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January 25, 2019 at 8:56 pm in reply to: NEED HELP WITH FINDING A 5* LIMITED INGREDIENT FOOD #130100 Report Abuse
My dog was eating, enjoying, and doing very well on Zignature Zssentials, after months of periodic vomiting and almost-constant diarrhea. Suddenly, after I weaned him onto ZZ, his poop looked textbook perfect, and the vomiting stopped almost completely. I was psyched! Then he was found to have extremely low taurine without cardiac deficiencies, and the cardiologist told me to take him off grain-free food and “avoid exotic meats.” DRAT! My friend, Amelia Z, did a vast amount of research, and she shared with me her findings. I now have him on The Real Meat Company air dried beef recipe dog food. Color me happy! He is once again eating and enjoying it, pooping normally, and hasn’t vomited in a long time. Its exorbitant price tag is a drawback, but my dog’s comfort, mood, and normalcy are worth every penny to me. Chewy carries it, and it is cheaper than anywhere else that I can find. The autoship saves a bit too. Good luck to you! It’s a daunting task and carries with it — for me, at least — a lot of stress, anxiety, angst and even guilt.
My dog was tested in Septemer and found to have extremely low taurine. Subsequent echocardiogram revealed no cardiac enlargement. The cardiologist advised me to stop grain-free Zignature Zssentials (Drat! It worked perfectly), supplement with taurine, and re-check taurine in April. I am feeding him Real Meat Company Air-Dried Turkey Recipe Dog Food, religiously supplementing with taurine, and waiting anxiously for April and our follow-up taurine check. I wish you the best.
It seems a lot of vets push Royal Canin and Hills. Every vet I’ve ever taken my dogs to have stocked those brands in their offices. My current dog has had belly issues all his life. We did a 30-day trial of Hills I/D. It didn’t make a lot of difference. He was on limited ingredient grain-free turkey-based food and doing well, but then we learned he had extremely low taurine without cardiac deficiencies. The cardiologist told me to slowly wean him into a non-grain-free food. I started him on a 5-star air dried food with an exorbitant price tag. He’s doing great on it. I hate paying the price, but I love not having to clean up vomit after every meal and being able to pick up poop with one bag and no spray bottle to clean off the grass! Good luck!
Thank you, Amelia W! I am feeding my boy Resl Meat Air Dried Turkey Recipe Dog Food. The vet at the university told me to get him off grain-free food. Because of his history of GI disturbance, I have been weaning him VERY slowly. I started the process on 9/8, and he’s almost completely on the new food. With taurine supplementation and a good probiotic, as well as four small meals daily, he is pooping normally and not vomiting AND Mr Persnickety eats, licks his chops and doesn’t thriow up. Color me elated! Thank you for the tip, and for takinh the time to post. I prefer not to “rock the boat.”
Untrained terrors! I’d like to see those two 80-pound boys ripping unbridled through the vet’s office!😄 My laughs for weeks!
Your poor sweet aching boys! They’re so lucky to have a mom who loves them, makes sure they’re EXTRA well-taken are of, and who reads and problem solves, all in an effort to give them the best pain-free life that is humanly possible! Lucky lucky lucky boys!!! Did they hurt themselves or were their knee surgeries a genetic thing? And hip dysplasia too! Is the swimming helping to keep the hip dysplasia at bay? What is the estimated time line? My heart aches for them and for you. It’s so hard to watch our babies hurt. It’s great that they can swim every day, though. They probably love it! But $4K for six hours of PT? That’s expensive! Wow!!! It’s more than humans pay, I think! I suppose it’s harder to do PT on dogs. If for no other reason than they don’t understand. Swimming is probably better for them anyway. Cardio too. How do you keep track of all those meds, who gets what, when, etc? I had to give my boy five pills for two weeks, and I was a wreck! My hat is off to you. Keep taking good care of those beautiful boys! A good belly scratch for them from me!
