Hi, I’m new here and would love some advice! I have an adult shih tzu
who only ate kibble the first 6 or 7 years of his life, and last year we
rescued a second dog who needed to gain weight. I added wet food to the
kibble for both dogs (didn’t want to show favoritism!) and now I can’t
get them off of it. Why try, you ask? Most importantly, I notice they
throw up once in a while (too rich?) and have bad gas, but it’s also not
as convenient (I’m a mom of two small children, one with special needs
so my life is pretty stressful)… I figured my shih tzu would eat if
he’s hungry enough but no luck so far – I’m caving in and throwing in
some nitrate free deli meat or boiled chicken here and there… but I
really want to get back to just kibble! I wonder if I find a tastier
kibble? (currently using Orijen grain free)
Thank you for your help!!
Hi jamie f- I’ve got a dog with a sensitive stomach that i am also using Origen Adult Dog for and wet food from a variety of different brands. Hes a picky dog and doesn’t like only dry kibble. One reason I would stay with the wet is because of the moisture content it puts back into your dogs diet that they lack with only dry kibble, which can lead to organ damage from minor dehydration. I completely understand the budget, I don’t have a fancy job and make just a little over minimum wage so I’m always looking for quality wet food thats lower in cost. Ive found that walmart carries a 5 star quality wet food called Pure Balance and Tractor Supply carries a 4 star brand called 4Health. I’ve had great success with both and they are cheap. The vomiting could be almost anything. and given that its not after every single meal with wet food i doubt that is the culprit.
However, if you are dead set on an only kibble diet try doing a rotational diet where you change their protein source and brand often to give them variety and add a probiotic like the Honest Kitchens Perfect Form or some canned pumpkin to help build up the healthy bacteria in their gut to be able to handle the food change. Eating one brand of food their whole life can be very unhealthy and just plain boring for dogs. just like a human dogs would probably tell us if they could that they want some variety in their life!
You could try soaking the kibble in water in the fridg overnight, maybe add a splash of chicken broth.
The kibble ends up having the consistency of wet food. It might be more appetizing for them.
Hi Jamie F:
I can understand a busy life with family obligations! Making sure your dogs are eating properly can certainly add to the already stressful routine of taking care of your family. However, I also hope you re-consider eliminating canned foods. Here is a post with information about the benefits of canned foods:
It’s possible the canned food does not agree with them or maybe you are over-feeding a little. When you add canned or fresh foods reduce the amount of kibble to compensate for the added calories. You could even alternate between fresh foods and canned. If you still decide to eliminate the canned I suggest you continue to add boiled chicken or other dog appropriate meat to their diet. Fresh foods are a healthy addition to a kibble based diet. To keep your dogs’ diet balanced when feeding unbalanced foods, such as boiled chicken, be sure to keep the amount to no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake. Here’s info on adding fresh foods to a kibble diet:
You can find info on food calories here:
As pitlove has already mentioned, consider feeding a rotational diet for variety. Look for several kibbles with different protein and carb sources. Check out the four and five star rated foods on DFA. If you buy from pet stores take the lists with you to help narrow down your choices.
Here’s some info on rotational feeding:
L M’s suggestion for soaking the kibble and adding broth would be another option if you decide to stop feeding canned.
The Honest Kitchen Perfect Form is a supplement that contains ingredients to help with digestive upsets and firm loose stools, however it’s not a probiotic. Canned plain pumpkin helps with both loose stools or constipation.
Probiotics contain helpful live bacteria that may help with digestion. Adding a probiotic to their diet may also help with their gas and with transitioning to new foods. You could try something as simple as plain yogurt that contains live cultures or plain kefir; be sure they contain no artificial sweeteners. Here’s some info on feeding yogurt & kefir:
Here’s some info on probiotics:
I have used yogurt, kefir, and Swanson’s Ultra Soil Based Organisms when my dog had skin and fur issues in the past. He is doing well now so I don’t supplement with any at this time. I currently feed Actipet Ultra Probiotic to my cat for his skin and digestion issues. It has helped him a great deal. Good luck with whatever you decide.
I can’t help but wonder if maybe they get a lot of food during the day (dry and canned mixed, AND treats)? I know that some dogs become less motivated to switch back to kibble if they get a lot of food, or the kind of food they are used to (wet vs. just dry). And while I am a huge proponent of feeding moist food all the time, while implementing some of the great advice above, maybe you can think of whether you could find interesting ways to feed just kibble by putting it in a treat-dispensing toy such as a Kong (Wobbler), a Barnacle, or some sort of interactive toy/puzzle for dogs. For my dog, I do this once or twice a week, and sometimes, I just scatter his portion of kibble all over the floor and let him go all over the place to eat it. Lucky for me, he is very food motivated, and would eat just dry from his bowl at feeding time if I served that (I’ve tried). So you can try to introduce some interest by putting kibble in some toys and seeing if it works.
Also, if/when you do training, you can use kibble as treats and feed them their portion, or some of it, during training time. That works for me too.
But do try to stick with wet kibble (even with just water or chicken broth), it is much better for the dogs for the reasons other stated above. 🙂
bdog- kinda off topic but not. are you only able to find kefir at all natural stores? i was gonna try to find it in a local grocery store as the nearest Trader Joes or Whole Food is near Baton Rouge and New Orleans (Im in Louisana), but I’m thinking they won’t have it.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by Pitlove.
