Hydrolised dog food -v- novel protein

My dog has appointment at a referral hospital on Tuesday for an intermittent digestive problem. Of course, I can’t be sure of anything until I get a diagnosis, but IBD might be a possibility. During a preliminary telephone consultation with one of their vets, she thinks a hydrolised protein diet may be advisable. She prefers this to trying a novel protein diet. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hypoallergenic was praised.

Apart from being worried to death about what might be wrong with her, I am now deeply depressed about the possibility of her having this utter muck. Doubtless, it is good at controlling IBD and other digestive issues, but the ingredients are beyond horrendous:-

Maize starch*
Hydrolysed soya protein**
Coconut oil
Rapeseed oil
Glycerine (from vegetable origin)
Soya oil
Fish oil

The vet thinks the ingredients are good & a qualified nutritionalist I emailed enquiring about home made recipes thinks it’s an excellent food, so I’m beginning to feel like I’m a voice in the wilderness, because I know, without a doubt, that the contents are some of the most unhealthy I’ve ever read about.

My dog’s current wet food is 6.9% fat. which I think is about 35% fat on a dry matter basis, but I could supplement this with something else to reduce the fat content if that’s causing a problem & try horse instead of turkey.

I just wondered if anyone here had tried a novel protein source for digestive issues and the outcome. I am, of course, reluctant to go against anything the experts say, but I’ve always been pleased she has good nutrition & can’t bear the thought of her having rubbish with harmful ingredients. How anyone can think something with sugar, etc. and not a scrap of meat is nutritious is a complete mystery to me.

Is your dog exhibiting any other symptoms that may be linked to allergies…such a repeated ear infections, greasy smelling furry that never gets soft, despite repeated baths, itching (nor just having a good scratch) or scooting? If so, you should think about trying a limited ingredient single source protein food…possibly a novel protein. My dog had every allergy symptom before he was diagnosed…dodgy tummy, itches, smelly greasy fur, ear infections and anal gland problems so it was easy to say allergies were the issue. We just had to figure out what so he had the blood test done. I know people are divided on this test but within, we’d never have been able to figure out what made him so poorly

Hello Gemma. I am sorry that your dog is still having problems with her digestive system. I can understand your concern because years ago I had a dog with colitis and I was never able to get on top of it. We were back and forth to the vet and dependent on medication. In those days we didn’t have the Internet and I had little knowledge of canine dietary matters.

I share your concern about the hydrolyzed protein dog food. Your vet and qualified nutritionist seem to think it is useful and their opinion could be based on the experience of it being helpful with previous clients.

I have never conducted an elimination diet but my feeling is that done properly it would be a good way of finding out exactly what the dog can and can’t tolerate. If it was me, I would need support so would consult a qualified nutritionist. We only have a very short list of nutritionists on the forum - link.

As you are going to see the referral vet next week it is probably best to leave things as they are diet-wise. If the hydrolyzed protein diet is suggested there is no reason why you shouldn’t be open and honest about your concerns. They are often used as a base for an elimination diet and as such can be helpful. They can also be useful in the short term to get symptoms under control so maybe you could consider it as such, should it be suggested by the referral vet?

I would be interested to know how you get on at the referral hospital. Please could you post back? I would be grateful.

Thank you both for replying. No, she doesn’t have any other issues that might point to an allergy. Normally, she’s a pig, but, starting in January, every so often she didn’t want her breakfast till later, ate loads of grass & showed signs of discomfort or feeling sick. Vet could find nothing wrong &, for 10 weeks, she was fine, then it occurred 3 times in the next month & there was a tiny bit of bright red blood in her poo twice, followed by quite a lot a few days later. She’s never sick & no diarrhea. The problem is always in the morning. Faecal sample was negative.

Each version of her current food consists of a single protein source from muscle meat and organs and the one I mainly feed is turkey, Whilst I’m unwilling to go against the vet’s advice & possibly harm her, ideally, I’d like to switch to another version of her food, and they sell dehydrated fruit/veg/seed flakes with which I could replace some of the wet food to reduce the fat content. The vet indicated that the switch to hydrolised should probably be permanent, but junk like that would surely bring it’s own problems. I made it quite clear what I thought about it, but could tell the vet didn’t see anything wrong with the nutritional value, so I’m between a rock and a hard place at the moment.

The fact that the problem is intermittent would seem to indicate that it isn’t due to allergy or intolerance. Sometimes dogs can have intolerance to ingredients other than the protein source and it’s not always easy to discover what it is. One of mine can’t cope with legumes (mostly lentils) and white potato but can eat all kinds of fish, meat and poultry. Luckily I have been able to spot the problem and eliminate them from her diet.

Is there any chance that she is eating rubbish when she goes out in the garden for her last wee in the evening? Have you tried four meals a day, last one being at bedtime?

Regarding natural remedies for digestive problems - My Pet Nutritionist has a few suggestions and these are listed in this blog. Slippery Elm, given last thing at night might be worth exploring. Also, I assume you are dividing the meals into four per day?

