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Dog food and feeding => Feeding dogs with health problems => Topic started by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 03, 2015, 15:54

Title: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 03, 2015, 15:54
Hi everyone.
So glad that I have found this forum. I am tying myself up in knots concerning my dog's diet at the  moment so any help  or advice will be greatly  appreciated   Here's our story ...
My dog  Harvey is 14 years old. Last year a  urine test showed  that  his kidneys were not fully functioning. My vet did not feel there was a need to prescribe medication. Flying into a panic, trying to prevent any further damage I researched any support that I could give him. I found Hills k/d diet and after checking with the surgery and a vet (not Harvey's normal vet who said the low protein would benefit him) I placed Harvey on the diet. Some months later, a pre surgery blood test showed Harvey's kidneys were ok but now his liver was not functioning brilliantly. Nothing to warrant medication or a change in diet as the k/d had benefits for the liver too.
Here we are around 9/10 months later...
Harvey's kidneys are still ok but there is a drop in liver function. After blood tests, basically my vet described that liver function has 3 stages, good, bad and the number 2 stage somewhere in between and this is where Harvey's liver is. A scan showed an enlarged gall bladder full of bile. He is currently on destolit to neutralise the bile and milk thistle as  a supplement.
Here's the food question...
I want to take Harvey off the k/d and the vet has said this is ok to change to a senior diet of 'good quality'.
Reasons why: he doesn't really like it and it can be hard to get him to eat it. He is on a mix of dry and wet  and  usually mixed with warm water to entice him.
He's been gradually losing weight, partly due I think to the amount he spits out on the floor. The vet had found no clinical reason for the weight loss and attributes it to Harvey being the type of senior dog  who loses weight rather than the ones who put weight on.
He has some back leg muscle wastage, partly I think due to the low protein. (I could be wrong).
Harvey's needs are quite complex I think.
After research, it seems that he needs: good digestible protein, low phosphorous, low copper and I'm unsure of the fibre! He also needs a food that could help maintain his weight, if not help him to put a little on!
I would prefer a commercial diet of wet and dry food as Harvey doesn't like an all dry diet. Home cooking is an option I know but I worry about giving him the correct diet he needs.
After spending  days and hours of research I did finally settle on giving an alternative a try. I chose wainwrights senior grain free and have begun the changeover. It seemed to have a nice list of ingredients and scored highly on this site so thought would give it a try and see how he got on.  However after contacting the vet at online animal product suppliers at viovet.co.uk, he said that these types of food aren't applicable to my dog and suggested of course Royal Canin or Hills (surprise, surprise!).
Now I'm all in a tizzy again. Didn't want to put Harvey on royal canin or hills. Want him to have a diet he can enjoy without it being detrimental to his health.

(I am continuing the changeover to wainwrights as don't want to keep changing his food- just hope it won't hurt him if he has to change diets again. )
Apologies for long post, it's a complex business isn't it?!!
Harvey, like all poochies, is incredibly precious so any good advice or suggestions of commercial foods would be very welcome.
Thank you.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 03, 2015, 17:45
Hello and welcome to the forum.  It is sad that your elderly dog has developed liver disease. It's good news that the kidneys have not deteriorated.  In the past I have had dogs with similar problems to yours, mostly age related but I am not an expert. A diet lower in meat content (protein) is often lower in fat too so that would probably be useful because the liver metabolises and eliminates fat. The thing is that with this kind of formula there is always the trade off and that is made by increasing carbohydrate.

Personally I think you are right in using wet food rather than dry because it is much more palatable and easier to digest when a dog's appetite is reduced.  You are right about Wainwright's - it does score highly on the Dog Food Directory.  This is probably because it has a high quality meat and high protein. Unfortunately it has a correspondingly high fat and I am not sure how that would affect the problem with your dog's liver.  I recently tried my dogs on it for a change and two of them vomited on the lamb variety.  This is highly unusual but I can only think that it was simply too rich for them.

