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DrRalston, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 2207
Experience:  Over twelve years of internal medicine, surgery, and preventive care.
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1 yr old lab taking hour and a half to eat food, have changed

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1 yr old lab taking hour and a half to eat food, have changed food, due to wheat intolerant, mixed with previous food for a good week due to having a sensitive tummy also, has now been nearly 2 weeks, but over that period of time he is taking longer, where as the first few days he loved it. Walked and 45 mins off the lead playing every morning, still very playful, slight diarrhea
Hello, welcome to JustAnswer! I am Dr Ralston. Thanks for your question.

Food allergy and intolerance can be complicated. The most common allergies for dogs related to food will be beef, dairy, and yes, you have it right, wheat. It is often hard to know this, and the best way of diagnosing it is to complete a food trial with a novel protein source like duck, or venison, or even kangaroo. There are special diets that are made for this purpose. It sounds like you have already completed that part of it. But if not, please reply to me and I would be glad to give your more information about food trial.

Back to the matter at hand. Food allergies do usually get better in the first couple of weeks of feeding. But, it might take up to 6 months for the antigens from the food that are causing the allergies to be completely eliminated from the digestive tract. Meaning, you can still have some signs for months, even after having found the causative agent - like wheat.

So, it is not abnormal for a pet to eat a new food very well for a few weeks, and then seem to have problems wanting to eat it.

Here is another thing to consider. Food feeds the bacteria in the digestive tract. Different bacteria eat different kinds of food. Since you have changed to a new type of food, it may take several months for the new bacteria to grow and flourish in this new system. Usually, the break point is at about 2 weeks. So, it sounds like that might be the problem.

Whatever you do, don't go back to the other diet just yet. Keep on this diet as best you can. So, it is taking him longer to eat. So what. That's ok, he is eating. And in the long run it will benefit him.

BUT, you can help repopulate the bacteria in his digestive tract. Probiotics are the best way to go here. Yogurt, about 1 tablespoon per day on the food is one way. Acidophilus daily is another way as well, and most druggists will have a human product that contains that and will work for pets as well. There is a commercial product from Purina called Fortiflora, but it is not sold in all countries. You might look for that just in case. The bacteria is a little more similar to the natural bacteria in a dogs GI versus the common bacteria in a human digestive system.

The diarrhea is likely due to the change in bacteria and food source as well. Probiotics can help with that.

Diagnostics: you might have your Veterinarian test a fecal sample to be certain there are no parasites. No need to complicate the problem by missing a secondary one. Also, there are some antibiotics like metronidazole which can actually help clear up some diarrheas, killing the offending bacteria, but not necessarily destroying the bacteria that is already there. That would be a good one in this case.

Stay away from the dog gravy additives. Again, I feel it's not really the food that is the problem, but probably more of the change in food, and the dog needing time to adjust the bowels and bacteria.

Keep in mind that if you have found the source of the allergy, and it is wheat, gluten is found still in many products, and might not be on the label. So, another reason you should avoid adding anything into the food.

Hopefully that is helpful.
Please reply with any questions you might have and I will be glad to answer them for you.

Just Answer Expert - Dr Ralston
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thank you very much for the help, i will be putting the yogurt into practice, can it be any probiotic yogurt or a certain 1? I will avoid the gravy from now on thanks, ***** ***** think adding sweet potato and beans would help in his food to help with runny stools, and vitamins etc?

Hello. Sorry it took me awhile to reply to your question. I am actually at work in the office and online at the same time, and had an emergency jaw fracture. Some days can be hectic for us as Vets for sure!

There is no specific probiotic yogurt that is better necessarily. But, plain yogurt is the way to go. Some flavor additives can be a problem in pets : obviously chocholate is on that list for example. So, stay plain if you are able.

Sweet potato and I assume you mean green beans would be fine. They are very easy to digest and a good source of carbohydrates or fiber. Might even help with the loose stool. Canned pumpkin (no sugar added - not pie filling) can also be a useful source of fiber. Fiber can actually help with diarrheas by absorbing some of the water and fluid and help to bulk up feces. About a tablespoon, same as the yogurt, twice daily.

A lot of vitamins are absorbed in the large bowel or made there by the bacteria and then absorbed. Once the bacteria is back on track, you might not need supplement as long as the diet is a good quality food. But, it's the same for humans. It is not known for certain that we need excess vitamins added to our diets, right? But, I think we do. And I think they help in general. In the case of excess diarrhea, B vitamins especially can be lost. The easiest way to supplement with vitamins (other than dietary) is with a multi-vitamin just like with people. Many commercial versions are available, again not all brands are available worldwide. But, look for one that has good levels of B-vits, A,D,and E. But, stick to one made for dogs in this case, because you'll know that the levels are correct that way.

Did I cover your questions? If not, again, definitely reply with any follow up. I might not get back right away, but I will respond as soon as I am able!

DrRalston and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Hello from Dr Ralston at Just Answer,

Just wanted to see if you have any more questions for me? And hopefully your pet is feeling better!

If I have helped don't forget to leave a positive rating to award me credit for helping you! :)

Hope you have had a great week,