Thank you for sharing the links to all you shared! I’ll look at them tomorrow. I have spent most of today trying to find a taurine supplement that meets the specifications of the cardiologist. It can contain no artificial sugars, no additional supplements and no minerals. Well, OK, except the truth is, such an animal does not exist. I have gone to every pharmacy within 50 miles and searched the shelves. Many didn’t have taurine of any kind. But if they had it, there were certain ingredients in every one, including magnesium stearate and Vitamin B6. Well, magnesium is a mineral, B6 is a supplement. However, magnesium, by popular consensus among polled pharmacists, in stearate form is “a filler and not to be construed as a mineral.” B-6 is indeed a supplement. I called the cardiologist, and she called me back finally. And guess what she said. “Oh, gosh, the Vitamin Shoppe brand you’ve been using is fine. You aren’t going to find anything purer than that one is.” Soooo, I held my tongue and resisted the urge to yell at her and tell her that she could have indicated that in her notes. I had to take the bottles in with us yesterday so they could check the dosages and ingredients! It’s been a fun fun day!
Thank you for the compliment about my boy. If we ever get each other’s email addresses, I’ll send you a picture. I’d like to see Auggie and Kodi too.
I have no idea where my vet got those numbers for normal taurine blood values. But I can’t figure out a lot about that guy.
I’d like to hear why you’re annoyed with the cardiologist. You said it’s a long story. I love to read your emails, so do tell. Unless it’s too annoying and too long or you don’t want to re-visit it.
I’m tired. I’ll look for more from you tomorrow and post after I check out your links. Doc Pierce still seems to love the new food, keep it down, and poop it perfectly. My great sunt used to talk about her poop color, consistency and texture, and I thought that was so odd. I talk about my dog’s! How odd is THAT?😏
You’re welcome! Did both your dogs have knee surgery? Thank you for the pup hug. He’s a bone tired boy! All that poking, prodding, waiting, watching, squirming, etc., takes a lot out of a boy! 🙂
And yes, I liked her. And yes, I told her I had begun the weaning process. And although I wasn’t in the room, she showed me the films and pointed out all kinds of interesting things on them. And I’m sorry I misspelled Auggie. 🙁
Thank you for all your enthusiasm and kind words. It is SUCH a relief to know he’s OK. She wants to re-check taurine in six months. I asked her to re-check it with a whole blood test today, but she thought that was “premature.” Interestingly, she said normal plasma values are 60-120, but my vet said normal plasmacvalues are 120-160; when I asked her, she said 120-160 is normal range for whole blood! Have I already said I’m kicking my vet to the curb? My vet quoted $500 for the echo. By going to the university and the very cardiologist who would have done it at my vet’s office, the ENTIRE evaluation was $424! The echo was $224, and the rest was exam ($150) and cardiology technician fee ($30). So my vet was going to profit quite considerably from having the echo at his office.
I am not on Facebook. If I were, I fear I would never eat, sleep, shower, clean, or do any other thing! I’m embarrassed to say that I’d be nosing into everyone else’s business all day and all night!
My boy turned a year old yesterday, and he is a whoodle (1/2 poodle and 1/2 wheaten terrier). His name is Doc Pierce, which is also the name of the restaurant where my husband and I had our first date. My vet, whose opinion I don’t care about, claims that the legumes (peas especially) absorb the taurine, and they zip right through their system and come out in the dog’s poop. He thinks millet and barley can be used instead of the peas, alfalfa, potatoes, etc., so he thinks grain-free would be OK without peas, etc. Keep in mind, however, that he thinks Hills, Royal Canin, and Purina are stellar dog foods.
If the moderator needs me to agree to sharing my email address, (s)he can email me or check the post when I indicate I’d like to email directly. Or you can tell me how to email him/her.
Very interesting the FDA webinar. I’d like to watch it. Is there a way? And your dogs are indeed a classic example of how un-grain-free food responsible this panic appears to be. And how did you know about the webinar??
