Author Topic: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain  (Read 7275 times)

pwegifts

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Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« on: September 05, 2015, 09:58:25 AM »
Hello all, I am looking for some advice on our dog.  We have a 4 year old springer spaniel, 68lbs, healthy with the exception of a few issues...

About 14 months ago, out of the blue he contracted a fungal infection called Blastomycosis.  We think he got it by walking out in the woods and sniffing some mold spores from rotting wood.  The fungus attacked his eyes and in barely a week, he went completely blind, and was pretty much on his deathbed.  Had to have surgery to remove one eye.  Still has the other eye, but he has a detached retina, and cant see.  He was on anti-fungal meds for close to a year, and has now been clear of the infection for several months.  I wont get into how much it cost because it was very very unmustacian.

A year ago, we moved from Wisconsin to Florida.  Coincidentally, the week of our move is when he contracted the infection, was going blind and had the surgery. It was craziness.  Shortly after we moved down, he started developing skin lesions, which we researched can be a effect of the blastomycosis.  However, throughout the past year, he has been increasingly "itchy" as well.  Took him to a vet here in Florida and he thought the lesions were from allergies since moving to a new environment.  Meds didnt help and I didnt go back to that vet.

A month ago, I took him to a new vet, and she believed the lesions were from the Science Diet Light food that he has been on since before the infection and it took a little bit for him to have a reaction.  She recommended he go on a hypoallergenic food, Hills ZD, which I almost sh*t when she told me it was $73 a bag.  Told me to combine it with rice which we did so at least it lasted longer.  Then took him back for another checkup two weeks ago with a different vet at the same clinic, and the vet said we only give the food, no rice.  Long story short, since he has been on this food, his lesions have cleared up by about 90% which tells us that something in the Science Diet he was not reacting well to. 

But now that food is starting to get low, and we are looking for some mustacian ways to feed this dog??  I am sick of ernormous vet bills, and it seems that we get contradictory advice each time we go to a vet.

The caveot is now weight gain.  Since he is blind, he does not do much physical activity throughout the day with the exception of his daily walk.  Even before his fungal infection, we were battling weight issues.  He is at about 68 pounds but needs to get to about 60.

Obviously we know that we need to increase the length of his walks, however it seems like he is very apt to weight gain.  He does not eat people food aside from what the kids drop on the floor (which isnt much since we keep him outside while they eat), and he only gets about 2.5 cups of food per day (recommended amount is 4 1/4 cups!).  We are open to cooking simple foods ourself too (like rice and/or green bean diet, etc) to feed him.

Recommendations on how/what to feed?  TIA

Lanthiriel

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2015, 10:23:25 AM »
I have a dog that is allergic to everything (poultry, grain, red meat, certain environmental triggers, etc), and he eats Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Rabbit and Potato. I would try your dog on a few of the limited ingredient diet options (I know Wellness has some and some of the other premium brands). These diets do tend to be higher in protein and therefore calories. My dog is about 30 lbs, and he only eats 2/3 cup per day in the winter (when he's less active) and 1 cup per day in the summer (when he swims almost daily). His food is a whooping $66/bag, but because he eats so little of it, it lasts forever.

bigalsmith101

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2015, 10:40:14 AM »
Our 14 year old miniature poodle had been completely blind for over 9 years now. His activity level continues to do year after year, and at nearly 15 years old now, he hardly moves at all now. My mom feeds him just about 1 cup a day. Half a cup at twice a day. If your dog is getting fat due to lower levels of activity, feed it less. Easy.

pwegifts

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2015, 10:56:06 AM »
Quote
My dog is about 30 lbs, and he only eats 2/3 cup per day in the winter (when he's less active) and 1 cup per day in the summer (when he swims almost daily). His food is a whooping $66/bag, but because he eats so little of it, it lasts forever.
That's the trick.  All these specialty foods that we have found are super expensive and because hes a bigger dog, he goes through it quicker.   At times, we have given him green beans just to fill his belly since they are high in fiber and low calorie count.  So I supose we could make it a regime to combine the lower amount of food with some beans, but still this food is really expensive.

