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February 24, 2005 4:48 PM   Subscribe

What's the best dog food for a large breed puppy that is 10 weeks old and seems to have a sensitive stomach?

When we got our Chessie pup, the breeder had been feeding her Purina One adult dog food. She seemed to like it OK, but also had intermittent diarrhea (sometimes very bad). Over the past week, we have been shifting her over to Iams, but her stomach seems no better. The only time she seemed to have no trouble at all was when we fed her the "prescription" food the vet gave us. Any ideas? Yes, she's been wormed and has all her shots.
posted by Mid to Pets & Animals (26 answers total)
Which "prescription" food did the vet give you? (Other than the obvious "science diet" - which kind specifically.) I've heard of dogs with sensativities / intollerances to certain ingredients...

Also, how slowly have you been shifting her to Iams?

PS- don't get me started on science diet....
posted by sarahmelah at 4:52 PM on February 24, 2005

The "prescription" food was called something like A/I or A/D or I/A. It comes in a can and looks like Alpo. It is mashed-up lamb and rice. She ate it for about 5 days and was totally fine. Then we started adding the Iams to the prescription food and we're back to the bad stomach.
posted by Mid at 4:55 PM on February 24, 2005

Actually, I'd suggest Science Diet. Not sure about others and their experiences, but with the rescue dogs we've fostered and with our own 5, we have had good luck with it.

If you see any blood in her diarrhea at all, rush to the vets.
posted by tizzie at 5:01 PM on February 24, 2005

Not really an answer to your question, but tangentially related, our vet clinic has switched to Eukanuba foods. The puppy food contains DHA, a long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is supposed to enhance a puppy's cognitive development. They advertise it as food that will make your puppy smarter. In any case you may have to keep trying different brands, if you don't want to use the prescription food, and if IAMs isn't working.
posted by superposition at 5:04 PM on February 24, 2005

The issues I have with Science Diet have to do with their policies regarding vet-kickbacks. It's a fine food, very healthy, though expensive and not terribly palatable to most animals. But, your vet will always tell you to try Science Diet, and to buy it through him...because he's being paid for it.

Also, canned food IMHO is both a waste of money (70% water) and bad for your dog's teeth.

How long have you actually had the puppy? If you've only had her for a couple weeks, it could just be the stress of a new home, coupled with food changes. Food changes are hard on a dog's digestive system, that's why shifting them over should be done slowly and gradually. My $.02 would be to pick a good dry food, maybe something x-and-rice, and slowly shift her over to it. Here's a nice link I found that might help?

Good luck!
posted by sarahmelah at 5:14 PM on February 24, 2005

You were probably feeding this a product of Hill's, maker of Science Diet. You can feed a homemade mixture of cooked ground beef and white rice (1:2 parts). Obviously don't season ;)
posted by superposition at 5:19 PM on February 24, 2005

Please take the dog to the vet. Diarrhea is not a stomach problem, and the food sensitivity could overlap with other problems. In a 10 wk puppy ascariasis (roundworm) is quite common and symptoms can come and go depending on their diet. A vet check with a fecal sample will help narrow this down, I'm sure, and you can get some good wormers there (supermarket wormers are usually pyrantel-based and not very effective).

Very good for getting off the Purina.... my dog came from the pound back in 1997 and couldn't tolerate it (and I saw what looked like fur in the kibble). Quickly put her on IAMS and she's been doing great.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:01 PM on February 24, 2005

My dog was having the same problems as yours and a switch to Canidae made all the difference. It's human grade food with all natural ingredients.
posted by jstew at 6:08 PM on February 24, 2005

Solid Gold makes the best dog food I've ever bought. It smells so good I'm tempted to try it. Their foods are made from incredibly high-quality ingredients and isn't too expensive. They make a puppy food.

I raised my large breed (Akita/Shepherd) on Iams Puppy for Large Breeds, but I found out that Iams was owned by Proctor & Gamble and has a horrible animal testing policy. Just didn't seem right to feed an animal I love something that (indirectly) hurt animals.
posted by maniactown at 6:17 PM on February 24, 2005

Thanks, maniactown, for the info on IAMS. I may have to research this further. Where do you get Solid Gold, btw?
posted by rolypolyman at 6:24 PM on February 24, 2005

Since she was able to eat the lamb and rice from the vet, try a lamb and rice puppy formula. I don't know who makes one, but I'm sure someone does. Find a feed store or big non-chain pet store and poke around.

The diarrhea sounds like an allergic reaction to something in the food, probably a filler like corn meal. One of our cats gets diarrhea (and skin itchies) when she gets a food with too much corn meal in it.

We feed Diamond dog and cat food in our house, and have been doing so for years. I haven't looked to see if they make a Lamb&Rice puppy formula. They do make Lamb&Rice Maintenance. (With three large cats and a mid-sized dog, Science Diet is just too expensive, and none of the critters we've had have liked IAMS.)