I want to share a funny thing about today. The cardiologist said my boy was “a little naughty” today during the echo. He’s a year and a day old. My thoughts went to things like he pottied on the table, or vaulted off the table, or tried to eat the stethoscope hanging around her neck, or tried to make friends with another dog on an adjacent table. Nope! He “was squirmy.” I had to stifle a giggle. I wonder how many dogs lie motionless during an echo.
Thanks again, my new friend, for all your thoughts, kind words, wisdom, calm demeanor, research, willingness to share, and everything you add to this panel. Rump scratches to Augie and Kodi!
zcRiley, after many calls to my vet’s office with many earnest question and pleadings, many answers (and non-answers) that brought me much dismay, etc. I decided to call the nearby university to see how soon my boy could get an appointment with one of their cardiologists. To my amazement, there had been a cancellation, and I got an appointment the next day. That was today. My boy got a “complete cardiac evaluation.” It took almost all day, but the result is that he has no cardiac enlargement. She increased the taurine supplementation and wants to re-evaluate in six months. Of course she wants him to start on NOT grain-free food. I started that a week ago, and I’m very slowly weaning him onto it. How are your pit bulls doing on the Vetr-Science? Are the supplements chewable? The taurine supplement I give my boy is in capsule form, so I have to open the capsules and sprinkle it on food. He loves yogurt, so that’s what I mix the taurine with. I just read that you should only give your dog lactose free yogurt. I mentioned that to the cardiologist. She said I could give him small amounts (I use a tablespoon) of “regular” yogurt as long as it has no xylitol in it. I hope your pit bulls are doing very well. Incidentally, the cardiologist mentioned that my boy “was a little naughty” during the echo. I was thinking he pottied on the table, or, worse yet, launched himself off the table (he’s a 1 year and 1 day old puppy after all), or tried to make friends with the dog on the next cart. Nope, he “was squirmy.” I resisted the urge to ask how many times a dog getting an echocardiogram lies motionless….
The results are in! THERE IS NO ENLARGEMENT OF MY BOY’S HEART! The cardiologist increased the taurine supplement to 1000 mgs twice daily from 500 mgs once daily, because he has a tiny bit of systolic dysfunction (normal is >25% and my boy’s is 23%). Because of this and his extremely low taurine, she wants to increase supplementation for six months and then re-test taurine. Systolic dysfunction affects the ability of the heart to pump blood through the rest of the body, but the degree of the dysfunction is not a concern at this time. I asked about carnitine supplementation as well as taurine. She said she “doesn’t think that is indicated.” She also recommends that he be “switched to a food that is NOT grain free” (Duh!) and “this should be done slowly to reduce the risk of GI upset.” (She was talking to The Village Idiot apparently).
So sound the trumpets! Beat the drums! Clang the cymbals! Ring the bells! And activate the alerts! My boy’s heart is in good shape!
I got an appointment for TOMORROW with a cardiologist at the university. I called this AM and asked when the soonest appointment was. She said, ” I have one and only one tomorrow at 11:30.” It will take most of the day, but my boy is getting “a full cardiac evaluation.” And I’ll get the results “almost immediately upon completion of the evaluation.” It may be overkill, but I’m OK with that too. I then called and cancelled my appointment on 9/14. I’ll have all the info before he ever would have seen the cardiologist at my vet’s office.
You asked if I talked to my vet or his office. You have no way of knowing that he is protected like The Pentagon from us would-be intruders who might want to ask a question without an appointment….
I,too, would like to email directly. I’m sure the other people on this forum don’t care about and have no interest in what we’re sharing. I don’t see a moderator contact or email, though. Do you? If, please share.
Please enjoy your evening. Thank you for all your support and vast knowledge.
Yay Kodi! You ROCK, Buddy! Your mom knew you were fine. Amelia, I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief now, but I just KNEW he was fine. Huge happy HIGH FIVES to you and your boys!
