect on the entire body. These dogs can end up with entire GI tract inflamed all the way through to to the anus. It's very painful. My dog stopped eating food that made him sick and would go many days without eating -- he'll easily lose 10% or more of his body weight by starving himself before he'll consider eating food that makes him hurt. So while the Internet Commentariat has lots to say about not indulging picky dogs, most of them haven't owned true allergy dogs where it's not being picky--it's survival instinct because of internal pain. People who haven't lived this don't realize how bad it really can be for the dog -- if the RX food turns off the "fire" of the inflammation and suffering, and it gives you breathing room to figure out next steps without him suffering, feed the RX food! I was lucky to figure out we had an alternative, but until you know that, you're wise to just keep the dog stable.



Here are a few thoughts on kibble:


1. There's some published research out there in a vet journal that I've read in the past that found that all of the non-RX limited-ingredient foods the researchers tested were contaminated with ingredients not on the label. The RX HP foods tested were not similarly contaminated. My recollection is that they learned that in between runs of food, the non-RX/L-I manufacturers don't scour the equipment so whatever leftover bits were in the machine from the previous run may make it into the next one too. If you have a true food allergy with a high level of sensitivity, you may not get the relief you need without an RX food, if you're going to feed kibble. OTOH, for some dogs it may not be in high enough quantity to trigger them. It's a bit of a crap shoot and possibly doesn't isn't a good indicator of whether the dog is allergic to that protein, due to the likely contamination.



2. Among non-RX foods, the rescue I work with has had the best luck with Wellness Simple. The Diamond Care hydrolyzed protein linked above was okay for some too. However, some need RX diets. Given the contamination issue, you might get lucky on a L-I food, but you have to be open to the chance that you may not find a limited ingredient diet that works. However, do read up on our DCM mega thread here -- some limited ingredient foods with "exotic" proteins are supposedly correlating to illness in some dogs, esp. Goldens, but nobody is sure why or even if it's really the food causing it. Be fully informed of the controversy before choosing these foods and follow the developments of the on-going research if you choose to feed it....and *maybe* throw in a taurine capsule just for good measure. Also, some L-I foods are too low in fat to support optimum growth, so look into that too in a growing dog.



3. My vet's instructions are that a true elimination diet takes 6-8 weeks PER food tested. So you need to stay on the RX diet by itself that long. Then you can add in one ingredient at a time, again, giving it enough time. If you vary the diet during this time, you re-start the clock. That includes treats, by the way. Once you find a diet that he can handle and identify allergens, after about 6-12 months of being stable on the good diet, then the protocol is to "challenge" them with the suspected allergen to confirm it triggers a response.



4. Some research is suggesting there's a gut flora component of food allergies in people. That may be true of dogs too, so think about whether he needs to be on a probiotic to try to help over the long term. Many ingredients in kibble are Round-Up crops, and Round-Up has been shown to harm gut bacteria in people...again, it may be true of dogs too. My pure speculation is that some of these allergy-dog bodies may be reacting to the ultra-processed, industrial sourcing of the offending ingredients in kibble -- but there's no research on that AFAIK. With a a high-quality, balanced raw or home cooked diet you can focus on "clean" sourcing of ingredients and minimal processing, which *might* help some dogs. Otherwise, don't be surprised if the RX food may be all he can handle because it's processed to not trigger a reaction.



5. In addition to the base mix I linked above, you can find other minimally processed base-mix options from Sojo's (with or without oats), Dr. Harvey's, Volhard Nutrition, and a similar add-in product Balance It. Alternatively, once you know what ingredients work, you can consider whether it might be worthwhile to pay Balance It (a UC Davis-affiliated, vet nutritionist-run service) or someone like Monica Segal to formulate a balanced recipe for home meal prep.
 

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Amen Maggie!!! I just watched a friend go thru this. The dog never had any food drive. Never had solid stool. Couldn't put any weight on him. Put him on the rx diet and suddenly he's begging for food. That says it all! His food was making him sick!

