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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All:

It's been many years since I've visited but I thought I'd try to tap into your collective knowledge for ideas.

I have 2 havs, Colbie who is 9 and Scarlett who is 7.

They both are on meds for gastrointestinal reflux. Colbie has a history of on and off elevated liver enzymes and she is on Denamarin and Vitamin E for that. Scarlett had a recent bout with pancreatitis which fortunately is resolved.

Recently both have had urinalysis and both had oxalate crystals in repeated tests. Colbie also had an elevated PH and the vet put her on Methionine and her PH is back to normal (6.5)

Although neither has any signs of bladder stones, the vet was concerned with the possibility of them developing due to the presence of the oxalate crystals. He recommended X-rays and also changing their diet to of the of the commercial urinary diets. All of these diets are made with poor ingredients and I won't feed them that.

They both are poor drinkers. I've recently been adding some homemade broth made from just chicken and water to their diet to increase their water intake.

Does anyone know of quality foods that would be good for them? The issue is that many foods have brown rice, organ meats. spinach and sweet potatoes which are all high oxalate foods. Colbie also needs a food with lower protein due to her elevated liver levels.

I know it's a long shot but thank you if anyone could share any information.
 

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My previous dog, (he was a Bichon Frise) had the crystals when he was about 3 or 4. He was a very poor water drinker and Bichons are very prone to crystals/stones. I was told to put him on Urinary SO. I did. I didn't want to based on the poor ingredients but I could not find anything else. Back then, there was only one choice and that was it. The crystals cleared. Vet said he needed to be on it forever. I did feed him that for years til he developed Pancreatitus at about age 9. Then the vet said it was too fatty so I took him off it and fed a better food for his new condition. Within a couple of months off the SO, he started to pee blood. He had calcium Oxalate stones, lots of them.
He then had surgery to remove the stones. And had to eat the SO again. This time there was a lowered fat version so he ate that. Then his liver enzymes went crazy. He was 12 now. Vet said he had never seen a dog with liver enzymes that high.that survived, he would only live a few days.
I was told to take him to the specialty hospital and have him admitted. Liver biopsy, IV's, tests... I did not want to put him through that. The vet did not think his chances were good anyhow. I brought him home to die. He went on Denamarin. A month later, he was still here. His bloodwork showed significant improvement. One more month of Denamarin and it was close to normal. He was still on SO til the end, the reduced fat version.
He lived for 3 more years til 15 years old.
Sorry for the long story. No easy answers here but I could never find the perfect diet for him and really did not want to feed that food but I did. How quickly he formed stones once stopping the food showed me that it was the only way, whether I liked it or not.
 

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I also had to feed a prescription food to my Bichon after she developed bladder stones and needed surgery. As much as I hated the ingredients in that food, it did what it was supposed to do and she never developed stones again. I fed her the canned food because of its increased moisture content. I also made baked treats out of the canned food. My vet at the time was in contact with the people at Hills and based on the type of crystals and stone analysis we used the prescription G/D food. Good luck finding the right answer for your dog.
 

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I am not an expert on kidney issues, however I have read a few articles stating that long term use of antacids in dogs can cause kidney damage. They also reduce stomach acid and prevent a dog from digesting their food properly which then leads to other issues. I was wondering if you had attempted to correct the acid reflux issues with diet prior to starting the meds? Does you vet think these meds can cause issues long term?

I am wondering what food you have been feeding all these years and if you tried anything else to help with the acid reflux problem.

Many things can cause elevated liver enzymes but one thing that can cause elevated ALT is a dog food too high in copper. Currently there is no maximum copper level established by AAFCO so foods can vary widely with regard to copper content.

One thing you could do is work with a nutritionist to learn how to make your dog’s food. This is really the only way to have complete control over ingredient content and quality. I would make sure the nutritionist is experienced in diets for dogs with kidney and liver disease. I have been making food for both my dogs for over 12 years. Not everyone wants to do this, however having the peace of mind over what is in their food is so critical and well worth it to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone for the quick responses. Tere, I'm sorry to hear how tough a time your pup had. I'm glad he lived a long life that you got to enjoy with him :)

