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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all, first post here!

Oscar, my 16 month old entire male Lab, has been having episodes of very loose stools and complete diarrhoea every 2 or 3 weeks since towards the end of May. Last night/this morning is about the 7th such attack so something is clearly wrong. He often wretches up some gastric juices as well and a few times there has been some bright red blood mixed in with the stool.

He is a bit down and lethargic straight after the loose stuff but then perks up soon enough, eats and drinks and you wouldn't think anything is wrong at all in the weeks between episodes.

A faecal test was done on 28/6/16 and came back clear for ova, larvae, protozoa. Campylobacter and salmonella were clear and aerobic culture result says "Mixed faecal flora (no specific pathogens identified)". I was sure it was going to be giardia but an ELISA test came back negative too. This was all on a 3-day pooled sample.

The diarrhoea comes out as dark brown puddles but often it starts with a couple of bulky-looking standard shaped stools and then a trail of squashy loose stools which are a bit watery. A little bit of mucous but not that much.

He has Advocate spot-on each month and Drontal every 3 months, last done in mid-May so due again now.

We have thought about food intolerance. He has always been on Arden Grange (all main adult flavours) but continued to have attacks when swapped to Royal Canin dry Gastrointestinal food. Had 2 weeks of Arden Grange Sensitive (no rice or grains food) and some AG salmon bites treats but had loose stool again. Then last 3 weeks has been AG Sensitive food only (no other treat types) but has had further diarrhoea yesterday and today.

It might not be related at all but his evening stools has been a bit soft (i.e. leaving residue on the pavement) for many months. We have been giving him a daily probiotic (Protexin Synbiotic DC capsules) which do harden the stools up for a while but it keeps reverting to soft at the end again. It got progressively softer over the last few evenings and then, lo-and-behold, we get another attack. Late morning stools on his main walk have been perfect of late.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's a general water-borne bacterial infection as he's always in ditches, streams and ponds and laps up water, despite our best efforts. He went in a dirty pond the day before the latest set of loose stools.

We are at our wits-end now and he's back at the vets today. Sorry for the long detailed post but I was wondering if anyone had experienced something similar and might have some ideas on what has been causing it?

Thank you!!
 

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Hello Oscar & Oscar's dad, welcome.

You've covered all the usual bases so well already this is quite a challenge!

If there's nothing the vet's can find, I wonder if it's something he's picking up from the environment. Like most labs would it fair to say he'll scavenge anything that's going, eat grass or fox/cat poop given half a chance?

Since May we'd be into the season of weed killers, fertilisers and slurry going down all over the place, they are toxic may not show up on a fecal test? Gemma once snagged a munch on some freshly fertilised farm grass (before I noticed the smell!) and that gave her a horrible back end for a few days.

Do you use any of those products at home yourself, or take him across fields or parks etc that might do? Not just that but you need to be very weary of any nearby streams or ditches that could contain run off of such.

May not even need to be ingested, but gets onto the legs or paws, then he has a lick.

Do you have much plant life at home that he might be munching on when you're not looking? Have a google on poisonous plants for dogs there's heck of a list! I'm no botanist and couldn't even identify half the plants in my garden, so they all got stripped, along with a couple of beloved box tree's which are on the toxic list.

Is he into carrying or munching sticks? It's not something I allow due risk of splinters or choking etc, but I did have one bad experience with them. Literally once, the only time I let another lab walker convince me it was OK for Gemma to share some social gnawing of a big stick, he said "wasn't too hard to splinter, but wasn't too soft to be rotten", yep, we got stomach upsets. Maybe the wrong side of rotten after all.

"He went in a dirty pond the day before the latest set of loose stools" - That's a reasonably convincing observation of cause & effect! It never ceases to amaze me how dogs can drink from the dirtiest of streams and puddles etc without any ill effects, but nasty, stinky stagnant water in a pond or ditch could be a different ballgame altogether.

Maybe none of those things would show up on a test for bacteria or pathogens, but are just sufficiently "awful" to send his guts haywire.

I'm sure other members may have some other ideas too. Hope you get to the bottom of it!
 

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One more thought, although perhaps it doesn't fit with the timing of things, only you'd know.

Do you use any harsh cleaners around the home? Bleaching floors, floor wipes etc, anywhere he anything he could get a lick off, even if it's after it's dried.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Hello John, thanks for your reply.

Yes, Oscar will certainly scavenge and has eaten what was probably cat poo before, but luckily he doesn't seem interested in dog stools. He does eat grass quite often, particularly when his tummy is feeling upset.

We walk him on Southampton Common and it's possible that some chemical is affecting him in the grass. It's not farming land but the Council may put something down occasionally as part of their maintenance, I don't know. My Mum took Oscar to the vets today and they did say that there has been some diarrhoea and vomiting going round so there may be an environmental bug where we walk him.

I don't think he's been eating any plants at home, but I can't be 100% certain of that.