Most of the wet foods have a high(ish) fat level but I have just looked at the Directory and selected the following filters:
Type - wet/complete
Nutrient Levels - Fat l5% to 20%

Here are the results:
I am just wondering if you could perhaps try one or two of these and bulk it up with something.  David recommends brown rice and/or oatmeal, well cooked but there are other, vegetable fillers. David Green often recommends a little puréed butternut squash or pumpkin. I do not know the nutrients in these but it may be worth thinking about.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Tinyplanets on Mar 03, 2015, 18:03
Hello and welcome to the forum, Sorry to hear about Harvey's problems. I have very little experience with liver or kidney issues in dogs but I hope you can find something which suits without adding to poor Harveys ailments.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: lvbate on Mar 03, 2015, 18:57
What about supplementing the diet you choose with milk thistle? I always buy any herbal remedies for my dogs from a horse supplier as you get huge more value for money.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 03, 2015, 19:30
Thank you Tinyplanets for your kind words. Our little furry ones are so special but such a worry aren't they! Thankfully Harvey's  blood tests had slightly improved since the first blood profile was done so let's  hope we can keep up the good work!
Dottie, thank you for your advice. Although I have done a lot of research in to dog foods over the past few weeks and I have collected as much information as I can, I do feel a little overwhelmed by making such an important choice of diet and ultimately doing the best I can for Harvey. I am very grateful that your advice has streamlined my focus and I will be checking out those foods which you have suggested.
My vet did suggest chicken, turkey and cottage cheese as a way of adding to low calorific senior diets in order to try and prevent any further weight loss.  Would a daily helping of one of these products along with your suggestions of added food be acceptable?
Thank up again
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 03, 2015, 19:35
Thanks Lvbate, Harvey is on a milk thistle supplement. I put him on it as soon as 'liver problems' were found. I have read good things about it so hopefully it's helping alongside the prescribed medication.

Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 03, 2015, 20:19
One of my dogs had a liver tumour and I was advised to feed Royal Canin Hepatic diet.  There was dry and tinned so I chose the latter.  It was a bit pricey but she quite liked the food.  Mind you, the tumour made her very hungry.  I just wondered if your vet had mentioned this?  At least if you looked at the ingredients and the analysis you would kind of have something to work towards. 

The other thing that has just occurred to me is that the food that I give mine (Gentle cold pressed) (http://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/dog-food-reviews/0782/gentle-dog-food) is quite low in fat - 10.7%. Protein isn't too high either - 27.4%.  There are other cold pressed foods available and they all have one thing in common - they are easily digested and absorbed. When it is broken down in the stomach it is quite different to kibble.   Warm water may be added to the pieces (some call them nuggets) and they soften quite quickly; the consistency is pretty much like wet food.  We have a thread on Markus Muhle and other cold pressed dog foods - might be worth a look.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Eden Holistic Pet Foods on Mar 04, 2015, 09:39
A couple of quotes from Mercola

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/04/26/make-this-mistake-with-your-pets-food-and-you-could-destroy-their-kidney-and-liver.aspx

Since that research was published, veterinary recommendations have changed. What we’re recommending for animals struggling with under-functioning kidneys and livers is that you feed really good quality protein that is highly digestible and assimilable.

protein requirements actually increase as pets age. Even in animals with kidney failure, restricting protein didn’t improve their health or longevity.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Eden Holistic Pet Foods on Mar 04, 2015, 09:48
Quote
After research, it seems that he needs: good digestible protein, low phosphorous, low copper and I'm unsure of the fibre! He also needs a food that could help maintain his weight, if not help him to put a little on!

Good digestible, high quality meat based protein is essential. one of the main things with senior (and puppy) foods is higher protein levels. High protein is harmful is a myth based on a flawed study done on rats. (see Orijen white paper)

phosphorous and copper levels, its not so much about them being low as being correctly balanced with other ingredients, for example Phosphorous and Calcium interact, Calcuim binds to phosphorous and allows it to pass through the digestive system, so as long as those ingredients are in appropriate proportions everything will work in harmony.

Sorry if this adds to your confusion, you should probably speak to a qualified nutritionist rather than just your vet, to get proper health and diet related advice, especially for pets with health issues, though the vet should not be totally disregarded while there are ongoing health issues.