Quote
If your dog is getting fat due to lower levels of activity, feed it less. Easy.
The problem is that he is always ravishing hungry.  We have steadily decreased his food intake to the point where it is almost down to half of the recommended amount and there is still either weight gain or staying the same.  He is always hungry and trying to find food.  If we decrease it any more, I think he will go crazy to the point where i'd be nervous with him around the kids because he gets anxious.  Again, this is why we've done green beans on and off to fill his belly.

OddOne

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2015, 11:12:51 AM »
Quote
My dog is about 30 lbs, and he only eats 2/3 cup per day in the winter (when he's less active) and 1 cup per day in the summer (when he swims almost daily). His food is a whooping $66/bag, but because he eats so little of it, it lasts forever.
That's the trick.  All these specialty foods that we have found are super expensive and because hes a bigger dog, he goes through it quicker.   At times, we have given him green beans just to fill his belly since they are high in fiber and low calorie count.  So I supose we could make it a regime to combine the lower amount of food with some beans, but still this food is really expensive.

Quote
If your dog is getting fat due to lower levels of activity, feed it less. Easy.
The problem is that he is always ravishing hungry.  We have steadily decreased his food intake to the point where it is almost down to half of the recommended amount and there is still either weight gain or staying the same.  He is always hungry and trying to find food.  If we decrease it any more, I think he will go crazy to the point where i'd be nervous with him around the kids because he gets anxious.  Again, this is why we've done green beans on and off to fill his belly.

Could he have a thyroid problem?
Our dog has to have RX dog food due to allergies and the vet was willing to fax the prescription to on online pet food supplier. I have to shop around every few month but am saving around $30 per bag over the vet's price.

G-dog

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2015, 02:04:05 PM »
Do you know what s/he is allergic to?

One option is to cook all of the food, stop buying commercial. I am not sure how that stacks regarding cost. But clearly, you need to have some idea what ingredient(s) you need to avoid. Also need to get some vitamins and micronutrients in the diet.

I use Holistic Select, they have lots of options. My dogs don't have allergies, so I am just getting chicken and rice. You should be able to check the ingredients online.

For omnivorous creatures that also scavenge, I am surprised when I get the warning from vets that you have to be careful when switching foods - suppose to wean off of food1 and wean on to food2 to avoid issues (vomiting, etc.).

The weight gain makes me think there is something else going on, like water retention or other issue. Or that the diet is lacking something. Sorry you dog, and therefore your family, are having so many issues.

lbmustache

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2015, 06:20:14 PM »
Move him to a grain free food, perhaps a limited ingredient diet food. Look up common allergens, for example chicken makes a lot of dogs itchy. There are some cheaper ones like Canidae Pure, Fromm's, Natural Balance, etc.

pwegifts

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2015, 07:06:41 PM »
Quote
Do you know what s/he is allergic to?

One option is to cook all of the food, stop buying commercial. I am not sure how that stacks regarding cost. But clearly, you need to have some idea what ingredient(s) you need to avoid. Also need to get some vitamins and micronutrients in the diet.

I use Holistic Select, they have lots of options. My dogs don't have allergies, so I am just getting chicken and rice. You should be able to check the ingredients online.

For omnivorous creatures that also scavenge, I am surprised when I get the warning from vets that you have to be careful when switching foods - suppose to wean off of food1 and wean on to food2 to avoid issues (vomiting, etc.).

The weight gain makes me think there is something else going on, like water retention or other issue. Or that the diet is lacking something. Sorry you dog, and therefore your family, are having so many issues.

Thank you for the reply.  Ive also been skeptical of the cautions of changing foods especially seeing as how dogs get fed people food on top of their regular food everyday.  Maybe it has to do with their main food source, who knows, im not a vet.

