Impossible food? Low fat/protein but also low grains?!

Hi all,

I’m having some issues finding a food suitable for my 1 year old Border Terrier/Jack Russel cross. He’s fairly active (as most 1 year olds are! )but not working/sporting/agility etc.

Puppy food was combinations of Skinners, Fish4Dogs (puppy packs) then Simpsons Premium Puppy Sensitive. Adult food started on Simpsons Premium Adult/Senstive depending on what I grabbed in the shop, and some fresh cooked chicken breast (OH’s dad is a butcher so plentiful supply!)

Over the last 6 months or so he suffered from recurring bouts of colitis (treated at vets with antib’s etc), with finally 2 bouts within weeks of each other where the vet queried his diet and decided it was probably too high in protein and fat for him hence the issues.

I swapped him onto Burns Original as it was the lowest protein food I found stocked locally that wasn’t completely rubbish. I also cut the chicken out completely.

The colitis issue has not reappeared and he appears happy and healthy on this.

However, now he is (understandably!) more reluctant to eat, its clearly less appetising to him, especially minus the chicken, but softened with warm water he does finish each meal. The main issue is his poo quantities have increased exponentially and he is soiling inside at least once a night, sometimes twice. Whilst the poohs are normal and solid, he just seems to need to go far more often than before. I’ve tried varying his dinner time/taking for a late night walk for poohs, but even when let out to toilet at 2am he is still soiling before 7am!

He is also on Protexin Profibre which was recc’d by the vet following initial colitis issues.

Does anyone have suggestions?

The Simpsons food breakdown is : Protein 24%, Oil 16%, Fibre 3.7%, Ash 8%, Calcium: 1.19% Phosphorous 0.88%, Omega 6: 3.16%, Omega 3: 1.03%.

So looking for something which is less fat and protein than that.

Burns Original is Crude Protein 18.5%, Crude Oils & Fats 7.5%, however it is 67% rice, which must surely be bulking up the poo?

Other options I looked into (not yet tried) are: Lily’s Kitchen (although this is pricey) a couple of the lower protein Barking Heads, and a James Wellbeloved grain free.

Does anyone have any advice? I would change him over gradually, but also don’t want to risk another attack of colitis!

Raw feeding is sadly not an option (despite the ease of access!) as I am often away for mealtimes with work and so rely on others feeding him and they arent keen.

Sorry for the long post!

Hello and welcome to the forum. Your thread title is apt because it is (AFAIK) impossible to find a product that has low fat/protein and also low grains. Something has to replace the lack of meat and that is usually cereal or potato.

Your dog might be doing better on the Burns because it has brown rice, oats and peas which provides high fibre. However, from your description of his bowel pattern, it would seem that there is too much of this. It might be worth looking for a food with a lower level of brown rice but you will probably have to accept a slightly higher protein level.

The foods that fit this criteria are the cold pressed ones in which brown rice takes up about one third of the recipe. Many of them have low fat - circa 10% but the protein is a bit higher at circa 27%. This should not be a problem for your dog because the meat content is digestible. If you are interested in this class of dog food take a look at the thread here. The Markus Muhle ones usually contain dried moor or similar which are there to promote gut health. Contact Gentle or Guru if you want to know more about this.

1 Like

Hi Dottie :slight_smile: Thank you for the reply, really helpful. Yes I did think it might be a bit of an oxymoron trying to balance low everything (maybe fairy dust as the bulk ingredient?!). I will look into the cold pressed foods they sound like they might be a good solution.

1 Like

I hope you manage to sort this problem. Please can you provide feedback to your thread?

1 Like

Yes, I’ll pop back in a while with feedback, have a few samples of CP food on their way so paws crossed!

1 Like

Good luck tinkerbell. I hope you can find something suitable.

1 Like

Bit of an update:

Cold Processed (Gentle) initially seemed to be good, he really enjoyed it, was looking and acting really good on it , but unfortunately a few weeks in back to the usual symptoms…! I think he enjoys waiting until I’ve invested in a full sized bag…

I’ve popped him back on to the Burns for now, and will experiment with reducing quantities and earlier feeding to see if we can avoid the night time poops!

I did speak with a friend of a friend who has a Border Terrier with similar issues and the only thing theyve settled on is Pro Plan hypoallergenic. I didn’t see a specific rating on here for that food but the other Pro Plan and instant reviews are v low so I’m not keen to try him on that as it seems v expensive for the quality. Although the Burns is only around a 3/5 so…!

Eliminating wheat/gluten is the next step, as I’m tending towards this also contributing to issues but aware that then pushes up the protein. Will also be researching Raw a bit more and see if I can find a solution thats easy for others to feed him when I’m not there…


Thank you for letting us know how you are getting on. I am sorry that Gentle didn’t work out. When you say ‘usual symptoms’ can you say what they are? Just wondering about overfeeding because that can cause loose stools and in my experience it is very easy to give too much cold pressed food due to it being so dense.

