Labrador underweight/soft stool

Hi all - I’d really appreciate some advice!

We have a two year old intact lab, Rio, who has had a few bad bouts of diarrhoea due to some stomach bugs, but, betweentimes, has generally had quite soft stools. He is also generally marginally underweight - unusually for a lab! He has a good appetite and finishes whatever we give him, but he’s not as greedy as our previous lab and doesn’t generally scavenge. Because of being underweight we have been overfeeding him, but then I am confused about whether his soft poos/diarrhoea are down to overfeeding or intolerance!

He’s on the Purina Hypoallergenic HA at the moment due to some unexplained diarrhoea, and the vet’s suggestion that he might have an intolerance. Previously he was mostly on Millies Wolfheart (we tried some different varieties). At the moment he has transitioned to Nature’s Way 50% chicken, his stool is definitely getting softer (it’s been positive hard while on the Purina, which I think is normal, even when being overfed).

Any tips on what to try? He was briefly on Eden and his poo seemed OK, I’m thinking of giving it a longer trial to see how he does, but I am wondering whether the very high protein will be good for his weight? (We were previously advised by the Millies Wolfheart nutricionist to move from a higher protein food to one with more carbs as he was underweight)

Hello and welcome to the forum. In view of the fact that your Labrador has had infections of the digestive system it makes sense to commence a canine specific probiotic. There are a few on the market. YuDigest reviews well. Also, natural Kefir is thought to help.

Fat and protein are higher in calories than carbohydrate so weight gain should be better with Eden or any other 80/20 dog food. Wolfworthy is one that has a good nutritional score. The other 80/20 which might be appropriate Europa grain free/potato free because it is based on fish which is often helpful for dogs with digestive issues. However, there are more and you can easily search using the Dog Food Directory. Use the filters ‘clearly labelled’ and no red/yellow ingredients.

If you go with one of the 80/20 higher fat/protein products, make sure to transition slowly and to weigh the food out accurately. These high quality foods sometimes need to be given in lower quantities so it is really important not to overfeed, even though you are currently wanting to put weight on your Lab. Build up slowly until you feel you are giving the correct amount to help your dog add weight.

Thanks so much! I have ordered the Eden as he seemed OK on it before, but the fish-based one - will see how he gets on, and will also try others! It makes sense that the high calorific value of the higher protein food might suit him better, even though the Millie’s nutritionist suggested we try more carbs.

We had also been advised to avoid grain-free foods, due to a risk of developing heart muscle problems - but we will move onto that!

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David has written a blog about the alleged heart muscle problem - Heart Disease and Grain-Free Pet Food - Red Alert or Red Herring? We also have threads on this here and here. As you say, concentrate on the diet element and have a look at those later.