Food for dog with on-off diarrhea


my dog is 1 year old, med-high activity (2 hours off-lead walks a day). I used this site before I got her and chose Simpsons 80/20. She has frequent on-off soft poos, but even when she has good poos she has always gone around 4 times a day which seems a lot for a high quality food. I switched her to Simpsons sensitive salmon about 4 months ago thinking it may have been chicken but its only been slightly better. She has had several tests at the vets which were all normal. This was partly due to her sensitive stomach and partly because she is underweight at 8kgs but eats enough for a 12kg dog but still wouldn’t put on weight. She has put on some weight since switching her to the salmon only but we are still having problems with soft poops!

The latest bout was quite bad and home treating with chicken and rice and probiotic paste didn’t help so we had to go to the vets again and get some special food. He gave us some anti-biotics and royal canin gastro-intestinal wet food. This seems to have worked nicely but I don’t want to leave her on the royal canin as its not very highly rated. The ingredients are vague so its hard to find a better quality food with similar ingredients but she does seem to be doing better with some grain in her diet (seems backwards to me!) I’m also wondering if its just easier for her to digest wet food than dry? Good quality wet seems extremely pricey though with a raw pre-made complete food actually working out cheaper.

I’m wondering what food I should try next. I was thinking of trying pooch and co wheat free chicken, its still quite highly rated but would introduce rice and test how she does on rice and chicken. I also considered their tripe food but I think it has too many different meats in to eliminate anything if she doesn’t do well on it (tripe, I guess from various animals, beef and chicken fat). I could try the other Simpsons sensitive one protein foods but I feel like I should maybe try a different brand altogether?

Any suggestions as to what to try next greatly appreciated! If you need any more info please let me know

Hello and welcome to the forum. I am sorry to hear of the problems that you are having with your dog. It sounds as if she is intolerant to something but without specific testing or a lengthy exclusion diet it is difficult to tell what that may be. By now you may be getting a feeling yourself as to what is causing the loose poo/diarrhoea.

All dried foods tend to have a lot of ingredients so it makes the problem of finding out what the dog cannot cope with more complex. The advice usually given (which is what you have already done) is to exclude cereal and wheat first. The second most common intolerance is to certain types of protein, chicken being fairly common.

I may be wrong but I think your idea of trying her on a wet diet might be the way to go. They tend to have less ingredients and are easier for the dog to digest. I take your point about the expense but if it helps it might be cheaper in the long run because of the repeated visits to the vet. If you go over to the Naturediet website here there are numerous fact sheets on this sort of problem. They do a sensitive version and I think that is what they usually suggest as a starting point. However, all their products contain white rice so if you suspect that your dog has problems with this then you need to be thinking about a wet food that is grain free. Using the filters on the Dog Food Directory of this website should help you find one. Wainwright’s (Pets at Home) do a grain free wet version that scores very highly on here. If you go down this route then it would be best to stick with one flavour for a week or so to see what the dog’s response is.

The only other thing I can think of is to try raw but unless you go for the complete meals such as Nutriment, Natures Menu and Natural Instinct, you would need to learn a bit about it because you don’t want the diet to be lacking in essential vitamins etc. If you decide to try a raw diet don’t transition, just stop the dried food and start feeding the meat. Also, if you do try one of the aforementioned products, it might be best to call their helpline to get further advice.

I hope that you find a solution to this. Please would you keep us updated?

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Hello and welcome JIB. I am sorry to hear you are having problems. I can’t add much to the suggestions Dottie made.

I will move this thread to feeding dogs with health problems as it seems to be a common issue these days.


I had problems very like this with my little boy for a long time (though he also had other signs of intolerance such as gunky eyes & ears). He was the same on every dry food I tried, all very highly rated, and the only thing I’ve found that has settled him is grain-free raw food - he was a little better on Natures Menu raw with rice but only completely cured when I switched him to Nutriment. He’s now doing well on a mixture of Nutriment and Natural Instinct and they seem to suit him equally.

With both of these you also have the ability to include variety by trying just one or two protein sources at a time, and so identify any that do not suit your dog.

