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129422 tn?1222703189

Maltese 6 1/2 yrs. old tummy and pain issues intermittent

Our 6 1/2 year-old neutered male Maltese (on the thin side, never been overweight, eating high grade, intestinal friendly food since puppy and rarely given anything other than reg. dog food) has been having intermittent tummy and obscure pain issues for a month and and half and after 10 trips to vet's office and three blood profiles (one comprehensive one), other than initial dx of pancreatitis, vet is stumped as to what might be wrong.  Initially (first week of August), our Maltese did vomit and wouldn't eat (and he always eats voraciously).  Taken to vet around first week in August.  Xrays showed nothing. Blood workup showed mild pancreatis and stool sample did show some minor blood in it.  He was started on mild Rx diet and sent home.  We were told to give him 5 mg. Pepcid 1/2 before each feeding and to try small feedings.  We did this.  He seemed to get better but then would have bouts of what appeared to be severe pain (where he would cry out and tremble uncontrollably), but we couldn't tell where pain was coming from.   Sometimes he acted like he couldn't walk, holding his left foot up, other times he would try to walk but seemed he couldn't.  It is awful to watch this.  Back to the vet's.  Vet thought dog might be dealing with a couple of issues, like maybe intermittent pancreatitis and another maybe cervical issue or pinched nerve or something.   Vet started him on Medcam (?) for pain, small amount every AM, then changed to every other day, etc.  Sometimes he has cried out like in a lot of pain, but this can be done on days when he is eating fine.  And then a few times, he doesn't seem interested at all in food (and he has ALWAYS been interested in food).  He is generally not himself though, even on days without pain episodes and no obvious tummy issue.  Just not himself.   Maybe only one time with very loose stool, and another time with kind of loose stool (but nothing signficant there).  Another stool was checked a couple of weeks ago--no blood in it and negative for parasites.  Blood workup done then completely normal.  Two days ago he mostly dry heaved in the early AM hours (3 AM to 6 AM) about every 10 minutes.  He was at the vet's at 7 AM and observed there all day.  No more dry heaves.  Vet could find nothing wrong with him.  This AM, won't eat, but no dry heaving or other symptoms.   He has been in and out of vet's and hospital about 6 times in last 45 days.  We are worn out.  All blood work shows normal now and they have done very comprehensive blood work profiles.  Vet is stumped.   By time we got him home from last vet appt. 6 PM, he had stopped the dry heaving, and after giving him Pepcid 5 mg., he ate and held it down fine.  We gave him no more pain meds, just Pepcid 5 mg. half hour before each meal.  Now today, Sept. 24th, absolutely won't eat, but no vomiting or dry heaving.  He has been on special Iams Intestinal Low-Residue canned food diet from vet's office since first week of August.  If anyone has a clue, please give me your thoughts.  Most recent blood work shows no signs of pancreatitis, but something has to be going on. Vet now (today) says perhaps we are dealing with a food allergy and wants us to come back in for another blood draw after 12 hours fasting.  Says this blood will be sent for very specific workup to rule out gastro/intestinal issues.  But if anyone has some info that could be helpful, I would sure like to hear it.
28 Responses
616449 tn?1221222062
Hmm.. Poor guy.. The only other thing I would try is an ultrasound.. Sometimes they catch what an Xray didn't..Speaking of xrays, did they only do his abdomen? If he's gagging/heaving, perhaps something is lodged somewhere higher up, although its been too long for that. Does he get into/eat stuff he shouldn't? Keep doing the bloodwork, something is liable to come up.. I wouldn't think its a food allergy, usually food allergies present ear infections, not belly pain and anorexia. Do another stool sample, its common that something can get missed as they only look at a tiny part of the samples. Also test for lymes and anaplasmosis- phantom pain issues make me think that route.. It's a tough case, I hope you figure this out..

Also, has he just seen one vet? Maybe you should take him somewhere else(bring all his records/xrays/profiles so far) to get a fresh brain thinking on the case..
462827 tn?1333172552
What intestinal friendly food was he on before the Iams Prescription Diet????
129422 tn?1222703189
Thanks for your responses.  First, his belly and entire spine was x-rayed--all were negative for bony abnormality and obstructions.  The food he was on PRIOR to August 08 was Natures Recipe Lamb and Rice Intestinal formula (PetsMart) which was a food suggested my my vet as a good all-around food.

It is always possible he gets into stuff that he should eat; however, it is just my husband and I, and we try to be very careful about feeding him bad stuff.  I mean honestly there we have fed him popcorn on occasion throughout his life (he is now 6 1/2), but I am talking only a couple of kernels here and there.  We don't routinely feed him anything off the table.  Of course, we don't give him anything now, ever.  Before, it was very infrequent.  Maybe once every 2 weeks or even every 2 months...not often at all.

And, yes, he has only seen one vet.  He is a highly recommended vet, however; but, you are right, two brains are usually better than one.  I will ask around and see if I can find anyone in our area that can recommend another vet.

