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Zak's journey

Posted by Ann Ridyard on 1 February, 2013 at 0:50 Comments comments (165)

Zak is a German Shepherd owned by Susan Benson Barrows, this blog is their story.......

Diary of ‘possible’ - EPI (Exocrine Pancriatic Insufficency), - Vitamin B12 Defficency, - SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) - IBD (Irritable Bowel Desease) or IBS

I say ‘possible’ as it is yet unconfirmed by our vets.

I am writing this diary for two reasons – 1. To find help from other dog owners that may have experienced similar conditions with their dogs and may be able to offer help and advice, and 2. To make other pet owners aware and hopefully offer some information should they think their furry bundle may be having digestive issues.


You may not all agree with the paths we have taken as we progress through this diary so before I start can I say that I have never before kept a diary of any kind, I don’t consider myself a ‘crack pot’ and the words I right are coming from my heart! Rightly or wrongly; from previous experience I don’t run to the vets with every little problem, but love all our pets and only want the best for them and look forward to all your help and advice with one main aim and that is a long, healthy and happy life for Zak.


So here goes right from the beginning – (apols for the length but I need to bring you up to date) 


February/March 2012 - Zak is our male German Shepherd, was 2 years 9 months old when he started with loose, sloppy, smelly diarrhoea stools, (having a husband, three teenagers/young adults, two dogs, two cats, a rabbit, a busy home/work & family life: fairly stressful time/could Zak be sensing this?) we assumed it was a bug and tried the usual treatments. These didn’t prove to make a difference so I researched a little and read about IBD which is common in GSD’s this has similar symptoms to irritable bowel syndrome and it seemed that Zak could have this problem. (OMG sounds like I have been reading a medical book of symptoms and they all fit). Anyway we had always fed kibble and tinned meat and more recently leftover cooked pork (we had a few free range rare breed pigs at that time and I did wonder if the pork didn’t agree with him), so anyway we switched to a Hypo allergenic dog food – James Wellbeloved White Fish and Rice. The 15KG sack was soon consumed. Zak loved them and the small amount didn’t look much for a whole days feed so I often fed more, he gobbled it down, his poop was more or less back to normal, problem sorted.


When we needed more our local pet shop didn’t have that particular flavour in stock whic meant we would have to order which would take 3-4 days, so we bought another sack but turkey & rice instead. Thinking back he didn’t do as well on this, but the next time we needed new supplies (not planning ahead we didn’t order from our pet shop) my hubby George went to Pets at Home assuming they would stock our required flavour -  not! He purchased the same brand again, only lamb & rice this time. Zak’s poop was getting worse. (Could lamb & turkey hypoallergenic as opposed to white fish make so much difference!)


Time went bye, (now about August) and I read more about IBS, deciding then to try him on cooked chicken & rice. His poop firmed up again although still quite pale in colour, but we put that down to the food colour being pale. Zak’s only symptoms at this point were that he would eat anything you gave him and he had pale yellowish/beige semi firm lumps of smelly poop but lots of them, going several times a day (but then our other terrier type dog Benji seemed to poop just as many times in a day – I remember commenting on several occasions that I had never known dogs pooh so much), he didn’t appear to have lost any weight but then he had tons of loose fur but we put that down to the time of year/moulting.


Now the beginning of September and off we went with our touring caravan to bathe Zak in the lochs of Scotland haha! – he loved it and boy a few dips in those highland lochs soon loosened his fur and produced a very well groomed dog FOC (he didn’t look skinny just a little more lean, which was good as the last time he had been weighed he was 39 kilos and the vet had said “that was OK so long as he didn’t put anymore on”.


His appetite increased.... Must have been all the exercise we thought, but back home and cooking the vast amounts of chicken & rice that he eagerly consumed became time consuming combined with all the other day to day chores of running a home – when tested Zak would quite easily eat 1 - 1.5 kilos of food x 2 meals per day and still pinch food from the worktops. He was by now also acting more bad tempered/aggressive to our poor senior dog Benji (case of dominant male dog?) Both dogs had smelly flatulence – nothing new there then! Plus a grumbling tummy. He was active and had as always a shiny coat.


