Absolute food minefield - hyper/constantly switched on springer x poodle

Hi AADF forum!

We have a 9 month old sproodle who is currently on Millie’s wolfheart countryside 70/30 kibble and countryside/riverside 70/30 wet mix.

She’s been on the kibble since she was 12 weeks old and the wet from 6 months, changing from butternut box due to issues with wax and smelly ears.

We’ve been wondering for a while whether her food (which is for working and sporting dogs) is too calorific/high protein for her and whether it’s contributing to her seemingly being hyperactive in the morning and evening immediately after eating and not switching off until the afternoon and late evenings. This was further prompted after a night of us staying away from home and the B&B owner feeding her sausages at breakfast after a refusal to eat her own food - she remained much calmer during the day.

We’re now wondering what to change her to as all my searches for lower protein seem to be higher carb and much lower quality, her ear issue has been put down to a yeast allergy triggered by too high carbs (with butternut we believe it was the legumes), plus she can’t have turkey and chicken which limits my options to the stage I’m not sure I have other ones.

Its been suggested to try the Millie’s lamb and veg instead but she’s also a bit overweight at the mo (vet wants her closer to 10-11kg but she’s currently 12kg) so worried about the high fat content of Millie’s too as we’ve already cut down enough to impact her poos with no loss of weight (before the sausages! That was a one off). The vet wants her to go onto Hills (which obviously they sell) but from what I can see that’s absolute tosh!

Exercise wise, most weekdays she’s half hour twice a day, plus play in the garden, weekends she goes out for longer 1-2 times a day, she gets mental stimulation at home too, usually in the form of training or destroying cardboard as we’re trying not to give too much in treats and she won’t eat kibble without wet on top.

We’re keen to keep on kibble/wet mix or pure wet, mainly due to her occasionally going to a dog sitter who it is unfair to ask her to home cook/prep raw, or expect to have enough freezer food for Koda’s pre prepped food.

Anyone had a similar experience and have any suggestions?

Alternatively, if anyone can suggest a qualified canine nutritionalist or vet nutritionalist that covers the mid Devon area, we are looking at this option but struggling to find anyone locally.

Hello and welcome to the forum. The issue of hyperactivity related to high protein diets is contentious. We had a discussion about this subject here. Many years ago it was commonly thought to cause hyperactivity and trainers/behaviourists would often advise lower protein but I don’t know of any evidence that this is the case.

You have a young pup from two intelligent, working breeds and IMHO high activity might be expected. You don’t say whether you are doing any kind of training/activity with her but if not, that might be worth trying. However, don’t overdo it because pup is still very young.

Regarding food, you are already feeding a very good quality food but in view of the weight gain I suspect that you are giving too much. These high quality foods often need to be given at lower amounts than one might expect.

It’s important that you don’t give high carbohydrate kibble because of the problems with yeast. There are a few high quality kibbles that are average in carbohydrate content, Eden and Wolfworthy being two. There are others though and you can find these by using the Dog Food Directory and setting the appropriate filters. I’ve just used the filters dry/extruded, clearly labelled, No red/yellow ingredients and have set the carbohydrate filter to 0% - 31% and it returned quite a few with average content carbohydrate.

Make sure you weigh the food accurately so you know exactly how much pup is getting.

Possibly stopping the dry/wet food mix would be useful too. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with mixing but they are both complete foods and it’s possible that you are overfeeding, giving too many calories. Consider trying one of the low/average carb kibbles and if you want to add variety, top up with some home cooked vegetables and fruit. We have a thread on enhancing dry food with fresh food here.

Edit: Due to the yeast problem, if you top up with fresh cooked vegetables, avoid too many starchy ones, also legumes in view of the previous reaction.

With regards to your query about a canine nutritionist, we only have a few names - use the word ‘nutritionist’ in the search box to find references to these. They might not be in your area but they probably work remotely. Gerald may be able to help - We Cook for Dogs.

