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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ellie has always been a healthy dog with a great interest in anything that might be food. For the first 6 or so years of her life she ate a raw diet with a little kibble and table scraps of all kinds. The only issue she/I faced was that her teeth were bad and she bullied me into not taking as good care of them as I now would. Therefore at 13 she has lost approx 2/3 of her teeth.

At the start of the pandemic I noticed Ellie was sleeping a lot, kind of lethargic and a bit grumpy. She did experience big changes in that she no longer went to playgroup 3 afternoons a week. I am a psychotherapist and whenever she was home she had a bed in my office. She had trained all my patients to pet her before saying hello to me :) Suddenly no one came to my office and I was glued to my computer screen for hours. But Ellie has always been resilient and I wasn't comfortable attributing a rather sudden energy/personality change to covid or to her suddenly becoming "old".

Two vet visits about a year apart with full bloodwork and tooth maintenance revealed nothing. The vets were content to say she was an older dog and they sleep a lot etc.

I didn't know better and relied upon Dog Food Advisor to recommend the best diet for a "senior" dog who had had several teeth pulled and couldn't eat much kibble. As a result her primary diet became high protein, high quality canned food. She continued to eat a little of almost everything I ate but seemed to lose interest in many foods she'd loved.

About six months ago her stools became softer than usual and this continued to worsen until I had a "real" symptom to bring to the vet. A dose of Metrodiazole and a reduction of table scraps improved her condition but only for a little while. I tried several "good" probiotics. Dr Mercola probiotics for dogs was helpful but clearly there was something wrong.

The Present: her stools became extremely soft, sometimes a bit of diarrhea and she slept so soundly I sometimes feared she had past away. Two stool samples a few days apart were negative. At this time I first found out that she could have an ultrasound - no one had offered this possibility before.

The ultrasound resulted in a diagnosis of IBD and a recommendation to put her on metrodiazole AND baytril for two weeks. And - a strong recommendation that she eat Hills Gastrointestinal Biome for the rest of her life. I was also told she should NOT have a lot of protein in any form. Ellie threw up the two antibiotics and now simply refuses to continue on the metrodiazole. I've just ordered it in compounded flavored form from Chewy. And she remains on the Biome as 90% of her intake.

She very quickly aged backward and for a few days, met me with a stuffed animal to throw around every corner. Her stools are now just a tiny bit soft but nothing beyond her lifelong tendency.

The vets she has seen at this practice are licensed internists. I am not in a life situation where it is possible for me to follow recipes and cook all her food. I can however, cook part of her food if I knew what to give her. I'm not comfortable feeding Hills Biome for the rest of her life and I want to do something more to help her actually get well. This is really the only thing wrong with her. I can't even understand what makes Hills Biome so special....but it is working and I can't ignore that.

I could take her to a specialty facility where they might do another ultrasound and maybe an endoscopy to obtain a biopsy. She would not enjoy it! Might it provide information that might help healing.

Ellie is my first dog and there's a lot I'd do differently. I want to do the best and most responsible thing to help her without making her life miserable in the process. Hoping some in the forum have some suggestions and perhaps similar experiences.

Apologies for the length of this post and appreciation for all thoughts and suggestions.
 

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Have you looked into a delivery service for meals? There are both raw and fresh ingredient plans depending on the company. I believe most of them can manage special nutritional needs.

I think you did the right thing by not assuming the issues were related to covid, and it sounds like the diet changes are an issue, so hopefully resolving that will help with the diagnosis. I personally think it’s okay to accommodate a little grumpiness from dogs as they get older to a degree, but it’s good you’re making sure to resolve the underlying problem. There are several other members with a dogs with IBD so maybe they can make suggestions on what to explore with your vet. Sundance doesn’t have IBD but he does have a sensitive, sort of reactive stomach. For a long time it was hard to tell if it made a difference, but I’m certain now that a probiotic helps. Is there a veterinary nutritionist you could consult? The nutritionist that a lot of forum members used years ago used to be able to make recommendations that optimized or met the same requirements as prescription diets. Members have been successful in feeding several different diets to their IBD dogs, but sometimes they need to stabilize on the prescription diet first, or the prescription diet is what works best, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s clear the diet is the problem and it seems relatively common for vets to sort of accept minimal improvement, so don’t be afraid to keep bringing it up or get a second opinion.

