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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 17289
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Can you help my German shepherd is nearly 8 years old and he

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Can you help my German shepherd is nearly 8 years old and he continually gets very runny stools nothing seems to help we don't feed him any titbits he only gets Chappie dried food as recommended by our vet but this happens far to much I have tried feeding him boiled chicken and rice but that makes no difference I would be very grateful for any information you can give me mrs stewart
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear about Blake's chronic loose stools.
It will be important to describe what sort of loose stools he has to try and localize the problem. Loose stools with mucous or bright red blood point more towards large bowel diarrhea or colitis, whereas just watery stools with no mucous point more toward small bowel disease.
Chronic diarrhea does cause changes in motility of the gut and can lead to reflux and vomiting. It can also lead to bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Probiotics such as Fortiflora or Benebac can help replace appropriate bacteria and may help with his stools.
I assume that he has had stool samples checked to make sure that parasites aren't part of his problem. Have any other diagnostic tests been checked?
Has he had a fecal culture to check for abnormal bacteria such as clostridia?
Is he losing weight?
There may be nothing wrong with the food, but it may not be the right food for your fellow. It is quite possible that he has a food allergy/sensitivity or inflammatory bowel disease and that he needs a different low residue, easy to digest food or a hypoallergenic food to be able to properly digest and absorb his food and not have loose stools. I highly recommend a trial of either Hills i/d or Purina Veterinary Diets EN. No treats, table food or edible chewies while he is on his food trial. If he does well he can eat these foods for life as they are balanced. Having had 2 dogs with inflammatory bowel disease I have a personal preference for Purina Veterinary Diets EN. Dogs with food allergies can benefit from Hills z/d or Purina Veterinary Diets HA.
Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease will often improve with strict diet control but can worsen with stressful situations. If he has inflammatory bowel disease even if improves with dietary control there may be times when he will need medications too, such as metronidazole or even steroids if that is his problem, but I have found that a consistent, easy to digest diet is very helpful for long term control.
There are other possibilities for chronic diarrhea.
Addison's disease, which is a poorly functioning adrenal gland, can lead to chronic diarrhea and vomiting. These dogs cannot handle stress at all because their adrenal gland doesn't produce cortisone when stressed and their electrolytes can be off too if their adrenal gland isn't controlling that normally either. We see vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes physical collapse in severely affected dogs. Testing is an ACTH response test to check adrenal gland function and checking electrolyte levels. Treatment is steroid replacement therapy and electrolyte replacement.
Pancreatic insufficiency is another possibility. These dogs have a pancreas that produces a decreased amount of digestive enzymes, and the amount produced can wax and wane in some cases, especially early in the disease process. Testing is by running a blood test called a TLI which checks for digestive enzymes. Treatment is replacement of digestive enzymes at each meal. An easier to digest food would be expected to create less problems with digestion and as such less diarrhea.
Kidney and liver disease can cause diarrhea too, but I would expect him to be sicker in general and you don't report other symptoms.
In short if this has been a chronic problem for Blake then more diagnostics need to be done. They can be as simple as fecal checks and cultures, as well as a complete blood count and biochemistry profile to assess general health. Or they can be more invasive such as biopsies of his gastrointestinal tract to look for inflammatory bowel disease or infiltrative cancers such as lymphoma.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Blake has mucus in his stools and he goes mad to eat grass all the time he is bright enough and his weight seems to be fine I am worried about this happening all the time
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the further information. Eating grass just tells me he has some stomach upset that goes along with his diarrhea. Unfortunately eating grass is likely to make his stomach upset worse, and is a way to pick up parasites so i would discourage it.
I agree because this is chronic it needs to be addressed.
I am glad to hear that his weight is stable and he seems bright and active.
Because he isn't losing weight and his stools have mucous that points toward large bowel diarrhea or colitis.
I would look for parasites and bacteria that can cause those symptoms. If he hasn't been wormed he should be with a broad spectrum wormer like Panacur (fenbendazole) for 3 to 5 days and then repeat in 2 to 3 weeks and then he should be on a monthly wormer that prevents whipworms along with his heartworm prevention.
A fecal smear and culture to look for parasites and abnormal bacteria would be recommended.
I would try adding fiber to his food too. You can do this by feeding a high fiber food like Hills r/d or Purina Veterinary Diets OM. Or you can add fiber to his current diet via canned pumpkin or Metamucil. He's a big fellow so you would need to add at least 3 to 4 tablespoons to each meal.