Should I try a new food?

Looking for some advice regarding food for our 3.5 year old Goldendoodle.  He has always had a sensitive stomach.  He’s been taking Fromm all his life, first puppy gold and for the last 3 years he’s been on Fromm 4 Star (we vary the protein source).  He’s been on Proviable since he was given Metronidazole as a puppy and continues to take it every day.  He had a GI Panel done three years ago which came back normal.  We once tried switching him to a grain free food (Orijen) but that didn’t agree with him and will often put him on canned RX food or a homemade bland diet when he’s having stomach issues.

For the past month we’ve been struggling with very loose and mushy poops.  He’s also been eating grass a bit which he would occasionally do in the past but it is more frequent now.  I’ve switched him over to canned RX three times during this cycle which hardens things up but after I slowly transition him back to his normal food everything softens back up and eventually becomes mushy and sometimes diarrhea.  I had a fecal sample done and that came back negative.  A friend mentioned to try and give him some more fiber so today I did put a tablespoon of canned pumpkin in his food and will see if that helps at all.

I’m wondering if we need to switch away from Fromm to something else.  I don’t know why all of a sudden he'd be having issues with the food he’s taken for years but it is the first thing the vet tells me to try.  They always push a Purina Pro Plan EN (Gastroenteric) which they offer and I know they get huge kickbacks from.  My vet tells me that the eating grass is because he isn’t getting some nutrients though I always thought that was a way to try and make himself throw up if he isn’t feeling well (or maybe it could be both). 

I’ve been hesitant to try a grain free food due to his past issue with Orijen though I have heard that food is very rich and often tough on Doodle stomachs so perhaps that was the issue more than grain free.  I was wondering if anybody here had any thoughts.  I was planning on going into Pet People as I feel the managers there are knowledgeable but thought this was a better place to try first.  Is that all a mistake and should I listen to the vet and put him on Purina Pro Plan En?  Thanks so much!

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  • First, it's absolute nonsense that he's eating grass because "he isn't getting some nutrients", and it's shocking that a vet would say that. But then, vets get no nutritional education in school apart from the info provided by the salesmen at Hill's & Purina, which is why I never ever talk to vets about food, lol. Rx foods are complete garbage. They help firm things up because they are full of cellulose, which is non-digestible plant fiber. Actually, tree fiber.
    Orijen is an excellent food, but it is very high in fat, and dogs with sensitive stomachs have trouble with high fat foods. (FYI, "doodle stomachs" are no different from any other dogs' stomachs.) For dogs with these issues, your best bet is a limited ingredient single protein food. My go-to food for this is Wellness Simple, either the salmon & potato formula or the turkey & potato formula. It is low in fat and high in fiber, and contains only a few easily digestible ingredients. It has been a lifesaver for many of us. 
    You friend with the fiber suggestion is on the right track, but it's not necessary to buy canned pumpkin, which is expensive. (And you usually end up throwing half of it away.) Instead, try baking a sweet potato in your microwave. You can peel it with your fingers after it cools, mash it with a fork, and it will keep in the refrigerator in a lidded container for 5 days or so. 
    Continue to give the Proviable, and limit treats or chews to 100% protein grain free things. 
    Never let any vet give your dog metronidazole for anything short of serious gastrointestinal disease which has been confimred by an endoscopy. And may you never have to go through that. 
    It's funny you mention Pet People. I was at the Deerfield store a few weeks ago and I was appalled by the staff's absolute lack of knowledge of dogs. That's beside the point, but keep in mind that anyone who really knows anything about nutrition is not working in a retail shop. :)
    Hope this helps. 

    • To add to this - Riley was on a fiber supplement "sprinkle" for a while (when we were initially figuring out her GI issues) and its main ingredient is pumpkin fiber.  In case you don't want to go the cooking route.  The brand recommended by our vet was Glandex but I'm sure there are others out there.  Many also come in the form of a chew, you'd just have to have a careful look at the ingredients and sourcing.

