Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?

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  Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?
« on: August 14, 2008, 12:27:59 PM »

gohawks3
Rank: Gnawer
Posts: 6

We have a 10 month old Bernese Mountain Dog named Scout(male)that had some bacterial/parasite issues a few months ago, but fully recovered and seems to be completely healthy.  We weighed him at 9 months old and he was almost 90 lbs, had plenty of energy and no other health issues.  The only thing we had to keep him on was probiotics because he seemed to have diarrhea very badly without them.  All has been well the past 8-10 weeks until recently, at least to me...

About 14 days ago he started eating less and less of his meals.  We were feeding him 3-3.5 cups of large breed puppy food twice a day (total of 6-7 cups), and noticed that he was eating less and less each day.  Now he is at the point where he won't eat any of his dog food at all - in fact, he has not had more than a total of 4 cups in the past two days!  We've tried mixing in herbs, snacks, etc into his original food, as well as tried other puppy foods, but he still won't touch it.  He looks like he's lost a little weight and I think he's definitely been lazy/lethargic, but that could be him calming down as he gets older b/c he still is very playful when provoked.

In addition, About 7 days ago he started having diarrhea again.  Just yesterday he went outside about 12 different times and went #2 (runny), but stood 'in position' long after he was done, like he was trying to go/thought he was still going.  Every time I let him outside he does this same exact routine.

I thought that he may have another parasite/infection, so I did take a sample to the vet for testing, but everything came back normal.

I know dogs - especially Berners - go through stages where they eat very little, but I'm frustrated that he hasn't eaten more than 4 cups over the past 2 days and won't eat anything I put in front of his face!  Couple this with the diarrhea he's experiencing and I'm a bit stumped as to what might be going on, especially given the fact that his fecal test came back negative.

Any thoughts or ideas as to what might be bugging Scout?

Thanks in advance!

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  Re: Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2008, 04:01:38 PM »

gohawks3
Rank: Gnawer
Posts: 6

Thanks for the info! 

I don't think he's allergic to any of his dog foods because at one time or another he ate them like there was no tomorrow!

I just tried to feed him rice and he wouldn't even sniff at it until I buried some treats in the bottom of the bowl.  Maybe he's just being picky right now, but the thing that is bothering me is the combination of him not eating, being lethargic and having diarrhea.

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  Re: Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2008, 06:35:47 PM »

sc.trojans
Rank: Big Paws-a-holic
Posts: 329


Scout is definitely not healthy right now so lets break some of this down...

The history you describe sets up the possibility for several things:  still a bacterial inbalance, parasite infection, IBD (which is immune related), or allergy.

First, keep in mind that an allergy can arise at any time and to any substance - even one that the dog has been eating his whole life without incident.  So there is no assumption to me made based on historic diet.

You describe lack of appetite - this is key!  To truly test appetite, offer a biologically appropriate food for a dog that would be instinctively attractive - not RICE Smiley  but meat!  Offer this as as a meal and see if fresh food is of interest.  This will tell you if there is an issue with the kibble...or truly a lack of appetite.

If lack of appetite exists - then you are looking at gastritis
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1571&articleid=438

Gastritis is basically inflammation of the stomach - and can be caused by consumption of bad food or indiscriminate things, bacteria, virus, IBD, or insufficient digestive process (lack of enzyme and maldigestion).

To treat, feed beef or chicken broth with 2 tablespoons organic honey melted and mixed in, with 5 capsules of slipper elm.  In honey, further give probiotic, slippery elm, and marshmallow root - which is highly coating.  Do not stop the probiotics ever for this boy - he will likely need them for life, as well as digestive enzymes.  These are all cheaper than the best remedy I have found which is Digestinol with L-Glutamine.  Many balk at the expense and large quantity size however but always an option. 

Now the diarrhea is either originating in the small bowel or large bowel - it is important to distinguish where as they have different implications.  Small bowel is urgent, watery......of ten shooting water or pure liquid.  There is weight loss with this due to lack of nutrient absorption.

