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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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Hi.

I’m Boo’s mom. My Boo is 4 months old. Not related to Boo’s dad. His Boo is 19 years old! You go, Boo!

Boo came to me a month ago via anotheg home in Massachusetts. His original mom decided to not have a puppy after Boo went there. It restricted her social life! Which, as a woman I’m her 80s is quite full! So I sort of rescued him!

I have been feeding Boo the food that the breeder had him on for his first months but want to transition to a brand that others recommend. My vet said Royal Canine.

I would like to hear what you all say! I know Boo’s dad wrote about JustFoodforDogs but I cannot get that in my area. So would have to ship. Not a fan of that!

What would you recommend? I am particularly interested in boosting and protesting immune systems. My 2 sister cats lived to both be 19 years old. I think it was because I fed them a very good immune protecting diet.
 

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Hi Boo's mom. Welcome to the forum. For about 8-10 years, Boo did eat a freeze dried raw diet (Stella and Chewy). He ate this as well as Ziwi Peak air dried recipe until age 13-14. He tolerated both very well. First, I opted for Stella and Chewy, as there were only a few freeze dried raw diets in 2006/2007. It was a good choice, because it was very palatable for Boo and easy to pack, when we were out of town. I later alternated with Ziwi Peak air dried. Stella and Chewy has many different protein sources, which made it a good option for Boo.

While I am not a nutritionist, who can vouch for immune system enhancement of these diets, I do believe that they have contributed to Boo's long life. Since Boo is 19 and still walking around with not any terrible chronic conditions, I guess a raw diet only helped him maintain good health. Of course, every dog is different and pet parents need to monitor closely and make any dietary changes slowly to avoid digestive upset.

On a final, I will say that I am not a big fan of Royal Canin or Hill's products. However, that is simply my own opinion, based on observations from friends, who bought food from their vets. Ultimate!y, you need to figure out what works best for Boo. It may be a high quality kibble, homecooked, or a raw diet.
 

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I think a lot of vets try to recommend something that is very accessible, pretty cheap, and not the absolute worst. To me it’s most helpful to ask the vet what to look for in a food. If you discussed issues like whether to avoid grain or not, the puppy’s weight, and any other nutrition issues, you can use that information to choose a food that fits your budget. There are so many different high quality foods now, and many different types (kibble, freeze dried, frozen, etc) depending on what is important to you. If you like the idea of fresh but you’re unable to access it, you might want to look into frozen options in your area. Most of the locally owned pet food stores where I live carry at least one brand of frozen, and the one I go to will order pretty much anything.

I don’t know specifically about the immune system of a dog, just my own experience, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Sundance seemed to have many ailments as a puppy, including food sensitivity and giardia. The vet mentioned giardia and the other virus he contracted are more common in puppies with less developed immune systems but these puppies grow up to be healthy adults, and Sundance has. In retrospect, I’m not sure if a food would help mitigate the risk to a puppy more than precautions, although I can see that the wrong food definitely caused problems! I think maybe I see digestive support as more important to the overall health of a dog, partly because there’s only so much you can control and a health issue might arise. But a puppy taking a probiotic is less likely to have diarrhea if he does come down with something (or gets into mischief), and that is a big deal since Havanese aren’t potty trained over night. I definitely believe the probiotic helped Sundance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think a lot of vets try to recommend something that is very accessible, pretty cheap, and not the absolute worst. To me it’s most helpful to ask the vet what to look for in a food. If you discussed issues like whether to avoid grain or not, the puppy’s weight, and any other nutrition issues, you can use that information to choose a food that fits your budget. There are so many different high quality foods now, and many different types (kibble, freeze dried, frozen, etc) depending on what is important to you. If you like the idea of fresh but you’re unable to access it, you might want to look into frozen options in your area. Most of the locally owned pet food stores where I live carry at least one brand of frozen, and the one I go to will order pretty much anything.