In the meantime, maybe she would benefit from a different kind of structured, stimulating social activity than what she had before. A lot of people have experienced life changes during covid having an affect on their dogs, and at the very least it’s probably a piece of the puzzle. If other owners from your previous group have also had changes in their lives, maybe the group could be reorganized or reimagined a little to meet different needs. Ellie might respond better to a playgroup with the same frequency but a smaller group, or for a shorter length of time, or a group with or without puppies.
 

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Boo was diagnosed with presumptive IBD in July 2020, based on ultrasound and lab work. Due to his advanced age at that time (17), biopsy was not an option. His IBD is stable on a combination of medication and home cooked diet. Message me, if you want more information or check out his thread “Diary of a 19 year old Havanese.”
 

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IMO, IBD is a symptom, not a disease, and the root cause is often diet. Unfortunately, the vets are going to prescribe drugs like Metronidazole and antibiotics to completely destroy the gut biome which makes matters worse and further complicates getting to root cause. The dog’s gut is now completely messed up and will be unable to digest anything properly, so they then prescribe one of the prescription diets which work temporarily due to tons of fiber to artificially firm up the stools and which does not require the dog to use its own digestive system (now rendered useless) to break down the food.

Giving probiotics while on antibiotics is essentially useless because the antibiotics are going to destroy whatever benefits the probiotics provide. They can be helpful after the antibiotics are stopped.

You are wise to not want to feed the prescription food indefinitely. If this were my dog, I would stop the drugs and try to get to the root cause of the diet issues. Once the gut is messed up it may take awhile.

I wonder if finding a limited ingredient diet and cutting out all table scraps would be a start. There is nothing wrong with table scraps, however when getting to the root cause of an issue it is important to eliminate variables. For example, start with one protein source and stick with that for awhile. Kibble is very starchy and hard to digest so I would avoid that. I would also avoid legumes which are crazy high in starch…worse than grains. I would add some digestive enzymes to help the dog be better able to digest their food. Ideally the food would have no grains or legumes and be lower in fat. A homemade diet is best because you have complete control over the ingredient content and quality. However, I realize some people are hesitant about this. There are lots of commercial options out there that may work. It may take some experimentation, however if you believe she is doing better I would take this approach vs. more invasive tests and stress.

Note that the above is my opinion only. Please do your own research. I hope you find a solution. Note that slippery elm powder can be useful for occasional dietary upsets.
 

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IBD is a real disease, but it can only be definitively DX'd with an intestinal biopsy. Many dog owners are reluctant to do that if they can get the symptoms under control with medical management. Kodi is one of those dogs.

I also do not agree that probiotics do not help in the presence of antibiotics. If this were the case, humans would not be told to start taking probiotics when they need to take antibiotics to prevent diarrhea. (and it works) Obviously you DO want to avoid antibiotics as much as possible, and use the mildest antibiotics possible if you HAVE to use them, but sometimes they re necessary, depending on the dog and the situation.

In Kodi's case, his IBD is partially aggravated by also having a number of food intolerances, so we needed to sort those out. Which we did with the help of Hemopet Nutriscan (interpreted by or vet). But even removing those things from his diet (which also helped with a bunch of itching problems he was having, he was still having AWFUL problems with Clostridium overgrowth, which, although it is a normal gut bacteria, when it gets out of control, causes blow-out diarrhea, with a distinctive HORRIBLE smell, and terrible, painful gas, which left him lying prone across my lap, crying in pain all night long, over and over again. Once he HAD the overgrowth, only Metronidazole would clear it. But that is a really heavy duty drug, and really not one you want a dog on very often. So instead, we put him on a very low dose of Tylan (Tylosyn) powder. This has worked very well for him to prevent the Clostridium overgrowth, but every time we have tried tp take him off it, it has recurred.

He is on a limited ingredient diet, and over the years, we have had to change proteins as he has sensitized to one protein after another. (typical with these dogs) He is now on lamb, after having started on turkey, then moved to duck. (he cannot eat beef, dairy chicken or fish at all) He is 13 now, and I can get his commercial, canned, limited ingredient food in both rabbit and bison. So we are pretty sure we will be able to get through his remaining life before we run out of options.

Anyone with a dog with TRUE IBD will tell you that it is a life-long balancing act. It is not a "sensitive stomach", nor is it s a "food sensitivity, though those things may also be true. You will spend a lot of time learning to recognize symptoms, when to call the vet, and how to manage things on your own.