Just be careful of which probiotic you use if you choose to give him some. The vet advised her that some probiotics have ingredients in them that could cause issues. I think she uses the FortiFlora with no issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sabis Mom, yes, he's been to the vet and checked over, plus his stools are very good when he is on the Royal Canin HP. I didn't realize it would take that much time to evaluate a food for an allergy, so that is good to know. Also very good advice on not buying the large bags! I actually purchased the large bag from Chewy and when I tried to return it they just refunded the money and asked that I donate the bag to the animal shelter, which I did.

Jax08, interesting! I will talk to my vet about allergy testing. I would happily pay for it if it could narrow down what is causing the problem.

Thanks for your very detailed response, Magwart! I hadn't even considered many of the things you mentioned. 6 - 8 weeks per food tested is much longer than I realized. I will stick with the Royal Canin HP and test the foods for longer periods of time as has been suggested here.

I do have some FortiFlora on hand, I think. He's very toy motivated, but his food drive lately has seemed less than stellar. I'm not sure if it's a product of using the same treats for a long time (I found some he's not allergic to and have stuck with them) or if it's because the allergies are causing discomfort in his GI tract.

P.S. Sorry for the delayed response - I don't seem to get notifications when there's a response on my thread, so I sometimes go a long while without realizing there's anything there. I appreciate everyone's advice!
 

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Sabis Mom, yes, he's been to the vet and checked over, plus his stools are very good when he is on the Royal Canin HP. I didn't realize it would take that much time to evaluate a food for an allergy, so that is good to know. Also very good advice on not buying the large bags! I actually purchased the large bag from Chewy and when I tried to return it they just refunded the money and asked that I donate the bag to the animal shelter, which I did.

Jax08, interesting! I will talk to my vet about allergy testing. I would happily pay for it if it could narrow down what is causing the problem.

Thanks for your very detailed response, Magwart! I hadn't even considered many of the things you mentioned. 6 - 8 weeks per food tested is much longer than I realized. I will stick with the Royal Canin HP and test the foods for longer periods of time as has been suggested here.

I do have some FortiFlora on hand, I think. He's very toy motivated, but his food drive lately has seemed less than stellar. I'm not sure if it's a product of using the same treats for a long time (I found some he's not allergic to and have stuck with them) or if it's because the allergies are causing discomfort in his GI tract.

P.S. Sorry for the delayed response - I don't seem to get notifications when there's a response on my thread, so I sometimes go a long while without realizing there's anything there. I appreciate everyone's advice!
I'm not convinced that loose stools are an indication of allergies in your case. I still think the dogs guts are just messed up from all the switching around. The RC is working because it's the equivalent of a bland diet. But it is not solving the issue.
Shadow is allergic to beef. I know this because within an hour, two at most she has hives in her ears and is shaking her head and scratching.
 

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You might be right, but when I brought him home he had been on Fromm at the breeders. I kept him on that, but he had diarrhea right from the beginning. Once I switched to RC, per the vet's advice, he was much better. I should also add that the Nutro and Wellness were gradually introduced (admittedly only over two weeks, not two months). There were also many weeks between the attempts to introduce the new foods where he was on the RC.

Again, it's possible you're right and I made a mistake switching things up too quickly. I would certainly prefer that to be the case since it would be easily remedied.
 

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We have a 10 month old German Shepherd Lab mix. She's had stomach issues since we got her and once we switched her off chicken she got a lot better. She still is having constant skin infections on her paws and tummy and had an ear infection recently. The vet put her on Royal Canin HP (this is her last week on a 8 week trial). Just in the past week she's started throwing up and having diarrhea again. She stopped wanting to eat her food. We leave it out and she goes and will eat a few pieces then leaves it alone. She did the same thing when she was on the chicken food and we tried to give her boiled chicken one time. We thought maybe she is trying to tell us the Royal Canin is making her sick. Could that be it? I know the proteins are supposed to be so small they don't affect them but it does have a chicken product in it. For those who did the allergy test (spefically blood) about how much did it cost? We are going in debt with all the vet bills and trial and errors. Really need some answers and something to make this sweet pup better!
 
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