Regarding his weight gain, we have been trying to keep it under control for about the past 18 months.  He peaked at about 72 pounds.  Then we started taking him for 4-5 mile walks per day and combine it with a reduced dog food amount and green bean diet.  He lost weight and got back down to 63/64.  However, we could never get him under that mark to the high 50's or 60.  Its like he hit a plateau.  Then he got sick and the weight gain happened again along with the skin issues starting up.

We've had him tested several times regarding the weight gain because we were concerned, and everything came back normal, even the thyroid levels.

I know we definitely have to get him back on the longer walk schedule.  It's difficult right now as we have three kids under 3.5, with 2 month old newborn.  This is also why i mentioned that I would be concerned with under-feeding him as we have very young kids and when he gets "hungry", he gets frisky.

Unfortunately, we dont know what is causing the skin issues, however since switching from the Science Diet Light, his skin has dramatically improved.  The first few ingredients in that are Chicken Meal, Pea Bran Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Wheat, and Corn Gluten Meal. 

Quote
Move him to a grain free food, perhaps a limited ingredient diet food. Look up common allergens, for example chicken makes a lot of dogs itchy. There are some cheaper ones like Canidae Pure, Fromm's, Natural Balance, etc.

I am going to look these and figure out a food without the above ingredients and supplement with a reduced amount and green beans/pumpkin, etc.

Thanks for those suggestions!

startingsmall

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2015, 08:05:24 PM »
DVM here. 

Such a dramatic response to a hydrolyzed-protein food does suggest that you may have a food allergy on your hands, but the only way to verify that is to challenge him.  In other words, you should try the Science Diet again and see if the skin issues recur.  I say that because his improvement could also coincide with the change in seasons.  I'd continue on this food for another month or two to let things stablize, then try the Science Diet again.  If the skin flares within a couple of weeks of changing food, you have your answer.  If not, it wasn't really the food.

If/when you determine that this truly is a food allergy, you can start experimenting with OTC foods to see what he'll tolerate.  A lot of my clients end up using Natural Balance or Nature's Recipe limited-ingredient foods for long-term maintenance, but I've had some clients find cheaper brands that their dogs can tolerate.  It's really just trial and error, because the blood tests for food allergy are completely inaccurate.  The offending allergens are typically beef, chicken, egg, milk, lamb, wheat and corn... but not every food that excludes those ingredients will fit the bill, because a lot also depends on their manufacturing processes and how well the manufacturer cleans their processing equipment between ingredient changes. Homecooked diets can be a good option, but they need to be balanced with supplements and can involve a lot of time and expense.

The only way to get weight down is going to be to cut out food.  For clients who can't tolerate the begging and sad eyes, I usually suggest replacing some/all of the missing 'bulk' with carrots or green beans. 

As far as sudden food changes, it won't cause any life-threatening issues for most dogs but it does cause diarrhea in many dogs (especially dogs that have been on a single food for a long time) and pancreatitis in some unlucky dogs (if they are switched to a high-fat or extremely high-protein food and happen to be predisposed). 

I promise, we vets really do recommend these things for a reason. 

Hope that helps.

pwegifts

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2015, 08:36:26 PM »
startingsmall, thank you for all the advice, hopefully I didnt offend you with the contradictory advice comment.  Yes, change of seasons could possibly be the culprit.  We have now been in Florida for just a shade over a year, so who knows.

We actually have about 1-2 weeks worth of Science Diet food left since we switched to the Hills ZD, so we will that up and then try him back on the Science Diet to monitor him.  We will also give him a haircut and bath beforehand so we can closely monitor the skin.  The Malaseb shampoo has also seemed to help over the past few weeks.

Luckily he doesnt beg much, so people food is not a big issue.  Sometimes we wonder if his sniffer works properly because he misses food on the floor from the kids (but in all seriousness, we do really try to monitor and keep him away from the kids when they are eating).

startingsmall

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2015, 08:51:45 PM »
startingsmall, thank you for all the advice, hopefully I didnt offend you with the contradictory advice comment.

