Puppy with stomach issues.
December 13, 2008 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Why is my puppy still having issues with her bowel movements?

I have a 7 month old pomeranian / bichon frise. Lately she has been having a lot of diarrhea. To the point where she will have an accident at night in her little kennel. My girlfriend took her to the vet and the vet gave her some powder to sprinkle on her food and some "bland" dog food. That seemed to help out a lot her poop firmed up and she didnt have accidents. The vet said that she might have a sensitive stomach, but didnt offer any more advice other than the $122 vet bill. Around thanksgiving my girlfriend took our dog to her grandparents house for the week and chibi (the dog) did not have any issues at all even after flying. Her bowels were firm and no accidents for the whole week. Now when my girlfriend brought her back home it started again. There wasnt any change in her diet at all. The only difference we can tell is that her grandmother's house is all hardwood and in my girlfriends apartment its all brand new carpet.

Chibi's diet is normal puppy food from eukanuba, the specific type I cannot remember (I am deployed right now). Its wierd because we do not feed her any people food at all and she doesnt get into anything she is a very well behaved dog.

Please help us out and stop my girlfriend from going insane with this issue.
posted by hxc to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
When we got our first cat she had the exact same problem, no matter the brand of food we fed her. When the vet asked us to try Medi-cal Gastro/Hypo, her diarrhea cleared up after only two days. She's been on this diet for most of her life, and if we ever run out on the weekend and resort to giving her crappy canned food until the vet opens up again, her diarrhea comes straight back (which is what the vet predicted; this is actually a gastrointestinal issue and we're best off feeding her this diet for the rest of her life). The plus side is that our other cat doesn't mind eating it, and because it's a well-balanced meal, healthy cats can eat it regularly, too. I'm no dog owner but I'm pretty sure Medi-cal makes similar products for canines. Worth checking into. Also, get a new vet!
posted by Menomena at 9:20 AM on December 13, 2008

Eukanuba isn't really great food and it wouldn't be the first time that I saw a dog's digestive system wrecked by low-quality food. It's expensive, but we feed our cats and dog Evo, and it's given us the best results that we've ever seen in dog food. Wellness is also a good choice, but we switched to Evo when Wellness was bought out by a larger company (We were afraid quality would suffer, but I haven't really heard any bad things so far.)
posted by InsanePenguin at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2008

For what it's worth, when we first adopted our greyhound he often had serious diarrhea. What "tightened" him up was mixing cooked white rice in with his food. (Rather than cooking it myself, I'd pick up a quart of it for a buck from the local Chinese restaurant.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:41 PM on December 13, 2008

Note: I'm not a vet, I'm not your vet, and I'm not pretending to be a vet. I'm a guy on the internet. This is not veterinary advice. You should confirm all of this with your vet and if needed even seek a second opinion from another licensed veterinarian before you follow the instructions of some idiot on the interwebs.

First, yeah, the stress of moving locations completely can cause a dog to stress out and mess up their digestion. Did the vet do any parasite tests? That's the #1 cause that I know of for loose stool. If no parasite tests were done, collect at least a teaspoon of the dog's poop and drop it off at the vet. They'll run tests and see if they can't turn up any parasites in it. Has there ever been any blood in the diarrhea?

#2 cause of consistent loose stool is food allergies, if I'm remembering correctly.

Eukanuba is better than most, but there's better to be had. Find a store near you (usually PetCo and specialty farm/feed stores will have it, PetSmart will NOT) and look for "Wellness" brand SIMPLE -- the simple is the important part. Get some small bags of the different types and see if one of them doesn't firm her back up.

I have a rescue dog that has a very sensitive stomach. He had several parasites (whipworms, giardia, and another one that we never positively identified) when he came to live with me. After cleaning out the parasites, his guts were turfed and he kept having diarrhea with blood even though no parasites were present. He was on a high grade kibble food. Switching him to the Wellness Simple venison and rice was the key and he now presents a solid stool.

Now, her process after each bout of diarrhea should be, assuming that you feed every 12 hours like I do... :
1) No food for 24 hours, always make sure water is avaialble.
2) At 24 hours: A small serving of a 'simple' food -- i.e. chicken and rice, science diet i/d
3) At 36 hours: A decent sized serving (about normal) of the simple food.
4) At 48 hours: Normal serving, 1/2 normal kibble, 1/2 simple
5) At 60 hours: 1/4 simple, 3/4 normal kibble
6) at 72 hours: normal kibble.

Other than that, frankly, they call diarrhea in puppies "puppy tummy" because all of the hormonal changes and growth that happens in a puppy's first year of life really affect the way their digestion works... any stress (like moving to a new home) will knock their systems completely out of whack.

As far as having to clean up poop, I keep my dogs crated in the house when I'm not there which helps reinforce and keep their potty training even if they really, really, really need to "go". Other than that, they're usually in the room with me or they're trained to 'ask' to go out by ringing a bell on the back door, so they don't really have the opportunity to sneak off and drop a deuce anywhere indoors.
posted by SpecialK at 2:17 PM on December 13, 2008

I would take a two-pronged approach - being more scrupulous than normal about potty-training, and exploring different foods.

Careful potty-training will at least prevent her from establishing bad habits while she's having tummy troubles. Feed her on a strict schedule, and keep a log of feeding times and every bowel movement - when, where and what (normal, loose or diarrhea.) After a few days, see if you can establish a pattern. Is she soiling her crate when you feed her later than usual, or on most heavy-diarrhea days? Does it help when you make two "final" before-bedtime potty trips instead of one? Does she have more diarrhea on certain days?

