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    1. #1
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      Chronic Soft Poop w/ Itching

      Hi everyone! I initially started this as a reply in another thread, but it was recommended that I start a new thread. Hopefully I’m placing this in the right spot (health vs. food and nutrition).


      Ellie came to us eating Purina ProPlan Large Breed Puppy and seemed to be doing just fine (though she was still sipping on mamma as we were walking towards the car). Then, at a trainers suggestion, we gave her a bully stick and rawhide chew at 10 weeks to help with crate training and her gut went to hell. Repeated bouts of diarrhea, soft serve or pencil poops, straining with no poop at all. She would get some relief after a round of flagyl and a bland, home cooked diet, but after making the transition back to kibble, the runs would begin all over again (this time with intense itching, too boot!). We added Forti-Flora (woah, the gas was horrendous), then a different pro-biotic (no change), then a round of tylan powder (worked with the poop, but then Ellie would vomit bile at about 4am). We switched her to Orijen Large Breed Puppy and her poop got softer and the straining increased (as did the itching). We've tried adding pumpkin (made the runs worse), psyllium powder (gave her a terribly uncomfortable gassy belly), yogurt (which she loves, but, again, increases the runny poop). We tried adding fish oil to help cut down on the itching, but the straining became much worse. We tried a spell where we decreased her over all food intake, which actually did help firm up her poop, but she didn't gain any weight that week and we became alarmed.


      I contacted UC Davis about getting a homemade diet created for her (this was wonderful for our last lab), but they don't recommend home cooking till 1 year of age and unless Ellie develops a true food allergy to commercial food, they won't see us till then. Our vet now has Ellie on a temporary exclusion diet of Royal Canin venison and potato kibble to see if it was the chicken or fish protein sources that were irritating her system. The third ingredient on the list, however, is soy (hydrolyzed, but soy nonetheless) and that displeases me greatly. Along with the RC food, we have been giving Ellie Pro-Pectalin gel once a day and she does now have a single, perfect poop in the morning (yay!), but it gets softer and softer as the day goes on, turning to cow splats by the end of the day. Her itching has improved, but has not ameliorated.


      Ellie gets no treats, no bones, no antlers, nothing but her kibble, period (which we're using as her training treats). Currently, we're giving her 3 1/2 cups a day of the HP venison & potato, split between breakfast, dinner, and training treats (that's about 1.5 cups less than is recommended on the bag, but it's a better amount for her over all health, growth, and gut). Ellie is never out of my sight, on walks and in the yard (we're an "eyes on or puppy goes in the crate" kind of household), so while it is possible she's swallowing something while my eyes are elsewhere, it's less likely. We have also done three rounds of fecal tests and all have come back normal. No giardia, no coccidiosis. No parasites. Our next move is DNA typing her gut flora, which runs about $300+ here in Northern California, to see what the hell is growing in there (I'm down with this). Her weight, activity, and all around conditioning look pretty good (other than the areas where she continually scratches: base of tail, groin, armpits), so it doesn't looks to be an issue with her pancreatic enzymes. She's not on any medication currently. She is our mystery pooper!


      I know changing a puppy's food is challenging to begin with, so I am hesitant to start fiddling again, but I would like to get her off the RC kibble as soon as possible (their potato and rabbit food worked well for our last girl's severe allergy issues before I switched to home cooking, but the quality was inconsistent-we would get a rotten bag now and again or the kibble would suddenly be an entirely different color or odor). My questions are:


      1. Has anyone else had this kind of consistent puppy gut issue and found a good food to finally normalize the poops?


      2. Has anyone else had loose poops and itchy skin simultaneously?


      3. Did anyone else have loose stool on the Orijen, but then find a food afterwards that gave firm stools? If so, what?


      4. Has anyone used Honest Kitchen's "Perfect Form" supplement with any success?


      Thanks, in advance for everyone's input! You guys have been awesome to get to know as we weave our way through Ellie's puppyhood!
      Last edited by happy_blackbird; 01-12-2015 at 11:19 PM. Reason: terrible spelling!

    2. #2
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      I would go back to the breeder's food of Purina Pro Plan. I would start with 30/20 Sport. Most Labs here do best on a food that is 30% protein, 20% fat, or close to it. If it worked at the breeder's, chances are it will work for you.

      Orijen was way too rich for Luna. It is a very, very rich food. She's okay if we cut it with her regular food (Nutrisource/Fromm, depending on where she is in the rotation cycle), but if she gets any more than 50% her poops get pretty soft.

      Is the skin itchy or is it just dandruff? A lot of Labs here have dandruff and do better with a fish oil supplement. Grizzly brand is usually recommended. I give both Grizzly pollock oil and coconut oil, but not at the same time. I would give the fish oil at a meal and not worry about the poops being looser unless it continues after giving it for 2+ weeks. Their bodies take time to get used to things, and that's okay.

