Help needed for Jack Russell pup with loose stools


I would appreciate some guidance on what sort of food to give to our 8-month old Jack Russell Terrier. He is fairly active, walking around 2 hours a day including 20 minutes of mad running.

When we got him he was on Burns puppy food, which produced firm stools but gave him terrible wind, several times a day! He did have some bouts of stomach upset on the Burns, but I always linked these up to new foods being given as treats (small bits of roast beef, roast chicken) and, occasionally, things he picked up from the floor on walks (he now knows ‘leave it’ and ‘drop it’!) I decided to switch him from the Burns because of his wind, putting it down to the grains.

I am now feeding him Akela 80/20, as it was ranked so highly on here (and this site was recommended by our trainer). Since moving onto the Akela he has had very runny stools. I have weighed the food carefully, but think that it is just too rich, or he is sensitive to one of the several proteins it contains. He seeme to loved the taste of Akela at first but, although he eats most of his food, he now seems nonchalant about it, perhaps because it is making him feel unwell.

The vet has checked him over and he recently had extensive blood tests to check liver function etc, but he doesn’t seem to have anything wrong with him. The vet suggested we put him on a ‘gastrointestinal diet’, but the brands she mentioned to us - Hills and Royal Canin - are ranked very low on here.

I would like to know what sort of food (type, ingredients etc) other owners would recommend he move onto as those branded for sensitive stomachs seem to be of lower quality. I am open to wet or dry food and money isn’t really a concern. I am even happy to make food for him myself. I just want his stomach settled!

Thank you very much in advance.

Hello and welcome to the forum,
I know that some of the higher protein foods can be too rich for some dogs. Sometimes reducing the portion size can help. Often not so much of this type of food is needed. It would be hard to say if your dog has an intolerance to any ingredients without a bit of trial and error. Perhaps look for a food with a grain source less likely to cause issues such as brown rice. My dog has always had good stools and less wind on cold pressed food see here
I am sure others may be able to offer some advice too but I would be inclined to just try a food with lower protein before going down the route of an elimination diet.



It may be worth you looking at my other recent posts. I have recently posted comprehensive replies to another new member whose dog was having issues with loose stools albeit they were feeding a different kibble. On another re ent thread I discuss some different commercial food types.

I have fed Akela myself to my Lab. When looking at the score review and ingredients the brand scores well. I actually fed the fish variety. This was the last kibble I actually fed. Dog seemed okay on it & had the high energy kevels from it I wanted. That said I never really felt a bond to the product. Sure it ticked lots of boxes and read well on the packet but I didn’t feel they were as customer & dog focussed as some other brands.

There can be life beyond kibble too…

Due to personal need for my dog & wanting an even lower carb diet I chose to change to Nutriment Salmon & Chicken raw complete although I break this up with other flavours & other raw products such as Wolftucker which I have high regard for too.

If I was you & wanted to stay with kibble I would be looking to adjust daily feed or try another flavour/protein source. If none of the Akela flavours working for you. Quite often a simpe change of protein source can be adequate. Maybe later consider other brands of Kibble or even changing food type…Cold pressed worth a look maybe.

Do bear in mind Jack Russells can be in to everything, nose in holes etc.

You mention various tests didn’t shoe any issues…maybe worth sending some stool samples to unless vet sure all is good in that area.

Personally I would not be heading for the HIlls…I have strong personal views regarding some vets that happen to recommend certain foods they stock & get profit from.

Good Luck

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Hello and welcome to AADF forum. Some useful advice so far and lots to consider. The review for Akela is here and it scores a full 5 out of 5 on the Dog Food Directory. There are three varieties. From how you describe your dog’s reaction to it, I would agree that it does sound as if there is something in it that your JR cannot tolerate. We can’t say for sure what it is because the ingredient list is a long one. Usually when dogs react like this to 80/20 kibble it is assumed that the problem is the high protein/fat.

It might be worth considering a quality wet food. The protein and fat dry weight tends to be high but their recipes are usually very simple. There are quite a few with a single source of protein and they would be the ones to go for. It is useful to give one type only for several days to see how the dog reacts, then give a new flavour. If you want to try this type of food and need further advice re sourcing one using the Dog Food Directory, please ask.

If you prefer a dry food I would be very tempted to go for Gentle Fish. It is cold pressed food and this type of product is well regarded for dogs with digestive problems. Most of this category of foods contain two meat sources, one being fish but Gentle Fish contains just that. Fish is often well tolerated by dogs with a sensitive digestion. The majority of this range of products have suitable fat and protein levels (usually circa 11% and 27% respectively, dry weight).

