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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)
Sorry! "THK" is short hand for The Honest Kitchen. Which is a freeze dried complete food.Nature's Variety does have a frozen raw line of food, but that's not the limited ingredient stuff. The limited ingredient ones are canned and kibble. He gets kibble for breakfast and canned for dinner. We are using the lamb one now. He started on turkey, then switched to duck, and now is on lamb, as he has become sensitized to different proteins.

I don't know whether raw would be harder to digest or not... I can't feed raw personally because I have a compromised immune system, and can't have hairy faced dogs eating raw meat then putting their faces all over me. :)

I have NEVER been told by ANY of the vets that I've worked with that Kodi needed to be on either a big fiber food or a low protein food. So I'm not sure what either of those would be about. I don't even really look at that, so I can't tell you. I CAN tell you that if that is a consideration, The Honest Kitchen s WAY high fiber. One of the reasons I don't like it is that it makes my dogs have ENORMOUS poops because of the mass of vegetable and grain matter that dogs just can't digest in it. There are a bunch of different recipes, so maybe you want to look at those, even though they don't work for Kodi. Every dog with IBD is different!

And you are right, if Hills is what works, then that may be what you need to use. I have a friend with a 3 year old Leonberger who has IBD. In her case, it HAS ben confirmed with a biopsy. The ONLY thing that poor dog can tolerate is that horrible hydrolysed protein stuff. NO ONE in their right mind would WANT their dog living on that... but it is the ONLY thing they have been able to feed her that keeps her from blow-out diarrhea, vomitting and pain. You sometimes just have to do what you have to do with these dogs.
 
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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.
Mesh harnesses just cause too much matting on my dogs in coat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
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.
Now that she's feeling a bit better I've been arranging visits with neighbors who also have dogs wanting a bit more activity. They tend to "parallel play" but she gets to check out other toys and every corner of a new house. She's always been a people dog rather than a dog/dog and hopefully there will be more people in our life in not too long.

I have looked at the delivery services and would much rather feed her their food than any canned diet. I don't know which ones are reliable and honest. And now...I don't know what kinds of meals I should choose. Is there a site that evaluates these programs? Or better yet, have you tried any and what experiences have you had?
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Sorry! "THK" is short hand for The Honest Kitchen. Which is a freeze dried complete food.Nature's Variety does have a frozen raw line of food, but that's not the limited ingredient stuff. The limited ingredient ones are canned and kibble. He gets kibble for breakfast and canned for dinner. We are using the lamb one now. He started on turkey, then switched to duck, and now is on lamb, as he has become sensitized to different proteins.

I don't know whether raw would be harder to digest or not... I can't feed raw personally because I have a compromised immune system, and can't have hairy faced dogs eating raw meat then putting their faces all over me. :)

I have NEVER been told by ANY of the vets that I've worked with that Kodi needed to be on either a big fiber food or a low protein food. So I'm not sure what either of those would be about. I don't even really look at that, so I can't tell you. I CAN tell you that if that is a consideration, The Honest Kitchen s WAY high fiber. One of the reasons I don't like it is that it makes my dogs have ENORMOUS poops because of the mass of vegetable and grain matter that dogs just can't digest in it. There are a bunch of different recipes, so maybe you want to look at those, even though they don't work for Kodi. Every dog with IBD is different!

And you are right, if Hills is what works, then that may be what you need to use. I have a friend with a 3 year old Leonberger who has IBD. In her case, it HAS ben confirmed with a biopsy. The ONLY thing that poor dog can tolerate is that horrible hydrolysed protein stuff. NO ONE in their right mind would WANT their dog living on that... but it is the ONLY thing they have been able to feed her that keeps her from blow-out diarrhea, vomitting and pain. You sometimes just have to do what you have to do with these dogs.
Thanks - I now have some information about what food(s) I might try if and when I stray from Hills.
 