Colitis on the other hand is the large bowel and this is usually "cow pie" like, rather than watery - usually mucous is present, and the dog may strain.  There is rarely weight loss or change in activity level with this, since critical nutrient absorption occurs in the small bowel.

Colitis is often a symptom of allergies - environmental.  It can also arise from IBS or IBD - common in this breed due to immune deficiency.  A common symptom of these is that you will see an apparent recovery for weeks or months only to have it recur.  Traditional vets believe this is a life long disease and about managing remission.

Given the stomach involvement that you have however there is likely something bigger going on than just colitis.  If small bowel is involved with weight loss, you need to get vet attention as this can be life threatening long term. 

I would not waste my money on fecal tests - they are far too often false negatives and do not rule out anything.  Ultimately a waste of money except for the Clostridium test which is required to test for this toxin.  X-rays don't show many things and also a waste...so if it comes to diagnostic testing - go straight for ultrasound and blood panel.

If Scout were mine I would:

-Go buy a digital thermometer and take his temperature via rectum - anything over 102 and I would head for the vet.

-I would begin the broth and supplements I suggest immediately - I would get the Digestinol which works wonders on gastritis and fast and allow 48 to 72 hours if the temperature was normal.

-If there is no appetite and further weight loss, head to an internal medicine specialist with ultrasound capability (regular vet not going to be much help and will just push fecals and Metronidazole which is not curative).




SC Trojans
with Gracie and Skylar


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« Last Edit: August 14, 2008, 11:06:34 PM by sc.trojans »
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  Re: Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2008, 08:22:42 PM »

gohawks3
Rank: Gnawer
Posts: 6

Thank you both for the very detailed and informative replies!  Here's an update:

I fed him a very full bowl of rice and cottage cheese (recipe my breeder recommended for sickly Berners) and he ate the entire thing...so I fed him a bit more  Grin

He does in fact want to eat any type of human food or raw meat it seems, so this makes me think his lack of apetite has to do with food.  Would this be an accurate statement?

He still seems a little lazy compared to normal, but we went on 3 10-15 minute walks today and he did wonderful during them (played with other dogs, pulled me around, etc. etc.), so this makes me feel a bit better.

However,the diarrhea is still there.  I'm thinking about getting a refil of FLAGIL from the vet, which is exactly what worked a few months ago when his insides started acting up on him.  I want to give him a few days on this med and see if his issue clears up.  Anyone disagree with this approach?

I'll definitely give that recipe a shot though...sound s like he'll love it.

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  Re: Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2008, 09:06:37 PM »

shangrila
Rank: Golden Paws
Posts: 2819


What food is he currently eating? He might be be intollerant to it. Since he will eat other food besides his dog food and the tests were negative, I would suggest a new food.

Also, for diahrea the best things I have found are white rice and canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin, not the pie mix), since they both work well and are natural things you can get easily. I buy a can of pumpkin, put it into an ice cube tray to make individual servings and then move the frozen cube to a freezer bag for storage. Then when your pup gets diahrea you can just melt one quickly in the microwave over their food or give it to them frozen like ice cream

RIP former BPO

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  Re: Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2008, 11:15:53 PM »

sc.trojans
Rank: Big Paws-a-holic
Posts: 329



Ok...so it sounds like Scout doesn't like the kibble (no surprise there) and likely you are just dealing with colitis.

Fasting him for 24 hours is usually the best start to allow the system to clear, and then start on my supplement regimen with broth while introducing either cooked turkey and white rice - some use low fat beef and rice - or the easiest protein to digest is eggs so then using eggs and white rice is often the most successful. 

The pattern you describe however is chronic inflammation that is going into remission.  It could be the kibble.  A foster boy I had here in the spring came to me with horrible colitis...vets thought it was IBD.  I put him on a fresh food diet from his chicken based kibble, and started with chicken...he had an immediate blow out from both ends the poor guy.  I quickly learned he is allergic to chicken (the active protein in kibble is much lower than the real thing so the reaction wasn't as strong) but this boy had been having diarrhea his whole life eating chicken kibble.  So once on beef, rice and pumpkin he was doing ok...and we healed his gut with these other supplements.  He went to his new home with this diet and they then weaned him onto raw....doing great - not eating chicken Smiley - and thriving.  Colitis solved.  His case is the 5th case I have had in this breed of this where they just don't digest the processed food, and since raw is easier on the stomach, is just easier for them.