I don’t know specifically about the immune system of a dog, just my own experience, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Sundance seemed to have many ailments as a puppy, including food sensitivity and giardia. The vet mentioned giardia and the other virus he contracted are more common in puppies with less developed immune systems but these puppies grow up to be healthy adults, and Sundance has. In retrospect, I’m not sure if a food would help mitigate the risk to a puppy more than precautions, although I can see that the wrong food definitely caused problems! I think maybe I see digestive support as more important to the overall health of a dog, partly because there’s only so much you can control and a health issue might arise. But a puppy taking a probiotic is less likely to have diarrhea if he does come down with something (or gets into mischief), and that is a big deal since Havanese aren’t potty trained over night. I definitely believe the probiotic helped Sundance.
Hi. Thank you for answering. What probiotic did/ does Sundance use?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Boo's mom. Welcome to the forum. For about 8-10 years, Boo did eat a freeze dried raw diet (Stella and Chewy). He ate this as well as Ziwi Peak air dried recipe until age 13-14. He tolerated both very well. First, I opted for Stella and Chewy, as there were only a few freeze dried raw diets in 2006/2007. It was a good choice, because it was very palatable for Boo and easy to pack, when we were out of town. I later alternated with Ziwi Peak air dried. Stella and Chewy has many different protein sources, which made it a good option for Boo.

While I am not a nutritionist, who can vouch for immune system enhancement of these diets, I do believe that they have contributed to Boo's long life. Since Boo is 19 and still walking around with not any terrible chronic conditions, I guess a raw diet only helped him maintain good health. Of course, every dog is different and pet parents need to monitor closely and make any dietary changes slowly to avoid digestive upset.

On a final, I will say that I am not a big fan of Royal Canin or Hill's products. However, that is simply my own opinion, based on observations from friends, who bought food from their vets. Ultimate!y, you need to figure out what works best for Boo. It may be a high quality kibble, homecooked, or a raw diet.
Hi Boos Dad, Thank you for your response! I will look into Stella and Chewy. I don’t really like a product pushed on me by a vet that they sell. Sort of conflict of interest thing. I’m sure there are such things as what used to be called “Pharma Babes” for veterinarians with meds and food.
Hi Boo's mom. Welcome to the forum. For about 8-10 years, Boo did eat a freeze dried raw diet (Stella and Chewy). He ate this as well as Ziwi Peak air dried recipe until age 13-14. He tolerated both very well. First, I opted for Stella and Chewy, as there were only a few freeze dried raw diets in 2006/2007. It was a good choice, because it was very palatable for Boo and easy to pack, when we were out of town. I later alternated with Ziwi Peak air dried. Stella and Chewy has many different protein sources, which made it a good option for Boo.

While I am not a nutritionist, who can vouch for immune system enhancement of these diets, I do believe that they have contributed to Boo's long life. Since Boo is 19 and still walking around with not any terrible chronic conditions, I guess a raw diet only helped him maintain good health. Of course, every dog is different and pet parents need to monitor closely and make any dietary changes slowly to avoid digestive upset.

On a final, I will say that I am not a big fan of Royal Canin or Hill's products. However, that is simply my own opinion, based on observations from friends, who bought food from their vets. Ultimate!y, you need to figure out what works best for Boo. It may be a high quality kibble, homecooked, or a raw diet.
Hi Boos Dad. Another question. My vet said that grain free diets have been shown to potentially be harmful. I believe it was heart issues. I haven’t researched it. Have you heard this? I was thinking I might try the raw meat kibble from Stella and Chewy, but appears to have no grain. I will research all of this, but I value your opinion.
 

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I’ve tried a few now and went back to FortiFlora and I like it best. It’s more expensive, but I think that’s because I’ve been ordering it on Amazon and I’m pretty sure I remember it being less when I bought it through the vet. I do think the other brands helped but the improvement is more obvious with FortiFlora. It makes him poop at the exact same time every day and the consistency seems healthiest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I’ve tried a few now and went back to FortiFlora and I like it best. It’s more expensive, but I think that’s because I’ve been ordering it on Amazon and I’m pretty sure I remember it being less when I bought it through the vet. I do think the other brands helped but the improvement is more obvious with FortiFlora. It makes him poop at the exact same time every day and the consistency seems healthiest.
Nice. Pooping on schedule would be a very good plus! I’ll look into it.
 

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The grain free pushback is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen in a healthcare community. Many vets chose to recommend against it before any research even came back. Now some research has started to come back that identifies specific issues with types of grains and ratios within the food increase risk with specific breeds. Havanese are not one of the breeds identified. Karen has also mentioned a study related to legumes i think? That being said, if there isn’t a reason for you to feed grain free (Sundance had diarrhea on grain food) I don’t think whether or not the diet includes grain is nearly as important as it being high quality. I do think it’s important to bring up with the vet, but that does make me sound contradictory since many vets will make a blanket recommendation against it, even though it’s sometimes a good option. It shouldn’t need be a deciding factor in a food, though, because most brands seem to have both grain and grain free options. Even raw brands have foods with grain now, I assume maybe a slightly lower percentage?
 

