Elderly dog/multiple health probs - refusing food, crying after food

Hello, I used this site to help me chose a diet for my (now 16 year old) 8kg Poodle x German Spitz when just before his 14th birthday he became very ill with pancreatitis. He’d previously been fed Hills C/D multicare which helped along with vet care to get his bladder stones (struvite and calcium oxolate) under control. I chose Symply Senior/Light dry in the end and he’s been happily eating it and well for 2 years.

However, a few weeks ago he started to refuse the Symply, it started with breakfast only then progressed to his tea and supper. I tried adding boiled water, he can’t seem to tolerate this in a morning as would vomit but this was fine for his tea and supper. But gradually that stopped working, adding bone broth worked for a short while but again that stopped. He went to the vets and had bloods which were ok (he has long standing health problems which are gall bladder sludge/raised liver value, high blood lipase levels, high glucose but not enough to be diabetic/require insulin, high cholesterol and chronic pancreatits). These bloods did show his usually high lipase and pancreatic specific lipase had gone up even further so I decided to try a bag of Hills I/D low fat dry I had left (unopened) from his last episode and he ate that fine and all was well for about a week, I gradually tried to switch over but he ate none of the Symply during that time. Then he refused the I/D so I’ve been adding some Hills I/D wet tins which he loves and will avoid the dry despite trying to feed half/half.

However, he now has a problem of when he eats in a morning he will poop in the house, as he’s eating?! He’ll have been outside and shown no interest in pooping but then start eating and suddenly poop, he can’t make it to the door yet the poop is solid/looks good. I try to encourage him away half way through his food into the garden and he’ll sometimes poop then to some days we avoid this. But also for his tea he’ll eat and then pace around panting, licking his lips, crying/howling which is awful to see him so uncomfortable. He will heave a lot and sometimes bring up a tiny bit of the wet food which he will immediately eat again but this and/or a small gentle walk will settle him. He is ok at supper time as he only gets a small amount of wet food with some slippery elm added as he went through a phase of being sick bile overnight but has not done this for a long time.

I’m aware Hills in general scores very poorly, but he needs something very low in fat (under 10%) but I’m not sure how I can get him to eat but also be comfortable? He doesn’t eat too quickly as I give the wet in a slow feeder or mashed onto a licky mat. He takes medication both with breakfast (previcox and synoquin for arthritis) and tea (destolit for his liver/gall bladder and aktivait for cognitive support) so he can’t have slippery elm within 2 hours of these. He gets fed from a raised bowl so it’s not painful for his arthritis and we think his teeth are good, his breath doesn’t smell and his teeth look good especially for his age, he did have a lump removed from his gum last September and the vets all commented on how amazing his teeth were for his age. I do brush them and also use plaque off and whimzee dental chew. I also need something with controlled levels of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus for his bladder stones (although his latest samples have been clear). Any tips on why he might be so reluctant/uncomfortable to eat food he has previously been fine with?

He does have a vet appt for Wednesday for further investigations, ie ultrasound/x ray to make sure nothing sinister is going on. He has slowed down a lot recently and suddenly seems his age bless him

Hello Liz47. It does sound as if you are having a lot of problems with your elderly dog. There aren’t that many products on the market that are sub 10% fat and the ones that do exist are sometimes labelled as for weight control. Unfortunately they also come with very high carbohydrate which is not easy for a dog to digest and tolerate.

TBH I think that the best thing in this situation is to try a few weeks on fresh cooked food and see how it goes. Recipes for home cooked food usually contain 60% meat/fish or poultry. White fish is very low in fat so would be suitable. The remaining 40% is usually made up of suitable vegetables, lightly cooked, some fruit and maybe a small amount of carb such as butternut squash, sweet potato. However, all home cooked food needs supplementation. It’s important to get the recipe right so I would advise you to contact a canine nutritionist who will give you a few recipes to work from. The Home Cooking section has information about this.

If you prefer to buy this type of food there is not much choice but I would advise you to contact Different Dog because they have a vet who can advise. Their white fish recipe and low purine/phosphorous might be suitable.

You could also consider trying a probiotic such as YuDigest. I read that Kefir is good for dogs too. It might help to stem the discomfort he is feeling after a meal. I also think that small, frequent meals might help so the stomach is not empty for long.

Edit: The Stay Supple Fish Supper (Different Dog) is 8.60% fat (dry matter).
Keep Me Trim Turkey 11.85%

That’s great thank you, I will contact Different Dog. I also received some samples from Gentle cold pressed, the white fish version is 10.7% fat on a dry matter basis. They only arrived today so I gave him one piece and he ate it dry no problems. He has been reluctant to even eat his Whimzee dental chew which he loves then last night he left more than half. He’s been to the vets today and the vet thinks (from pictures taken at home and a brief view as he was biting before being muzzled) his teeth are good. So he’s been kept in for full bloods again and an abdo scan. Hopefully if nothing sinister we can move onto Gentle or Different Dog and small, frequent meals with a gastro protector medication may help. Will also ask if Yudigest is ok for him.

Thank you for your reply. Gentle sounds like a good option because it is low in fat. Cold pressed foods are above average carbohydrate. They are quite dense so if you are unused to this type of food be careful how much you give. It’s very easy to overfeed because the amount looks small in the bowl compared to kibble.

It works quite well moistened with warm (never boiling) water. If you think it would help, you could also top up with some low fat protein such as white fish or chicken. Our thread on cold pressed foods is here.

Thank you, I’ve been reading all about cold pressed. I’ve sent an email to them as I’m a bit confused, now Jack has been diagnosed full diabetic requiring insulin following his tests on Wednesday/today. We must work out his calorie requirements and feed exactly that, using the calculator website the vet provided filling in his ideal weight/activity and the details from Gentle ie fat, ash , protein etc it says he needs 141 grams of this food a day, yet the Gentle website says only 63g… but they both say the calories per 100 gram is the same… Unless it’s 63g per meal so 2x a day not 63g in total 24 hours?!

I am sorry that Jack needs to have insulin now. Beate Rothon is the owner of Gentle dog food. You could contact her if you need more information.

Thank you, he is doing well so far and we did a home glucose curve yesterday successfully :slight_smile:

I have contacted Beate.

He is doing well on Gentle, he is comfortable after eating and keen to eat it. The only issue we seem to be having is reflux, he will burp then be swallowing/licking his lips, especially when picked up even throughout the day you can see a bit of food has passively come up. He is on an antacid from the vet already since we had to stop his slippery elm. I tried to wet it this morning see if that would help but he wouldn’t eat it all and he needs to eat a full meal consistently for his insulin