He does like to chew on and eat sticks, yes, certainly. We try our best to take them away from him and he doesn't have as many now, but he is still finding bits around the garden and chewing on them occasionally. He doesn't seem interested in sticks or chasing a ball when out on walks, he's always on the lookout for other dogs to greet and play with!

We have kept him out of the main Ornamental Lake on the Common over the past couple of months; this has a separate small area for dogs but looks pretty mucky and stagnant. However, there are so many other ditches, streams, ponds on the Common and so he will be in one, potentially taking on water there, every day. He ran off away from Mum on his walk on Tuesday morning and went swimming back in the mucky bit.

Is it possible for one of the bugs from the water to stay in his system and cause intermittent loose stools? Or is he more likely re-infecting himself every week or so? I don't think it would be possible to take him on the Common and keep away from every single water source!

He had 1 week of metronidazole from the vets at the end of May and seemed OK after that, but the next episode was soon after, on 19th June. He hasn't had any meds since then. The vet took a blood sample today and we'll be doing another faecal exam.

Cheers,

Jonathan
 

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Sound's like where both the same situation before. Diarrhea is one of the symptoms that they have an allergic reaction or upset stomach to the food that your provide for Oscar. When it comes to the allergies it's hard for us to find the best food for this situation, even if our vet gave us some option, sometimes our dog doesn't like the food. Sometimes it's better to ask this to the people that have the same situation, and how they deal with this kind of problem in our dog.
My friend tell me about this high quality dog food for dogs with allergies I learned a lot of things and information with and it's been very useful to me, hope it can help you too.
 

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Could it be Guardia? I see your vets have not done this test.

He could pick it up from another infected animals faeces, whether it be picked up or not the parasite can live there for quite some time. I know it is commonly waterborne as well.

It can also cause vomiting and lethargy so the symptoms do seem familiar with what you have mentioned!

Hope you get to the bottom* of things soon :)

*no pun intended :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone for their suggestions. I suspected giardia from the start (having researched online) and his further loose stools this evening were certainly extremely foul-smelling. We had an ELISA test for giardia on a 3 day pooled sample done at the end of June which came back negative.

This supposedly looks for giardia antigens rather than the cysts, which aren't shed in every stool. I know false negatives are possible, but this ELISA test is supposed to be very accurate. I will take a 6-day sample this time and ask for that test again.

Does anyone know how long food residue which a dog is intolerant and/or allergic to can stay in their system? He'd been on a rice/grain free diet for 3 weeks before this latest episode so I'd have thought everything dodgy would have cleared by now if that had been the cause of the intolerance and subsequent loose stools? I hate not knowing and having to second-guess all the time.

Jonathan
 

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Johnathan,Oscar sounds just like Martha.We had all these problems,from 8 months,but she had camplobyactor,Giardia,In the end the Vets felt they had gone as far as they could and referred us to Anderson Moores at Otterbourne.They did a scan and found Irritable Bowel Syndrome.Like Oscar she has had several repeats,But is stable at the moment.She is on Royal CaninAnallergenic.This is the first food we have had good results with.We have also contacted a Homeopathic Vet,who has been very very helpful.She is Acupaws,i believe she is in the Park Gate area.Her name is Susan.She put Martha on Slippery Elm,and Pet Plus.These have both helped tremendously.Just a side we live in Verwood now but grew up and lived in Southampton for years.Know the Common very well.Good luck with Oscar,and let us know how you get on.
 

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All I can think to suggest in addition to all the previous posts is to write a diary.
Keep a note of places walked, what is eaten when whether legally or illegally ;)
How poops are, when meds are given etc.
Some wormers can react with some dogs for example.
Then you'll have a written record to look back on for patterns/possible causes.
 

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Hi Oscar's dad. I'm not sure I'm going to add much value but just to give you our experiences...

We got Monty as a pup last Summer and he was on Wagg food. We knew this wasn't best for him but didn't want to switch him too soon. He had runny tummy for about 2 weeks so we slowly switched him to Wainrights grain free which settled him for a short time.

The long and short of it was that for probably the best part of 5-6 months he had cases of colitis. We seemed to be switching him on scrambled eggs and chicken at least every 3 weeks as he'd go from firm, to soft to big bouts of diarrhea. Like you, we had all the tests done and he was clear of everything. We were lucky in that we only had a few cases of sickness with it; it was mostly the rear end.

Eventually after the third trip to the vets, they said it really must be down to food as each time he seemed lively, playful and generally well in himself (is Oscar showing any other symptoms?). By this time we'd switched to Purina Sensitive Digestion. I then was recommended by someone on here to go onto the dog food website that shows all the 'nasties' and fillers in various dog foods.

As a result, we switched him slowly over to Millies Wolfheart (someone their end talked me through which might be best over the phone). I also started adding Tree bark powder to his food.

It wasn't immediate but over a week, he started to get better. Every now and then I switch the flavour and he usually goes a little soft but *touches wood MADLY* we've only had the odd one off stomach upset since we switched (March). It seems, for us, it was food intolerances.

