Friday, October 31, 2014

Tummy Troubles

Poor Kane.
FECAL ADVISORY: This blog post concerns our dog's digestive troubles. I have not been so concerned about bowel movements since my youngest child was toilet trained. If you do not like this subject matter, move along. (Get it: move? Haha!)

I have lost track of various attempts we have made to find a sustainable, healthy diet for him that does not give him diarrhea.

When we first got him, in January 2014, his stools were of a toothpaste consistency: formed, but only just barely. And the smell! Yeesh. But he'd gone through some food transitions, so we left it at that.

But then, as the snow melted, it got worse. There were visible drops of blood, and much straining with no solid result. We had him tested, and he showed a low positive for Clostridium, so we treated that.

The amazing thing was that his energy level never flagged. He drank gallons of water (especially in the heat of summer), ate heartily, and played energetically.

We didn't see anything close to a normal poop until we switched him to a diet of pumpkin, sweet potato, and hard-boiled eggs. Within a week of this, he had nicely formed, mildly smelling pooh.

Yay, Kane!

After a few weeks of that, we tried to gradually introduce a prescribed gastro diet. Within a couple of weeks, he was back to pudding-poop.

This time, we went right back to pumpkin and egg, and he recovered quickly.

We tried a grain-free diet. No luck. We tried another "gastro" kibble. No luck. Meanwhile, we've spent a small fortune on tests, vet visits, and special foods.

But pumpkin and egg? Happy tummy.

Unfortunately, canned pumpkin is relatively expensive - $5 per can, and he eats 1.5 cans per day. So I started making our own pumpkin puree.

We are fortunate that pumpkins are in season. On Saturday, I sliced, seeded, baked, and scooped 10 "pie pumpkins," which are sweeter and fleshier than Jack-o-lantern pumpkins. (I've tried steaming them, but they turn out really watery.) That's enough to feed him for about half a week, at a cost of slightly more than $10.

But, as Steve commented, it is not a trivial task.

We'll do what we have to until we can get Kane onto a commercial food that his gut can handle.

"Pie pumpkins" have a darker, less stringy flesh than regular pumpkins, and more calories.
But when it was time for his annual check-up, we found that he had lost 10 pounds! That's a lot of weight to lose when you only weigh 70 pounds at your heaviest.

Turns out that the sweet potato was an important part of the mix, not an optional one (i.e., not either pumpkin or sweet potato). And the vet told us that you really need to give a dog at least two weeks to adjust to a new food -- we had been stopping at the first signs of diarrhea. (The vet also noted that Kane looks healthy: shiny coat, good teeth and gums, etc.)

So two things are clear now:
  1. We need to feed him more calories. Even when we transition to commercial food, the vet suggested puppy food.
  2. We may not have given the kibble options enough of a chance. 
For now, we've got him on a pre- and pro-biotic supplement, in preparation to trying a kibble diet when we get back from a short weekend visit to my brother in Chicago. Fingers crossed!

Kane's mouth-watering supper: pumpkin, sweet potato, boiled egg, steamed white fish.

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