Muddypuppymama, to answer your question we tried many different things to control their reflux. Many different foods, protein source, home cooking etc. Didn't seem to make a difference. What we found worked best was to feed them small amounts more frequently during the day. That seemed to reduce the frequency the vomiting. We don't like to keep them on the reflux meds but we have tried weaning them off and the vomiting recurs. So it becomes a choice between the damage from the stomach acid coming back up and the damage from the meds.
As far as foods, we started out with Earthborn Holistic kibble and then went to Orijen. Colbie's liver enzymes became elevated and they checked for the possibility of liver shunts which fortunately was not the case. One of our vets prescribed milk thistle which quickly brought the enzymes into the normal range. We were able to discontinue it and her levels remained normal until this year when they became mildly elevated. Our current vet put her on Denamarin and Vitamin E and her levels returned to normal.
After her first bout with the elevated enzymes the vet recommended going with a lower protein food so we switched to Acana. Once we got Scarlett we frequently had to change foods as she became bored with one and refused to eat it.
Fast forward to the past few years and we were feeding them Honest Kitchen Grain Free Turkey. During the pandemic it became hard to impossible to get and when we got it finally Scarlett refused to eat it.

After Scarlett's bout with pancreatitis the vet wanted to put her on a prescription low fat food but instead I opted to use Earthborn Holistic weight management kibble. Colbie currently eats Fromm's Chicken A la veg,

I remember reading about low copper foods in the past dealing with her liver issues which are currently controlled.
Right now the issue is dealing with the crystals and keeping them from developing stones.

As far as home cooking for them I am willing to devote the time and cost to it. The problem becomes when we are away as we travel frequently.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
From my research and I I will state right now I have zero experience as a canine nutritionist. But from reading at this point scores of articles on the subject it seems like the gold standard for foods which reduce and prevent bladder stones are ones that have gone through RSS analysis (relative supersaturation analysis) which is method for the ability of the urine to dissolve crystals.

One food I found in my research, while not the best of ingredients, seems to be comprised of better ingredients then the Hills, Royal Canin foods is Rayne Adult Health RSS food. It may be the best of the bad choices.

The interesting thing I find in many of these "Urinary" foods is they usually contact brown rice which is not a low oxalate food.

Thoughts
 

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From my research and I I will state right now I have zero experience as a canine nutritionist. But from reading at this point scores of articles on the subject it seems like the gold standard for foods which reduce and prevent ladder stones are ones that have gone through RSS analysis (relative supersaturation analysis) which is method for the ability of the urine to dissolve crystals.

One food I found in my research, while not the best of ingredients, seems to be comprised of better ingredients then the Hills, Royal Canin foods is Rayne Adult Health RSS food. It may be the best of the bad choices.

The interesting thing I find in many of these "Urinary" foods is they usually contact brown rice which is not a low oxalate food.

Thoughts
I know nothing about urinary food, however the ingredients of the RSS food look WAY better than Hills or Royal Canin. Good luck.
 

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I've not heard of Rayne food but it has been 5 years since I have dealt with this issue. It was not around then. The ingredients look better but it must be a pretty new product. I could only find 1 review anywhere.
In addition to the right food, plenty of water, plenty of potty opportunities. My vet always said to feed canned food(my guy wouldn't eat canned). He always drank purified water but he was a terrible water drinker. He did like ice cubes.
I noticed that if he was stressed that he really did not drink water.
We used to go on plenty of road trips and in the car quite a bit. While he was a very good rider and did not get car sick, he would refuse to eat or even drink water while on car trips. He'd go 12 hours without a sip of water, no matter how I tried. Are your dogs the same?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've not heard of Rayne food but it has been 5 years since I have dealt with this issue. It was not around then. The ingredients look better but it must be a pretty new product. I could only find 1 review anywhere.
In addition to the right food, plenty of water, plenty of potty opportunities. My vet always said to feed canned food(my guy wouldn't eat canned). He always drank purified water but he was a terrible water drinker. He did like ice cubes.
I noticed that if he was stressed that he really did not drink water.
We used to go on plenty of road trips and in the car quite a bit. While he was a very good rider and did not get car sick, he would refuse to eat or even drink water while on car trips. He'd go 12 hours without a sip of water, no matter how I tried. Are your dogs the same?
From what I have found, Rayne has been round for a while but they are located in Canada and recently in the US. I found in mentioned in some forums with nothing negative noted about the food but had some distribution issues during the height of the pandemic.
Both my pups are poor drinkers, Colbie more so then Scarlett. To increase their fluid intake I made a chicken broth from only chicken and water. I froze it in ice cube tray and after they eat and drink, I add to their food bowls 1 tablespoon chicken broth to 2 ounces of water. They drink it right up. They are getting an extra 7-8 ounces of fluid/day this way. Of course I have also increased their potty breaks and as soon as they are outside they go instead of the endless circling looking for the perfect spot.
We live in an area where there are frequent afternoon thunderstorms and when they occur Scarlett won't eat or drink.
My dogs hate the car but they will eat and drink during a trip. We have to give them meclyzine for long car rides. Otherwise they both vomit.
 

