Clostridium Infection in Golden Retriever--24 hours till Vet Reopens
July 28, 2013 6:37 AM   Subscribe

Our Golden has had repeated bouts with gastro infections--one month ago he was treated for clostridium. He was given Metronadozole (2 weeks) and Fortiflora for a full month. Yesterday, he wouldn't eat and temp was 103.6. This morning temp down to 101.5. He is drinking water and will take a few Variety Snaps. Yes, we'll most likely get in to see the vet tomorrow--but this problem with his gut keeps returning. What is the next best step to beat this once and for all?
posted by AuntieRuth to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you tried putting him on a limited ingredient diet (LID)? We had a pup with some stomach issues, significant weight loss and no blood test or other diagnostic could figure it out. When we switched to Natural Balance, canned, limited ingredient diet he got better. There are lots of brands and ingredient mixtures, we found that lamb and brown rice works for him. The vet can prescribe some LID brands, but I have found it is very pricey. IMO, Natural Balance and the other specialty dog foods are cheaper, do the same thing and better quality.

In terms of what you might be able to do now to make him comfortable now - maybe try your own version of a limited ingredient diet. So, no treats or any other table scraps. Steamed white rice and boiled chicken breast (no seasonings) in very small quantities for his meals. Might settle the stomach/gut for a bit?

If you have more questions, feel free to MeFi mail me directly. Hope he feels better soon.
posted by engling at 7:27 AM on July 28, 2013

Best answer: In the meantime, plain yogurt and canned pumpkin is magical for diarrhea.
posted by MeiraV at 7:28 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

We dealt with something similar for a year. My dog's gastro system was screwed up by a long stint on antibiotics, and it seemed like nothing we tried could get him back to normal. Finally a new vet gave him a shot of penicillin and a course of probiotics, and all was good again.
posted by Kriesa at 7:34 AM on July 28, 2013

Fecal transplant. Should be even easier for dogs, given they eat poop all the time.
posted by gramcracker at 7:36 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

What does the Vet say about the likely cause? Does your dog roam on his own at all, or walk offleash, where he can eat stuff off the ground? If he has any opportunity to do that, I would definitely restrict that by keeping him on a shorter leash or using a basket muzzle so he can't snack on lovely sick stuff like poop, dead carcasses, etc. If all that's under control, but he's visiting a dog park or doggy day care where he might be picking it up from other dogs, I'd try cutting that out (replacing it with something else). And, finally, well, I hesitate to say this because people have all sorts of strong feelings about this, but barring other causes, I'd take his diet in hand, and begin making his food myself, with fresh, people-grade ingredients, cooked, not raw. But it takes a lot of research to work this out, and there's a lot of conflicting advice, which makes it hard.

I've always cooked for my dog because she was borderline for a serious disease when we got her, and we didn't have access to really premium food... plus, with the number of warnings that are issued for even respected pet food companies, I am leery of getting a bad batch. Our Vet says just keep doing what we're doing because she's in great health, so I feel okay, but it can be a little scary. I usually use chicken, fish, or beef, with green beans (or mixed veg) with maybe some carrot or beets added in, and rice or sweet potato, typically -- all veg very well cooked (since dogs digest vegetables differently than we do). The protein to [other] ratio needs to be high. And you just sort of need to read a lot and come up with your own version that works great for your dog. I'd probably keep organ meant very, very minimal, and not include possible "gassy" veg like cabbage or broccoli. I'd stay away from anything very acidic or sweet... or, your dog might not do well with any sort of vegetable. You sort of have to try a bit and assess. We give our dog plain yogurt as a regular treat.

Whatever the situation, your dog's system is pretty messed up right now, so I'd have him on chicken and rice until he gets completely better, and then begin with some other ingredients little by little (or a recommended dog food). I'd feed three or four small portions rather than one or two large. We boil chicken breasts, and use some of the broth in her food as well, especially if she has diarrhea or vomiting, to replace fluids. (But she almost never has diarrhea or vomiting; the last time was because I stupidly gave her some doggy treats I bought from our groomers, and who knows what was in them. Explosive diarrhea for days.) I'd also give him yogurt... not a ton, but maybe a tablespoon or two every day to help get his tum back in balance.

Poor doggy, poor you! Good luck!
posted by taz at 7:46 AM on July 28, 2013

We had something similar with our normally completely healthy lab. What worked for us feeding nothing but boiled chicken thigh meat and cooked white rice for every meal. We supplemented with a probiotic tablet (like fortiflora, but not from the vet and much less expensive). I believe it took around a week to get her completley back to normal, but she's been fine ever since.
posted by jeffch at 8:59 AM on July 28, 2013

We have a dog prone to getting HGE. We ended up doing pretty much what engling and taz said, we put our dog on a restricted diet starting with rice, boiled/poached chicken and we added canned pure pumpkin as it has the effect of settling dogs stomachs.

