Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Rylee Update

So, the Rylee saga continues...

I finally started seeing improvement in Rylee's stool this past Thursday. I was nearing my wit's end and was considering fasting her for 24 hours and then starting her on boiled chicken and rice. Then, like magic, Thursday morning when I took her outside, I saw a little shape to her stool. It was still super squishy, but I was very excited to see something other than a giant mess. The other 2 times she went on Thursday I saw a tiny bit of improvement each time, along with Friday morning and afternoon, so Friday night I decided to start adding back in a little bit of her usual food (Fromm large breed puppy). She's been getting 3 cups of Science Diet in the morning, mixed with water and a couple spoons of the wet SD i/d, and 3 cups in the evening, mixed with water and a couple spoons of wet SD i/d, along with her probiotic. I decided to replace 1/4 cup of SD with the Fromm at each feeding.

I can't remember exactly which day was the first, but there have been a few mornings since we started this SD diet where she hasn't had much interest in her breakfast. She inhales dinner like a Hoover vacuum, but breakfast is a different story. I would make light of it by saying things like, "I wouldn't want to eat that crap either, Rylee..." She'd pick at it and eventually finish it so I didn't think much about it. Yesterday, though, she had no interest in breakfast. She lays on her place while I mix it all up, and then I put the food in front of her and say, "ok" and usually she peels out trying to get to her bowl super fast. Yesterday, she just stared at me with those eyes and eventually got up, but didn't go anywhere near her food. Throughout the morning she walked wide circles around her bowl like it had some kind of contagious disease. A few hours later, she decided to eat it, and then last night she scarfed it down like it was the best thing ever. The probiotic goes in the dinner bowl, so I can't even blame it on that...

This morning, Rylee threw up in her crate three times before our usual wake-up time. The first time was rather messy, with stomach contents, but the other two looked like mostly saliva. She's done that once before and then was fine for the rest of the day, so I just cleaned it up and got back into bed. Her stool was normal when I took her outside (well, normal for her right now) and when we came back in I fixed her breakfast. Same as yesterday... zero interest. So I just moved her bowl out of the way and went about doing a few things around the house. Then I got to thinking... I wonder if it's the food she's not interested in, or if it's some kind of "I'm just not hungry in the morning for some reason" thing. So I started trying to think of something I could feed her that wouldn't mess up the little bit of progress we've made in the poo department, but that would let me know if she had an actual appetite. She'd eat cookies on her death bed, so those don't count. I remembered I had a little bit of this leftover:

I used to mix a couple spoons of this (and other assorted Natural Balance wet food flavors) with her Fromm back in the day when things were good. I like adding a little bit of wet food and water to her kibble to make a "gravy". It always looks more yummy that way. There was about a third of the can left, so I put some in a bowl and gave it to her. She gobbled it up. Ok, so something about her current breakfast is yucky.

Shortly after feeding her the Natural Balance lamb, hubby and I went to grab some lunch and get some groceries. We were gone for about 2 hours or so, and when we got back, he went upstairs to get her out of the crate. When he brought her downstairs, I went over to say hi to her and noticed that the saggy part of her lip on the left side was really swollen. I asked him what happened to her face and he said he had no idea, so I showed him how swollen it was. We thought maybe she caught her lip while she was scratching her face or something, but after I took her outside to go potty, I noticed it was actually her entire mouth that was swollen.

Not so good iPhone pictures, so you can't really tell, but her lips on both sides of her face, along with her snout, were swollen. Hubby got some Benadryl from the pantry and we gave her a couple of them to help with the swelling. She seemed fine, and was breathing ok, so we started brainstorming...

She must be allergic to something in that Natural Balance food! After she ate it, she went right upstairs to her crate, so it had to be the food.

While I was getting ready for work, I started thinking and the pieces started coming together...

Ever since we've had her, the first thing she always does when she gets done eating is run over to the area rug, throw herself on the floor, and start rubbing her head all over the carpet. At first we thought, "silly dog... look what she does when she's done eating! Wonder why she does that?" She did that with the crap food the breeder was feeding, she did that with the Blue Buffalo large breed puppy I fed her for a while, she did it with the Fromm food, and she's done it with the SD as well. With swollen puppy lips, I have to conclude that she was doing it because she was having a reaction to something in the food and it was making her face itchy after she ate.

Also, back when things were good, she got 2 Benadryl capsules with breakfast and 2 with dinner because she was really itchy, so we started her on that. For breakfast she also got a 1000mg fish oil pill and a 400iu vitamin E pill. Her itchiness had all but stopped and she was doing great, but I stopped all those things when she got sick. So perhaps the Benadryl she got with her food was enough to counteract the food allergy, at least to some extent? She still had an itchy face, but didn't have the swelling? Or maybe she swelled, but not enough to notice?

