Very informative from Monica Segal
Symptoms of The Die-Off Effect
Die-off isa coined term for Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction. Simply put, it's a reactionto the products that harmful bacteria release when they die during antibiotictreatment. So, when you took that antibiotic that killed the bad bacterialinfection you suffered from, and then had diarrhea and blamed it on theantibiotic, you were probably right. But dietary changes - even those that arebeneficial to the gut - can cause loose stool, and we see the die-off effectfor a different reason. Confusing to the observer even when we know the facts,but since dogs don't come with zippers down their bellies (an unfortunate errorin creation) we need to try and decipher what's happening.
To start, thegut environment with all of it's microbes changes as the diet changes. A dietthat's higher in fat, or provides less, or more carbs, protein et al promptsthe gut to respond by changing the microbial population. These changes cancause stool problems and an upset stomach which is why introducing a new dietover a 5-7 day period makes for an easier transition than doing it coldturkey.
So, say youtake 7 days to change your dog's diet from something off the shelf that'sprimarily rice, corn and chicken meal to fresh chicken and sweet potato.Clearly you've made a better choice, but the dog's stool has mucus in it. Whatnow? Maybe the foods don't agree with your dog, but maybe it's the die-offeffect. Before you have a chance to think about it, someone will tell you toadd a probiotic, and not just any probiotic. One with a whole bunch ofdifferent organisms in it to cover all bases. Someone else will tell you to useslippery elm and another will chime in about sweet potatoes feeding yeast (nottrue, folks!) and that yeast is the reason for this entire problem. Somewherealong the way there will be a heated debate about raw vs. cooked foods and dogsbenefiting, or not benefiting from vegetables. If you wait for everyone to calmdown (it'll take a few days) your dog may have good stool by then. If so, youwere probably seeing the die-off effect as the gut environment changed.
How do youknow if it's die-off, or not? Die-off shouldn't take very long at all. In mostcases it's 3-4 days, and the dog isn't violently ill. There may be some mucusin the stool, but not a massive amount of it. The dog won't be vomiting,refusing food, or water. The skin won't be yellow; there is no fever. Stoolwill firm up a bit each day.
I don't liketo throw the term die-off-effect around very much because frankly, it's beenblamed for things that aren't likely to be die off. Be watchful, and careful.
1. By allmeans use a probiotic when it makes sense to do so, but make it a simple, pure acidophilus andintroduce it in a tiny amount. Remember that more "good stuff" canescalate die-off whereas your goal is to provide a gentle transition.
2. Die-offmight have occurred when you first switched to a new food, but it's highlyunlikely to be happening weeks later.
3. Die-off canhappen when you add foods, supplements, antibiotics...anything that can changethe gut environment.
My diets areimplemented in tiny steps for many reasons, not least of which are the onesabove. The die-off effect is real. There are many nuances, and you need to slowdown and try to understand what's happening.