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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)
THK is just short for The Honest Kitchen which is a brand of dog food and also makes the goat's milk supplement I was talking about. As far as food goes, I'll let others weigh in but my experience was just finding a food that had the right balance of ingredients and nutrition that worked for my dog. I researched myself into a new level of crazy trying to figure things out with protein, fat, fiber, etc. Finally, when I was at my wit's end I ended up taking to the owner of a local pet feed store that specializes in high end quality foods about it. I was about to buy yet another food I thought might work and he talked me into trying the NutriSource. He loaded me up with enough sample bags to help me transition and feed for a couple of weeks and it turned out to be the magic food that worked. We still needed meds to control problems. The limited ingredient food Karen mentioned is also very good for many issues. I have many friends in rescue that use it for various allergy/skin and digestive problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
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.
A good thing to know about for a dog. We gave my extremely colicky daughter a home-made formula using goats milk and it was the only thing she could keep down and digest for several months.
 

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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.
Thank you. I am always open to harness suggestions. I finally found the harness that is perfect for my yorkie. It is by The Trendy Whippet. He has a lipoma on the shoulder and this harness hits him just right and it is super soft. I also bought one for Mia although I think my favorite for her is the Blue 9 Balance harness. But good to have new harness ideas in my back pocket.
 

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THK is just short for The Honest Kitchen which is a brand of dog food and also makes the goat's milk supplement I was talking about. As far as food goes, I'll let others weigh in but my experience was just finding a food that had the right balance of ingredients and nutrition that worked for my dog. I researched myself into a new level of crazy trying to figure things out with protein, fat, fiber, etc. Finally, when I was at my wit's end I ended up taking to the owner of a local pet feed store that specializes in high end quality foods about it. I was about to buy yet another food I thought might work and he talked me into trying the NutriSource. He loaded me up with enough sample bags to help me transition and feed for a couple of weeks and it turned out to be the magic food that worked. We still needed meds to control problems. The limited ingredient food Karen mentioned is also very good for many issues. I have many friends in rescue that use it for various allergy/skin and digestive problems.
Although Mia does not have IBD it did take me awhile to find something that worked for her. She does better without grains, legumes and veggies or else we wind up with tons of large poop multiple times per day which makes me wonder if she is getting anything out of the food. That is what lead me to raw food because that is the only way I could avoid these ingredients. I started with Natures Variety raw and then eventually made my own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
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
Thanks - that's a very valuable resource right now. Many suggestions have been very helpful. Suggestions I received from the forum have made it clear that I need to find a nutritionally minded vet, "wholistic", willing to take the time to help me help Ellie.
I live in a part of Manhattan where it often seems there are more dogs than people. We have many vets but most are in a big hurry and sell the same prescription foods etc. However, this is a very large community and I will look for someone who will check her B12 levels and many other possibilities. I first brought Ellie to my vet in 2020 saying something is wrong. They did standard bloods, found nothing and suggested she lose a pound or two. This happened again when she had her yearly exam in 2021. IF I had been told they could do an ultrasound which is non-invasive, I would have jumped at the suggestion. And I suspect they would have found the IBD when it was first starting. Ellie wouldn't have been in distress for two years and I wouldn't have constantly feared she was about to pass away.

If anyone on the board knows of a nutritionist/vet I could consult over Zoom I'd appreciate the information. Or if by chance, you know of someone in Manhattan, please pass along the information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
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!
Thank you so much for sharing your clearly difficult experiences. It does indeed sound like you made the choices you thought were best - none of us can realistically expect more of ourselves.

Can you tell me which soil based probiotic you're using and what commercial limited ingredient canned food has been successful? I read the labels, can narrow down the choices, but don't know enough to find the most likely candidate. I realize I have to try things and find what works for Ellie. But I'd love some places to start.

Thanks again.
 

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Now that she's feeling a bit better I've been arranging visits with neighbors who also have dogs wanting a bit more activity. They tend to "parallel play" but she gets to check out other toys and every corner of a new house. She's always been a people dog rather than a dog/dog and hopefully there will be more people in our life in not too long.