Thanks, Dottie - I’ve been feeding 3 times per day, but will up it to 4. Ultrasound & bloods unremarkable, but pancreatitis result still awaited. Could be scavenging, but vet’s leaning towards IBD (either food, antibiotic or steroid-responsive gastrointestinal inflammation). Has to have Panacur for 7 days, but she has Four Seasons wormer monthly, so I can’t see that it’s going to be due to parasites.

The only way to get a definitive diagnosis is through endoscopy and/or colonoscopy, which vet says has risks.

He told me to leave off her supplements, which makes perfect sense. She’s been having golden paste, Astaxanthin, Dr. Mercola whole body glandular support for female dogs & Adored Beast Love Bugs pro/prebiotics, which might be overdoing it a bit!

Without being patronizing or rude, I got the distinct impression his opinion was that, as a qualified vet, he knew far more than I as to what is good & bad in dog foods. He considers what I give as over-priced & does not approve of smaller manufacturers. He says Mars, Nestle, Hills have far superior research/testing/quality control facilities. When I pointed out the Mars’ recall due to excess Vitamin D, he said their superiority was proved by the fact they found out - but I can’t help but think it would have been better if this had been discovered prior to leaving the factory. His response to Naturavetal’s suggestion of horse as a novel protein was “where does the horse come from?” He disregarded the details of the flakes they suggested to reduce fat content without giving a reason. He feeds his dog Chappie. When I criticized the sugar in Purina, he said we all need sugar.

I can see that 6.9% fat in wet food could be too high & thought about substituting some of it with oats or rice, Will have to check with vet, but can anyone think of something else fairly high in calories, low in fat?

He’s recommending either:-

Purina HA hypoallergenic – soya-based; biscuits; relatively low in fat (cf. other diets in this group)
Royal Canin Hypoallergenic – soya-based; biscuits and tinned
Royal Canin Anallergenic – chicken feather-based; biscuits
Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d – chicken liver-based; biscuits and tinned
Specific Allergen Management Plus – salmon-based; biscuits and trays
Affinity Hypoallergenic – soya-based; biscuits

I feel completely demoralized & am beginning to wonder if everything I thought I knew about dog food is rubbish. I guess every regular visitor to this site is, like me, fairly fanatical about what is good & bad & every instinct, rightly or wrongly, turns me against these foods, but don’t want to harm her by not listening to the vet.

I’m totally confused, doubt my own judgement & still very worried about her & concerned that, whatever I decide will be the wrong decision.

This is a dilemma and I sympathize with you. This kind of scenario is so common and it is difficult to know what to do because they are the qualified professionals so you do end up questioning yourself. I had a similar scenario about two years ago with my dog. The vet said to use duck and tapioca for my dog’s skin condition. I had no faith in it but did as I was told and sourced the product - I think it was Royal Canin. My dog ate it but it did no good whatsoever even though I kept her on it for at least two months to give it a fair trial. What has worked spectacularly well is fresh cooked food.

The comment about him using Chappie is one I have heard so much and it intrigues me why pet owners swear by it, particularly for dogs with digestive problems. We have a thread on the subject here.

I can understand why you feel demoralized - I too have had ups and downs regarding my dogs’ diets over the years, particularly when there has been problems. What you have learned about dog food is good and useful. It’s simply a case of him having his opinion and you having yours. That’s life - we cannot all agree. Many people have turned their dog’s health around for the better by learning about dog food via websites such as this one. You are only trying to do the best for your dog.

I think you have a choice to make - either go with one of his recommendations or find something yourself that meets the criteria of low fat and a novel protein. In the short term, it shouldn’t harm your dog to try one of his suggestions. If you go for something sourced by yourself, it’s worth remembering that low fat foods usually have high carbohydrate. Of course there is a third way - tinned Chappie. It’s not one I would recommend myself but there’s no getting away from it that some people find it works for their dog.

It’s good that you have stopped the supplements for now. Back to basics is often the best thing in cases like this.

The Chappie link was interesting & confirms everything I thought I knew. Spoke to one of my own vets yesterday, who said that, as long as the pancreatic blood test is negative, he doesn’t see anything wrong with 6.9% fat, whereas another vet from the practice said it was too high - so even vets can’t agree! He told me about TROVET Unique Protein UPH wet food (pure meat), which is only 5% fat, so I’m waiting to hear from them as to whether there’s any BPA in the tins or carrageenan. I’ve also found a natural vit & mineral supplement - Winston & Porter Nourish + C (I’ve waffled on about not wanting anything with synthetic vits & minerals on here previously).

I’d happily cook for her, but about the only meat she hasn’t had is horse or from exotic animals - so impossible to buy. One good thing is, as I’ve never given her meat & animal derivatives, at least I know what her novel proteins would be. The hospital vet told me that if a dog has had only one meal containing a particular meat - no matter how long ago - it could no longer be considered a novel protein.

Depending upon the outstanding blood test result & if her condition doesn’t worsen, I’m inclined try the novel protein option, at least at first.

1 Like