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Best dog food & supplement? Very particular dog

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  • Best dog food & supplement? Very particular dog

    I have a mid age Pit Bull that I rescued 5 1/2 years ago. He picked me actually but that is a whole different story! The vet and I estimated him at around 1 - 1 1/2 when I got him so he is 6 1/2-7 yrs old now. He is a very "touched" dog - has severe anxiety and worries about everything - loud noises, linoleum floors (but not hardwood which is more slippery than the linoleum), strangers (especially dark skinned men) - Long story short- He had been abused before I got him and the other 2 dogs he lived with were euthanized because they were vicious. Ironically, my dog was not euthanized right away because they thought he would be the most vicious based on how he was reacting so they held on to him to let him settle a bit - they knew I was looking for a red Pit and I went to the back room and spent several days with him and once he finally came up to me and put his head in my lap, I knew he was going home with me. He is great with other dogs, cats, kids, small animals, etc. Not a mean bone in his body, just has some mental scars that affect his ability to be relaxed (yes, he could really use Caesar Milan LOL)

    Anyway, this spring and summer, there were some days where he was 3 legged crippled. Stiff when getting up from laying down, sore hips, etc. I massage his back and hips and that seems to help, but he really needs a joint supplement. My problem is finding one that will actually work that won't break the bank (I am a single mom only working part time) - also, he has been losing some weight lately and has started chewing on toys (kids toys, not dog toys - he won't touch dog toys) as well as begging for food - despite being fed 2X/day and eating more than the 'recommended' amount.

    Sooooo... to the questions: What are the best joint supplements and the best dry food that aren't TOO unreasonably expensive? I know I will get a million different answers, but I'd like opinions so I can narrow my list based on actual experiences people have had (rather than just online lists)


  • #2
    I know this doesn't answer your question, but have you had bloodwork done? Only reason I'm asking is that the things you mention (the anxiety--though I realize the dog has had this and it isn't new--the begging for food, the weight loss--though I wonder if it's a loss in muscle tone that makes the dog look thinner--the chewing and the pain/limping) are signs of many different things that don't really have anything to do with joint pain itself.

    While I realize that running a full blood panel will run you in the $200 range, it might actually get your better answers than changing the dog food and adding a supplement that might not be necessary.

    That said...what dry dog food do you feed right now? What you currently feed might give us a better jumping off point with what to suggest.
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    • #3
      OK -well, you will get 10001 different answers.

      My first suggestion is to see a vet and get labs done. Weight loss shouldn't happen if he has been on the same food and same amount without a major increase in activity or an increase in losses (vomiting, diarrhea).

      Re: suppliments: Suppliments work best if you know what you are targeting. Ie, is he really just arthritis, or does he have muscle, nerve, soft tissue, abdominal, back pain? Unfortunatley unless you are willing to work him up (and its not always cheap), its going to be a crapshoot if suppliments will make a difference... however, saying that, its certainly worth a try and it will not do any harm! The one I find has the most effect is Cosequin DS. Suppliments arent cheap though (at least not the ones that work well), and it may be more worth saving that money and working up weight loss instead.

      Other management options for pain are tramadol, NSAID's, gabapentin, adequan, cartrophen, fish oil etc. You should really have bloodwork done before starting the big guns like NSAIDs.

      Food - if he is hungry, can you not feed him more? There are quality kibbles avalable that you can feed less and have higher calories, but if he is acting hungry, something quality with increased fibre may be beneficial so he can eat more bulk. I would certainly not ignore weight loss though, often it can be an indicator of something more sinister going on.

      Difficulty walking, getting up etc. can sometimes appear as hip/leg problems but really be abdominal discomfort. Without a full physical exam, its really a shot in the dark as dogs/cats are very good at masking pain.

      Hope your pup will feel better soon Love pitties.
      Last edited by SquishTheBunny; Dec. 8, 2012, 02:58 PM.


      • Original Poster

        Thank you for the advice. I should have mentioned that he went to the vet when he initially was 3 legged (I was thinking he needed xrays) but after the vet manipulated his hind end, he didn't feel that xrays were necessary, just that he was probably getting arthritis. I do give him baby aspirin on days that he gets really stiff (vet okayed this) but it doesn't drastically help, just helps make him more comfortable. I should also note that he has scars on both his stifles - look too neat to be bite marks but we can't figure out what else they could be (I first thought surgery scars, but that is highly unlikely)

        He does have very slight muscle loss on his right hip but that is not where I am seeing the weight loss - it is around his waist. I also should have mentioned that a few days ago, he did not eat more than a handful of food per day for 2 days - he must have gotten into something that upset his tummy - but is now eating fine.