Thanks Dottie,

We ended up with a dry and wet mix after she refused to eat for 3 days and repeatedly would refuse her kibble alone however the ongoing cost meant going just to wet wasn’t manageable. The weights we do are per the advice from Millie’s team but we are slowly cutting it down 5g at a time to try to see if it helps, every meal is weighed, my concern is that her poos have deteriorated in quality suggesting we’re under feeding however I’m assuming that as we’re trying to get her weight down that’s probably ok, in the short term anyway.

She is about to start with a new dog trainer next week but currently gets lots of active time with walks morning and night and playing fetch at lunchtimes when the weather allows. We’re keeping to the limits for pups during the week but she does get a longer long line walk on weekends (as recall is WIP). We also regularly give her things to do to get her mind working and to try to disperse the excess energy a bit.

Will look up the nutritionalist you mention as definitely want to make sure we have her on all the right things.

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Millies Wolfheart Countryside dry review is here. It’s in the above average range for carbohydrate. I understand why you are topping up with wet food and that it can be too costly to feed just that.

Cutting down gradually is a good idea. When you say that her poos have deteriorated in quality, what does that mean? If they are soft and not properly formed, that is sometimes a sign of overfeeding. Also, it can be that the food is not suiting the dog. The fact that your dog won’t eat it unless you use the wet food could be an indication of this or it could just be that she has got used to the mix and has grown a bit fussy. A dog’s appetite is usually stimulated by the aroma and wet food does smell better than dry.

Unfortunately when trying to reduce weight in a dog, giving two complete foods muddies the water so to speak. This is why I think that enhancing the dry food with fresh, cooked food is a the better option in your dog’s case. If this is something you are interested in, I would suggest that you avoid carbohydrate as the food is already above average in this. Adding a small amount of lean, cooked protein could help without adding too many calories. Green vegetables such as broccoli are useful for dogs. Some fruit is too, particularly blueberries. Natural Kefir is useful for a dog’s digestive system and can easily be used as a topper. Have a look at Planet Paws (Rodney Habib) on Facebook and YouTube for more information. If you don’t have time to do this, perhaps have a look at Different Dog. It is expensive as it is fresh cooked food but as a replacement for the wet food, it might work because it contains vegetables and fruit. Some of their customers feed this along with dry food to keep costs down. You could just defrost a small amount each day and use that as a topper. Probably best to ask for advice and use the low fat products. It’s a good idea to consult a canine nutritionist.

The other thing that occurs to me (and probably the trainer will mention this) is that dogs sometimes do need to be taught to rest, especially puppies. It’s maybe a bit more difficult with a lively working breed but it is really important that they have down time and learn to be calm.

Thank you, I’ll definitely take a look at the different dog range again, I’d ruled it out as it was working out at triple the cost of the Millie’s a day but will consider it as a topper as the only defrosting what’s needed as a topper is a good suggestion. I’ve introduced Kefir a few days ago on the back of a friend recommending it so hopefully that will help, might try mixing a portion of that into her kibble and see if she’ll entertain it without the meat,

We’ve tried a few flavours of kibble and none seem to entice for more than a few days so I think she’s just a fussy dog and I’m a worried dog parent when she’s not eating. Longer term id prefer her on pre packed cooked or purely kibble as it’s easier when we have to put her in with the dog sitter. Hopefully longer term the fussiness stops or we at least find a suitable option for her.

On the side of her poops, not soft, at times they come out like solid nuggets, no softness to them at all, it’s like she struggles to poop on her first one of the day too. Ones later in the day are less strained. We’ve cut her down to 45g dry now and 60g wet, will keep an eye on her on that for a week and check on the scales then reduce further if needed.

Thank you for your suggestions, I’ll have a look through and give them a try!

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Have you had a look at ava sensitive skin and stomach white fish.
My border collie is allergic to all meats can only have fish.
Its done him the world of good and his coat is so shiny we always get complements.
Hope this helps