I called the vet’s office today and asked if I could please get a whole blood taurine test. The vet tech LAUGHED and asked why I wanted that. I said there is a vet in California who is doing a study on taurine levels in golden retrievers, and he suggests that the whole blood be done. She laughed uproariously and said, “May I remind you that you don’t have a golden retriever?” I told her that wouldn’t be necessary because I am well aware of my dog’s breed. Then I asked if I could please either be in the room when he has his echo, or wait in the waiting room to get an immediate opinion from the cardiologist about my boy’s heart size. She said she “doesn’t know how that would be possible,” that he brings his own techs, and my vet’s techs are only in the room occasionally to “help hold them down.” (!) I told her I would like her to ask him if he could just tell me if his heart is enlarged or not. She responded that she would not ask him that because she “knew the answer.” I told her I thought the time between the initial blood draw (August 15) and the time I finally get any info on my dog’s condition (September 21) is inhumane. She just kinda reprimanded me for “being so impatient,” and said my vet would answer all my questions when he calls me with the report. I have decided to call the university tomorrow to see if I have to have a referral from my vet to see the cardiologist there. If not, I plan to see how soon my boy can see him there. It’s only about an hour’s drive from my home, and if I can get in and out before 9/21, it’s worth it. Meanwhile, I am on a hunt for a new vet….
My dog does indeed love the new food. I’m introducing it very very slowly. He weighs 45 pounds, and I’m so OCD that I actually count the pieces of food I mix with his Zignature Zssentials with each meal. I have a written schedule of when the quantity of new food increases every four days. I live in terror that he’ll start throwing it up, but I really don’t think he will. This is good stuff! Thank you again so very much!
Thank you for the update on Kodi! I thought about him all afternoon, and I was eager to hear. Great, great news!
The dog food came on Thursday, and we started it VERY SLOWLY on Thursday evening. I do believe he LOVES it, and I can’t thank you enough. His poop is still picture perfect too! Color me happy! Has your boy had his echo yet? I remembered it was today, and I had planned to ask this evening how it went. I asked the vet’s office whether it was whole blood or taurine. The tech’s response was “plasma.” So I know no more now than I did before I asked. I alsolearned that I won’t get the result of his echo until “maybe Friday the 21st.”When I squawked at that news, it was explained that the cardiologist who comes from a nearby large university to do the test goes back to his office and prepares the report, which he sends to my vet’s office, and “since it’s being done on Friday, it may be a wee before we get it. But the vet “will call me after he has a chance to study it.” I may have to find another vet. I’m getting annoyed. Please let me know how your boy’s echo came out. I know you have Augie. What is your other dog’s name? Is it Augie who is getting echoed today? My thoughts are with you and your boys today. Please give them a good belly scratch from me! Thank you for your post!
Thank you, Amelia. I couldn’t find the turkey recipe on Chewy. The beef recipe is probably more popular, and after I get my boy all weaned to the new food, I’ll order some beef recipe too. The turkey recipe is $13.35 cheaper for 10 pounds on PetGuys than on the Real Meat Company web site. Somewhere I read not to feed “exotic” foods like kangaroo, and I don’t think his belly or his skin like chicken. I do mix in some organic fruits and veggies sometimes. He really doesn’t seem to care for blueberries or apples, but he’ll eat bananas and cantaloupe. He loves green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower, but they give him horrendous gas, so I usually stay away from those. He loves carrots, so I often buy the diced bags and soften them in the microwave before I feed them to him. I hope he likes this new food, too. He has an annoyingly snooty history of refusing to eat that which would make me very happy!
Probiotics have been a source of much consternation to me. My vet, of course, swears by a Purina brand, Fortiflora, but I’ve never been terribly impressed with Purina in general, or Fortiflora specifically. My daughter has a black lab, and she swears by Fido-vite flexx, but I am not impressed with the ingredients. But she also feeds Purina Pro Plan sport, and says “everyone” where she lives feeds Purina Pro Plan to their black labs. I’ll try the probiotics brand you suggest and hope we like it better.