        I added a lunch time feeding today, so maybe feeding 3X/day will help. I will call about getting a CBC done to see if I can afford to do it right now - I don't see anything from him that seems to drastically warrant rushing for a CBC, but will see if I can get it done reasonably enough to do it sooner rather than later.

        I also wonder if his eyesight is starting to go bad... which could contribute to him reacting even more to things that he otherwise wouldn't react quite as strongly to.

        Hmmm.... I worry about him. I also worry because he could very well be older than we estimate - obviously being a rescue, it is hard to really know.

        Oh, he is currently getting Beneful dry dog food

        I'll call in to the vet on Monday and see about the cost of CBC and all. I wonder if I should also get an x-ray or ultrasound to see if he did indeed swallow something that is causing issues in his stomach or intestines? *Sigh* It is always something! He's an interesting dog - I worked at the shelter and since it was a high kill shelter, I would take in overflow dogs that were still adoptable so that they would not be euthanized.... I'd get them vetted, fixed, then rehome them. Have seen some crazy things including saving a dog with Stage 4 Heartworms (had excess fluid and all that had to be drain several times) and we saved her life, got her healthy and adopted. But this dog... well, he's a special one and he often baffles me. He's a wonderful dog though and I don't know what I'd do without him.


        • #5
          He sounds like he is very well loved.

          If money is tight, I would skip the CBC and run chemistries instead if he dosesnt get weight back on easily. It will give you more information on organ function which is usually the culprit to weight/eating issues. Should be around the same price as a CBC.
          A CBC is going to tell you what his Red and White counts are, and WBC types. A chemistry pannel will tell you whats going on with the liver, kidneys, gallbladder, pancreas etc.

          Xray may show you abnormal gas pattern, ultrasound would be better as there is better visualization of all organs...however, if he is eating well now I think starting with routine bloodwork and monitoring for anorexia, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting etc. is reasonable. If he had an obstruction, he would not be eating and likely vomit.

          As far as food goes, you can try to change him over to something higher calorie with a higher protein/fat content. Budget quality kibbles are available at most pet stores. I personally feed Wellness Whitefish to my pittie - she does not need a grain free food, but her coat benefits from the fat content. Its probably not much more than Beneful but may be beneficial to the arthritis and weight gain component. There are also other foods such as Orijen 6 Fish, but this food is higher in price, and if you need to keep costs down starting with a mid quality food like Wellness is probably a good first step.


          • Original Poster

            Squish - Thank you! I will call Monday and ask about the Chem Panel - if I can get a CBC & Chem done for reasonable, it won't hurt to get them run and see where things are. I'm looking at this list of foods from Concord Pets (it is right down the road from me) : http://concordpetfoods.com/catalog/11431/food/page1 and am looking into EVO, Innova, and Natural Balance. I will add Wellness to that list, thank you for the suggestion. I figure a change in food definitely won't hurt no matter what and may help :-)


            • #7
              Originally posted by KentuckyTBs View Post
              Squish - Thank you! I will call Monday and ask about the Chem Panel - if I can get a CBC & Chem done for reasonable, it won't hurt to get them run and see where things are. I'm looking at this list of foods from Concord Pets (it is right down the road from me) : http://concordpetfoods.com/catalog/11431/food/page1 and am looking into EVO, Innova, and Natural Balance. I will add Wellness to that list, thank you for the suggestion. I figure a change in food definitely won't hurt no matter what and may help :-)
              No problem. EVO, Innova and Natrual Balance are great foods. You cant go wrong with any of those. Food is such a personal choice, and there are so many good ones available these days.


              • #8
                A lot of grain free or low grain foods have gone through recalls in the past few years. That being said, often times to recalls affected a very small percent of the food or didn't even affect the company but rather the mill at which it was produced. I mention this just in case you come across recalls when looking at different types of food. Use your best judgment and look into the recall if you otherwise really like the food.

                My very picky eater did well on Precise. There are several similar brands that have some grains but are still quality foods. They also tend to be less expensive since they are lesser known brands.

                dogfoodadvisor and similar sites are a great starting point. Also, picking a specific main protein (fish, beef, chicken, pork, exotic, etc.) can narrow down your choices.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks all! I will keep you posted!


                  • #10
                    If you want one of the "premium" foods without paying through the nose, I feed Tractor Supply's "4Health" brand dry kibble for the dogs and the cats. It's something like $20/20lbs bag, a little more for the salmon and sweet potato formula (which is good for dogs with...uh...gaseous issues.) Seems to work both for the tall skinny shepherd mix and it's helping take weight off the chubby corgi, and it does seem to reduce the amount of poops per day.

                    I've found a little chicken broth (the real thing, not anything for dogs) can make dry food more appealing, too, if the dog isn't eating.
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                    • #11
                      I'm a huge fan of Royal Canin's foods. However, all three brands you listed above are all good foods as well. I don't think you can really go wrong with any of them.