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The grain free pushback is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen in a healthcare community. Many vets chose to recommend against it before any research even came back. Now some research has started to come back that identifies specific issues with types of grains and ratios within the food increase risk with specific breeds. Havanese are not one of the breeds identified. Karen has also mentioned a study related to legumes i think? That being said, if there isn’t a reason for you to feed grain free (Sundance had diarrhea on grain food) I don’t think whether or not the diet includes grain is nearly as important as it being high quality. I do think it’s important to bring up with the vet, but that does make me sound contradictory since many vets will make a blanket recommendation against it, even though it’s sometimes a good option. It shouldn’t need be a deciding factor in a food, though, because most brands seem to have both grain and grain free options. Even raw brands have foods with grain now, I assume maybe a slightly lower percentage?
Haha. I didn’t bring it up to my vet! She threw the “health studies are showing grain free is bad” out when I asked her what food she would recommend. And thanks for the explanation. I am going to research it but one can find anything on the internet. Pro and con so knowing what thread to start pulling at is very helpful. I tend to think there must be some logic to the argument that in nature for generations, doggos were not eating wheat and corn or soy beans!
 

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Hi Boos Dad. Another question. My vet said that grain free diets have been shown to potentially be harmful. I believe it was heart issues. I haven’t researched it. Have you heard this? I was thinking I might try the raw meat kibble from Stella and Chewy, but appears to have no grain. I will research all of this, but I value your opinion.
Grain free foods were implicated in some SMALL and not well designed studies on Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Our breed has some other heart problems but does NOT suffer from DCM. So this is somewhat of a red herring in our breed. (And virtually all small breeds for that matter). A BIGGER issue for young dogs or BREEDING dogs is that many (but not all!) grain free dog foods replace gains with legumes. (Soy or pea proteins) the problem with these is that they introduce plant estrogens into the diets of our dogs. These are probably not a problem in mature pet dogs. They are not a good idea for developing puppies or for breeding dogs.

I have one dog who is on grain free food because he requires a limited ingredient diet because of allergies. We have him on a food that he does really well on that happens to be grain free, and, alas also include pea protein. We don’t feed it “because“ it is grain free. :) Our other three all eat a diet that includes some grains and does not include ANY legumes. The others eat a kibble (with grain) in the morning, because it’s easy) and they eat a great frozen, fresh food for supper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Grain free foods were implicated in some SMALL and not well designed studies on Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Our breed has some other heart problems but does NOT suffer from DCM. So this is somewhat of a red herring in our breed. (And virtually all small breeds for that matter). A BIGGER issue for young dogs or BREEDING dogs is that many (but not all!) grain free dog foods replace gains with legumes. (Soy or pea proteins) the problem with these is that they introduce plant estrogens into the diets of our dogs. These are probably not a problem in mature pet dogs. They are not a good idea for developing puppies or for breeding dogs.

I have one dog who is on grain free food because he requires a limited ingredient diet because of allergies. We have him on a food that he does really well on that happens to be grain free, and, alas also include pea protein. We don’t feed it “because“ it is grain free. :) Our other three all eat a diet that includes some grains and does not include ANY legumes. The others eat a kibble (with grain) in the morning, because it’s easy) and they eat a great frozen, fresh food for supper.
Thank you so much for this information. I love this group!
 

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The grain free pushback is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen in a healthcare community. Many vets chose to recommend against it before any research even came back. Now some research has started to come back that identifies specific issues with types of grains and ratios within the food increase risk with specific breeds. Havanese are not one of the breeds identified. Karen has also mentioned a study related to legumes i think? That being said, if there isn’t a reason for you to feed grain free (Sundance had diarrhea on grain food) I don’t think whether or not the diet includes grain is nearly as important as it being high quality. I do think it’s important to bring up with the vet, but that does make me sound contradictory since many vets will make a blanket recommendation against it, even though it’s sometimes a good option. It shouldn’t need be a deciding factor in a food, though, because most brands seem to have both grain and grain free options. Even raw brands have foods with grain now, I assume maybe a slightly lower percentage?
Also, “grain is not grain” main dogs don’t tolerate wheat or corn well. Most don’t have a problem with oats and even less have problems with rice. Those are grains too…
 

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I concur with Krandall and EvaElizabeth about grain free diets. Further, as Krandall mentioned cardiomyopathy is really a big dog phenomena. Smaller dogs, like Havanese, are more likely to have valvular issues. At some point, if they get old enough, all dogs are going to have some type of cardiac issue, as organs degenerate with age.
 