End of September/October-ish I took Zak to the vets, our normal surgery don’t open evenings and weekends so I took him to one of their other practises and was surprised to learn he had lost 6 kilos and was down to 33k. He had a slight temperature and the vet gave him two lots of tablets, one to soothe an upset stomach and some antibiotics – Metronidazole (7 days supply – I have since read that a longer course is needed to make any affect) anyway the vet told me to keep him on chicken and rice; the tablets should sort him but if not bob back in with a poop sample. I came out of there feeling slightly used, but hoped the vet knew what he was talking about – fingers crossed - the tablets did make an improvement while he was on them, but he soon went back to his grumbling smelly bum and now cow pat poops.


Slightly dejected that the tablets hadn’t done the trick a couple of weeks later off we trot with The Sample - £’s thank you very much. Now this particular veterinary nurse was quite precise in requesting that I didn’t call them for the results as they can get quite busy and I may be calling a few times for nothing as she wasn’t sure which day the results would be back - they would ring me. So I specifically requested that the vets call me on my mobile to discuss the results, as I wouldn’t be available on the landline between 9-5 pm. But no.... the vet rang home and spoke to my eldest daughter, he said the stool sample had not shown anything and advised blood tests approx £100.....the vet and neo-natal nurse no best.... pardon me but I needed to get that out of my system - rant over lol!


It seemed to me that my caring vet was going through the motions (oops pardon the poop pun) and I wasn’t willing to hand over the money only to be told he couldn’t find anything and he would need to do further tests – apols should any vets be reading this, he may have been right and I may have been wrong, but that’s just the way it was.


Via the internet/facebook; I had joined UK-GSR Social club fb page, posted a comment about Zak’s digestive issues and somebody suggested Raw Feeding UK (To be honest I had read other comments about raw feeding previously and screwed my face up in sheer horror at the thought). Anyway I was accepted as a member (thank you) and started Zak on RAW!!

Back end of October 2012 if I remember rightly: Eagerly I read Ann Ridyard’s quick start guide, members comments & bought the Dogs Dinner book, researched suggested sites etc., and went shopping to Pets at Home – quick, easy, convenient, frozen ‘ready meals’, just the ticket tho slightly expensive compared to the bargains fellow rawfeeders were purchasing elsewhere, but I didn’t have the freezer space to order in bulk. I had read how good green tripe was for digestive issues and increasing body weight so more or less started Zak on chicken and tripe at the same time. He weighed 33 kilos and I wanted him to plump up quick so fed 900g per day.


His poop soon formed into firm pieces, tho not as firm as some pics I had seen of raw fed dog poop and still quite pale with a hint of grey (possibly the tripe & chicken). Zak woofed his food down but still he seemed to be starving and wasn’t putting any weight on so we increased his food to around 1.5kg even 2kg a day with extra bone . Eventually I found he was better on tripe as his base food, with heart and only a few chicken wings and other meat n bones for variety, never dared to try kidney or liver, but as with IBS a little fibre is good and I found that a small handful of bran helped firm Zak’s poop.


January 2012 – On one of my doggie fb groups somebody mentioned EPI. I had never heard of it, so googled for more info (this is just one of the sites a came across Zak got at least 50/50 for symptoms, his are: Increase/ravenous appetite, smelly poops of a yellowish/beige colour, weight loss, gas & stomach gurgling – (there are more EPI symptoms i.e. lack of appetite, lethargy & a dull coat. Plus EPI sufferers can also have SIBO & B12 defficiency – the penny dropped Zak’s body wasn’t absorbing the food he was eating,


11th January 2013 – Benji our 13 year old terrier took a turn for the worst – he had battled Cushing’s disease for about 2 years and we had to make ‘The Decision’ The next day we buried Benji in my Mums field and said our goodbye’s 


19.01.13 - Although Zak didn’t look anorexic like some EPI dogs he had lost a lot of weight and you could see his hips and ribs, I had read about diets and medication but it seemed we needed help from the vets. George rang our vet surgery – closed after lunch on Saturday; so he rang and took Zak first thing Monday morning. He asked the vets to do specific blood tests for EPI, such as CTDS Folate & Cabalamin – B12 deficiency and they prescribed Metronidazole again for five days plus a B12 injection. But they weren’t happy with the idea of raw feeding and possible bacteria and suggested a high quality kibble! – George came to an agreement that we would cook his meat instead.


24.01.13 – Back to vets – some but not all of the tests were back and they suggested Zak should have weekly B12 injections for a few weeks & started him on Pancrex V Tablets (ground to help them work better) = enzymes to help his body create its own B12 again and to help his body digest his food. (am I right so far Annette Spooner?) As my husband and the Vet are ganging up on me I have ordered a sack online of Nutrix grain free duck and potato KIBBLE. Poor Zak – I am doing as I am told but waiting for his poop to turn to soup  but then I can say ‘I told you so’ !