Thank you SO much pitlove, L M, Bobby Dog and Naturella! I’m grateful and will explore these recommendations.
If I may, I have a follow up question: I have always bought grain free food. Only because my dogs tend to lick their paws and my shih tzu used to get gunky ears. I don’t even know if there’s a correlation but I just assumed grain free was best. Is there any reason to branch out an introduce grain or could that add a whole new slew of problems?
Hey pitlove, I’ve seen kefir in regular grocery stores. Usually near the organic juices and that kind of stuff, not with the regular yogurt in the dairy section.
Grain free is typically best Jamie. HOWEVER, grain free doesn’t always mean carb free. So be very careful about just trusting a bag of food to be species appropriate because it doesnt have grains in it. Dr. Mike has the dry matter basis carbs on each of the reviews on this site which is very helpful for selecting one that is low in carbs. usually when the protein goes up the carbs go down, but again making sure that the first three ingredients are whole meats or meat meals. That will mean that the majority of the protein is coming from animal protein and not plant protein.
jakes mom- thanks! i think im gonna try out the Winn Dixie near me today and see if they have it. I’d love to get my dog and kitten started on it
- This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by Pitlove.
If you are dealing with environmental allergies vs food sensitivities, or both.
It’s best to go with a limited ingredient dog food.
My dog with environmental allergies does best on Nutrisca salmon and chickpea (no grains, no potato). Potato seems to bother a lot of food sensitive dogs.
However, as my dog continues to have a positive response to immunotherapy (2 years) I have observed that she is able to tolerate more of a variety of foods.
So, in my opinion, I would stay with limited ingredients, no grains.
PS: If the dog is reacting to environmental allergies, most of which are airborne, no matter what you feed him he will have the symptoms you described. That has been my experience.
Have you tried frequent bathing, at least once a week? Malaseb and GNC Pets Medicated Anti-Bacterial & Anti-Fungal are my favorites.
Are you cleaning the dog’s ears once a week? I use a homemade recipe 1/2 organic apple cider and 1/2 witch hazel. I gently swab using Q-tips, but your vet will probably prefer that you use cotton balls, so check with your vet first.
Thank you again everyone, I can’t believe how generous you all are with your time! I’m so grateful to you all 🙂
Questions are never off topic! My grocery store sells kefir, you can find it in most health food stores, and most Wal-Marts carry Lifeway kefir products. I do still feed Bobby kefir a few times a month, but only because he loves it so much. I have a bunch of kefir cubes in the freezer.
Carbohydrates are necessary in order for kibble to maintain their form and texture. So regardless of grain inclusive or grain free you are feeding carbs. There’s benefits and drawbacks to any kibble. There’s food safety, GMO ingredients, nutritional values, your dog’s palate, and many other things to consider when deciding which type of kibble to feed. Grain free foods are a marketing goldmine IMO; I find some to be carb heavy and high in fat. I don’t like to limit food selections. I think eliminating foods that you have never fed your dog narrows down your food choices needlessly. I do believe there is a time and place to eliminate foods such as if your dog is displaying food sensitivities. IMO, by feeding a potato, lentil, etc. based grain free kibble day in and day out you are now subjecting your dog to fewer ingredients on a more consistent basis which may lead to food sensitivities of those ingredients. Not my idea of rotating foods.
My dog had many skin and digestive issues when I came to this site. It took a year of tweaking his diet and allot of elbow grease to heal him up. I believed GF was the best initially. As I researched further I found there was no reason to limit my dog’s diet to just grain free. So one day I took the leap and expanded my rotation to include grain inclusive and haven’t looked back since. If there ever comes a time I need to eliminate certain ingredients from his diet I will just tweak my pet food criterion again.
I feed my dog moderate to high protein, low fat, and moderate to low carb kibbles. Since kibble is far from perfect I always add canned, fresh foods, or commercial raw as toppers. I like to add fresh healthy omegas, Now Gamma Advanced vitamin E complex, and organic coconut oil to his food. I have fed about 20 different brands of kibble and many different recipes. I buy small bags and switch brands, protein, and carb sources with each new bag. One of these days I will settle into a more permanent rotation, I am still tweaking his diet.
Here’s an article from the WDJ about carbs and grains in kibble:
Here’s a DFA post about carbs:
Here’s a perspective about grains from a Holistic Vet:
Here’s an interesting perspective from the Great Dane Lady:
As L M mentioned your dogs licking their paws and gunky ears could also be caused by environmental irritants. A single protein and carb food might be a good place to start to determine if it’s food or environmental. It is important to keep in mind each dog is an individual and what food or regimen works for one dog may or may not work for another. You will not know if that is your magic food until your dog does well on it. Just as you have foods that you don’t like or don’t agree with you, but others will rave about how they love it and can’t eat enough of it. So after this long drawn out post my best advice is to be aware of any chemicals you use in your home or outdoors that your dogs could be exposed to, take note of the time of year your dogs have problems (their issues may be seasonal), and to feed your dog the healthiest food he will eat consistently and does well on!
“Are you cleaning the dog’s ears once a week? I use a homemade recipe 1/2 organic apple cider and 1/2 witch hazel. I gently swab using Q-tips, but your vet will probably prefer that you use cotton balls, so check with your vet first”.
Correction: Organic apple cider vinegar, not organic apple cider.
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