I hope you manage to find the right answer

Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 04, 2015, 10:58
Thanks David. I have read about the flawed studies in to the protein needs of senior dogs  and therefore while 'investigating' possible foods for my dog the requirement of good quality meat protein has been a top  priority for us.
As you say though it's finding a balance of good protein with the  appropriate nutrients that Harvey needs  so as to not over stress the kidneys or liver.  Your advice concerning the copper etc will help to further focus my search.  On with the research then!!
I read with interest your thread of 'trusting your vet for nutritional advice'   I do trust my vet (we wouldn't go there if I didn't) and I am extremely grateful  to him for looking  after Harvey  so well particularly this past year, but on the nutritional needs of Harvey at the minute he wasn't particularly helpful. He said no to a hepatic diet and his suggestion of a 'good quality senior  food ' was predictably followed with "like royal canin or hills". Didn't really want to fill my beautiful dog with 'who knows what' substances!  And the idea that their protein is 'good quality' ...well that's  rather debatable it seems. After contacting another vet online he said that the good quality meat protein foods, which I suggested as possibilities for Harvey and score highly on the directory, were not  for 'my particular dog'  and of course he suggested royal canin or hills. No suggestion or advice about alternatives or nutritional requirements. It seemed abit like a 'palming off situation' to me at the time!  I understand that Harvey's needs differ from the 'average ' healthy senior dog and that some foods are not suited for health issues but this vet's rather blinkered views of RC or hills was frustrating. All I want for Harvey is a good quality food which meets his nutritional needs and which he enjoys eating! Perhaps vets need to start doing some research of their own and begin giving pet owners more adequate nutritional advice and open their minds up more to a dog food world that is not made up of RC or Hills!
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Eden Holistic Pet Foods on Mar 04, 2015, 11:16
That thread wasn't started by me, I think it was David who owns the AADF site.

The nutritionist/owner at Eden would be more than happy to discuss things with you in detail to help you choose the right food, he won't send you down the Eden route if its not the right food, and you're free to ignore his advice anyway, but may just help your research a little but. contact details are on their website, though he may be hard to speak to directly until next week as its all go for Crufts this weekend.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 04, 2015, 12:14
Have you thought about talking the matter over with a specialist (in nutrition) veterinary surgeon?  I don't know of any personally but I assume that the Veterinary colleges would have someone who could help.  I remember seeing a television programme where the owners were taking their dogs to Liverpool School of Veterinary Science for dietary advice.  I think you would perhaps need to have a referral by the vet but a discussion on the telephone with a specialist might be all that is required. 

On the subject of a lower protein diet in the senior dog, in the past this was a common belief.  We were told that it was necessary due to decreasing renal function and at the time it made sense because actually lots of dogs (and cats) succumb to renal failure in old age.  I have to admit that at one time I used to think that life stage foods were necessary and bought products in this category.  Now I prefer good quality food that is for all life stages.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Eden Holistic Pet Foods on Mar 04, 2015, 15:13
Seniors actually require a higher protein diet than adults as they are unable to utilise the protein as efficiently, almost all senior foods are higher in protein simply because, as with puppy food, the adult foods are too low in protein for those age groups

As you say, a food with the correct balance and protein levels is suitable from weaning to old age, so no need to change throughout the life, if a food works you can just stick with it.

Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 05, 2015, 00:02
Hi Dottie, thanks for the tip about cold pressed food. Have looked at the gentle so far and it seems to fit requirements for my dog. Just wondered if you fed it as complete or would it be a good idea to supplement with other foods?  I may give it a try because having looked at all the 'numbers' this seems to fit quite well.
Really like the look of Lupo too. Do you know if this could be softened with water too?
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 05, 2015, 06:33
It is a complete food so no need to supplement it, although I spoil my three and just add a very little cooked chicken, white fish or sardines.  It is advertised as being suitable for raw feeders.  Gentle softens beautifully with warm water and it smells delicious. It looks just like potted meat.  I don't know whether Lupo softens in the same way but the formula is very similar so I would imagine it will.  I do know that Platinum doesn't soften as well as Gentle but it is not quite the same as cold pressed. 

