DEAR DR. FOX: My dog might have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and the vet wants to put him on a prescription diet for three weeks. He has been eating raw since we got him in January. I would really rather not give him kibble again, especially not one whose first ingredient is corn. Here is my dilemma in more detail:
My dog is an almost 3-year-old mutt (he looks like a shepherd) who weighs about 27.5 pounds. We have had him since January and have been feeding him raw ground beef and chicken livers/hearts/necks and cooked sweet potato. Over the past three to four weeks, his stool has been irregular -- mainly with the presence of mucus; it's sometimes soft, and he's had diarrhea, dark stool and a possible small amount of blood in his feces. It has been very inconsistent. Besides the irregular stools, he seems absolutely fine -- normal behavior, appetite and water intake. A giardia test was negative. A blood test looking for the presence of something that would indicate IBD was also negative. The vet still thinks it's IBD, and the plan is to change to a prescription diet. If that works, then we'll leave it at that and possibly transition to other food. If not, then vet wants to biopsy for IBD.
I appreciate that the vet wants to start with diet before jumping to meds or more invasive testing. However, I would prefer not to put him on the prescription food with the first ingredient listed as corn that contains other ingredients that I would prefer not to feed my dog. The food he's supposed to go on, starting today or ASAP, is Hill's I/D. At the same time, I respect our vet, and part of me says I should just go along with this temporary diet to see if he improves and transition to something else after the three weeks.
So my options are to a) just go along with the special diet that I don't really agree with or feel is the healthiest option, or b) find an alternative more wholesome, natural or homemade diet that would also help ease digestive problems, hopefully with approval from the vet. What would you do? -- R.G., Ridgefield, Connecticut
DEAR R.G.: Some dogs do not thrive as well as others on a raw food diet. It often helps these dogs to lightly cook the food and provide digestive enzymes and probiotics. Transition your dog to my home-prepared recipe (posted on my website, DrFoxVet.net), and let me know how he fares. It has helped many dogs avoid costly and unpalatable, if not dubious, prescription diets. Keep me posted.
R.G. RESPONDS: I have been feeding my dog your recipe with turkey for the past week, and his stool is back to normal! My fingers are still crossed that it continues this way, but I feel confident in the decision to avoid the "poop in a bag," as my mom called it, from the vet. I can't thank you enough for your help.
STOP DECLAWING CATS! WILL NEW YORK BE THE FIRST STATE TO BAN DECLAWING?
Some New York veterinarians are lobbying for the state to ban feline declawing, saying the practice is unnecessary and harmful. Other veterinarians, including the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, oppose the ban, noting that declawing may be the only way to prevent euthanasia in some situations. The society argues that the decision to declaw should be made between an owner and his or her veterinarian, not by lawmakers.
Declawing is illegal in some countries and certain U.S. cities, but no states have banned the procedure. For details on this unwarranted, avoidable and inhumane practice of routinely declawing cats, see my article at DrFoxVet.net.
To support New Jersey's Anti-Declaw Bill A3899, go to change.org/p/support-new-jersey-s-anti-declaw-bill-a3899-singleton.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)