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Prescription pet foods present a real challenge. On the one hand, there are a ton of websites asserting various opinions about how bad the ingredients are. But if your dog has a medical condition that benefits from one of them, you may find them necessary. I had a golden retriever years ago that had a bad episode of crystals in urine when she was about 3. The vet told me to put her on one of these prescription diets for a couple months and than I had a choice. I could stop and it was likely they would reoccur at some point or continue feeding her the prescription diet and he was confident that she would not have them again, i continue the prescriptive diet even though it cost twice as much as other high quality foods. They never reoccured and she lived a long healthy life. It is a choice everyone has to make for themselves, gathering as much validated information as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Prescription pet foods present a real challenge. On the one hand, there are a ton of websites asserting various opinions about how bad the ingredients are. But if your dog has a medical condition that benefits from one of them, you may find them necessary. I had a golden retriever years ago that had a bad episode of crystals in urine when she was about 3. The vet told me to put her on one of these prescription diets for a couple months and than I had a choice. I could stop and it was likely they would reoccur at some point or continue feeding her the prescription diet and he was confident that she would not have them again, i continue the prescriptive diet even though it cost twice as much as other high quality foods. They never reoccured and she lived a long healthy life. It is a choice everyone has to make for themselves, gathering as much validated information as possible.
Yes it is a difficult decision. At the end of the day you do your research and make the best decision you can.
 

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This is a hard thing, and I completely understand the frustration. I think many times vets do jump quickly to prescription diets because they are simpler, even though there are other ways to manage ingredients, because there is so little on the market. But there are some conditions where the consequences outweigh the risks of the other issues with the prescription food, and there just aren’t other options. I think someone mentioned a while back one of the newer delivery companies does food for special dietary needs? I don’t remember if it was a fresh food subscription or raw diet though. Maybe it was wishful thinking.

What you mentioned about the reflux meds is really important, that there is a point where the risks of not medicating far outweigh the risks of the medication, and the same is true of diet. DS is an example of this, because untreated reflux can lead to esophageal cancer. Sometimes the symptoms of not treating don’t seem that bad on a daily basis, which is what came up with us when his medication didn’t seem to be working as well but he wasn’t in pain or having problems sleeping. Eventually he had a swallowing episode and we found he had developed esophageal webbing. In his case it wasn’t even left untreated, but he’d been on the mildest medication to manage it for many years and he was accustomed to how it felt. Personally I think with pets it’s sometimes safer to treat because they can’t communicate if the symptoms have worsened or changed. But it’s true that reflux meds can cause other changes, in humans at least, and it’s easy to rely on the medication that’s helping without monitoring it’s long term affects. With many of these meds OTC now I think monitoring is forgotten.
 

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Someone in another group had a dog with kidney disease and she had a homemade diet formulated for him. The dog lived a long life. This is an option to be able to provide a dog with higher quality diet. Not everyone wants to make their dog’s food, however this is an alternative to the prescription diets.

From what people on the forum have said, it seems these prescription diets are actually working for them and that returning to a normal diet causes issues. I wonder if once a dog’s urinary or digestive system is really messed up that it becomes problematic for them to digest “normal” food properly.

Interesting that the same companies that produce prescription diets to fix bladder stones also specialize in producing the poorest quality foods available - overly processed dry food with low quality protein and high amounts of starch - one of the biggest contributing factors for getting bladder stones in the first place.
 

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I think someone mentioned a while back one of the newer delivery companies does food for special dietary needs? I don’t remember if it was a fresh food subscription or raw diet though. Maybe it was wishful thinking.
Boo eats JustFoodForDogs. It is a home cooked diet like Nom Nom. Their primary kitchens are on the West Coast. They prepare fresh meals in their open air kitchens, which are vacuum sealed and frozen. They have a team of veterinary nutritionists, and have a full line of prescription formulas for most needs. They also will formulate custom diets in conjunction with your veterinarian after viewing your pets medical records.

Boo has been eating their food for more than 5 years. Currently, he eats a prescription diet from JustFoodForDogs. He is very picky but finds it palatable.

This food has worked for Boo. However, it may not be right for every dog. Still, it is another option for a fresh prepared prescription diet.
 

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Boo eats JustFoodForDogs. It is a home cooked diet like Nom Nom. Their primary kitchens are on the West Coast. They prepare fresh meals in their open air kitchens, which are vacuum sealed and frozen. They have a team of veterinary nutritionists, and have a full line of prescription formulas for most needs. They also will formulate custom diets in conjunction with your veterinarian after viewing your pets medical records.