I don’t know whether this will help, but have you looked at home cooking? We have a section about this on the forum. If you don’t have the confidence or time, there are a very few companies who sell fresh cooked food for dogs. Butternut Box is one and of their four flavours, chicken and turkey are the lowest in fat. However it is more expensive than commercial food.

Yes, I was careful to correctly weigh the CP food, and occasionally bulked it out with some veg as it did look v meagre and he would be stropping and throwing his bowl around after taking about 10 seconds to eat!

The symptoms we get are vomiting (quite often just bile), diarrhea (often bloody/mucusy), and he gets itchy as well as being a bit lethargic and generally under the weather. Although he can combine all this with moping around one minute and then haring about after the other dogs, which is frustrating as its hard to work out how ill he is/whats causing it. Symptoms have been diagnosed as colitis when I take him to the vets, and clears up on treatment and bland egg and rice. Equally I havent explored in any great depth with the vet things like IBD/Pancreatitis as it doesn’t seem as severe/clears up fairly quickly.

This latest time I reverted to egg and rice at first symptoms and haven’t needed a vet visit. We did think he might be scavenging/eating something outside (we have a small holding so plenty of opportunity!) but hes been carefully watched, and he had gone through a bag and a half of the Burns with no illness, just lots of poos/messing at night. Its tricky knowing how much to swap and change to eliminate various things, as I dont like risking a recurrence of illness.

I will look into the home cooking, I am away quite often with work over the summer but could leave batches with the OH to feed, so that is an option if I do some research.

My old dog went 16 years on leftover scraps and pedigree mixer with a swap to Simpsons in her later years so its a learning curve having a fussy/sensitive dog!

Edited to add- We have a running joke now that he may be vegetarian …! So tempted to look into Veggie dog foods and adding some tuna or similar if a meat proteuin is reqd.

1 Like

Tinkerbee - your post has given me an idea - Pure Pet Foods sell Vegi Plus Mixer which you just rehydrate and add your own protein source. There is also a similar thing in cold pressed food - Lukullus Veggie. Somewhere on the forum is a thread about food made from insects - think it is going to come into production in the UK (might already be on the market).

Regarding the bile, three smaller meals a day might help. The blood and mucous is worrying. Have you asked your vet about keeping him on treatment for a longer period? I had a dog like yours and had to use Metronidazole, sometimes over a long period of time.

If you decide to try raw, consult your vet. Might be better not to start it when he is having a flare up. Nutriment staff will be able to advise you on this. They sell some lower fat products.

1 Like

Thank you! Yes I think a veggie option/mix is next in line, I will look into these. Any blood etc cleared up quickly on antibiotics etc , and we’ve avoided that stage this time around. If it recurrs again I will have a chat with the vet about longer term treatment, and yes will look carefully if swapping to raw. Thank you for the advice :slight_smile: Paws crossed he settles down, will give 3 small meals a go.

1 Like

Thank you again for the feedback. This is a problem for you and I very much hope that it can be helped by sourcing the right food. I think it will be trial and error. Please can you keep us informed of progress? I am interested, not least because I had a dog with very similar problems. I never got to the bottom of it because it was a long time ago and I didn’t have enough knowledge/information about diet in those days. Also we did not have as many dog food products on sale.

As mentioned earlier, it might be worth having a look at Butternut Box - chicken and turkey are lower in fat. They are also bringing out a fish version in February. It is more costly than some foods but if it helps the dog it would potentially cut veterinary costs. I really hope that you can find something that suits your little dog.

1 Like

I really hope you find something to suit your dog and help with all the digestive issues. Your feedback is very much appreciated.

1 Like

So sorry to hear about your dog, I hope that you can sort things out soon. :slight_smile:
Just a thought, he may not be digesting the dry food very well, the dried food sits in the tummy and digests very slowly.
I found with my dog that he did not do well on dried food, he had loose stools and would sometimes sick some up undigested hours after having eaten it,and do lots of poo, so is on raw, and does very well on it. I know that raw can be high on fat, but they do a turkey one. Or butter nut do a turkey one too which is expensive but very good also.
I would suggest if you want to go down the raw route then Sammy at Luna and me is very very helpful and knows what she is talking about.
Not easy when your dog is ill as they can not tell you what is wrong.
I hope this may help. :slight_smile:


Thank you, that is interesting, I will look into it :slight_smile:

1 Like

Bit of an update: He is now on Burns Grain Free Duck and Potato, its pretty high in potato/low in meat but seems to suit him well re low fat/protein and seems to have stopped the night time pooping with smaller, more frequent meals…!


That’s great news Tinkerbee. Thank you very much for the update. Hope things continue to go well.

1 Like