The tricky part is going to be figuring out what exactly she's allergic to... I've used different kinds of canned food and different kinds of dry food, but that wet lamb really seemed to send her over the edge, especially considering she only had about 1/3 of the can. Maybe since lamb is the only protein in the food, and not chicken or any other protein, it's a grain she's allergic to? Maybe she's allergic to lamb and grain? Seems like some kind of grain would be in all the foods she's eaten since she's never been on a grain free diet, although if it was corn, seems like the SD would have given her a really bad reaction since that's about all that food is. I might just need to take her into the vet and have them do an allergy test. That would probably be the easiest course of action and be less frustrating that trying an elimination kind of diet, especially considering how easily she seems to get diarrhea.

Hubby is on Rylee duty tonight while I'm at work and he's keeping an eye on her. We gave her the rest of her breakfast after giving her the Benadryl around 2pm, and she picked at it until it was gone, but he just texted me to say she threw it all back up. So I told him not to feed her any dinner tonight, and tomorrow I'll cook her some boiled chicken and rice and we'll go from there.

And here I was just starting to think that I solved her mystery illness... a friend of mine told me that it was possible that she picked up some kind of bacteria from the ground that made her really sick. Rylee does love digging and shaking pieces of grass that she digs up, so it's possible that she ingested some dirt Tuesday, or even before, and got sick. The emergency vet said they did notice some stuff in her tummy that could have been dirt, and my regular vet commented after one of her stool sample testings that her stool was a little gritty. So I was content with saying she picked up something from the ground and it just had to run its course.

But maybe it's been a food allergy all along? Or maybe I got hit with two things at once... a bacteria AND a food allergy that has gotten worse?


  1. Food allergies are so tough to diagnose in dogs!

    1. Of course mine came with allergies!

  2. One of our cats reacted to Blue Buffalo.

    I think doing the boiled chicken and rice would be the best start. Get the swelling gone and the diarrhea cleared up, then add one thing at a time. I wouldn't feed the SD, because it is filled with crap. Vets get such a kickback on the food they prescribe, I wouldn't trust their suggestion. If you have the time to feed chicken, you might even skip the rice to start.

    There was a study done a while back that showed a lot of dog foods have chemicals in them from the way they are processed. Sometimes those chemicals are added on purpose, but a lot of times they are added accidentally.

    I sure hope this gets better for you, because this kind of thing sucks.

    1. Thank you!

      I'm not sure if the SD worked or if the ickies just finally ran their course, but I've heard from a lot of people that they've had success with the prescription SD foods. They have no idea how (since the ingredient list is junk) , but I'm glad I can finally take her off the stuff.

      In a perfect world, I could feed her raw or homemade, but I've been advised not to until she's an adult. I'm really going to look into that once I feel the time is right. Commercial kibble is scary these days.

  3. Oh my, you are having the worst time of it. I'm so sorry!

    I agree with Karen on the SD. It's crap, and I wouldn't feed it. But if she's having the same itchy reaction to all the foods, I'd get the ingredients list and see if you can find similarities.

    You might start off with just the rice, or just chicken, or even just scrambled eggs. You may need to be careful with commercial chicken because they bathe it in bleach, and some dogs can react to that or whatever "natural" flavors the chicken is injected with to make it more plump. My dog also loves raw or steamed carrots and green beans or snow peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries... all kinds of raw people foods. Try ONE single thing and if she's OK with that, then add more. It's like when you have a baby and you're starting them on real foods - you only do one food at a time for a week or so, to catch any allergies they might have.

    I cooked for our dog for a while, and he did really great on it. It's a PITA, but you can make big batches and freeze them, and use only ingredients you want to use. If the alternative is a sick puppy, it might be your best bet.

    Good luck! I'm sure this is no fun for any of you. :(

    1. Jen, I don't know why I can't have a "normal" animal... you know, one that you can just give food to and they thrive. Do those exist?

      There are a lot of similar ingredients, and I'm hoping it's a grain of some kind. That way, I could look into getting grain free kibble, and that would be fairly uncomplicated.

      I've been looking into the homemade diets too... it wouldn't be too bad if you could make up a big batch and then freeze it. Maybe cook once a week or so. Hubby might get jealous that the dog eats better than he does, but he'll get over it. LOL

      Thank you for the suggestions!

  4. I'm going to put in the 3rd vote for losing the SD. My step father was a vet, and my mom is a labrador breeder. Because he got the stuff basically for free, we fed it to our dogs for a long time. Their coats were terrible, and many dogs did not do well on it at all. My mom quit feeding it and started buying food rather than taking the so called better food for free. When you have 20 dogs in your yard, that can be very expensive but it was that bad.

    Food allergies in dogs are really really hard. They can do a panel, but there is so so so much different crap in commercial dog foods it is almost easier to do as Jenj said and pull all the foods, adding back one thing at a time. I'm a little surprised that she is allergic to lamb. Usually that is the one thing you can get by with, but there are always exceptions. Good luck!

    1. Yeah, I'm thinking I might need a grain free kibble or a limited ingredient... something with fewer things in it, so there's less to try and eliminate. I'll be glad when I find something that she likes and isn't allergic to.

      Thanks for your help!

  5. Good grief! Poor all of you, ugh, I hope you can figure it out soon!