I have looked at the delivery services and would much rather feed her their food than any canned diet. I don't know which ones are reliable and honest. And now...I don't know what kinds of meals I should choose. Is there a site that evaluates these programs? Or better yet, have you tried any and what experiences have you had?
I feed Nom Nom. They have a veterinary nutritionist on staff, and offer 4 different protein based recipies. The food comes frozen, in serving sized packages for each dog. They offer chicken, turkey, beef and pork. We get chicken turkey and pork. The reason I don’t get the beef recipe is that that one also contains peas, and I do not feed legumes to my young and/or breeding dogs due to the phytoestrogens. Since it is only a small quantity, this is is probably not an issue for an adult, non-breeding dog, however.

The food, when you defrost and open it, looks and smells like a casserole that you’d feed to humans. You can see the pieces of meat, veggies, rice, sweet potato, or whatever is in that particular recipe. (The recipe is listed on each package) My dogs LOVE it!

The ONLY “problem” for us, and it probably wouldn’t be an issue for the owner of a single dog, is that to save shipping costs and environmental impact, (both things that I applaud) they ship every other month. That means, that for us, feeding several dogs, we needed to buy a seoarate, small, chest type freezer to hold the food. But we found one for about $175 at Lowes, and the electrical costs for running it for a year, are just $25. So it is very efficient. We move about a week’s worth of meals to the upstairs freezer at a time, and defrost them in the refrigerator a day or two ahead.

There actually was a review I read a while ago about the major brands, but I can’t remember where. I do remember that the two that were the most highly rated were The Farmer’s Dog and Nom Nom. Nom Nom was less expensive, but they dinged it for being “less convenient” because the “tear open packages” are almost impossible to tear open. THAT is true! I don’t even try! I just use kitchen scissors and cut the pouches open! But for the lower cost compared the The Farmer’s Dog, if THAT is the only difference, I can live with it!!!
 

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A good thing to know about for a dog. We gave my extremely colicky daughter a home-made formula using goats milk and it was the only thing she could keep down and digest for several months.
A home made formula based on goats milk saved my puppies when my mama dog didn’t get her milk in after an emergency C-section! I also use it for weaning pups. So I am a fan for dogs who can tolerate it!
 

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Thank you so much for sharing your clearly difficult experiences. It does indeed sound like you made the choices you thought were best - none of us can realistically expect more of ourselves.

Can you tell me which soil based probiotic you're using and what commercial limited ingredient canned food has been successful? I read the labels, can narrow down the choices, but don't know enough to find the most likely candidate. I realize I have to try things and find what works for Ellie. But I'd love some places to start.

Thanks again.
The food is Nature’s Variety Limited Ingredient Lamb (but it comes in a number of different proteins)

These are the soil based probiotics I use. SOMETIMES I can get them on Amazon, sometimes I have to get them directly from the company. They are VERY expensive!:


Because they do not containy the digestive enzymes that my regular (whey based) probiotics included, my vet also added Pancrea Powder, which is a digestive enzyme to his routine. But I don’t have a brand, or anything for that, I get that directly from the vet. (Actually, I just looked it up, and these ARE available on line! I don’t know which brand my vet uses)
 

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Thanks - that's a very valuable resource right now. Many suggestions have been very helpful. Suggestions I received from the forum have made it clear that I need to find a nutritionally minded vet, "wholistic", willing to take the time to help me help Ellie.
I live in a part of Manhattan where it often seems there are more dogs than people. We have many vets but most are in a big hurry and sell the same prescription foods etc. However, this is a very large community and I will look for someone who will check her B12 levels and many other possibilities. I first brought Ellie to my vet in 2020 saying something is wrong. They did standard bloods, found nothing and suggested she lose a pound or two. This happened again when she had her yearly exam in 2021. IF I had been told they could do an ultrasound which is non-invasive, I would have jumped at the suggestion. And I suspect they would have found the IBD when it was first starting. Ellie wouldn't have been in distress for two years and I wouldn't have constantly feared she was about to pass away.

If anyone on the board knows of a nutritionist/vet I could consult over Zoom I'd appreciate the information. Or if by chance, you know of someone in Manhattan, please pass along the information.
I am not sure if you want to feed a raw homemade diet, however there are a couple of nutritionists online that sound really good. They will formulate a recipe that will meet or exceed NRC standards. Note that most commercial foods are formulated to meet AAFCO standards which is a much lower standard than the NRC. I have not used these nutritionists myself but I read many of their articles and I would feel confident using them based upon what I have read. I am not sure if they do cooked diets. You mentioned you do not want to cook for your dog. With raw, there is no cooking. It takes me 10-15 minutes per day to prepare food for two dogs. Most of the effort is in acquiring the ingredients which is much easier now because there are more raw food suppliers.