Purina One actually isn't a bad food, for a supermarket food. We switched away from it when one of our older cats developed urinary tract problems and needed a low-ash food.
posted by jlkr at 7:00 PM on February 24, 2005

Switching gears, it is not just what you feed but how much. Our little pug got diarrhea (large, soft, mucous coating) from being overfed on puppy food. We were feeding the amounts listed on the bag, and our vet told us that the bags usually overfeed dogs. So, we cut back to about 2/3 of the recommended amount, and we also do a mixture of puppy and adult food. However, our puppy was several months older than 10 weeks when we started that, so ask your vet before you make the switch.
posted by MrZero at 7:11 PM on February 24, 2005

Agreement with rolypolyman - get a vet check first, puppies are very prone to intestinal parasites and they often cause diarrhea.

As to food, Iams (which makes Eukanuba) and Science Diet are, in my estimation, not the best foods on the market by a long shot (since being taken over by Proctor & Gamble, which turned it into a supermarket food, Iams has steadily gone downhill in terms of quality). I would avoid feeding puppy food to just about every breed of puppy, especially a large breed puppy, you want them to grow as slowly as possible.

My favourite dog food information site is Dogaware, any of the Whole Dog Journal's "Top Ten" foods (listed on the Dogaware page, plus quite a few other super premium foods) could be more than suitable for your dog. It's important to remember that, once medical causes are ruled out, there is no one best food for every dog. Dogs are all individuals and what one dog does amazingly well on, another dog may do poorly on. Keep an eye on ingredients so that you will learn what suits your dog and what doesn't, identified meat meals ("chicken meal", "lamb meal") are what you want to see as the first and/or second ingredient at least, meat meals are the meat without the water, so you're getting the most "bang for your buck" in terms of dry weight.

I use a rotation feeding schedule with my own dog. I rotate super-premium foods every 3-4 months (Innova, Innova EVO, Natural Balance, California Natural, Royal Canin Natural Blend and Go! Natural are some of the ones I've fed), I also feed Neura canned food, Tripett canned green tripe and raw food. Canned food is actually not bad for your dog's teeth and is in fact the highest percentage of meat and lowest percentage of grain (or even none at all) you can get in a commercial food, the fact that it can also be made without preservatives is a plus - the downside is that it's expensive.

On preview, MrZero is exactly right, feed according to how your dog looks and feels (see here for a useful weight chart - a healthy weight for a dog is a lot leaner than most people think), not according to the bag, those are very general guidelines.
posted by biscotti at 7:38 PM on February 24, 2005

Thanks everyone so far. Great stuff. One clarification--she's been to the vet lots. At least three times in the four weeks we have had her for shots, checkup, and worming. We went in once as an "emergency" when the diarrhea was very bad. No worms.

I'm very interested in what biscotti has to say about Iams. The reason I bought it was that I thought it was "superpremium" but in the supermarket. But, looking over the ingredients, I saw things like corn meal, which I think is a pretty bad filler.

Keep all the great advice coming!
posted by Mid at 7:46 PM on February 24, 2005

Let me echo and amplify what biscotti said.

Science Diet: I can't remember the cite, but since it moved into supermarkets people have found chemicals from flea collars in the food. That is, [heston]IT'S PUPPIES! IT'S MADE OUT OF PUPPIES![/heston], at least in part.

On the good ship Xenophobe, we cycle through a variety of the ``super-premiums' in a slow way, a lot of the same brands biscotti mentions. Here's two reasons to think hard about feeding them:

(1) You feed less. Crappy supermarket dog food is umpty-percent filler, so you need to feed more of it. Yeah, a bag of fancy-ass dog food looks kinda expensive, but it lasts you a good bit longer than the same-size bag of the cheapo stuff does.

(2) They crap less. You're feeding them less food, and a higher percentage of their food is turning into dog and energy, so there's less turning into poo. Put differently, what do you think happens to all the fillers in cheapo brands?

Which one is best for your dog depends on your dog. The only real downside I've seen to the superpremiums is that it can be a little tricky finding them; we have to drive ~45 minutes to another chunk of the metro area to get to a store with a good selection. You can order online tho.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:09 PM on February 24, 2005

A trick I learned adopting a greyhound who was coming from a kennel diet: plain yogurt and canned pumpkin. The yogurt's active cultures will help balance intestinal flora, and the pumpkin has fiber. I put about a heaping soup spoon full (scientific term: one glop) each and stirred it in. Mixed with dog food, it creates a smell that is simultanously compelling and disgusting, but the dog likes it.

It still works a treat for when he's not feeling well, just had his shots, or is just home from boarding. My vet has adopted it as her recommended upset stomach/gas treatment.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:31 PM on February 24, 2005

Lyn Never's advice is really good, keeping in mind that some dogs are lactose intolerant and can't handle dairy products. My dog gets yoghurt and cottage cheese, and has no trouble with it, and my sister uses the exact same yoghurt and pumpkin combo for her never-eats-enough dog (as Lyn Never said, you just want plain canned pumpkin, not canned pumpkin pie filling!), and he loves it.