      I would also try reducing the food again by half a cup. Not gaining any weight shouldn't necessarily cause alarm by itself. If her body condition is good, she's sprightly and active, not gaining weight can be okay. Luna grew in spurts. She would be the same weight for weeks but keep growing and get lankier, and then put on a few pounds, etc.

      You may also want to look into a probiotic. I use Probios powder just because the horse gets it too and I'd rather buy one 5-pound bucket and use it for them both than 2 different probiotics. A lot of other people here use Purina's FortiFlora with great success. With a probiotic, you typically want to keep it refrigerated, so keep that in mind.
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    3. #3
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      I also would go back to the ProPlan. If you decide you still need a probiotic, start SLOW with what you give....don't give a full dose. (I base this on what I've gone through with my two....they can handle only a less intense amount of probiotic and what I do is just give them a tablespoon of plain non-fat yogurt with their dinner...despite the fact that they don't do well with dairy, yogurt is fine. Even a tiny bit of low level human probiotic was too much for them.)
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    4. #4
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      Oh does this sound familiar. My boy spend his first 6 months like this.

      Ok so you have been to vet and ruled out parasites? Worms, Giardia, etc. Thats first step.

      The vet should then be able to tell you if the Clostridium levels are all out of whack. If this is the case which I am assuming then you need to fix this. However this is really hard on a puppies digestive system to get this back to normal. Feel free to print this out and show it to your vet. I have battled this on more than one occasion. Basically your doing too many switches and introducing too many issues. Changing foods, it can take a couple weeks to a month to get the old out of their systems. So number 1, quit changing food and introducing new issues.

      Now then rule out heart worm medication. Some of the ones that also kill parasites also number 1 side effect is diarrhea. you could try switching to a topical like revolution in the mean time. Again if this is the issue this can 6-8 weeks to get out of his system. So your pup may need to be on Flagyl this whole time. increasing dosage as he grows.

      Ok, now going on the Clostridium levels, From the vet, get flagyl and forta flora 15 day supply, sorry don't know dosages but vet should know, you do not want super strong but you need to knock the clostridium down. I would go right back to what the breeder gave you for food, it is what the puppy is used to and you know it works. You can do a cold turkey switch the flagyl and forta flora will support it. You want the pup back on a food he was doing good on, if you must change then change to something very easy and mild on the system like California Natural, however pick one and stick with it for a couple months. However, I wouldn't introduce anything new like yogurts, pumpkin, and table scraps or new treats. At 15 days check the clostridium levels again, you may have to go up in meds since he is growing. Also I would try cutting down to 3 cups of food, overfeeding can cause this as well and that's a lot of food for a pup. If clostridum levels are high still then your going to have to up the dosage and again 15 days and you might want to add in Amoxacillin as well to knock the clostridium down. You need to get those levels under control. If low or normal, then cut flagyl in half, you can stop the amoxacillin if on it, for 7 more days however then also start a 15 day "Sulfasalazine", your vet may have to write a prescription for it, not all carry it. This will relax the bowels and help with the colitis. It will help the bowels absorb the water in the fecal material, which is their job. It lets them get used to doing their job Then let the body work for itself for a while don't introduce new things, keep everything pretty stable for another month or two. Hopefully that should work for you.

      There is a more drastic fix not sure it would work and can't guarantee. Again go back to just the food the breeder gave you. You can start imodium. Same imodium humans take same dosage tablet with every meal. Basically the imodium is tightening up the sphincter muscles helping him control the diarrhea, then your just letting the body sort itself out. It needs to be really stable in order to do this. There could also be quite a few accidents as well and no guarantee it would work.

      Short term fix as you already know is Flagyl, this will keep it under control while you try to find the long term fix. Long term it can be a few frustrating months to find as this will take time. However, changing foods and introducing new things can throw the system back out of whack again for 2 weeks or more. My boy was 2 years old before week long vacations and things wouldn't cause a flare up again.

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    6. #5
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      Ugh, thor is a soft pooper as well. He did great on the pro plan focus puppy food, but when we moved him to the pro plan sport line when he got older, the softer ones started. I found it interesting since both had chicken and rice as the main ingredients, but the second one just didn't work.

      We had the same issue with dialing back the volume - his poops firmed up but he wasn't getting enough food for a growing pup. Did all the tests, etc, and everything came back negative.

      We switched to the ProPlan sensitive skin and stomach (all stages) and things improved drastically. He is still very sensitive to quantity and we measure everything out carefully. It seems to be a very defined line - one or two extra bites of kibble is the difference between firm and runny. He's never been much of an itcher so I can't speak to the skin issues, other than that everything looks good - his skin and fur looks healthy and thick, and I haven't seen any dry skin or spots that bother him.