Be systematic about the changes that you make. This will help you to determine what helps, and what doesn't. One change at a time! If something works, you want to be able to pinpoint what it is. For example, your puppy did much better when you fed her bland food and added the powder that your vet gave you. Assuming that he meant for you to feed those things temporarily, rather than for the rest of her life, try to find out which of those things worked. Instead of stopping that diet as soon as the diarrhea clears up, take away one element at a time. For example, you could continue the bland diet but discontinue the powder for a few days, or transition back to normal diet but continue the powder.

Switching to simpler dog foods with only one meat and one grain will at least help you to pinpoint a food sensitivity. For example, while she's on her bland-food diet (which probably is only meant for short-term use) and doing well, slowly transition her to a lamb and rice, or chicken and oatmeal, etc. food. If she continues to do well, you'll at least know that she can tolerate those two foods well. If she doesn't, she may have a sensitivity to one of those ingredients. Transition her back to the tried and true bland diet for a while, then try again.

I'm also curious as to what the powder was. If it was Forti-Flora, or another probiotic powder, you may have stopped it too soon. Probiotic supplements help digestion by providing intestinal flora. Feeding it at one meal will help for a few hours if your dog doesn't have the right bacteria in her digestive tract, but the good results may not last if you discontinue it as soon as the diarrhea clears up. Feeding probiotics for a prolonged period of time may help your pup establish a colony of good bacteria in her gut.

If the powder contained enzymes, then I'd guess that your pup's body isn't producing all of the enzymes she needs to break down her food. Enzyme powders usually shouldn't be discontinued at all - they only work as long as she's getting them.

I've given you a ton of suggestions, many of them with a heavy trial-and-error component. Please memail me if you have any followup questions. Good luck! I've gone through these issues with my own dogs and cats, and although it was frustrating at times, it worked out in the end. Heh, heh.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 5:06 PM on December 13, 2008

Oh, one last thing! If you can establish a pattern, and you can predict when she'll soil her crate, then it's kindest to give her the option of not doing so. If you suspect that she's going to have a late-night accident, you might want to put the crate in the bathroom or another room with an easily-cleaned floor, leave the crate door open and leave some papers down. That way, if the worst happens, she won't have to sleep in it, and you won't have to bathe her in the morning.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 5:12 PM on December 13, 2008

I agree with everyone about Eukanuba being not the best quality food. Evo or Wellness or Natural Balance are all good quality foods. Optimally, you'd like your dog's food to be composed of a primary protein source and a primary carb source. That protein source shouldn't be 'meal,' it should be whole beef or duck or chicken or lamb. Corn and wheat are common carbohydrates used in dog food which can result in food allergies. My dogs get only duck and potato food, or else everything falls to pieces.

Also, puppy food tends to be very rich, which may intensify the diarrhea.

When my dogs are having intestinal distress, I add dollops of pureed pumpkin (not pie filling, but the unadulterated 100% pureed pumpkin you make INTO pie filling) to their food to provide fiber.

They also get a daily dollop of plain yogurt for the the good bacteria, some Missing Link supplement, and a dash of olive oil.

Definitely have your vet check for parasites.

The only times that my crate-trained, house-trained dogs poop where they're not supposed to is due to intestinal distress (ate bad food or have parasites), or if they really get the heebie jeebies when I'm not home. Like if there was an earthquake or they knocked the house down next door.

Crate training generally works because a dog's instinct to NOT sh!t where they sleep is so very strong. For this principle to work when crate training, the crate must be small enough that the dog does not want to go because she doesn't want to coexist with it. If it so happens that this is an issue with your puppy's behavior and not health, make sure that her crate is small enough to discourage her using it as a bathroom.

Usually, though, when a crate-trained dog goes in its crate, there is a health issue. Your girlfriend should definitely take the pup to a different vet, and bring a sample. =)
posted by Seppaku at 5:35 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of posters are missing that the pup was completely fine for a week at the grandmother's house. If the pup was on the same diet at grandma's, then it's not the specific food causing the problem.

Since the carpet is brand new, maybe puppy is ingesting all those loose fibers that new carpets tend to shed for a while? Or maybe the new carpet smell bothers her in some way?

Or she could she be sensitive to whatever carpet cleaning product your gf uses. We tried several different types of carpet cleaners on our dog's accidents, and some of them left residue if we weren't very conscientious about vacuuming it up. Of course, the dogs want to smell (and in one case, lick) those interesting cleaner smells.

I would look around for environmental factors, or changes in the dog's routine while on vacation. When the pup was at grandma's, did she get lots of attention - maybe more walks than usual, because your gf wasn't at work all day (assuming she is usually)? Maybe the dog didn't spend much time at all in the crate (because there were extra people around to keep an eye on her), and so her bowel habits changed for the better?

Another factor regarding carpets - if your dog had a parasite at one time, the carpets could harbor eggs that reinfected her when she got back from grandma's.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:57 AM on December 14, 2008

Googling "dog eats carpet" (without the quotes) shows an awful lot of carpet-eating dogs, and one person says:

Your the fourth person that I've found who has had a dog eat brand new carpeting. I wonder if there's something in the glue or carpet that appeals to the dogs that fades over time and is only obvious in new carpeting?

Since it sounds as though the new carpet and the diarrhea might be congruent, the first thing I would do is isolate the dog from the carpet by whatever means necessary and see if she improves. Good luck, and let us know what you learn!
posted by taz at 2:16 AM on December 15, 2008

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