Every IBD dog will need to be managed differently, but this is how we manage Kodi:

Limited ingredient diet
Treats only from his allowed proteins (or fruits, veggies or Charlee Bears)
Tylan Powder daily
Pancrea Powder Daily
Soil Based probiotics daily (Mud Puppy Mama caught that one, when he started having break-through problems at one point... the probiotics we were using were whey (dairy) based!!! You need to be SOOOO careful!!!)

For years we used Pepcid (5mg) 2x daily as needed for nausea. Now, he is on it 2x daily every day.
We keep Cerenia on hand for if things get bad, but I do not give it without talking to the vet first, as it can interfere with vomiting when vomiting can be a GOOD thing!
Gabapentin (can't remember the dose) daily we started giving this to him when he hurt his shoulder. Now we believe it his helping him with gut pain. But he clearly does better with it.

NOW comes the part I feel worst about. I am quite convinced that I caused his problems by over-vaccinating him as a puppy. He was my first dog, and I THOUGHT I was doing the right thing by allowing my local vet to stick him with every vaccine made. It makes me want to cry now. I also own his half sister, and know many of his close relatives. He is the ONLY one I know of with these problems, but also the only one who was over-vaccinated. His sister has a stomach like cast iron.

I am sure that not every dog with IBD was over-vaccinated, but most of the ones that I know personally, when we all compare stories... we find out that most have that in common. So those of you with puppies reading this... PLEASE don't do it!!! By all means, vaccinate your puppies and keep them safe, but do not OVER vaccinate!
 

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I agree with krandall that IBD is a real disease but only can be confirmed by biopsy. That is why Boo only has a presumptive diagnosis. I also agree that a limited vaccine protocol is a good way to go. For Boo, however, he developed presumptive IBD, even though he only had limited vaccines.

I would check B12 levels, if you have not done so. Often, IBD dogs need a supplement of this important vitamin. Although gut issues can be unpleasant, they can be managed, if you keep tinkering with things, and your Havanese can lead a happy life.
 

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I absolutely agree with Krandall, and we followed similar routes as she and Kodi did, though Tucker was even harder to manage and faced difficult balancing for all of his life. He was on the meds and supplements that Karen uses for Kodi, (plus several others,) and it was a constant, daily effort to keep him as well as possible.

I also believe that his was caused by over vaccinating from following the vets' insistence of giving every vaccine possible, at the soonest possible times, even though I finally figured out (by myself and research,) by the time he was a little more than 1 year old, that the vaccines were the issue that permanently damaged his immune system. By the time he was 12 he could not tolerate chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, and duck; rabbit and kangaroo were starting to be problematic.

Tucker was tested in every way short of biopsy. He was so chemically sensitive that I preferred to not risk that if I could control it with the same treatment the IBD route showed.

There are some FaceBook pages for IBD dogs you might be interested in checking out.

Dogs with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD/Canine Chronic Enteropathy) | Facebook
 

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I agree with krandall that IBD is a real disease but only can be confirmed by biopsy. That is why Boo only has a presumptive diagnosis. I also agree that a limited vaccine protocol is a good way to go. For Boo, however, he developed presumptive IBD, even though he only had limited vaccines.

I would check B12 levels, if you have not done so. Often, IBD dogs need a supplement of this important vitamin. Although gut issues can be unpleasant, they can be managed, if you keep tinkering with things, and your Havanese can lead a happy life.
Yes, Kodi is currently getting B12 shots. Forgot that one! LOL!
 
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Tylosin powder is definitely helpful and can be used long term. I recently started using Honest Kitchen's instant goats milk with added probiotics and it's made a difference for my boy with lifelong digestive problems. I mix with it bottled water as directed and pour a little over all of my dogs food daily. Goat's milk is known to be very beneficial to dogs with IBD. It has many other health benefits as well.
 

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I absolutely agree with Krandall, and we followed similar routes as she and Kodi did, though Tucker was even harder to manage and faced difficult balancing for all of his life. He was on the meds and supplements that Karen uses for Kodi, (plus several others,) and it was a constant, daily effort to keep him as well as possible.

I also believe that his was caused by over vaccinating from following the vets' insistence of giving every vaccine possible, at the soonest possible times, even though I finally figured out (by myself and research,) by the time he was a little more than 1 year old, that the vaccines were the issue that permanently damaged his immune system. By the time he was 12 he could not tolerate chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, and duck; rabbit and kangaroo were starting to be problematic.

Tucker was tested in every way short of biopsy. He was so chemically sensitive that I preferred to not risk that if I could control it with the same treatment the IBD route showed.