I don't know where you're located Mid, but in the US, you can normally get at least Natural Balance and Royal Canin Natural Blend (along with Neura canned food) at Petco, which is often more convenient than schlepping all over the place looking. Natural Balance also comes in at least four formulations with different protein sources (including a vegetarian diet, which I don't think I'd use unless the dog cannot tolerate meat protein at all, which I've never heard of), the venison in particular can be very useful as an unusual protein (I like to change protein sources regularly), but the fat content is pretty low, especially for a puppy. I also wouldn't feed the Innova EVO to a puppy, Innova has suggested not doing so, even though it's basically a raw diet in kibble form (no grain and low carb), and people commonly and successfully feed puppies raw diets. For an adult though, the EVO can be a fabulous food.
posted by biscotti at 8:52 PM on February 24, 2005

Rice is commonly recommended for dogs and humans with stomach problems. Lamb is also considered easy on the stomach. Seeing as the lamb and rice was tolerated, why not something based on that?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:06 PM on February 24, 2005

i would check out royal canin.

we recently switched our pups from innova (another great brand) when the new guy became fussy. i was a little suspicious of breed specific food (we have a chihuahua and a chihuahua / cattle dog mix), but it's like puppy crack. the bag talks about smaller and less smelly poo.
posted by heather at 10:14 PM on February 24, 2005

Ah, I forgot about lactose intolerance. If that seems to be a problem, you can get Lactinex at a drug store (ask the pharmacist, because it's kept cold), and probably at whole food stores as well. It's basically benevolent flora in a pill form that you can crush into food.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:52 AM on February 25, 2005

I just want to add that it could be changing to all the different foods that is causing the problem. We learned that the hard way with our Siberian Husky. We keep her on one food all the time, Iams for Inactive Dogs. Otherwise, it's diarrhea central. But rice is a wonderful food to take care of the problem. We've also used a spoonful of Kaopectate to help the problem.
posted by cass at 6:25 AM on February 25, 2005

Whatever you do, don't do the IAM's. I've raised serveral dogs on Science Diet and never had a problem.
posted by trbrts at 8:26 AM on February 25, 2005

I have a pup about the same age, and she LOVES LOVES LOVES the Solid Gold puppy food. You can check their website for a store that carries it in your area. One word of advice: always check the expiration date on the bag before you buy it. We bought one bag that turned out to be way old, and it made the pup throw up. Took it back for a fresh bag, and all has been well ever since.
posted by spilon at 8:56 AM on February 25, 2005

We just had the same problem with our 10 month-old adolescent puppy. Here's what we found:

1) Switch to boiled chicken and rice for at least 3-4 days. This is one of the easiest meals for the dog's intestinal system (and humans') to process.

2) While you're feeding the dog chicken and rice and stabilizing his stomach, don't give him anything else. No pig's ears, rawhides, pupperoni - nothing else, as all these things have been chemically treated and might upset your dog's stomach. Our dog can't eat any of these without getting diarrhea.

3) If, after 4 days on just chicken and rice, the dog still has diarrhea/soft stools, take him to the vet again. The vet ended up giving us a prescription for him to take (I can't rememeber what it was), and pretty much immediately his stools got better. We still don't know what it was - he'd already had stool sample analysis and deworming and everything they normally do - but he got better immediately with this medication.

4) Once you're ready to try him on dog foods again, introduce it SLOWLY. Give him 1/4 dogfood, 3/4 chicken and rice, then slowly change the proportions over about a week.

5) Once the dog's stomach is stable on dog food, you can experiment to see what kinds of treats his tummy can handle. Our dog loves (and can handle) cheese, carrots and peanutbutter, so these are the treats we use with him in training, as well as dog food nuggets. He cannot handle anything chemically processed (no hot dogs!).

6) Please do your research on dog foods. Compare the ingredients and minimum protein/fiber/fat contents - it really is eye-opening. For example, Science Diet's main (first) ingredient is corn. Which is not great for dogs or humans, but it's super cheap to produce and so is found in foods everywhere. Also, look out for meat by-products in the ingredients - do you really want your dog to eat ground-up chicken beaks and feet? After doing our research, we selected Nutro's chicken and oatmeal for sensitive stomachs, and our dog loves it - and has good stools.

Good luck!
posted by widdershins at 9:29 AM on February 25, 2005

Thanks again everyone. Many many "best answers."

I think I am going to: (1) take her to the vet again for a double-check for worms; (2) probably put her back on the canned "prescription" food for a few days; (3) switch her to a Nutro food, which I have read many many good thinks about. Maybe Royal Canin or Solid Gold instead--have to check them out.
posted by Mid at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2005

I have had a couple of German shepherds, with sensitive stomachs. Lamb-based dog foods solved the problem. I read all the labels and was impressed with Costco's Kirkland lamb based dog food. My dogs thrived on it. The vet says that the quality brands these days have about the same nutritional value as the "puppy" foods awhile back, and that spending more on puppy foods probably doesn't get much more for your dog. All-in-all, to save money, skip the canned foods if you can, which are mostly water; try not to switch brands as each switch is difficult on the dog. Good luck.
posted by rabbus at 9:38 AM on February 27, 2005

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