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I concur with Krandall and EvaElizabeth about grain free diets. Further, as Krandall mentioned cardiomyopathy is really a big dog phenomena. Smaller dogs, like Havanese, are more likely to have valvular issues. At some point, if they get old enough, all dogs are going to have some type of cardiac issue, as organs degenerate with age.
Thank you! All of this has been extremely helpful!
 

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Also, “grain is not grain” main dogs don’t tolerate wheat or corn well. Most don’t have a problem with oats and even less have problems with rice. Those are grains too…
I definitely think this is true. Sundance doesn’t seem to have problems with small amounts of people food with grains (whole wheat pasta noodles are one of his favorite treats - he loves the bouncy texture and I keep meaning to get video of how funny it is when he chews them). Since we are conservative in what we give it’s hard to know if it’s volume, but he’s had diarrhea from just a couple of packaged treats that didn’t agree with him. I’m inclined to think if we need to switch to a grain diet at some point we could choose one with a different grain base than what he tried before that didn’t work for him. At this point there isn’t a risk to his health so it doesn’t make sense to change when his food is working.
 

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Nice. Pooping on schedule would be a very good plus! I’ll look into it.
I definitely agree with what has been discussed thus far - and on the poop issue, Perry is on Stella and Chewy Freeze dried raw and Fromm Kibble - and he poops max twice a day, often only once (always on our walk first thing in the morning, sometimes, but not always, a second time later in the afternoon/ evening). I also find it fairly easy to regulate his weight with the combo of freeze dried and kibble - He's 11 pounds and gets 2 freeze dried patties for dinner and 1/4 cup of kibble in the morning - so I can up or down the kibble to keep his weight at the right level.
 

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I definitely think this is true. Sundance doesn’t seem to have problems with small amounts of people food with grains (whole wheat pasta noodles are one of his favorite treats - he loves the bouncy texture and I keep meaning to get video of how funny it is when he chews them). Since we are conservative in what we give it’s hard to know if it’s volume, but he’s had diarrhea from just a couple of packaged treats that didn’t agree with him. I’m inclined to think if we need to switch to a grain diet at some point we could choose one with a different grain base than what he tried before that didn’t work for him. At this point there isn’t a risk to his health so it doesn’t make sense to change when his food is working.
Don't fix what ain't broke! LOL!

When all the broughaha about grain free foos first came out, I talked to my vet (who is extremely sensible AND conservative about over-treatment) about it. She said, that DCM was a "big dog problem, almost unknown in Havanese, NONE of men dogs have heart problems, and they were all doing fine on their food. She saw no reason to jump to change anything... especially with Kodi, who was SO had to find food for.

Later, we found out more about legumes and plant estrogens, and it made sense for me to change Panda off that food, and then KEEP Ducky off it. The food I changed to was a LOT cheaper than Kodi's food, so Pixel got switched for THAT reason, NOT for health reasons! LOL! Plant estrogens seem to be less of (perhaps no?) problem for adult, non-breeding dogs, and in Kodi's case, even if they MIGHT be a problem, there are other issues that would outweigh the minor risk from the plant estrogens.
 

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Adeline is 7 months old and eats Stella and Chewy freeze dried raw puppy patties and I’ve added in their WildRed puppy kibble, which is grain free, but is also legume free. Their other puppy kibble does have legumes so I switched. I also like that Stella and Chewy adds Taurine, which is beneficial to heart health and was an ingredient mentioned in the grain free studies that should be present. Stella and chewy also sells an ancient grain line Of foods.

I should mention as a side note that she was on Simparica Trio which was the cause of 3+ months of continual diarrhea issues. After several rounds of anti diahreal meds, bloodwork, specialty RX food (Hills Digestive Care, which is expensive and she HATED it), we figured out it was the Simparica. It is also linked to neurological issues/seizures I’ve since discovered, so we are lucky it was just constant pooping. Also, she gained 3 lb in one month while on that crappy Hills RX food, despite her constant pooping, which i now have a ton leftover. If your Vet suggests Simparica Trio, refuse it. I’d avoid Hills as well. She is thrilled to be back on stella and chewy food.
 
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