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Discussion Starter #1
My pup (Nikita) is otherwise healthy and likes her kibble but I've had her from 8 weeks to 15 weeks now and her stool has never really been hard.

She started out with Science Diet at the SPCA (ack). That was quickly changed to Canidae. She liked that a lot better and it improved a dryish coat but she still had loose stools. Next on the list has been Wellness (both chicken and lamb). Again, she likes the food (even more than Canidae) and the coat has been nice and healthy. But the loose stools continue.

My vet has been very good about checking for parasites (Nikita came from the SPCA with hookworm) so I know she is now parasite free. He suggested a mix of cooked rice and cottage cheese to get her back on the track.

I can try that but I was curious how many different (good quality) kibbles did you have to try with a new dog to find something they could fully digest? I know there are a bunch of other foods I can try but was just wondering if my situation is unusual.

(And to head off the suggestions, while RAW/B.A.R.F. is interesting, it isn't for me. I'm not trying to feed her Walmart-chow, and I would hope there is a good quality kibble she can handle.)
 

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I would say stick with one food, 3 different foods in less than 8 weeks may not agree with her. I think Canidae is a good food, as is Wellness. How long has she been on this food? As long as she is parasite free, you could try keeping her on this food mixed with some cooked rice to help firm up the stool, or just this food, but I think I would shy away from switching the diet again. Another thing, you say she is parasite free, but they shed eggs in cycles, and may not always be seen even if she is carrying them. Good luck with your new puppy!
 

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I agree. That is a lot of different food for such a short time. Now if she's not eatting that's a different story. I went through I'd say close to 15 kibbles until I found one that Tash will eat and does good on. But things are different for each dog.
 

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Has your vet run the Giardia Antigen? Not the regular Giardia fecal but the Antigen?

I went through months and months and foods and foods and the whole stinking time it was Giardia!!

Kathy W here on this board didn't have to go quite as long but she went weeks and weeks and it was Giardia (Though she did have, well Havoc had
, a false negative antigen which is less common)
 

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<ul>[*]How loose are the stools? [*]Too many foods too quick. I'd go back to the Canidae and stick there for a bit. Wellness can be too rich. (Did you do Wellness or puppy) [*]Agree about the giardia.
[/list]
 

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I'd also check on the feeding amount....sometimes too much kibble can cause loose stools. I know that with one of my dogs, if I feed him even 1/4 cup more than he tolerates, it's back to liquid poop. Tougher with a puppy since they need to eat a lot, but maybe take another look at it?
 

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def. check about giardia.

Also, I agree about changing the kibbles too often! Pick one top quality and stick with it. To firm up loose stools, add some canned pumpkin (real pumpkin, not pie mix) to the meals.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the replies. To answer some of the questions:

-- the stool isn't horribly loose (it isn't liquid or anything like that)
-- sad that I pay this much attention but the first stool of the day tends to be harder than ones in the evening
-- when I switched foods, I did it slowly (over the period of 5 days or so) adding a little more of the new food each meal; I didn't think that was fast but according to all the feedback here I guess it was
-- I'm a little hesitant to go back to Canidae as she has been on Wellness for 3-4 weeks straight now. I guess for consistency I'll stick with Wellness and stop switching around for a while, as y'all suggested. If it proves too rich for her then I can deal with another switch later on I guess. I assume if Wellness might be too rich, Wellness Core would be even worse, right?
-- So pumpkin is better than rice/cottage cheese? My vet suggested 3 parts rice to 1 part cottage cheese (or plain yogurt) How many meals before I might see the effects of pumpkin?
-- I will monitor her and ask my vet about Giardia if things do not improved here shortly.

Thanks again for all the advice so far.
 

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yes, pumpkin is better. I don't understand why vets recommend cottage cheese as part of a bland meal for upset stomachs. Most animals cannot digest dairy properly, humans are the only species that continues to consume dairy past weaning. And many are lactose intolerant..

You should see the affects of the pumpkin almost immediately. When I use it when I notice loose stools thats it, no more loose stools.