I spent a lot of time and effort finding a suitable food for my three, all at different life stages and this one has been the best.  All are doing well and have good firm poos.   Beate Rothon is the UK representative for the company who make these products and also the owner of Gentle but I know from their Facebook page that she is at Crufts today until Sunday.  However, it might be  worth giving her a call on the mobile number.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 05, 2015, 08:15
Thanks Dottie. Was up very late last night but just couldn't find a food to match Harvey's requirements. Then I re-read your post and checked out the cold pressed foods and was pleased with what I saw. I think it's a good possibility. Thank you so much for your help.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 05, 2015, 09:27
I hope that you manage to find something suitable, whether it be cold pressed or not. Please would you keep us informed? 
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 12, 2015, 19:13
Hi. Our bag of Gentle has arrived. Harvey had some mixed with his current kibble and gobbled it up.
Rang our veterinary surgery tonight to get his current weight for feeding the correct amount and spoke to the nurse about his new food. She said that she didn't know about Gentle and when I said it seemed to fit his requirements she said that coming off his renal food he needs good digestible protein, low phosphrous and high fat.
Gentle has good protein and at  10g phosphrous and 12.5g calcium this seems to be low phosphrous and a good calcium phosphrous ratio.  Unless I'm wrong on this. The fat content worries me. Does anyone have any advice on this. I don't want Harvey losing anymore weight or suffering from a low fat diet.  I am confused whether he does need high or low fat. I trust my surgery but I'm not sure I can trust their nutritional advice. I felt better about choosing gentle but this phone call has sent me into disarray again!
My thoughts are to see how he goes on it, but at Harvey's age and  with his health problems I don't want to keep changing his food. Any advice or thoughts would be welcome. 
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 12, 2015, 21:30
 I think it might be best if you asked the nurse why she advises a high fat diet. Maybe it is because your dog is not considered to have malabsorption of fat. Gentle has an average fat level so hopefully this will be ok. As you know, it is difficult, if not impossible to get every single element just right. You are quite close with this product. If you want to add more meat/fat you could always consider topping up with a bit of raw food. I am currently doing this with my little one just for a change. She is having her Gentle but a little less than normal and I am topping up with some Natures Menu Country Hunter nuggets.  I find these convenient because I can just take enough cubes for the day out of the freezer. 
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 12, 2015, 22:35
I'm going to take a copy of the nutrition and analysis to the vets to see what they think. Iv checked all the percentages and Gentle seems to fit in with most of the recommended requirements as I mentioned above. Harvey's vet has said that he doesn't need a prescription diet so his diet does not need too many restrictions I don't think. Nurses reaction just seems to have 'wobbled' my confidence in giving him gentle so that I feel that I need some reassurance. My reaction was similar to yours Dottie in that that I could supplement it, maybe with a wet food. Just have a horrible feeling that the phrase "a good quality senior diet like royal canin or hills" is going to be ringing in my ears as I leave the surgery!
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 13, 2015, 05:57
I can understand why you were concerned but bear in mind that the nurse, by her own admission had never heard of cold pressed food.  She was therefore not in a position to give a reasoned response.  You are doing the right thing by taking the analysis to the vet but I would use the one on here in the Dog Food Directory because it gives the dry matter weight which is more useful. I cannot see any reason why your dog should not do well on Gentle - it is easily digested and is of high quality.  Personally I wouldn't add anything to it for a week or thereabouts so you can accurately appraise your dog's response. The 1% to 1.2% of body weight recommended daily allowance is quite loose so you can easily add a bit more if necessary. 
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 14, 2015, 12:57
Hi. Just posted my surgerys response to the idea of Harvey eating Gentle on the 'cold pressed food' thread. Some things came up with the nurse that I was hoping others could respond to.
I came out pretty upset and cross today from the surgery.
I'm not even sure they looked at the analysis of the food or even thought about Harvey's requirements. Just stated that the food was not considered good quality.
I did not speak to the nurse I spoke to in the week but she had spoken about the food to the nurse I spoke to today.  I will be speaking to her on Monday although I will get the same spiel I'm sure.
No suggestion about percentages of protein, fat etc that Harvey needs and was even told 'at this stage, just give him something he will eat'. I informed her that although Harv  has health problems he is certainly not on his back legs. I intend to feed Harvey a good diet, to try and maintain or improve his health for as long as possible.
Pretty infuriated  and upset right now.
As I have said before I trust my surgery with Harvey and my other furries, but their advice on nutrition is appalling.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 14, 2015, 13:17
I am sorry about this and have responded on the Markus Muhle thread here (http://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=679.msg1941;topicseen#msg1941) so I won't repeat myself.  By coincidence, I needed to see my vet yesterday about one of my girls and needed dietary advice.  I started a thread on it here (http://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=819.msg1935;topicseen#msg1935) in case it is helpful to anyone.  Fortunately I didn't have the problems that you are having because my vet told me what to look for and left it to me.  I've done a bit of research myself and am perfectly happy to follow her suggestion and see what comes of it.