If not the food, then IBD could be a real possibility in which case you may see consistent flare ups over time.  The Flagyl you refer to IS Metronizadole - and just understand that it is symptom suppressive, not curing the cause.  Metro will firm them up, and may be necessary in an extreme case, but is not curing the condition (unless a light case of protozoa) and often when you stop it, the condition returns.  If it doesn't return for 6 months or more - then perhaps it was protozoa and therefore cured - but if you keep seeing flare ups every 2-6 months, then you have an immune response likely.




SC Trojans
with Gracie and Skylar


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  Re: Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2008, 09:20:20 AM »

gohawks3
Rank: Gnawer
Posts: 6

Ok so Scout has been snarfing down rice and meat/cottage cheese the past few days like a starving dog.  He's acting like a completely normal puppy, playing hard and sleeping harder.  However, the diarrhea has not gone away.  In fact, this morning it was really nasty - looked like ground hamburger and may have even had a few worms in it?  Either that or he passed an undigested portion of one of his rawhide bones.  The worst part was he did it in his kennel in our bedroom, wich he NEVER does.  Sorry for the visuals  Grin

I've decided to take him back to the vet later today for another check-up and fecal test.  However, I am at a complete loss as to what is bothering him.  If it's a food allergy, how do I determine what he can/cannot have?  I need to find a quality kibble for him for the long term.  If it's something worse such as a stomach/digestive issue, what can I ask the vet to do vs. just prescribe more flagil/antibiotics to surpress the real issue?

We monitor him like hawks and treat him like a king, so it's not like he got into something bad or ate a dead animal.  He's never in the yard alone and he hates being outside for more than 5 minutes at a time with the heat.  So I don't think it's just a case of him getting something random...

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  Re: Is My Bernese Mountain Dog Sick?
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2008, 11:56:51 PM »

sc.trojans
Rank: Big Paws-a-holic
Posts: 329



First, stop the rawhide - never good for a GI Tract, and especially not a Berner one.  You may find this alone will be curative once you heal the GI Tract.

Fecal tests are often false negatives - so if enough indications of parasite exist, then a vet usually recommends worming them and then you'll know.  Since Berners have such sensitive guts, and worming alone can further strip the gut and irritate, I recommend starting with a natural dewormer that is gentler on the gut to see if it improves things.  Quantums Parasite Forumula is recommended by Dr. Marty Goldstein and many vets here (Quantum Herbal Products).  Otherwise, settle for Panacur from your vet (the safest one).  This may be a reasonable place to start....if you can rule out parasite or protozoa (giardia/coccidia) then you can likely rule in other things....

But honestly, given the breed, you have a more likely chance of having an inflammed gut that is going to be food sensitive or triggered by the immune system.  This often starts in the breed after vaccination (or other chemical load) so you may want to look at timing of start to see if it coincides.  If so, you're going to need to heal the gut with the anti-inflammatory supplements I suggested (or go with Metronizadole if you go that route).  I believe every Berner should be on probiotics for life for this reason.

I am still trusting that the issue is colitis (large colon) based on your description and not the small colon since he is acting normal, and not losing energy.  Given the maldigestion you say you are seeing however, he needs to stay on a bland restricted diet for a while - one protein and white rice for example - and get digestive enzymes, probiotics and possibly if not acidic enough to break down food, add 1/2 tsp of apple cidar vinegar to his food to help digestion.

If you DO go with Metronizadole from a vet - just give the lowest dose possible for only once a day (not twice as is often prescribed) and for 7 days - no more.  This drug is not approved for animals and has a high side effect rate in Berners so stick with a short course if used.




SC Trojans
with Gracie and Skylar


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