Canine Digestive Issues

IMG_0070This post is part of the Caring For Critters Round Robin which was created by Jodi at Heart Like A Dog.  Each day a different blogger will be sharing their experiences with a particular injury, condition, disease or illness. Since this is a “Round Robin” one blog will pass the baton, so to speak, to the next each day.  Yesterday Christie at Life with Beagle shared pet nail health and care information. At the end of this post, I will pass the baton on to the next blogger so you can follow from blog to blog.  Jodi is also gathering all of the posts here for quick reference

Let me start by telling you this: In an effort to find the highest-quality food that I could afford to feed Callie, Shadow, and Ducky, I made several changes to their diets over several months.  Little did I know that, in the process, I was probably causing some of the digestive distress that Callie and Shadow have been suffering from over these last several months. Ducky’s digestive distress was in part caused by a different issue, which our vet calls “delayed gastric emptying”. The other parts were all the people food “treats” hubby insisted on giving her, and all the diet changes.  I will tell you about the medical issue first.

Ducky is a fast eater so, when she started having issues with not being able to keep her food down, the vet and I decided to try slowing down her eating habits so her system could digest the food properly.  I can’t tell you the number of different methods I tried – that didn’t work –  before I decided to try the Kong Wobbler. She got bored with it after a while so now I have to switch out her slow-feed food bowls every few weeks. 

Fast-forward to this past June. After far too many episodes of not being able to hold her food down, the vet and I decided to do a barium test on Ducky to make sure there weren’t other issues.  It involved giving Ducky her dinner earlier than normal in the evening and not giving her any treats at all that night before the test. It was hard on me and harder still on my husband because she’s so adept at making you feel sorry for her.  I spent a good part of the morning at the vet’s with Ducky and then came home for the afternoon.  When I went back to pick her up, the vet showed me the six x-rays he had taken from just before we fed her the barium mixed in with her regular breakfast to the last one he had taken. When he took the last x-ray, she still had the majority of her food left in her stomach from the morning .  There were no obstructions anywhere.  The food just was not moving through her digestive system the way it should. It appeared that the opening from the stomach into the duodenum was too tight to allow the food to pass through it properly.  We decided to put Ducky on a twice-daily regimen of Metoclopromide to help relax that opening. And, since people food was also a culprit in Ducky’s issues I had to eliminate ALL people food from her diet, and stick with the one dog food and her favorite treat.

You may think that eliminating people food from a dog’s diet is easy – just stop giving it to her (or him) – well, trust me when I say it’s a lot easier said than done with my husband in the house! Finally, I found a way to make him stop. That was nearly a month ago. She hasn’t had any more episodes since so I guess my idea worked.

As for Callie and Shadow.  Well, hubby certainly couldn’t give Ducky people food without also giving it to her older sisters.  So, their stomachs grew more and more sensitive to it and the dog-food changes as well.  Only their sensitivities manifested into soft, gel-like, stools and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.  Not a good thing.  Callie only had one really nasty episode, which “earned” her a trip to the emergency vet on a Saturday afternoon.  Shadow, however, had already had so many episodes that I had lost track of them all.  We had her on Metronidazole at least once a month.  It would help for a few days beyond the last pill and then start again.  In the span of four months, the poor dog had needed some form of medication seven different times!  SOMETHING had to be going on, but numerous fecal samples netted no clues.  So, we started eliminating treats (all but her favorite one), and foods I was giving her that USED TO help with her upset stomachs.  I cut out the organic canned pumpkin. That worked for three days. Then I cut out the yogurt. That worked for another week.  I had already put an end to the people food treats. I was getting more and more frustrated. It was keeping me awake at night and grumpy during the day.  Poor Shadow is such a sensitive soul that when we’re upset over something, she goes to hide in the bathroom. STRESS!  Jodi (our Round Robin hostess) had mentioned it once or twice and I didn’t think so, but then I started to wonder. So I tried to reduce that too. Same result. No stress, no mess; a little stress, well, you get the idea.    

FINALLY, a breakthrough!  After the last of Shadow’s episodes, the vet said it was time to try some probiotics. I found some that I was comfortable with trying for my girls. They arrived here from my favorite online pet supply “store” almost three weeks ago.  Within three days, I saw a vast improvement in Shadow’s “output”, and even in Callie’s (which had already been improving with the elimination of the pumpkin and yogurt).  And, on this past Wednesday morning, I saw my first real sign that the probiotics are working for Ducky as well.  There is, at last, a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel!

Please keep in mind, I am not a vet and this is not advice on how to handle canine digestive issues; this is just my experience, and what worked or didn’t work for me.  Always consult your veterinarian before choosing any course of treatment.

Tomorrow’s post for the Round Robin will be on living with a three-legged dog, make sure to check Kathy Mueller’s K2K9 blog for that post.


15 thoughts on “Canine Digestive Issues

  1. Jodi says:

    EXCELLENT job Sue, you summed it up well!! All those edits worked. 😉 I’m so glad that you have finally gotten to the root of the girl’s digestive issues and found something that helps! I’m not sure I realized that Ducky had the stomach delay issues. I wonder if it’s at all like what Desmond (Life with Desmond) has. I know with Des they have to hold him a certain way for a certain time after he eats and that seems to help him.

    Thank you so much for adding this important topic to the Round Robin discussion~

  2. Jan K says:

    It sounds like it was a long, hard road to get everything figured out! We’ve been pretty lucky with our crew. I had been switching their foods for a bit trying to figure out the highest quality we could afford like you. When we recently got a chance to apply for another review of a good food, I decided it was time to just settle where we’re at, and not change again. Your experience confirms that I probably made the right decision there, so thank you!

  3. 2 Brown Dawgs says:

    Interesting. I know how frustrating it can be when your dogs have stomach issues. We kind of went through that with Storm when she reached a year old. Luckily we found a food that worked for her with only a couple of tries (she is still on that food). She gets very little people food because she had a bout of pancreatitis when she was younger. I am glad you seem to be on the right track.

    • The Golden Life says:

      Thanks Linda! The Fresh Pet seems to be appealing to them – they gobble it down like it’s their last meal – but at least they have to work a little at getting it all out of the Kygen bowls.

  4. Beth says:

    Whew! I am glad you are getting it all figured out! Digestive distress is difficult on everyone! Kudos to Jodi to figuring out the affect stress was having on Shadow!

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