Boo has been eating their food for more than 5 years. Currently, he eats a prescription diet from JustFoodForDogs. He is very picky but finds it palatable.

This food has worked for Boo. However, it may not be right for every dog. Still, it is another option for a fresh prepared prescription diet.
That is GREAT to know!!!
 
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Boo eats JustFoodForDogs. It is a home cooked diet like Nom Nom. Their primary kitchens are on the West Coast. They prepare fresh meals in their open air kitchens, which are vacuum sealed and frozen. They have a team of veterinary nutritionists, and have a full line of prescription formulas for most needs. They also will formulate custom diets in conjunction with your veterinarian after viewing your pets medical records.

Boo has been eating their food for more than 5 years. Currently, he eats a prescription diet from JustFoodForDogs. He is very picky but finds it palatable.

This food has worked for Boo. However, it may not be right for every dog. Still, it is another option for a fresh prepared prescription diet.
I think sounds like what i remember reading. I just remember there was a company with a nutritionist formulating special diets.
 

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Someone in another group had a dog with kidney disease and she had a homemade diet formulated for him. The dog lived a long life. This is an option to be able to provide a dog with higher quality diet. Not everyone wants to make their dog’s food, however this is an alternative to the prescription diets.
It would be really hard for me to do a homemade diet, I barely cook for my family, but this is probably what I would transition to if I needed a prescription diet long term. The key for me would be finding a nutritionist to formulate it because planning it all out and balancing it would really be too much for me. But I can follow directions! I would love a delivery service but so far the plans I’ve found are too expensive, equal to the cost of our current meal plan for 4 human people. Although I can see that may not be a fair comparison, since it’s a different number of meals. I could see myself trying to do it for 1 dog if there was a dietary need, but for two dogs I couldn’t afford it.
 

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It would be really hard for me to do a homemade diet, I barely cook for my family, but this is probably what I would transition to if I needed a prescription diet long term. The key for me would be finding a nutritionist to formulate it because planning it all out and balancing it would really be too much for me. But I can follow directions! I would love a delivery service but so far the plans I’ve found are too expensive, equal to the cost of our current meal plan for 4 human people. Although I can see that may not be a fair comparison, since it’s a different number of meals. I could see myself trying to do it for 1 dog if there was a dietary need, but for two dogs I couldn’t afford it.
In my own experience of feeding a homemade raw diet to two dogs for over 12 years, it takes me about 15 minutes per day. It is largely a matter of throwing the ingredients together. I have figured out over the years how to do this efficiently as possible. A cooked diet sounds more complex and I have no idea what that would entail. I am sure some supplements would also be needed for a cooked diet. I do have to stay on top of keeping my ingredients in stock and I need freezer space. It is actually not that expensive either. I am not sure how it would compare to the diet delivery services. There are some good raw food suppliers now where you can get good quality ingredients at a reasonable price. Note we are talking two 10 pound dogs. Each eats 6 oz per day. Now if I had large dogs I am sure that could get more costly. As far as formulating a prescription diet, I agree that finding a good nutritionist would be key. However, kidney and liver issues are common in dogs and I would think this would be possible to find. It is definitely the route I will go should my dogs ever need a prescription diet. There is no one I trust more than myself to make their food.
 

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I don’t really have anything to add as far as diet goes, but wow, I had a bichon growing up that had the same problem! The symptoms came on very suddenly and she had to have emergency surgery. She went on science diet urine food. Back then, there really weren’t many options. I will say she led a happy and healthy life for many years afterwards on this diet and the stones never reoccured. Her only problem was she got overweight on that food where she had previously been very svelte. She lived to be 13.
 

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We had to switch our Lucy's food due to crystals at 11yo. Our vet was encouraging home cooking for her but at the time we had a 3 year old and a newborn so that was a lot. We did a lot of research and based on the homemade foods she recommended to us, we found one Farmers Dog recipe that worked for her. She loved the food and it worked. HOWEVER, her being on that food and the salt it contained led us to discover a heart murmur (didn't cause, but it forced it to show itself - at least that is how it was explained to us). We then switched to Purino Pro Plan UR wet food and had no more issues with the crystals. Unfortunately, we lost Lucy a few weeks ago to heart disease/pulmonary hypertension and it's unclear how much was diet related and how much was genetics.

Talk to your vet about some of the fresh food delivery options, they are very pricey though.
 
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