I'm probably just overly sensitive after a spectacularly shitty work day.  Nine hours of nonstop, too-busy-to-even-take-a-pee-break running...  all while my support staff followed management's mandate to stay on schedule with such helpful comments as "you're getting behind," "you really need to hurry," "I need you to do XYZ because it will take me too long," etc.  Just a shit day (as most of them are, hence the fact that the suicide rate in veterinarians is 4x that of the general population... 2x that of other healthcare professions and 2x that of even military members/veterans).  No worries.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2015, 09:13:17 PM by startingsmall »

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2015, 09:01:43 AM »
I have one dog (of 5) with insane skin allergies. To the point where she's damaged her eyes scratching, and the last time her entire belly was on raised, crusty, bleeding scab.

Apoquel cured it: miracle drug. Stopped all itching within 3 days. Pricey, very hard to find, worth twice what you pay for it.

Have another dog with a still not completely diagnosed IBS/vomiting issue. For 14 months I cooked organic brown rice, and either scrambled in some backyard chicken eggs (pulverized the shells for calcium), or used can tuna for the protein source....the brown rice seemed to finally stabilize her intestinal tract.

But a new antibiotic they gave her along with another drug  seemed to be the turning point. Bottom line: cooking your own dog food isn't that difficult. Adding in the right calcium and vitamins is important, or you can buy bottled supplements for that.

As for weight gain....my dogs love carrots. They were jealous the horse/burros were getting them and began begging, and now they all want some. They are much lower calorie than commercial treats.

Good luck!


JRA64

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2015, 10:15:37 AM »
I feel for your dog! And your wallet.

All of my experience is with cats, so none of this may apply but I'll put it out there anyway, just in case it might help. I'm not a DVM but I've done a lot of reading and experimenting with diet to deal with my own health issues.

Since your dog is dealing with, or has dealt with, fungal issues, consider probiotics. I've had great luck with my own health by incorporating homemade yogurt & kefir. It takes about 5 minutes a day to care for a milk kefir culture (Cultured Health Products). I give both of my cats kefir on an intermittent basis; it seems to have helped my 19-year-old who is in early stage renal failure (lab results actually got better). The fermentation consumes much of the lactose, so it doesn't cause the problems with lactose intolerance that milk would cause. If milk is an allergen, there may be other probiotic sources like sauerkraut (if your dog is hungry enough, she just may eat it!). Note that many commercial varieties are not fermented, and the high salt content may cause other problems. I'm not a fan any more of the commercial probiotic pills or capsules, I got almost no benefit from the capsules and huge benefits from keeping my own cultures, particularly when I started making my own kefir.

I used to have problems with my cats being overweight until I went gluten-free. It made such a difference for me, the cats went gluten free not long after. My vet recommended one of those prescription foods when the eldest was diagnosed with renal failure - guess what it was full of? My cats are now completely grain free. Our favorite food is Merrick's; they like the taste and the cost is a bit lower than similar brands, which I like. For cat food at least, they do have limited ingredient formulas. We stick with the grain-free varieties.

Speaking from my own experience / reading about people, both fungal infections and allergies are indications of immune and digestion problems. My favorite author on this subject is Natash Campbell-McBride (I may have the last names reversed), who developed the GAPS diet (www.gaps.me). She's a big proponent of probiotics, as well as bone-broth soups. If you're tossing out meat bones, you could easily make some broths for your dog at essentially no extra cost, and I would absolutely try it with my own dog since, well, dogs are carnivorous so I'd be surprised if the dog reacted. I think her work is a good resource to understand what you might be dealing with, allergies and immune issues in general, and the process to use when introducing probiotics and dietary changes.

As far as reacting to specific ingredients - I'd first suspect things like preservatives, artificial flavours and colors before things like beef or chicken. I also think it would be tough to make your own food because animal's nutritional requirements are different than our own.

Good luck!

Easye418

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2015, 07:15:11 PM »
Good lord. I feel sorry for that pup. Looks like he is a strong boy tho.