What is the difference between taurine whole blood value and the taurine value my dog had? Is the normal range breed-specific or size-specific, or is it an entirely different value?
Thank you for the reminder to SLOWLY wean. I am so eager to get him off the Zignature, that I might plunge headlong into the new food and miserably regret it.
I feel quite sure your Golden is OK. For all the reasons you mention, and because you know your dog, and you know what to watch for. Please keep me posted.
Amelia Z, what concerns you about your other Golden? I refer to myself as “a seasoned veteran” when I have done the same things time and time again. You know the signs, and you can’t be too careful. I’ll hope so much that he’s OK. Please keep me posted. I’ll be thinking about you on 9/11.
Thank you again for sharing your findings with me. I am going to change to Real Meat Air Dried Turkey Recipe dog food. I ordered it from PetGuys today. It was a little cheaper than at the Real Meat Company. It’s expensive stuff, but my boy is worth it. I’ll happily save pennies wherever I can, though.
Amelia Z, I forgot to answer one of your questions. On 9/14, my dog is having what the vet called “a cardiac ultrasound.” I am hoping he means an echo. I think my vet is walking in extremely unfamiliar territory with all this talk of taurine deficiency-related DCM. By his own admission, he has never in 25 years had a taurine-deficient dog. Of course, it was I who insisted on the taurine test over his rancorous protestations, so I’m not sure he would have even been aware of the taurine deficiency in any dog in his practice. You know so much, and have experienced so much, and you are awesome!
Amelia Z, you are a wealth of information, and I thank you once again for sharing it. Again, I marvel at what a good gig I have. You do the work and share your expertise with me and the rest of the people on this forum. I am looking carefully at all those dog foods. You asked me what my dog’s taurine level was. Believe it or not it was a mere 16! Normal at our lab is 120-160, and “critical” is 40! I am a wreck, watching him every second for any signs of strange behavior. I have often said I am not good at most things, but I can worry as well as anybody on the planet. The cardiac ultrasound cannot come soon enough. Meanwhile, he has begun chewing on his paws. I hope he’s not allergic to the taurine (gasp) or the egg the doctor told me to give him every day. My husband says he is a nervous wreck and reacting to my waking him up ever two minutes to make sure he still wakes up. I am in awe of you and your seeming calm demeanor. Thank you so much!
Hi Amelia Z,
I have been looking at The Real Meat Company air-dried beef recipe dog food. Because my research seems to indicate that chicken and turkey have higher taurine values, and my immediate goal is to raise his critically-low taurine value, I am interested in the turkey. There is a turkey and a turkey and venison formula, as well as a chicken formula. However, he seems to be very itchy when he eats chicken. Would you mind sharing with me the kibble brands you indicate you found? I’d be most grateful. Thank you.
Thank you, zcRiley. His cardiac ultrasound is scheduled for 9/14, and I should have the result immediately. I’ll let you know. I’ll be interested in how your dogs do on the Cardio-strength capsules. It seems like a great supplement, and I hope it reverses (if that’s possible) the heart murmur and at least holds cardiac enlargement at bay. More later.
Amelia Z, did you find a suitable food for your dog? Is it grain-free?