In our case when everything had stabilized we very slowly reintroduced his normal food, which set him off again, so like Taz we make most of his food mostly using a chicken/rice/veggy mix with pumpkin or sweet potato a couple of times a week, but in most cases you can very slowly reintroduce your dog back to it's normal food by mixing it with the chicken & rice mix a little more each day. I would give your dog a week or so of normal stools etc on the chicken and rice mix before starting to make any changes though, and make them slowly.

Oh and avoid the cheap bag chicken thighs & legs at Walmart we tried those for our dog and I don't know what they add to it but it smelt terrible and set his stomach off again.
posted by wwax at 9:09 AM on July 28, 2013

Our elderly dog (who we said goodbye to a few weeks ago) was also prone to HGE and other gastro problems for the four years we had him. We could get him settled for a few weeks at a time, using the antibiotic/restricted diet/probiotic routine and then keeping him on chicken and rice, but his gastro infections always flared up again. We finally switched to a new vet (our previous vet was well-meaning but kept shrugging it off, even after multiple trips to the doggie ER) who immediately put him on a prescription diet of hypoallergenic hydrolyzed soy protein. He was fine within a few days and his gastro and skin problems cleared up entirely for the last year of his life.

My sense is that some vets prefer not to give dogs soy protein (it felt counterintuitive to us, as well -- "but dogs need MEAT!"), but in our guy's case it worked very well after nothing else did. The brand we had him on was Royal Canin.
posted by scody at 9:51 AM on July 28, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips!

Ted has had these problems ever since we got him. At first they thought it was giardia, then some kind of doggie IBD, a few months ago coccidia and clostridium, this time clostridium.

Right now...

Canned pure pumpkin and activia vanilla yogurt seems to be the ticket. I also have been trying to get Lifeway Vanilla Kefir in him.

Weirdly, he was not interested in the boiled chicken and rice yet but was scrounging Meatloaf from Daddy at the dinner table.

I really don't want to do anymore antibiotics. He's had the course about 4 times in the last year and I'm beginning to doubt whether this is at all beneficial.

jeffch do you remember what type of probiotic you got? I had bought some from Drs. Foster and Smith but it was $30.00 (Yikes!).

also engling, Ted lives on Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato and chicken, but he won't touch it right now.

Thank you all!
posted by AuntieRuth at 11:49 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Metronidazole is first line treatment for C. diff in humans. Second line is vancomycin. My guess is that vanco will not be offered for your dog because it is extremely expensive.

Fecal transplant has a very high success rate in treating C. diff in humans. It's my understanding that fecal transplant is extremely common in veterinary practice for ruminants (e.g. cows) but I'm not sure where the industry is on dogs. In any case, I would definitely ask your vet about it.

I do not think any kind of elimination diet is going to cure a clostridium infection. It may make your dog more comfortable.
posted by telegraph at 12:33 PM on July 28, 2013

Get a bottle of acidophilus capsules from a health food store - but be sure the ones you buy must be kept refrigerated. Open a capsule and sprinkle it on his food two or three times a day. It straightened my lab up when the vets were trying to blame everything under the sun and had no real idea what was happening, and I was feeding him their very expensive dog food because they said I should.

He went back to eating regular dog food - not cheap junk, but not their special product, either, and he did just fine. After we got him straightened out, he had an acidophilus capsule once a week, just like me.

Good luck with your poor pooch.
posted by aryma at 7:58 PM on July 28, 2013

Most of my care involves shelter animals and (underfunded) shelter care -- a couple times now someone has dug out a sample of Proviable paste & capsules as a last ditch effort (for cats that I couldn't get back onto real food after getting them settled on the pumpkin & yogurt) -- and twice it's helped a LOT. It's $21 at Fosters & Smith, but in my experience it's not necessary to take it daily forever, just to go through the packet.
posted by MeiraV at 4:13 PM on July 29, 2013

Response by poster: Ted has really turned around in the last 24 hours. He even ate some of his usual kibble mixed with chicken and rice. I gave him some more Activia last night and this morning he came to wake me up as usual.

Thank you MeiraV--I think the pumpkin and yogurt worked brilliantly. I will buy some of the Proviable.
posted by AuntieRuth at 5:10 AM on July 30, 2013

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