Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ya gonna eat that?

Jamie started on some pretty heavy duty prednisone last night, as well as a limited ingredient food with a single protein and carbohydrate source. Figuring out what food to give him was nearly as complicated as the IBD diagnosis itself.

The vet wanted him to eat a "novel" protein source, one he's never been exposed to before. Definitely easier said than done. At his age, he's been there, ate that.

Commercial dog food manufacturers are including a much wider variety of protein sources in their off-the-shelf formulas these days. Ten or 15 years ago, the shelves were stocked with your basic beef, chicken and lamb formula kibble. The more exotic proteins were reserved for vet-prescribed diets, apparently with good reason. Nowadays, you can find buffalo, rabbit, venison, duck and a variety of fish formulas on the shelves of any big box store or pet supply boutique.

And that was the problem. I have always subscribed to the "rotate your protein source" theory. In other words, don't feed your dog the exact same thing his entire life because that could set him up for developing a food allergy. My vets at our local clinic supported this. (I say "vets" plural because in the 23 years I've gone to our local clinic, there have probably been 5-6 different small animal vets. They come. They go. They've all been great but due to the constant staff turnover, there hasn't been a great deal of continuity in treatment over any of my dogs' lifetimes. Worth a post in itself.)

Back to Jamie's diet - he has enjoyed a variety of "people food" over the years. He ate table scraps along with his regular food. Yes! Horrors! Table scraps! (This is the dog who has never been overweight in his life.) And canned mackerel and salmon. And hard-boiled eggs. And lots of cheese and hot dogs in training. And pretty much anything else he wanted. He was a goat.

Now, after nearly 12 years, Jamie has been exposed to so many different proteins, finding a novel one is nearly impossible. His vet at the emergency clinic was understandably frustrated.

"I wish people would just pick one food and stick with it," she said. "There's absolutely no reason to switch."

Yikes. Well, too late for us.

Jamie is eating potato and venison, even though he's already been exposed to venison. We'll see how it goes. Thanks to the mega dose of pred, he would probably eat the table legs, too, if he had a chance.

Here's a pic of me and Jamie from a long time ago. A very long time ago. (Sorry it's so small, I stole it back from the ABTC Web site.)


  1. HA! It used to be that lamb was what vets turned to for the novel protein source because it didn't used to be commonly found on the shelves. And because of that, the general public started to think that lamb was somehow hypoallergenic and, wanting the best for their pooches, bought it up in droves. Of course, the food companies catered to that, putting more and more 'exotic' foods out there, knowing people would think they must be better than plain ol' beef and chicken. It's fortunately just a small percentage of dogs who need to find a novel protein at some point in their life, but it does certainly make it difficult!

  2. I had that problem too with rotating vets at the same clinic. But then my holistic vet came into our lives and she subscribed to the theory of "family practice" for a dog/cat...meaning, 1 primary care doc for his/her whole life (with auxilary help from specialists of course and other holistic providers). then i had to up and move to Switzerland. go figure. because this country is so small, i already get the feeling of 1 primary care doc for each animal. already we've been to the same awesome vet but several auxiarly vets for different needs (accupuncture, x-ray, osteopath). i find the US healthcare turnover in both pets and people medical care very sad.

    as for the rotating proteins, i tend to agree with you. i'm a raw feeder, but even if i fed off the shelf kibble, i would rotate and i would supplement with people food as you did (except no cooked bones). there's nothing wrong with it. your vet may be just frustrated because the simple solution for treatment is out. oh boo-hoo. deal with it. it's always my philosophy that you are exactly where you need to be. so start from there. there's no sense "shoulding" on you for how you fed your dog.

    good luck!

  3. I would be in the same boat, training treats consist of Zukes, hot dogs, string cheese, chicken, steak, venison liver, homemade chicken liver and bacon treats, etc. With my guy I've come to realize that I need to watch the fat content in his kibble so I've been reluctant to do a lot of switching (but I do like the idea). The fact that all of these companies keep changing their formulas and coming up with new ones makes it even more difficult to find a protein our dogs have not been exposed to. THAT is another discussion in and of itself tho.

    Good luck to you and Jamie, I hope things work out and he's on the road to a full recovery. Enjoy reading your articles in F&F!

  4. Indie has done really well on duck. Kangaroo was suggested, but it is REALLY expensive. (I wonder why since kangaroos are supposed to be pests in Australia?) Anyway - venison or duck have both worked for Indie. He has so many allergies that he can barely eat anything else. Good luck.

  5. Glad to read that it was not a cancer diagnosis, and while I know nothing about IBS, that's got to be the better choice.
    And you've called Jamie a goat, umm, so is that a meat he's tried:)?
    Hope all goes for the best!

  6. It is super annoying that you can get everything OTC now Can't they save a few animals for prescription foods? Great news that there was no cancer!

  7. Cute Jamie puppy picture! I also know about the frustrations of finding a food that works. I started feeding raw so I could control what my very allergic Fancy gets. She is allergic to lamb, rice, chicken, beef, yeast and peas, plus some other stuff. Since finding out what she is allergic to, raw has been great, but now I have to go back to kibble for our trip. Fish based kibble are good, except a lot of them have peas! has a listing of all of the ingredients in each kibble, plus their thoughts on it. The ingreedient listing is very helpful to me.

    Good luck and keep racking up the little things.

  8. Found your blog while searching for anyone who had posted about Bridget Carlsen's motivational stuff and then checked your front page.

    One of my dogs got this same diagnosis about two years ago. And I had the same problem - novel protein? She has eaten just about every protein. The only one she might not have had was duck - and it just wasn't realistic that I'd be able to find duck for her exclusively.

    I ended up putting her on a plain, cooked chicken and plain rice diet. I also used some pro-biotics on her food. Used the chicken chopped up for training and also gave more as dinner. I think she still has some low level irritation, but her symptoms have been under control for about a year. She was on the chicken/rice for about eight months, then I transitioned her back to the same diet I feed the rest of my dogs (mostly a raw beef ground mix.)

    If you want, email me directly and I can share a bunch of information that a friend put together for me. Some novel proteins that she found that I didn't think of - Tofu, cottage cheese!

  9. I don't know if you've heard of K-9 Kitchen and Monica Segal, but she may be able to help with creating an appropriate diet. I don't have any personal experience with her. Check out her website at -