Thank you, Nadine H, Heidi L, and Crazy4cats! I just spoke to a vet nutritionist who is the daughter of a friend of mine. She said stuff we already know about this issue, including that the FDA as a body really knows nothing about dog food and its ingredients. They are concerned primarily with making sure that what the manufacturer says is in the food is actually in the food, so vets and nutritionists are not really concerned about this admonition from the FDA. However, she added that if AAFCO had made the same possible connection conclusion, “the veterinary world would be on high alert.” In addition, she said that all the dogs affected with DCM that brought about this announcement from the FDA are from the same state, so it is thought that perhaps there was something amiss within that state’s supply. She recommended that I continue to feed my dog Zssentials, at least until more definitive conclusions could be made. She said it might make me feel better if I were to ask my vet for a taurine test, but she said most dogs are “OK” with taurine, and few companies add taurine to the dog food because most dogs don’t need it. It is deficient in cats much more frequently. I shall look into Nature’s Logic. A local pet store gives samples of all the dog food they carry, so I can try it and see if my dog, Mr. Persnickety himself, will even eat Nature’s Miracle. As crazy4cats suggested, it is difficult to make a change when we finally have found a food he will eat, not throw up, AND make his poop textbook perfect.😏
I feed my 11-month-old dog Zignature Zssentials. He has a history of off-and-on, come-and-go vomiting about twice a week after eating when he was younger. The breeder was feeding him (gasp!) Iams puppy! The vet said he had “a sensitive belly,” advised me to try Hills I/D for 30 days, and then slowly wean him onto another limited ingredient food. I chose Zssentials, and he has not vomited a single time in three months. The listed ingredients are turkey, turkey meal, salmon, duck meal, chickpea flour, peas, chickpeas, alfalfa meal, flaxseed, sunflower oil, salmon oil, and then a bunch of other stuff. THe protein is 32%, fat 16%, fiber 5.5%, moisture 10%, calcium 1.2%, phosphorus 1.0%, omega 6 fatty acids 4.5%, omega 3 fatty acids 2.0%. The omega 6 and 3 are not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient profiles. I don’t know if the quantity of chickpeas and peas is particularly high since they are not first on the list of ingredients. Dog Food Advisor rates Zssentials, catfish, and pork formulas 5 stars.
I do know the FDA has come out with a statment indicating they are investigating a potential connection between diet and cases of canine heart disease (DCM), and they implicate as suspect diets frequently listing potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas and lentils early in their ingredient lists. As I read the alert, the low taurine levels caused by grain-free diets is the target of their finger-pointing. However, more research must be done.
I recently heard a powerful presentation on human trafficking in USA. It seems that chocolate companies are among the biggest offenders, and MARS, makers of M&M’s and Reese’s and other yummy things, and now associated with Chewy, is one of the two worst of the chocolate industry. I feed my dog Zignature, and in my area of Indiana, it is next to impossible to find. Chewy’s price for it is only slightly lower than the more local seller’s, so I’ll drive an hour each way, pay a bit more, and try to help stop slave labor. I think it’s worth it.
They are very soft, actually. I’d liken them to a chewy cookie. And no, I haven’t tried rolling these babies on a cookie sheet, but I am certain it would work. You might have to adjust the baking time, but you’d decrease by a bunch the time you’d have to devote to making them.
Thank you! zcRiley, why are you suggesting I get a new vet? Because he is doing nothing yet to remedy the belly problem? Because he is pushing his own food? Because I sound so frustrated? I am, by the way… I’m just curious. I’m seeing another vet in his practice today to rule out a UTI(!) because he has had two urine “accidents” in the house in the last four days, after an eight-week accident-free period. And if he has a UTI, the neuter will be delayed. (Groan). But perhaps this new vet will be more responsive, attentive, something. “MY” vet, incidentally, is very difficult to see because he has so many patients, went to a top-notch vet school, and is very-well-liked, having not a single review of hundreds with fewer than five stars.
Homemade dog treats called turkey and oatmeal bites
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup instant oatmeal
1 cup grated carrots
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/4 pounds fresh ground turkey(I use 99% lean)
1TBSP olive oil
Mix carrots, eggs, turkey and oil together in large bowl. Add dry ingredients slowly until all is mixed well. For small dog, fill mini muffin cups 1/2 way and pat down gently. For large dogs fill to top and pat down. Bake 18 minutes at 350°. Makes dozens. Refrigerate only enough to last 3-4 days, and freeze the remainder.
It takes for-bloody-ever to make them, so I usually double the recipe, but the recipe lasts a long time. I had one dog who had epilepsy. SInce I didn’t want to give him anti-convulsant meds, I gave these to him at bedtime to help maintain blood sugar and eliminate seizures overnight. It worked very well. My non-epileptic dogs have loved them too.