Of the extruded foods, perhaps have a look at some of the fish ones with moderate protein levels, sub 30%. There are a few - Fish4Dogs, Skippers and Millie’s Wolfheart do one too - there are more and we could help you with a search for something suitable if you wish. However, I feel that the first two options might be best for now, at least until you have your dog stabilized.

Please let us know what you decide and if you want to discuss the options further, please ask.

Thank you all for the helpful, detailed replies.

I have asked Gentle for some samples of their cold-pressed fish food, as this would seem to tick two boxes mentioned (new, single protein source and cold-pressed). In the meantime, I am thinking about trying him on Lily’s wet food, which seems to have a very simple list of ingredients and some options with a single-protein source. We have some cans at home (we were given them by a friend whose JRT died recently ). But if you would recommend any other wet foods, I am very open to trying something else.

If the problems persist with food change, we will ask for further tests, with stool samples. He is fully up-to-date with worming tablets etc. In the past, when he was on Burns, I am sure his stomach upset was down to things he’d picked up on walks, but now we keep a very close eye on him and he is pretty good at leaving things when told.

I took one look at the Hill’s ingredient list and decided it was a ‘no’. And it certainly seems like there are options beyond a food labelled ‘gastrointestinal’.

Thank you again for your help!

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I have just done a search on the Dog Food Directory for wet foods and it returned 5 pages but I am currently getting an error when I move to page 2 so I will check again in the morning and if it is still problematic will let David know. Unfortunately the only page was number one. The Dog Food Directory is here and the filters that I used were type of food - wet complete, natural and clearly labelled, no red ingredients. I set the rating slider at 4.0 to 5.0 stars.

Off the top of my head, Naturediet has long been useful for dogs with sensitivities and they have plenty of information on their website about this. The other wet food that I have used and liked is Natures Menu Adult Pouches. The recipes are very simple indeed and it is almost like feeding raw but the products are steamed. Burns sell Penlan Farm wet food so that might be worth looking at. Some supermarkets are selling Forthglade and they are good products - I was in Morrisons the other day and they have the grain free on offer at £1 per tray.

We had recent news that some Tesco branches are selling Freshpet and this is said to be akin to home cooking but the food is pasteurized. To continue on the home cooking theme, brand new to the market is Butternut Box and that is something else that you might want to check out. There is lots more choice in wet foods and some are readily available in store so you can try just a few trays. Pets at Home have some good ones too, including their own Wainwright’s brand.

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Thank you very much indeed. I shall check out Naturediet and Natures Menu and Butternut Box. I shall also have a look here tomorrow and at the Dog Food Directory. Gentle samples on the way! Hopefully we can find something that leaves him wind and soft stool free!


Just to add…

I am not sure but think the feed amount of Akela Fish I provided was around 1.8 % -2% of bodyweight over two meals, (Lab with regular high output exercise) .

I am not convinced that higher levels of quality protein causes behavioural or stool output issues IF the feed amount is appropriate. I have read a lot of internet content claiming it does but plenty of content challenging this too.

In my experience, if feeding a decent quality food, correct adjustment of daily amount usually sorts issues with stools, however, my dog prior had some soft stool issues when increasing kibble amounts & rolling back high demand exercise amounts to add body weight…Not an issue using same method on current food.

Dogs often take time to adjust to new foods…even when switching to products of perceived or claimed higher quality.

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JMDalton - I am still getting a search error for wet food so have reported it to David. I am hoping that the Gentle Fish sample will meet with your dog’s approval. If you choose to try this, please remember to weigh the food accurately and you need 1% to 1.2% of your dog’s ideal body weight. It won’t look much in the bowl but you can soak it (do not use boiling water) and it bulks up to make a nice wet food. Takes about 10/15 minutes.

Coaster - the 80/20 products are good and I take your point about them being used properly. There is so much anecdotal evidence of problems with them but you can never be sure whether it has been given in the right amount. Our OP has been careful to administer the food correctly so this is probably not the case here.

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Hi, and welcome to the forum.
According to my personal experience, Gentle is a good food. I fed it myself to my JAI (the original flavour, the fish variety wasn’t available at the time) and the only reason I stopped was because of my dog having issues with chicken.
Just a word of warning: cold pressed food can’t be stored for long time so my recommendation is to buy smaller bags since you’ll need to feed low amounts (as Dottie pointed out).
I hope you’ll sort this out with Gentle fish; let us know how it goes!



Thanks for highlighting that OP was feeding correct amounts…I had overlooked this. I accept the specific 80/20 food discussed might not suit the OP’s dog.

I accept a high protein diet may not suit all dogs & their lifestyles albeit many owners of high energy output dogs report report their dogs doing well on higher protein diet. The main issue I have is some of the sweeping statements on the internet that, (regardless of dog & it’s lifestyle), feeding a high protein diet is likely to result in negative issues.