There are some FaceBook pages for IBD dogs you might be interested in checking out.

Dogs with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD/Canine Chronic Enteropathy) | Facebook
Sheri and I and Dee Dee, whose little girl, Sophie, is about the worst case I know, (and NOT caused by over-vaccination!) often have cried on each other's shoulders over the years! 💕
 
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Metrowest, MA
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Tylosin powder is definitely helpful and can be used long term. I recently started using Honest Kitchen's instant goats milk with added probiotics and it's made a difference for my boy with lifelong digestive problems. I mix with it bottled water as directed and pour a little over all of my dogs food daily. Goat's milk is known to be very beneficial to dogs with IBD. It has many other health benefits as well.

Kodi can't handle ANY dairy... even goats milk, and we tried THK, but because they use "Seasonal fresh vegetables", we couldn't stick with it... too many variables in the diet for him. We used "Balance It" and I cooked for him for a while, but then I found that he could tolerate Nature's Variety Limited Ingredient food. And while I love him dearly, I don't really love cooking for the HUMANS, let alone the dogs! So he gets that! LOL!
 

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Kodi can't handle ANY dairy... even goats milk, and we tried THK, but because they use "Seasonal fresh vegetables", we couldn't stick with it... too many variables in the diet for him. We used "Balance It" and I cooked for him for a while, but then I found that he could tolerate Nature's Variety Limited Ingredient food. And while I love him dearly, I don't really love cooking for the HUMANS, let alone the dogs! So he gets that! LOL!
Yes, finding the magical food that works is one of the biggest hurdles. For my boy (Boris), the magic food is NutriSource grain free lamb. I tried SO many others thinking each diet would be the one that would work for him. None of the prescription diets helped. He's only been eating the NutriSource for years and I don't dare try to change anything with him at this point (he's 13 and this has been a life long struggle). My other dogs have a varied diet with a mix of kibble, freeze dried raw and the added goat's milk. We did find out recently (by accident) that we've been able to stop his medications all together after adding in the goat's milk with probiotics. I went out of town for a week and left Boris at home and someone forgot to give him his daily meds for a few days. At first I was extremely upset but then I realized that he was actually doing ok and seemed to have a little more energy. I still have his meds on hand in case he has a flare but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he won't need them anytime soon.
 

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Yes, finding the magical food that works is one of the biggest hurdles. For my boy (Boris), the magic food is NutriSource grain free lamb. I tried SO many others thinking each diet would be the one that would work for him. None of the prescription diets helped. He's only been eating the NutriSource for years and I don't dare try to change anything with him at this point (he's 13 and this has been a life long struggle). My other dogs have a varied diet with a mix of kibble, freeze dried raw and the added goat's milk. We did find out recently (by accident) that we've been able to stop his medications all together after adding in the goat's milk with probiotics. I went out of town for a week and left Boris at home and someone forgot to give him his daily meds for a few days. At first I was extremely upset but then I realized that he was actually doing ok and seemed to have a little more energy. I still have his meds on hand in case he has a flare but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he won't need them anytime soon.
That's awesome!!!

My other three can eat ANYTHING!!! LOL! But I feed the rest of them Nom Nom.
 

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NOW comes the part I feel worst about. I am quite convinced that I caused his problems by over-vaccinating him as a puppy. He was my first dog, and I THOUGHT I was doing the right thing by allowing my local vet to stick him with every vaccine made. It makes me want to cry now. I also own his half sister, and know many of his close relatives. He is the ONLY one I know of with these problems, but also the only one who was over-vaccinated. His sister has a stomach like cast iron.

I am sure that not every dog with IBD was over-vaccinated, but most of the ones that I know personally, when we all compare stories... we find out that most have that in common. So those of you with puppies reading this... PLEASE don't do it!!! By all means, vaccinate your puppies and keep them safe, but do not OVER vaccinate!
Karen,

I agree with everything you said, but I wanted to make sure I commented on one thing you mentioned. I, too, am doing a lot of looking back at what we did for our Lotus who lived to be nearly 14. She was my first dog, and I will always love her and cherish all the years she made our family complete. But, like you, I know now that I would have done things differently had I had the knowledge back then. I didn't. And I, too, feel bad about it and want to cry right now (in fact, I am...). What I do know is that we loved the daylights out of Lotus and gave her a great home and wonderful experiences. And, when she was diagnosed with either IBD or Lymphoma (two vets made two different diagnoses), we managed the situation as best as anyone could. Both vets later mentioned that they wished other fur parents would have been so diligent with the reporting of symptoms, managing food, and overall care.