Now, clearly, I don't want to suggest you start changing his food on top of everything else and I always think owners know their pets best...I just knew Monty didn't have anything nasty and followed my gut that it was food. If you feel it's something bacterial or viral then keep on at the vets and perhaps ask to see a specialist.

Just wanted to give you our experience!

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thanks everyone for your continued suggestions and advice, it is much appreciated.

If I had to bet on it I'd say that he has the start of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) caused by giardia. However, clearly, I will need to follow the vets and what test results come back. This is now the 3rd morning in a row he's been straining and had very loose stools. No further blood in it at the moment.

Margaret - I have ordered some Slippery Elm and will send you a private message about that.

Cheers,

Jonathan
 

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One thing about food intolerances is it doesn't have to be grains, it can be protein sources such as chicken (a common one) so although he's on a grain free diet he might be sensitive towards other ingredients. This could be determined by an elimination diet if all other options are exhausted.
 

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Hope you get this sorted. Like you we have had a lot of problems with our Oscar and his stools, which resulted in many trips to our vets. He suffers from colitis probably from a wheat intolerance, hence all his treats and food are wheat free. Pasta and bread also give him a dodgy tummy even a small amount.

He gets very loose (liquid) stools with bright red blood when he eats anything different to his normal diet.

All he can eat is his dried food, (Fromm gold), 2/3 dog biscuits and his spoonful of natural yog, and his training meat strips (only at classes) which are gluten free, even then, loads of gluten/wheat free treats upset him.

If he manages to eat anything else on his walks, then cue loose stools for a few days. At which point he is only on rice and yogurt which seems to settle him.

I do feel mean when all the other dogs at classes are given a little toothbrush treat (100% compressed veg matter) that he can't have it as even that will go right through him.

I used to walk him loads at the common and still miss it now since I moved to Hedge End, but when I go there with him, he still remembers where the water is!
 

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Hi Johnathan,Oscar's Dad.I have tried to message you,but I think because you are not a Member,can't get through to you.I am on Facebook,maybe it will be easier to Pm me.Iam Margaret Whitehead.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hi Margaret, I have received your messages, thank you.

I thought we were on the road to recovery as he got me up at about 2.30am and the stools were nice and solid again, albeit very mucousy. However, he got me up 2 further times in the night and they were back to being very loose liquid slop with little streaks of blood in them.

Has anyone had any experience with more natural remedies like Para-Be Gone wormer from First Choice Naturals in the USA? That claims to get rid of parasites (like giardia) and could perhaps be used in addition to Panacur to try to get rid of it and then stop it coming back as a monthly maintenance dose?

I would like to just start giving him Panacur in case it's giardia but we won't get the test results back for another week or so I would guess, especially with the bank holiday coming up. If it is a parasite it's doing more and more damage to his intestines all the time it's in there:(

Jonathan
 

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Hi Jonathan, if I were you for the time being I would take him off of the complete food as it could be ANY of the ingredients in the food that could be causing the IBS, plus the fact that they increase in volume when wet ie water & digestive juices, with an already imflamed bowel (as there is blood) I would expect him to be quite uncomfortable.
For the next couple of days you could try feeding him really small meals ( 4/5 ) times a days with boiled chicken or white fish (both very easy on the digestive system) mixed with some boiled sweet potato which is highly anti imflamatory and soothing and would allow his digestive tract and his bowel to settle a bit, the sweet potato could make his pooh a little orange �� so don't worry!!!
Another thought, has your vet done a blood test for pancreatitis?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi all, a quick update on Oscar.

After 5 days his stools have started to come back firmer and more 'normal' looking, but not completely yet; thanks to the slippery elm and the cooked chicken and sweet potato I guess. At least he has slept through the last 2 nights without having to get up and go.

The stool sample was dropped off at the vets today and we should hear back on the results of the blood test any day now as that was done last week.

I have already got some Panacur in ready so hopefully we'll get a diagnosis soon.

Jonathan
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi all,

Oscar's OK, but his stools aren't 100% right. He's still doing some lighter coloured thinner stools with some mucous in it. We're just masking the issue for now with the cooked chicken and some Slippery Elm.

I am expecting the results of the stool and blood tests on Monday (when the lead vet is back at the practice) but I kept the 3-day stool sample at room temperature only (put in the shed, out of the sun) so I'm now worried that it might not pick up anything in there anyway. I wasn't told by the vet what to do with it and I didn't fancy putting it in the fridge next to the milk!

Anyway, I'm still pretty sure it's giardia so I was wondering what people thought about Panacur. Is it a pretty safe wormer and I'm unlikely to cause any problems if I dose him for giardia but it turns out that he hasn't actually got it? I think I would give him 6 days or so (as it's probably quite a bad case), wait a week and then give him another 6 days.

He is due another general de-worming (which I usually do with Drontal) anyway, but what do people think? I know my vet will advise against giving anything until they have a definite diagnosis, which I understand, but giardia, from what I've read, can be tricky to pin down.

Jonathan
 
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