    7. #6
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      wonder if its a dog/puppy way of getting rid of food quick due to overfeeding/lack of exercise? the few times chili has had soft poop/diarrhea I cut down his food intake/switched brands to solve the problem. when a dogs(or humans) tummy is irritated sometimes no food is called for or very little.
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    8. #7
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      I am glad to have read this today. My 8 month old has had chronic "soft poop," as well. I have giving him Candidae grain free puppy food - and I give my 13 year old raw food that I make in the morning and Candidae grain free (he had two cancerous lumps - which were removed in April so I want grain free) dog food in the evening. It is great for the 13 year old - but I don't think it is sitting well with the puppy. Barley is pretty thin and a small lab (54 pounds at 8 months) - but it could be because he was just neutered last Wednesday - so the hormones have been running wild with him - but I need to change his diet. Perhaps Candidae is too rich? He currently eats abo-img_6945-1-jpgut 4 cups a day - and some treats. My 13 year old eats the raw and 1 1/2 cups in the evening and he is at great weight - and very healthy for an old boy.
      Forever in my heart - Sweet gentle Moby - lover of belly rubs, bacon, and Barbara 9-10-2001 to 11-2-2015

    9. #8
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      Thanks Everyone!

      Thank so much everyone! This is why I have been loving reading through the message boards, as everyone has experience with just about everything that could possibly come up in the life of a much loved lab.

      Thanks, Jeff, for your vey thorough reply regarding C. difficile. That
      would be an incredible bummer to deal with and I am so sorry you had to go through that. In humans, it is recalcitrant and extraordinarily difficult to knock down, though new studies are showing that fecal transplants from health donors are successfully rebooting the sufferer's intestinal flora, re-populating the gut with healthy flora which can then overtake the C. diff overgrowth. I'll talk with my vet about getting her checked specifically for C. diff.

      We've used imodium when Ellie develops full blown, multiple bout, liquid diarrhea. When her gut goes spastic, it really does work to quiet the hyper-motility.

      We've reduced Ellie's food intake down to about three cups a day of the RC Venison & Potato (about +/- 700 calories), broken down between breakfast, dinner, and training treats, which is helping immensely (at least for the first half of the day). Thanks doubledip1! She's a very active, lean lab, so we still worry about her growth (the dermatologist we saw this week said he didn't want to see her any thinner), but for now it seems like an ok trade off (this dog would move all day if I didn't enforce down time...at least I am getting thinner by the minute!).

      OK, we're going to give the Forti-Flora another shot, but just begin with a tiny pinch (thanks MightyThor & SunDance!).

      Our last lab had severe food allergies and ended up with mastocytoma (not surprising her mast cells would go sideways, considering her life long issues with allergies and inflammation). She could eat nothing other than rabbit and potato. Period. Because of that experience, I was really skeptical when our trainer gave Ellie a bullystick (and a rawhide and great hand fulls of soft training treats). My gut (haha) instinct was to not let her have it, but we were struggling so intensely with getting her accustomed to the crate (and still are, to a certain extent), that I acquiesced. Never. Again.

      No one has used Honest Kitchen's Perfect Form? It's basically pectalin, slippery elm, and digestive supplements. I love the idea of it, but don't want to introduce anything new at this point.

      No more advantix, that's for certain. Or trifexis. Or comfortis. The fleas here are pretty resistant to frontline, but she didn't have any trouble the one month we gave it to her, so back she goes.

      She is still very, very itchy, but we can find no fleas and she's not having trouble with her eyes, ears, or feet, so the derm thought it was the protein source in the food vs. an environmental irritant. So begins the slow transition to fish and potato, though I really hate the idea of changing her food yet again. Her poor intestines!

      Just a note to Moby & Barley's mom: Were your older guy's lumps Mast Cell Tumors? Please feel free to PM if you ever want to talk about them with someone who has been there.

      The only other thing I can think of is that Ellie is currently loosing seemingly all her teeth at once (ugh, that bloody-staph breath is just horrendous). Instead of chewing her kibble, I noticed she was swallowing it whole. So I've started mushing it up in hot water (now that's a meat processing plant odor). We'll see if that makes any difference. It is interesting that she doesn't seem to have any gas, though, as when you place your hand on her soft puppy belly, it feels like rice crispies in milk, crackling like fireworks.

      Thanks, again, everyone!


    10. #9
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      Just a quick update on Ellie's soft stool situation. We've been giving her Pro-Pectalin gel (kaolin clay powder, pectin, and a pro-biotic) twice a day, cut down on her over all food intake (to 2.5 cups kibble), and added a half cup of Grandma Lucy's Artisan Venison (potato based, freeze dried whole food) over the course of the day. We're happy to report that her poop has firmed up beautifully! What a relief for out little girl (and for us). Whew! Now onto the itching issue...

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    12. #10
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      Puppies can be itchy for no apparent reason, think of the skin growing, stretching. Could also be something simple as the warm dry heat inside the house, that makes alot dogs itch.

      I am assuming your pup is young because you mentioned loosing teeth. At that age i wouldnt resort to any type of supplement or oil to fix the problem. Try some oatmeal soaks first and see if that helps. Throw some oatmeal in a blender and ground it up to a fine powder. Add it to a warm tub of water and let him soak. Massage it into his skin and coat. Do not rinse, and towel dry.

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