For those feeding dried foods it is relatively easy to switch to a lower protein product that still has suitable composition.

As for the comments re shelf life of Cold pressed, companies seem to quote between 6 & 8 month shelf life…obviously this would be dependant to storage environment. I cant seem to find anything online clarifying if this also applies to bags that have been opened…perhaps someone can clarify.

Hello and welcome to the forum jmdalton!

I am now feeding him Akela 80/20, as it was ranked so highly on here (and this site was recommended by our trainer). Since moving onto the Akela he has had very runny stools. I have weighed the food carefully, but think that it is just too rich, or he is sensitive to one of the several proteins it contains. He seeme to loved the taste of Akela at first but, although he eats most of his food, he now seems nonchalant about it, perhaps because it is making him feel unwell.

Please remember that you will always know your dog best and if after weaning him on to a different food he is not ‘adjusting to’, nor really tolerating, that particular food, as shown by his “runny stools” (of course assuming this is not the norm for him), then you are wise to question it’s continuation as a diet for him. Years ago I had this same questionable “reaction” in one of my pups feeding on a higher protein diet from an excellently rated and (still is) a highly recommended food :o… whose tummy only later settled once he had the diet that suited him.

It is about working out why your young JRT is reacting as he is and it may well be that one of the ingredients in the food does not agree with him and in that case it would be prudent to try a single protein source (either 1 meat or 1 fish) with hopefully a single carbohydrate (such as brown rice) and see how he copes. You then have that protein and carbohydrate as an accepted starting basis to either continue as is, or expand his diet accordingly. As you say Gentle Fish ticks the box as a single protein and for that reason is a good choice of food to try.

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Thank you all for your helpful and detailed replies. I very much appreciate your advice and support. In the past week, I’ve tried Ludo a couple of days on samples of Gentle and on Lily’s Kitchen wet food, as a friend suggested the simpler Lily’s recipes might also be good for him. On both these foods his stools were fantastic - firmer and fewer! It felt like winning the lottery!
So it seems like either of these options would be good for him. They both seem high quality products, but I am keener on the Gentle. My only concern is that the recommended portion is so small, smaller even than the Akela. I’m aware that this is because of the quality of the food and would stick to this if we keep him on it, but worry he might not be satisfied by it. Is this possible? Or will he adjust? I wonder if it is just me feeling bad when I see such a small amount in the bowl!

Thanks again.

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I totally understand about the quantity of cold pressed food and it is one of the reasons why I initially discontinued it a few years ago. I returned to it and found that if I soak the food the bowl looks fuller and I don’t feel so bad. My dogs are always up for food and would eat all day long so I try not to give in to pressure. These days I sometimes add cooked and mashed vegetables and a small amount of suitable fruit at the midday meal. They enjoy this and there is the added bonus of not adding too many calories.

Remember that wet food looks more in the bowl but is usually circa 70% water. I think you need time to adjust to the amount of Gentle and try not to worry. If your dog does well on it then that is the main thing. During this transition period, watch your dog’s weight and within a few weeks you will know how much he needs per day - usually 1% to 1.2% of ideal body weight. Sometimes very active dogs need a bit more.

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Great thread!

Just to add in some pointers that I think might be useful. Loose stools you can usually combat with increasing a crude fibre ingredient. To give an example, lentils have a middle crude fibre content but a higher protein content too (so that is something to watch out for).

For me, to cure an upset stomach, a little bit of pumpkin goes a long way to settle everything down.

Also to let you know, if you are looking to change from dry to another home cooked / raw diet you should give some time for your dog to adjust so it does not upset their stomach too much as well, I’ve read it usually takes 7-14 days.

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Thank you, Dottie, that is a great idea. Ludo seemed quite hungry yesterday afternoon so I made him some cooked carrots and apple, which he loves. He soon settled down for a nap! I think I will try this with his meals in the long-term now.

Thank you too, Declan. I remember feeding a combination of Lily’s and pumpkin to a friend’s JRT whom we looked after last year. He had had some stomach problems but produced nice stools on this combination!

After months of on off diarrhoea, Ludo’s stools have returned to normal on Gentle. I shall slowly introduce the cooked fruit and veg, to give him a little more in his tummy.

Thank you again for all of your advice.


It’s heartening to hear that there is already some improvement. Long may it continue. We would like to follow progress if you have the opportunity to update the thread.

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Best food for dogs with sensitive digestion is tinned Chappie, can’t beat it.

Lots of people say that (including vets). You may be interested in this thread that we have on Chappie.

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