I don't believe foods are too rich. Something like Wellness Core is wonderful, its grain free and dogs are carnivores and not meant to consume grains. Higher protein is not "rich" unless theres another use of the word I don't know. But in human food, rich is usually for very fatty/creamy/sugary/etc type foods. One reason a high quality pet food can cause diarrhea while a lower does not, is because of the lack of undigestible fillers (like cheap grains). And its much better for the dog to just add in extra fiber, than switch to a lower quality food.
 

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why only rice and cottage cheese??? A bland diet normally consists of boiled chicken and rice, boiled burger and rice.... but there is normally a meat in there.

Although I don't believe adding pumpkin daily to a food for the rest of the dogs life is a good idea either. I would rather switch to a food that DOES agree with my dogs rather thatn add something because it doesn't agree. It's not a higher quality of food for that particular dog if the dog is not doing well on it.
 

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Quantity matters too. Feeding a dog *too much* food will cause diarrhea.

In response to your actual question, first, yes, I agree with the others, you're bouncing through foods too quickly. But second -- directly answering your question -- in a year or so, I went through Canidae, NB duck/potato, NB fish/sweet potato, Merricks Wilderness blend and Flint River. (There may have been another food or two in there). So I tried each food for about a month each, with phase in/phase out periods.

By then, I realized that my dog is allergic to most grains. Testing confirmed this, and added in allergies to rice and potato (there's potato in the NB sweet potato blend). Allergies can cause gastric upset and digestion issues. AND we ended up treating for small intestine bacterial overgrowth (possibly a stand-alone issue, or perhaps caused by a year of gastric issues?).

Now, at 19 months, he's fine, eating a raw diet and healthy as a horse (eats about as much as one too!). I"m a vegetarian, so you can imagine that the raw diet DEFINITELY wasn't for me. But it was actually the only option. Not the best option...the only option. Most folks can eventually find a commercial food that works for them, however.

Take it slow. Do your research, so you know exactly what ingredients are in each food. All of the major reputable manufacturers have ingredients lists on their websites. So it's easy to know what you're buying before you step foot into the store. No sense switching foods unless you know WHY you're changing foods (usually to eliminate one or more ingredients). Keep track of what you're doing (a logbook or computer document of some sort helps).

Boiled chicken and rice is a good bland diet. Add a bit of canned pumpkin if you'd like (about 2 *measured* tblsp max). I agree with Lin that cottage cheese can be hard on already irritated G.I. tracts. Dogs can be lactose intolerant (at least, to cow's milk). Why add something that may add further problems? If you're still getting mushy poop on boiled chicken after about 10-14 days, try a different boiled meat (many use boiled hamburger), just in case your dog has a sensitivity to chicken. If you still have problems, then take away the rice. Still have problems? Then your problem isn't food related at all.

Running tests while you're doing all the food work at the same time is a good idea, because otherwise, you can get stuck sitting around waiting for test results. It's not ideal scientific method, but I personally like battling on two (or more) fronts simultaneously.

Good luck!
 

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a lower quality food causing firmer poops because of added fiber alone does not make it higher quality. I would much rather supplement in canned pumpkin permanently if needed, than go to lower quality meat sources and full of undigestible grains that can cause allergies and other issues.

3k9mom, I'm vegetarian as well
And yet I have a chest freezer full of meat in the garage. I feed all my dogs and cats raw. One time back in the beginning, I threw up in my kitchen sink from the smell as I was weighing out meat...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I wanted to give an update and now I have (surprise, surprise) more questions. Her loose stool turned into diarrhea. After a weekend of that it was back to the vet:

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=529087&page=1#Post529087

While otherwise healthy it turned out she had some questionable bacteria in her digestive tract. With some mild antibiotics, my vet expects her to be better in a couple of days. Which brings me to my questions.

For the last 4 or 5 days she's been on boiled chicken, rice, and a little plain low-fat yogurt. Once she gets back to normal, that diet is of course going to come to an end and it is back to kibble.