 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
I feed Nom Nom. They have a veterinary nutritionist on staff, and offer 4 different protein based recipies. The food comes frozen, in serving sized packages for each dog. They offer chicken, turkey, beef and pork. We get chicken turkey and pork. The reason I don’t get the beef recipe is that that one also contains peas, and I do not feed legumes to my young and/or breeding dogs due to the phytoestrogens. Since it is only a small quantity, this is is probably not an issue for an adult, non-breeding dog, however.

The food, when you defrost and open it, looks and smells like a casserole that you’d feed to humans. You can see the pieces of meat, veggies, rice, sweet potato, or whatever is in that particular recipe. (The recipe is listed on each package) My dogs LOVE it!

The ONLY “problem” for us, and it probably wouldn’t be an issue for the owner of a single dog, is that to save shipping costs and environmental impact, (both things that I applaud) they ship every other month. That means, that for us, feeding several dogs, we needed to buy a seoarate, small, chest type freezer to hold the food. But we found one for about $175 at Lowes, and the electrical costs for running it for a year, are just $25. So it is very efficient. We move about a week’s worth of meals to the upstairs freezer at a time, and defrost them in the refrigerator a day or two ahead.

There actually was a review I read a while ago about the major brands, but I can’t remember where. I do remember that the two that were the most highly rated were The Farmer’s Dog and Nom Nom. Nom Nom was less expensive, but they dinged it for being “less convenient” because the “tear open packages” are almost impossible to tear open. THAT is true! I don’t even try! I just use kitchen scissors and cut the pouches open! But for the lower cost compared the The Farmer’s Dog, if THAT is the only difference, I can live with it!!!
Thanks so much. I'm saving the info in your post and it makes me feel more confident about what I can try first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
The food is Nature’s Variety Limited Ingredient Lamb (but it comes in a number of different proteins)

These are the soil based probiotics I use. SOMETIMES I can get them on Amazon, sometimes I have to get them directly from the company. They are VERY expensive!:


Because they do not containy the digestive enzymes that my regular (whey based) probiotics included, my vet also added Pancrea Powder, which is a digestive enzyme to his routine. But I don’t have a brand, or anything for that, I get that directly from the vet. (Actually, I just looked it up, and these ARE available on line! I don’t know which brand my vet uses)
Thanks so much. I'll keep the information and see how she's doing. Will slowly introduce new things and wait to see how she tolerates them.
 

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Thanks so much. I'll keep the information and see how she's doing. Will slowly introduce new things and wait to see how she tolerates them.
I would definitely add the probiotics and enzymes sooner rather than later, no matter what food you choose. My vet suggests them for ALL of my dogs, just because they have busy, performance lives. If she doesn't have a serious problem with dairy, you DON'T need the expensive soil based probiotics! These are the ones we use for all the others, and we actually used them for years for Kodi too, before he started having break-though problems and we had to switch. This is an excellent product, approved by my vet, and contains BOTH the probiotics AND digestive enzymes:


Here is another one that they have added to their line, though, that you can get in a smaller container to try, and does have the minimum 500 CFU that my vet says is important:


I would think that either of these would help her get more benefit out of whatever you feed her, just because she is digesting them better.

Incidentally, MPM, if you re reading this, I wonder whether, when you tried probiotics and had trouble with them, if you were using one with a digestive enzyme added. I think this may be an important piece to making them actually work. And if you aren't working with a vet trained in this stuff, they may not know that.
 
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I would definitely add the probiotics and enzymes sooner rather than later, no matter what food you choose. My vet suggests them for ALL of my dogs, just because they have busy, performance lives. If she doesn't have a serious problem with dairy, you DON'T need the expensive soil based probiotics! These are the ones we use for all the others, and we actually used them for years for Kodi too, before he started having break-though problems and we had to switch. This is an excellent product, approved by my vet, and contains BOTH the probiotics AND digestive enzymes:


Here is another one that they have added to their line, though, that you can get in a smaller container to try, and does have the minimum 500 CFU that my vet says is important:


I would think that either of these would help her get more benefit out of whatever you feed her, just because she is digesting them better.