As you say, raw complete does work out a very reasonable cost compared to high quality dry, and I’d back up Dottie’s suggestion to give Nutriment or Natural Instinct a call and discuss it with them; both are very helpful in my experience.

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Thanks for the replies. With the premade raw do you have to rotate the protein sources like with proper raw or is it more of a complete diet, making that unnecessary? I only ask because my dogs only 8kgs so it makes it a bit harder to rotate without some of the stuff I’ve defrosted going bad before I use it up. Also is it ok to not feed any bones on the pre-made. I know a proper raw diet would probably be best for her but I don’t really like the idea of raw food on my floors but the premade I can just serve in her bowl

You don’t have to use more than one protein source, and some highly intolerant dogs might only have one they can tolerate I suppose, but it is better if you do - it doesn’t have to be one meal at a time though, it’s fine to finish one tub before starting another, different one. My own little boy is just 6.5 kg, and each 500g tub lasts him 3 days before we start on the next one. You might want to start with just one variety anyway, the salmon for example, and later introduce others one at a time. Their helplines will advise you.

It’s absolutely fine not to feed bones if you don’t wish to, ground bone is included anyway, though bones are good for keeping teeth clean. I don’t feed bones myself, the Little Cav loves deer antlers and has those instead.

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I would strongly suggest reducing her daily food intake to the 8kg level to start with. Overfeeding on a high protein food causes diarrhoea and a condition known as leaky gut.

Dont worry about the weight for now, that can be worked on once the diarrhoea is fixed. The reason the weight won’t go on is that the food is passing through and not being digested, hence the large volume of poo too.

You may need to go to a bland diet for a few days to help things settle, being a grain free food don’t use rice, try chicken and/or white fish (deboned) cooked with sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots and peas. Mash or puree it all together.

Feed small but regular amounts, then slowly wean back to the normal food, keeping the reduced feed quantity firvan 8kg dog.

Once the diarrhoea is settled you can increase the daily ration by no more than 10% per week until you see a gradual gain in weight, then hold at that amount you may need to increase again a few weeks later until ideal weight is reached,cthen cut back a little for maintenance

Hope this helps.

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David G, when I was struggling with The Little Cav I tried doing exactly as you suggest. In fact, being fully aware of the dangers of overfeeding, I tied it more than once, with the same result each time - while the volume of his poos reduced (obvously, really) the quality and frequency of them was no different, and he lost even more weight, which he could ill afford.

The only way I could keep him from becoming positively skeletal before I switched him to raw was to feed massively more than guideline amounts, just as JIB has found to be necessary.

I guess that while overfeeding does cause the food to pass through too quickly, as you say, so feeding a diet that really does not suit the individual dog for whatever reason can do exactly the same.

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Yes George, any dog could be intolerant to one or more ingredients in any food. I assumed, maybe wrongly, that the tests at the vets that were normal included intolerance tests.

Of course the fact that the RC GI food seems to be working may also give some clues

The analysis of the food on a dry matter basis is.

34% protein
26% fat
8% ash (vitamins and minerals)
6% fibre.

That leaves about 25% carbs

So a food with a similar profile to that looks like it may be beneficial, but as stated the ingredients list is so vague there could be anything in there.

What we don’t know is the amount of RC being fed compared to guideline amounts to compare calorie intake and see if a lower total intake is indeed being fed.

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From what David said (here: about the accuracy, or more correctly inaccuracy, of intolerance tests, it wouldn’t make much difference if tests had been done.

I find it quite shocking, to be honest, that vets are taking money for tests that are at best 25% accurate, and then allowing their clients to rely on the results - or I would find it shocking, if anything vets do had the power to shock me any longer.

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Hi, thanks for the replies. The tests we had at the vets weren’t intolerance tests as the vet said it was better to try exclusion diets to determine any intolerances. She had mal-absorption, mal-digestion tests, fecal tests for parasites/ infections etc and a blood panel to check everything there including liver. I’m feeding 480g of the royal canin a day over 2 meals but I’m not sure what the calorie content is. I also don’t think I’ve been feeding it long enough to know if its causing her to lose weight which she cant afford to do, I’ll weigh her again later today and see.