1) She's been off Wellness for 5 days now. Do I assume that everything was OK with the kibble and it was just the bacteria, so stick with the same stuff? That seems to be what the suggestions above would indicate. I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask to be sure.

2) How slow do I have to be as I transition from the chicken/rice/yogurt back to kibble? I certainly don't want to shock her system and cause more problems.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Did you ever get the Giardia antigen test done? With questionable bacteria in her digestive tract (what kind of test determined that?), it might be worth doing a cobalamine/folate test for SIBO - Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. Keefer had both giardia and SIBO, and was on flagyl for a week (giardia), and the treatment for SIBO is antibiotics for at least 4 weeks. He was on tetracycline, but many vets prescribe Tylan (tylosin) instead. Putting her on antibiotics for a few days or a week won't clear it up if she has SIBO. I believe his was caused by the parasites, but it can be a long-term chronic condition as well.

Wellness Core is a great food, and both mine are on it now - BUT, it's for dogs over a year old. The kibble you're currently feeding her may not be the issue. When Keefer was being treated for his digestive issues nothing but prescription z/d Ultra, with hydrolized proteins for dogs with food allergies and/or intolerances, gave him normal stools. But once he was done with the meds I was able to transition him back to his regular kibble (Natural Balance at the time), and he was fine. It doesn't take much to throw a puppy's digestive tract out of whack and it can take awhile to heal once that happens, so I'd stay with a bland diet until she's better before trying to switch her again. It's hard to tell if it is the food, or a medical issue, or both, if you're constantly changing foods and haven't come up with a clear diagnosis yet.

You can also try supplements for her digestive tract, such as l. glutamine. I gave Keefer a digestive supplement that I ordered from B-Naturals http://www.b-naturals.com/product_info.php?products_id=142 that contains beneficial bacteria, pancreatic enzymes, amino acids and medicinal herbs. The Digestion Blend is designed for dogs with Irritable Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, GI disorders and chronic diarrhea. He's not on that anymore either - no special foods, meds or supplements for over a year and a half.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Originally Posted By: Cassidys MomDid you ever get the Giardia antigen test done? With questionable bacteria in her digestive tract (what kind of test determined that?), it might be worth doing a cobalamine/folate test for SIBO - Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.
We haven't had the antigen test done yet. I did speak about Giardia to my vet. He said that while a couple of years ago he had been seeing lots of Giardia in the Boulder, CO area, he hadn't seen many cases of it recently. Overall he's a great vet and I certainly didn't want to be one of those "I read this on the internet, it must be this" patients. If things don't improve by Thursday, I'll be back to see him.

The test he performed I believed he called "a direct"--simply taking a stool sample and putting it directly under the microscope. I don't know what they saw but both he and a tech had an immediate reaction when they looked through the scope, so it must have been obvious to them.

Quote:It doesn't take much to throw a puppy's digestive tract out of whack and it can take awhile to heal once that happens, so I'd stay with a bland diet until she's better before trying to switch her again. It's hard to tell if it is the food, or a medical issue, or both, if you're constantly changing foods and haven't come up with a clear diagnosis yet.
On this I completely agree. She will be on a bland food until she is "back to normal" though I haven't had her long enough to have a good baseline for normal. I was just wondering how slowly I needed to take the transition back to kibble once we determine she's doing good.

Thanks for your suggestions on the supplements. My last dog was on too many supplements to count so I'm trying to keep her diet simple, at least while she is young. But it might be the thing she needs to get her back on track.
 

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With Keefer I think I waited at least a month after he was done with the meds before switching him back to his regular kibble, and I did it over a period of a week or so. I continued the B-Naturals supplement for a month or more after the switch, to be on the safe side.

I know what you mean about being one of those weird "heard it on the internet" people, but I think the internet is a great tool, not to diagnose a problem, but for information, things to discuss with your vet, tests to ask for. I know they hate it when people think they know exactly what's wrong based on something they read online, but I figure the more things we can rule out by doing the right tests, the faster we'll know what's really going on with the dog. And certain breeds are predisposed to certain kinds of illnesses, so unless your vet has a lot of that breed as patients, s/he may not be as familar with some of those issues which crop up infrequently in the rest of the dog population.