27.01.13 – Snowed in, used all my supplies of raw meat to cook for Zak on vets orders, so cooked him 800g of minced beef fior breakfast mixed with the enzymes then had to give him some of the left over James Wellbeloved Hypoallergenic for tea.


28.01.13 – Oh no.... More kibble for breakie – quite gloopy stools now – went to my new friend the butcher to pick up the heart & rabbit I had ordered but couldn’t collect yesterday because of the snow ........ what kind of a ‘Topcliiffe Grange Farm on the Ring road in Leeds r they????? Closed on Sundays!!!!! Had to fly down to Pets at home for some beef n tripe - all meat n bones a real RAW treat for tea  Poor belly is gurgling like mad again now 


29.01.13 – Zak Was back at the vets today for another vitamin B12 injection and needs to have 2 more at weekly intervals then 4 more injections at 2 weekly intervals, although the vets hasn’t actually said “Zak has EPI” she has confirmed that he has digestive issues and a B12 deficiency and that he will need to take the enzymes tablets for the rest of his life. He had put on 424g on last week and weighed in at 31.124kg (That could be down to one poop less lol)


30.01.13 – Well Zak’s grain free biscuits arrived today and as suggested we are crushing the tablets and mixing them with the kibble + a little warm water to help it stick, then leaving it to stand for 20mins before feeding as this is supposed to help with digestion.


31.01.13 Zak has been on the Pancrex V tablets (crushed) for a week now, obviously switching between raw and kibble has upset his stomach slightly. Whilst on ‘poop patrol’ I have noticed his stools are slightly darker due to the kibble, but sometimes they vary from loose lumps, to firm poops then back to firmish cow pats. The quantity is less but still frequent, around 6 poops a day! The gurgling in his stomach seems to have eased.

Both myself and surprisingly George also; think Zak is best on raw, but as I said earlier our vet prefers that we feed him on ‘a good quality biscuit’. As George and Zak are off in the caravan to the East Coast on the 3rd Feb for a week so kibble will be more convenient but I have already googled the nearest Pets at home should they need emergency raw supplies!


So ‘while the dogs away’ this is where I need your help Annette...... Could you please advise on a raw diet for EPI. We are doing as the doctor ordered and feeding kibble however any advise will be eagerly received and the more info I have the more confident I can be feeding raw.

One of my main concerns is what extra supplements I need to feed? Zak seems to cope well with Ox heart, green tripe, white fish and hard boiled eggs inc shells, not so good on chicken, salmon or sardines.



03.02.13 Jeeps this seems to be going down well! Thank you all for your comments xx I tried to upload some pics but don’t think I can do it mid diary. I have emailed you my diary so far & pics Ann Ridyard. Annette Spooner, could you please post say a weekls diet plan which includes any extra vitamins and oil you would feed your dog, I appreciate every dog is different but it could give me a starting point –Thank You xx Katie Ranshaw – What is csj cp21 salmon food? (At the moment because Zak is on his hols kibble is much more convenient than raw as there isn’t much space in the small freezer in a touring caravan). Your 50/50 diet may well be a good compromise/starting point that I could feel comfortable with before changing Zak back to 100% raw. May keep everybody happy whilst I learn more about Zaks particular nutritional requirements.


Anyway – on poop patrol today I would say we are now on 5 a day lol! Smaller quantities, firm and brown, so I think our coffee grinder is now our enzyme grinder = currentlt feeding Zaks ideal weight of 38k weight 150% of recommended kibble (423g x 2 meals per day) each meal mixed with half a cup of tepid water, with half a teaspoon of Pancreas V enzyme, left for approx 20mins then another good mix before feeding seems to be working.


I can honestly say Zak is much more enthusiastic over RAW food than kibble. Expensive tho : - (( Kibble that is - At the moment his daily rations work out at £2.36 for kibble + £1.60 per day for enzyme tablets, not to mention B12 injections @ £6.24 + consultation fee of £22 per throw. Wow !!!! they no how to charge. (Previously we were feeding 5% raw but the vets way is waaaay tooooo expensive) If u do manage to see a pic of Zak – as I have said before he isn’t as bony as some EPI dogs but that is probably because we were feeding at around 5%.


So...... Zak and George have been away on their jollies for 6 hours now – guess who I am missing already ha ha! (Good job George doesn’t do facebook). All info graciously received pretty please!!






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