When we first got our dog she was fed on the food guidelines and she still had this problem, the only reason I increased it was because the vet and I were worried about her weight not increasing even though she was still growing, so it was necessary to increase the food. I’m wondering if it might be better to split her meals into more than 2 a day, I don’t know if that could help?

I am going to try a Pooch and Co dry food with rice as she does seem to be doing better with the cereals in the royal canin. She’s always been on grain-free foods and although we’ve tried different protein sources nothing seems to suit her. I started to wonder if despite what I’ve read about grain-free being the best and that dogs don’t need grain, maybe some dogs just do better with some grain anyway.

If this doesn’t suit her then I think I will have to move to a pre-made raw and see how she does on that.

Ah just found the calorie content of the R/C. She’s getting around 523cals so bang on for a typical 8kg dog calculated with the Walthams formula. She was getting around 650-700cals on dry food. So yes, she is getting a lot less percentage wise, which might be making it easier for her to digest. However I have also noticed she’s been less energetic on this food, whether that’s because she’s not getting enough calories or because she’s still not feeling 100% I’m not sure. Also she gets 2 hours off lead walking a day, I walk 5 miles in that time and she probably walks at least 3 times further than that with all her exploring so I think she has a higher calorie need than the average expected 8kg dog.

Pooch and Co do several varieties - is this the one you are looking at? If so, the analysis says that protein and fat are 20% and 8.5% respectively which is a tad low so I feel that it may not be appropriate right now, especially as you would like your dog to gain some weight.

In view of the fact that you feel that your dog does better on cereal-based carbohydrates, and you are not keen on wet food, I am wondering if cold pressed might be worth thinking about. They tend to have brown rice for the carb source and they are known for their ease of digestion. The one I feed is Gentle but there are others - Lukullus, Markus Muhle to name just a few.

With the amount and type of exercise your dog is getting I think that this might be contributing to her not gaining the weight that you had hoped. Whilst not excessive, that is a lot of exercise and it is not surprising (to me, anyway) that she is on the slim side. She is clearly burning up a lot of calories with all that running about.

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I would say that is a fairly high level of activity so she might need a bit extra. My terrier is fed a bit over the highest recommended amount. She has still lost a little in the past month which I think is due to having some longer off lead walks. It is only a little more over her usual but it hasn’t taken much to make a difference.

I was also thinking that a coldpressed food may be helpful. It seemed to produce nice firm stools, as does the raw diet she is currently on.

That’s not the one I was looking at, I’ve got a bag of pooch and co wheat free tripe and a bag of their wheat free chicken with vegetables so we’ll see how she does on those. I started the tripe bag today. (speedy delivery!)

I’ve had a look at Lukullus and that seems like another option although my dog never chews anything, she tries to swallow everything whole so I’m not sure how the larger pieces would go down!

I haven’t had Lukullus but Gentle pieces are quite small and very easy to crunch - you can snap the pieces in half yourself. She wouldn’t choke on them, that’s for sure. Also, the cold pressed foods are very good softened with warm water. If you look here you will see the difference between digestion of cold pressed food and kibble. My lot have perfect poos on this type of food.

Regarding the weight, it might be worth considering letting her have a few rest days or perhaps reducing the exercise to see if that will help her to get up to her expected size. I have a feeling that even working dogs might not get that amount of exercise on a daily basis.

Going back to the diarrhoea, this is just a thought but when she is off lead dashing about, is there any chance that she is picking up rubbish to eat? I only ask because when I have mine off the lead I have to keep a really close eye on them as they will scoff anything they can get hold of.

I hope that the Pooch and co food helps your dog and that you soon see an improvement. Please let us know how you get on with it.

How quickly would you see an allergy as oppose to an intolerance to something in food? I only starting feeding the new food yesterday but my dog woke up with a gloopy eye and has been itching more than usual today. But I’m not sure an allergy would react that quickly? Could be a coincidence

An allergy would be an immediate response with many symptoms in many parts of the body possible, where an intolerance is more likely to build more slowly with diarrhoea the most likely fist symptom due to colitis