It could be (and I don't know for sure) that your surgery staff are just unfamiliar with this type of product.  I suspect that it is because they are fairly new to this country and have not yet become mainstream.  As you know, they are not manufactured in the UK so it is hardly surprising that knowledge of them is limited at the moment.  Maybe this leaves the veterinary staff at a disadvantage and that is why they have reacted like this.  The only thing I can suggest is that you ask them to read up about it but after that there is nothing more that you can do really. 

Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 23, 2015, 17:42
Hi. Just a quick update.
Have tried Harvey on Gentle and although he seems to be getting on with it ok, unfortunately he is not eating it with any gusto! Most of the day he will often leave it and only begin to eat it in the evening when he will only eat it when taken from the hand. Unfortunately, he hasn't taken to eating it as I would like. So it's time for a re-think and a search for an alternative.
I am thinking of burns penlan farm. It has a moist choice which Harvey will prefer I think. Contacted their helpline and the egg variety was suggested, along with the chicken or  fish complete.
Just wondered if anyone had any experiences with this food. My thoughts are to err on the side of caution and go for a lowish fat diet but  just concerned about it being too low in fat and protein. Thought I could supplement it with added'home food' which could increase the protein and fat in his diet. He does currently have some chicken, sweet potato or cottage cheese and enjoys it.
Any thoughts anyone?
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 23, 2015, 19:52
By coincidence I bought two packets of Burns Penlan Farm Chicken just last week because one of my dogs had not been very well.  I wanted a wet food with lower protein and fat and this is the only one I could find.  I contacted Burns and they sent me the dry matter percentages of each of their range:

Chicken & Brown Rice - protein 22.4%      fat  12.1%
Egg & Brown Rice - protein 18.6%               fat 10.8%
Fish & Brown Rice - protein 31.4%              fat 6.9% 
Lamb & Brown Rice - protein 22.7%           fat 15.1%

It is a basic, easy to digest sort of food - meat/protein, brown rice and vegetables so it probably makes it ideal for convalescing dogs or ones who have sensitive digestions.  It is sold in 400g pouches and I paid £1.69p but they may be a bit cheaper online, in boxes.  My dog wolfed it down but then she eats anything and is rather greedy anyway.  Her poo was softer and bulkier than normal but that might have settled down in time.

There are different recommended daily allowances on the side of the packet based on whether it is being fed alone or with kibble.  I served it alone and opted for 1% of her body weight so I weighed it out and stored the remainder in a covered plastic bowl.  It keeps in the refrigerator for up to three days.

I was going to keep her on it and still have the second packet but the Fish4Dogs food that I had ordered arrived so she is on that at the moment. 
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 23, 2015, 20:43
Thanks for that information. Those dry matter percentages don't look too bad. The helpline person recommended the egg variety but the chicken percentages look ok too.  My vet has said that  my dog needs protein for his liver so didn't want to go too low.  I'm going to give it a try and see how he gets on.
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: Dottie on Mar 24, 2015, 11:04
There seems to be quite a variation in dry matter between the varieties.  With my dog's particular needs I had to rule out fish and lamb. Wasn't too keen on egg - I know it is a good protein source but I like my dogs to have meat or fish. I think I would have ended up just using the chicken.  It is a tasty looking (and smelling) product so I am hopeful that your dog will like it. 
Title: Re: Food suggestions for senior dog with some liver problems
Post by: FurriesMom112 on Mar 24, 2015, 19:26
Although the egg variety was suggested to me for my dog and despite it being a good digestible protein, the protein levels in the egg variety  look a little too low to me. Iv read that a moderate amount of protein  is between 20-30%. Not willing to go below the 20% mark so will be opting for the chicken predominately. This morning a burns nutritionist on the other end of the helpline said dogs don't need high levels of protein anyway, which I don't exactly agree with, and in our case my dog does need good protein for liver support so wanted a food with a moderate level. Since increasing his levels of protein, after coming off the hills k/d diet,  my dog seems to have improved in himself so hoping he will continue with the burns.  It's a try it and see!