Incidentally, MPM, if you re reading this, I wonder whether, when you tried probiotics and had trouble with them, if you were using one with a digestive enzyme added. I think this may be an important piece to making them actually work. And if you aren't working with a vet trained in this stuff, they may not know that.
It has been awhile since I first tried probiotics on my dogs. I do not even recall the brand, however it did contain some prebiotics and I read some articles that say that some prebiotics can be problematic. It did not contain digestive enzymes.

That was a couple years ago. No probiotics since then and dogs have been perfectly fine digestive wise.

Fast forward…

Recently, my yorkie (for the first time in his 13 year life) took some antibiotics. He also had a dental. Double drug whammy. I was wondering if I should give him a probiotic so I actually purchased the expensive soil based probiotic you are using for Kodi to have on hand in case he started having some issues. Note that this is a dog who has had maybe 5 loose stools in his entire life and has only thrown up a couple times. Anyway, he was fine for a couple weeks and then had a few digestive issues that is so unlike him. I did start him on the probiotic which actually made matters worse it seemed. Around this same time I did feed some new kind of premade commercial raw and wondered if that could be the issue, although Mia was fine with it. Always bad when there is more than one variable!!! Anyway, I am now making their food completely from scratch again and stopped the premade raw. I also stopped the probiotic trying to eliminate variables and see what I could do with diet only. I do not feed digestive enzymes because I feed raw pork pancreas a few times a week which is a great natural source of enzymes. They also get lots of enzymes from their food since it is raw. It had been a month since his last digestive upset and he is doing great. I am not saying that the probiotic caused problems. I really do not know. However, I wanted to see what I could do with diet only. I also think that just because the probiotic seemed to make things worse, that is not always a bad thing. Sometimes adjusting to something new, even if it is good, can cause initial upset. I may try the probiotic again in the future, however currently things are good and I a scared to try something new.
 

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Now that she's feeling a bit better I've been arranging visits with neighbors who also have dogs wanting a bit more activity. They tend to "parallel play" but she gets to check out other toys and every corner of a new house. She's always been a people dog rather than a dog/dog and hopefully there will be more people in our life in not too long.

I have looked at the delivery services and would much rather feed her their food than any canned diet. I don't know which ones are reliable and honest. And now...I don't know what kinds of meals I should choose. Is there a site that evaluates these programs? Or better yet, have you tried any and what experiences have you had?
I might have misunderstood, thinking the diet issues have mostly resolved since the diagnosis but that you are still seeing some changes in her personality that may or may not be related to her age or being at home. Although Sundance does enjoy playing with other dogs, I don’t really see social/playgroups as actually being about playing with other dogs. I also notice a difference since Sundance has been home so much. I think it’s more about the outing of it, and the stimulation, the sniffing at the neighbor’s house, like you mentioned. Being part of a dog group just means that it’s easier and more enjoyable for the owner. But if that’s not possible with your current circumstances, maybe some other kind outing aside from a typical walk would help her. Do you notice it helps when she visits the neighbors? I don’t mean to be insensitive to you living in a high density population - it’s easier for me to switch up our routine when I can take Sundance many places with few people within a mile of my house. I’ve been trying to visit my mom more and I take him with me, and I think it’s helping. I’m sure he’d improve even more if I could take him to different people’s houses but we don’t have enough friends ;)

I haven’t used a delivery service because I feel like it’s too far out of my budget for 2 dogs, and I do want another Havanese. I love our famiiy’s meal delivery service so I can’t imagine I wouldn’t like it for Sundance. Maybe when my kids are done with college, lol. I think there are a lot of really good options out there for food that just weren’t available 10 years ago, and more options means a better chance of finding something that works for you. I did notice with Sundance that when I switched food very gradually, it was pretty clear if the food wasn’t going to work out before it created a horrific diarrhea disaster, but he doesn’t have IBD, just a weird stomach.
 
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