What is in the past is behind us. Now we are on to other dogs (for us, just one, but for you a lot of them). Part of the legacy of our prior Havanese is that we have learned from our past and are applying that learning to our current (and future) Havanese. That is all that anyone can ask for. And while I have never met you in person, I can tell that you are a TERRIFIC provider to your dogs, based on your knowledgeable comments and videos :).

For this same reason, I am learning as much as I can about vaccinations, foods, flea / tick preventions, heart worm meds, etc. And with the help provided by this forum, I am (hopefully) making wise decisions.
 

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Karen,

I agree with everything you said, but I wanted to make sure I commented on one thing you mentioned...
Awww, you are VERY sweet, and your kind words bring a tear to my eye. I love my special boy very, very much, and I do know that I have always done everything I THOUGHT was best for him, and will continue to do that for him as long as we have him. (which I HOPE is a lot longer! 💕) I do believe we do the best we can and when we know better we do better!
 

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Karen,

I agree with everything you said, but I wanted to make sure I commented on one thing you mentioned. I, too, am doing a lot of looking back at what we did for our Lotus who lived to be nearly 14. She was my first dog, and I will always love her and cherish all the years she made our family complete. But, like you, I know now that I would have done things differently had I had the knowledge back then. I didn't. And I, too, feel bad about it and want to cry right now (in fact, I am...). What I do know is that we loved the daylights out of Lotus and gave her a great home and wonderful experiences. And, when she was diagnosed with either IBD or Lymphoma (two vets made two different diagnoses), we managed the situation as best as anyone could. Both vets later mentioned that they wished other fur parents would have been so diligent with the reporting of symptoms, managing food, and overall care.

What is in the past is behind us. Now we are on to other dogs (for us, just one, but for you a lot of them). Part of the legacy of our prior Havanese is that we have learned from our past and are applying that learning to our current (and future) Havanese. That is all that anyone can ask for. And while I have never met you in person, I can tell that you are a TERRIFIC provider to your dogs, based on your knowledgeable comments and videos :).

For this same reason, I am learning as much as I can about vaccinations, foods, flea / tick preventions, heart worm meds, etc. And with the help provided by this forum, I am (hopefully) making wise decisions.
There are many things I would do differently if I had it to do over. It seems there is always one more thing to add to the list. The most recent is how restrictive harnesses can damage shoulders. I knew about protecting the trachea but had no idea about shoulder damage.
 

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There are many things I would do differently if I had it to do over. It seems there is always one more thing to add to the list. The most recent is how restrictive harnesses can damage shoulders. I knew about protecting the trachea but had no idea about shoulder damage.
I agree! I used "Easywalk" harnesses fro a long time, thinking they were great. It wasn't until we got Panda, and there was NO WAY to get one to fit her properly that I had to look into something different. In the process of finding something new for her, I learned more about the problem with shoulder strain from that kind of harness and switched ALL of them to Petsafe harnesses.

I also made a REAL concerted effort to make sure theyALL walked on a loose leash, so that none of them pull on whatever equipment they are walking on. That is probably the most important thing of all.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Kodi can't handle ANY dairy... even goats milk, and we tried THK, but because they use "Seasonal fresh vegetables", we couldn't stick with it... too many variables in the diet for him. We used "Balance It" and I cooked for him for a while, but then I found that he could tolerate Nature's Variety Limited Ingredient food. And while I love him dearly, I don't really love cooking for the HUMANS, let alone the dogs! So he gets that! LOL!
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
What is THK? I looked up Nature's Variety and it looks very good. But isn't raw protein harder for them to digest? Does this provide a high level of fiber? I ask because the Hills Biome does have a lot of fiber and a relatively low percentage of protein. I don't think well of Hills but I have to pay attention because Ellie feels much better.

My vet said it's very important that Ellie have a low percentage of protein and I don't understand why.
I'm with you about not cooking (y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
There are many things I would do differently if I had it to do over. It seems there is always one more thing to add to the list. The most recent is how restrictive harnesses can damage shoulders. I knew about protecting the trachea but had no idea about shoulder damage.
A few years ago I found the Curli Harness on Amazon. It's a step in with extremely good closures. It doesn't pull and Ellie and I have been much more comfortable on a leash. They also seem to last forever.
 
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