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Food allergies / stomach upset / pica - overwhelmed!


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Hi everyone!  I am not sure what advice to even ask for here, but I am feeling overwhelmed and thought maybe people would have some suggestions.

Our 8-month-old is currently on a 12-week elimination diet due to suspected food allergies.  He has been itchy since we got him at 8 weeks, and his food also seemed to upset his stomach.  We added pumpkin to his food, which helped, and also mixed multiple types of food to try to mitigate the issue.  The original itchiness was in his ears.  Vet took skin scrapings and didn't find anything, and gave him 3 treatments of Revolution in case it was mange, with no result.  We also started adding olive oil to his food and to gave him an egg a day, which seemed to reduce the itchiness. Then he started getting itchy around his back end / tail.  Since the itchiness was ongoing for months with no resolution, the vet put him on an elimination diet for food allergies - we're about 6 weeks in.  Now he only eats Royal Canin hydrolyzed protein moist food and kibble and treats, and he was (until today) chewing on antlers.  The elimination diet has helped with the itchiness.

Last week and this week he had an incident of vomiting followed by lethargy and refusing to eat.  Last weekend we had him at the emergency vet, today at our vet.  All tests and X-rays have come back normal.  Our vet gave us medicine to give him for a week, and said to take away the antlers.  

He also likes to dig in the back yard (which we were working on discouraging) and will grab mouthfuls of dirt, turf, roots and rabbit/deer droppings either in the yard or when he's out for walks to the park.  The vomiting often followed these types of incidents.  The vet said dogs eat these kinds of things when they have an upset stomach, to encourage vomiting, but that we need to stop him from doing so because it will continue to irritate his GI tract.  

I am frustrated and at a loss and feel so bad for the pup.  Now for walks we'll have to keep him on roads and hard paths, and I don't know how we'll get his energy out without being able to run and play in our back yard, and he won't get the release of being able to chew on his antlers.  

Any advice, creative ideas, or just sympathy are welcome!   Thanks!

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Have you DNA-tested him to see if he is affected with IGS, a mutation that prevents the dog from absorbing vitamin B12?  The test is available through the usual dog DNA labs that test for inherited diseases.  It's showing up in Border Collies with enough frequency that it's worth the test, especially if the gastrointestinal diagnosis is otherwise elusive.  The affliction is fatal if untreated, but easily  managed with inexpensive B12 injections once or twice a month that you can administer.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Amy

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They gave him 3 doses of Revolution? I'd find another vet first off.  Puppies like to eat, everything. His behavior doesn't sound abnormal. Very few actually have food allergies. What is he eating and how much? Eating grass, dirts, etc..is not always a sign of upset stomach. What was he eating prior that you think didn't agree with him? I would test for IGS, nothing your vet can do, it's a cheek swab DNA test. I would also seriously get a new vet. 

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If you google I-GS testing in dogs, you'll find resources on where to get a test for your dog.  It's also known as Cobalamin Malabsorption or Deficiency syndrome.  Typically the lab will mail you a cheek swab kit with instructions on how to collect a good sample.  Then you mail it back and await the results.

Good luck!

Amy

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I am going to order the IGS test kit.  I'm also trying to find the paperwork from the breeder, because she said she has tested for some things.

His itching was definitely beyond the norm and was very much bothering him.  It has reduced significantly on the elimination diet - now he gets itchy what I would say is a normal amount.   The 3 doses of Revolution were to treat for possible mange, which our vet has seen spread by fox in our area.  They wanted to rule out other possibilities before moving to an elimination diet.  The itchiness continued for 6 months with no apparent cause before the vet recommended an elimination diet.  Our last dog also had food allergies which ultimately turned into an auto-immune issue that compromised his liver, so we do take addressing food allergies seriously. 

He has had a sensitive stomach since we got him as a puppy. He started out eating Purina Pro Plan Sport Chicken & Rice, which is what the breeder said she fed the puppies.  When he had ongoing stomach issues, we tried mixing in other flavors of the Purina Pro Plan and other dog foods (both dry kibble and moist) plus a scoop of pumpkin in each meal, and he was happy with that and his stomach issues mostly abated (but the itching did not).

On the elimination diet, he eats Royal Canin hydrolyzed protein kibble, moist food and treats.  We feed moist food (1/4 to 1/3 of a can) mixed with kibble (around 1/3 to 1/2 cup) twice a day, and in between he gets copious amounts of kibble and/or treats (broken into small pieces) as I always have them in my pocket for training. His weight is healthy and stable.  He has been doing well on that food for 7 weeks now.  I don't think it's his favorite taste-wise, but he generally eats it well.  The chewing and eating things outdoors might be normal, but the vet wants us to avoid it right now so as not to introduce any irritants to his GI tract. The recent bouts of vomiting followed by food refusal and lethargy were definitely concerning, although all of the tests and X-rays came back as normal.

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Looking into the symptoms of IGS, it seems unlikely.  He is neither runty nor does he have poor energy levels, in general (other than the two acute instances of lethargy).  Moreover, websites stated the the dog would "display a number of abnormalities on physical exams including low red blood cell counts and abnormally slow heart rate."  All of his exams and blood work have been normal.

Is there any reason I should be concerned about IGS if he is not showing these typical signs?

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No, he has had his bloodwork done and all was normal, correct? Have you reached out to the breeder to see if they have tested for it? That said, it generally is a good idea just to test, most are panels these days and are generally all inclusive of what is necessary for a Border Collie.  Just on a thought but if you toss out his pedigree, folks here may know something..

Aside from the itching, eating everything is more the norm..is this the only reason he is on such a modified diet? Did he have fleas? How is his weight? How much does he eat a day? Does he have you ultra sensitive and you are seeing issues where there may not be any? I mean no harm by that just that a worry can grow and we all worry! Dr Dodds does offer a test, hair test, I believe that can tell you of issue..you may want to check her out - Dr Jean Dodds - https://hemopet.org/nutriscan/ 

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