      Also putting our "sensitive" pup (Toby) on a limited ingredient diet has been great for him.  We settled on lamb as the thing that agrees best with him so his treats are also 100% pure lamb. Wellness kibble is hard to come by around here (the limited ingredient formulas are anyway) so he is on Acana, same idea though I think it's higher in fat than the Wellness ones.

      • I think the Acana LID formulas are slightly higher in fat than the Wellness, but they are good foods, too.

         

  • Information  Karen and J have shared with you is pure gold. When I needed it, the same info was shared with me. The only additional things I can add is that when my doodle was having a more severe problem we switched probiotics to a human one -Visbiome or VSL#3 (same product) that you can get at your pharmacy. It's a bit pricey and must be refrigerated. For our Charlie we needed to keep up the VSL#3 and LID formula (Wellness) for about a month before transitioning him back to Orijen (which all my dogs ate at that time). This regime was suggested by Karen and was so successful. As the years have gone by, Charlie's bouts of what we think were stress-related diarrhea have stopped. I wish you the success we've had.

  • Thanks for all the suggestions.  Does Wellness Simple offer a small size bag or is it only the 24 pound or 40 pound?  Would love to try a 5 or 10 pound bag first to see how it goes but Chewy doesn't offer it.  I didn't know if some retail shops carry that to try.  I'll also see how things go with the current can of pumpkin or sweet potato on top of his current Fromm.

    Karen, regarding grass, do dogs just eat it when they aren't feeling well to make themselves throw up or is there some other thing going on with that?  Thanks again!

    • Sometimes, dogs just graze on grass because they like the taste. It's pretty common. My Jasper and his best friend, who is an adult Golden Retriever, munch away on grass at the park just because they like it. They mostly favor that big coarse weedy grass. Neither has a nutritional deficiency, neither feels sick or ever throws up afterwards, they just like it. Jasper will try to eat that kind of grass even on walks when I'm not paying attention. And his digestion is perfect, knock on wood.
      It's a pretty simple thing to keep your dog from eating grass. You just have to keep him on a leash outdoors. However, I doubt the grass eating is doing any harm, as long as it's not huge amounts and the grass is not treated with chemicals. 
      Wellness Simple Salmon & Potato "Small Breed" is made in a 10.5 lb bag, available through Chewy and elsewhere. It's very similar to the regular formula, just has a bit more protein and fat. Calorie content is the same, too. I wasn't able to find the regular formula in a bag smaller than 24 lbs online, which is a shame. I used to buy the 10.5 lb bags for Jack. 

      • Riley likes the taste of ragweed flowers for some reason.. she has since she was a puppy.  Her and Toby also seem to choose the crab grass (that's what we call the coarse grass around here), must be tastier.  

        • I have a certain type of weed in one corner of the yard that Jasper also loves. As much as I try to pull them out, he still manages to find them. 
          Of course, he also loves cucumbers and lettuce, so he is definitely an omnivore. Unlike JD, the ultimate carnivore, who never ate anything that didn't once have a face. Except lima beans. Dogs are weird. 

  • I wanted to post a quick follow-up and question.  I haven't switched his food yet.  I'm continuing to give him pumpkin with his meal and it has certainly helped with his movements.  I tried the sweet potato but he didn't care for it anywhere near as much as the pumpkin.  I'm able to cut back on the Stella and Chewy's meal mixers so it is actually saving me money.  His weight is good as he doesn't snack much so I don't think the added calories are a problem.

    Assuming I don't mind the added cost and he doesn't put on weight is there any problem with me giving him 1-2 tablespoons of pumpkin with each meal indefintely?  I've seen articles that talk about the benefits of pumpkin in dogs but nothing addresses if it should be used as a permanent solution.  Thanks as always for all of the help!

    • There's nothing wrong with giving him pumpkin indefinitely. If he likes it and does well with it, there is really no downside. 
      It's interesting, my Jack loved sweet potatoes but wouldn;t touch pumpkin. They are all so different in their tastes, just like us!

       

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