I'd recommend Kirkland Adult Dog Food. Cheap and high quality.  No problem with weight gain for me.

It may be a breed issue, but we free feed our purebred GSD's and purebred Pom and they monitor their weight perfectly.  When they get hungry, they eat. Simple as that. May be tough with a 4 year old to switch over as all of our dogs started from puppy stage.

One other thing would be to look into a raw food diet. Google it. Many benefits for the dog this may.

« Last Edit: September 06, 2015, 07:23:04 PM by Easye418 »

totoro

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2015, 10:45:04 PM »
Just wanted to say that it is not hard at all to cook for a dog.  Easy as anything and they are way more appreciative than kids :).

Ours has been eating home-made dog food for sevenish years now and, at nine, is incredibly healthy as confirmed by our vet annually (knock on wood) and not at all overweight.  I make it 1x per week.

I'm not a DVM and I know our dog is not your dog (and breeds really vary - ours is a labradoodle) but if you are considering a home-made diet here is what we do:

Mix cheapest/sale meat cuts - we usually use ground pork/beef and chicken hearts (if allergies are an issue you might want to stick with pork? cheapest around here right now anyway) with sweet potatoes/carrots/squash (one or a mix) and rice.  We use about 1/3 of each. 

I just put it all in a big pot (dry rice and guestimate 1/3 proportion based on cooked volume), cover with water, bring to boil, simmer for about 10 mins, turn off heat and leave with lid on until done and cooled down.  I also add rosemary but you don't have to.  Freeze what can't be used in a couple of days in smaller containers.  She also gets 1 marrow bone a day and some fish oil plus glucosamine.

By my calculations this is cheaper than high end kibble and she sure enjoys it. 

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2015, 09:20:43 AM »
Ooops, yes, what totoro said on the fish oil supplement. The last time she had the skin issue the vet said once a day. I did twice a day for a few weeks but have dropped it to once a day.

Also agree with the probiotic: mine get yogurt. If I buy yogurt they lick the container after I've spooned it out. If I make yogurt at home, they get maybe a few tablespoons a day.

lilvixen

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Re: Dog Food Issues - Hypoallergenic + Weight Gain
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2015, 04:56:33 PM »
I don't have specific advice, but I'll share my dog experiences.

I had a lab with horrible allergies - food, environment, air, you name it. She was on a steroid for her allergies from age 1 or 2 until she passed at age 9. I tried a bunch of different foods and ended up on the Kirkland adult and senior. It seemed to cause the least number of issues in her. To complicate matters, the lab also had severe anxiety. She was on anxiety meds for a bit after she escaped from her crate (I still don't know how) and destroyed the bedroom in which she was kept. My dogs are indoor because I live near busy streets, and they're known escape artists. Anyway, I was able to swap the anxiety meds for SAMe and milk thistle to keep that somewhat controlled.

The more anxious the lab got, the more food she wanted, so she was on a strict limit of food. I found the level at which she maintained her 80 lb weight - about 4 cups per day - and kept her there.

At the same time, I had (and still have) a shepherd mix. When she was younger, I was able to free-feed her. However, the more crazy the lab got about food, the more food the shepherd ate, and I didn't realize how much weight she gained until a vet trip 5 years ago clocked her at 78 lbs. Since then, the shepherd has been on a strict diet of 2 cups per day, which is way less than the suggested amount for her size. She's a moderately active dog, but she just doesn't need much food. She's now down to her ideal weight of 65 lbs, and still getting 2 cups per day. I have her on Wellness Senior right now, which is expensive, but she only goes through a 15# bag a month - the same amount as the two cats! I had to stop using Kirkland food after the lab passed because the shepherd doesn't go through the bag before it goes rancid - we learned this the hard way...

tl;dr I had a dog with allergies and anxiety that was always crazy hungry, and and another dog that maintains weight on way less than the suggested amounts. It took a lot of trial and error to find what was acceptable for quality of life.