Keefer had stools very similar to Nikita's. He'd had several different kinds of fecal tests, including the regular giardia test, all came back negative. I'd never heard of the antigen test, and prior to joining this board I'd never heard of EPI or SIBO, both of which are unfortunately prevalent in the breed. And although my vet is extremely experienced and has been practicing for over 35 years, he wasn't that familiar with them either. In fact, at least one of the tests, can't remember if it was the one for EPI or SIBO, wasn't even in their computer, they had to look it up in a book to figure out how much to charge me.

So when I went in, I specifically requested to have the antigen test done, based on the experience of other board members who had also had negatives on the regular giardia test, but positives on the antigen test. I printed out information on EPI and SIBO to bring with me, and specifically requested that he be tested for those as well. Good thing I did, since Keefer had giardia and SIBO. Without those tests, we would have been stumbling around in the dark much longer. A routine round of flagyl would have fixed the giardia, but the usual round of antibiotics is not nearly long enough to take care of SIBO, so getting the diagnosis was important.

I'm sure I'm sometimes a PITA, but in this case the information I brought in helped my vet with the diagnosis and treatment, and he asked if he could keep it for the file. He did once refer to me as a "very astute dog owner" - is that a nice way of saying I'm annoying?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the lengthy replies. In case people are interested, here's the update.

In addition to prescribing a stronger antibiotic and a de-wormer, at my request my vet did the giardia antigen test. (The conversation with him was pretty funny...instead of being a "very astute dog owner" he told me "I read too much."
But he didn't have any issues being sure, so we did the test.) The good news is that the test came back negative.

Her stool has gotten better. It is now well-formed, but still rather soft. But she is bacteria free, worm free, and giardia free so the current orders are to watch and see how she does. She continues to do chicken, rice, and yogurt. He said I could add some pumpkin if I would like.

Spirit-wise she continues to behave as she always has--oblivious that anything is going on. She even has enjoyed the trips to the vet and has seemingly won the hearts of the techs that work there. (If I have an appointment during work they ask me if I can bring her in early so she can hang out behind the counter with them...)

Thanks again for the suggestions. I do feel better having requested the antigen test. Of course the decision of what to feed her when it is no longer time for chicken and rice remains but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Grrrr. Well things were looking better. After all the antibiotics, etc. and a diet exclusively of boiled chicken, rice and yogurt, her stool was much, much better. Not seriously hard, but many times better than it was and certainly no diarrhea.

After a slow transition (~7 days/14 meals) back to Wellness and bam near liquid poop again. I'm feeding her about the amount it says to do for an adult dog--and the instructions say you could do up to double that for a puppy. I don't think I'm overfeeding her.

I know y'all felt too many foods, too little time but I just can't keep feeding her Wellness given the circumstances. So we are in the process of switching to something else. Maybe she just can't handle something in the Wellness. I've got small bag of Natural Balance Potato and Duck. She has treats with the same formula and seems to like them.

I seem to be back to my original question--how many food did you sample?
We'll see how she does from here.
 

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I went through about 5 or 6 before finding one that worked for my dog....but my impression was that 5 or 6 was kind of a lot. Part of the problem was my lack of knowledge initially too. Had I known more, I think I would have only had to try about 3. What I ended up doing was trying a couple lower quality kibbles that had the same basic ingredients, then moving up the scale in quality, but the same protein sources and several common allergen/intolerance ingredients. Had I known more, I would have started with higher quality and tried to eliminate ingredients that are common allergens/intolerant causes, and change protein sources earlier.

I'd give the duck and potato some time, but if no luck, maybe a grain free fish kibble (taste of the wild pacific stream comes to mind). California Natural Herring and sweet potato or the Eagle Pack Holistic fish kibble might be good options too.
 
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