He did eat a little finally this afternoon---I am feeding very small amounts.  I am taking him in for another blood draw in the AM, after 12 hour fast.  This time they will send it in for some kind of specialized workup regarding gastrointestinal disorders and stuff.  His stool was just checked again two days ago, but I will continue to have that done as well.

I have kept a daily log on him too for about a month, hoping this will assist vet come up with an answer.  So far, no luck.  Thanks for all your input.  It is really appreciated.  By the way, I think they did check for Lymes, but I will check on that.
462827 tn?1333172552
One more thing: Is he any better on the Iams Prescription Diet or is he worse?  Thanks
129422 tn?1222703189
Hmmm....that is VERY hard to say because since the first episode first week of August, I have had him on the canned Iams stuff the vet said I should use.  When he was doing a bit better mid-month, I started adding in a few pieces of the hard Natures Recipe diet---to the Iams and rice mix, and was doing that for probably a week before the recent episode of the wretching (only phlegm coming out--no food in stomach) and dry heaving that he did Sept. 22 for 3 hours.  Since then, I have just had him on the Iams soft with a little white rice.  Prior to August 2007, for 6 years he was on the Natures Recipe with no problem.  I really am mystified.  

The episodes of pain also don't seem to correlate at all to the episodes of tummy upset---this also has me totally baffled, unless I am dealing with two completely different things that just happen to crop up around the same time.  

Geeez.....it just seems like it should be so darn hard to nail this down.
129422 tn?1222703189
Sorry, I had a typo....last sentence of first paragraph meant to say "Prior to August 2008" not August 2007....
462827 tn?1333172552
Sorry, I'm still trying to help you....Another question? This all started while he was on the Natures recipe?  Then the Vet switched to Iams because of the digestive issues?  Correct? But, he did well for 6yrs. on the natures recipe? Right?
P.S. The pop corn didn't hurt him....I promise!  
129422 tn?1222703189
Yes, you are correct that he did fine on Natures Recipe Lamb and Rice for 6 years, and the vet switched him due to digestive issues via the blood panel that showed he had a mild case of pancreatitis (this was Aug. 6, 2008.  The blood panel of Sept. 9th showed no signs of pancreatitis; however, that blood panel wasn't done specifically due to him not eating or vomiting---at that time it was done due to the bizarre episodes of pain he was having where he would cry out and other times scream out and favor left leg and not be able to walk for a few minutes.  So, doctor did what is called a Pro Comprehensive Blood panel to try and rule out other things.  This blood panel didn't show any pancreatitis at that time, but I guess bouts of pancreatitis can come and go.

The doctor indicated that in dogs that are prone to pancreatitis that even very small amounts of high fat items could bring about a mild case of pancreatitis---even a potato chip or two (Baxter is only 6 lbs.).  I doubt too it was the popcorn.  Could have been something he found on the ground or something in the yard -- who knows -- could be none of those things.  Still we don't know if what we are seeing now is more pancreatitis or what and we have no idea what the pain bouts are from (he hasn't cried out in pain though for over a week I think).  Again, thanks much for your comments.
462827 tn?1333172552
Jaylyn,  I believe I've got your answer...It will lenghty.....I will be back as soon as I have more time.......Karla
129422 tn?1222703189
THANKS.  I will check in frequently.  
462827 tn?1333172552
Jaylyn, I normally don't do a post like this, but because you have gone above and beyond trying to figure this out, and all his test come back normal, I'm going to. I will have to do this in sections because it will be long. This is not secret information, but it is info. that some would rather you not know. I've spent hours trying to figure your problem out and I think I have it. (And it's simple) Here goes: On Pet food labels, the ingredients are listed in order of amounts inside your bag or can. First ingredient is the most, second is the second most, etc. Let's dissect your food: (The one you've used for years).
1st. Ingredient-LAMB MEAL- The term "meal" means these ingredients are not used fresh, but have been rendered. To render is to process for industrial use: to render livestock CARCASSES & extract oil from fat, blubber, etc. by melting. Raw materials are dumped into vats and boiled for hours. This process seperates fat, removes water & kills bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. The high temps destroys any natural enzymes & proteins found in the raw material. Therefore, meals are not a source of protein. (OK, NO nutrition in this one).
2nd- RICE - A Grain
3rd- Barley - A Grain
4th- Oatmeal - A Grain
5th- * Chicken Fat
6th - Dried potatoes - A starch that when broke down, turns to sugar.
-Somewhere in this one is "Tomato Pomace"  to promote small, firm, easy to clean stools. (Got that off the bag). What does this mean and how does it work? And why? Tomatoes are toxic to dogs.
Everything else listed (All those vitamins and minerals that look good in print) don't really mean anything. They are destroyed in the cooking process...........
DOGS are carnivores...They have to have PROTEINS to survive....Grains are hard to digest and have NO nutritional value.  They are cheap fillers....So, NO food for your puppy in this bag.  :(    
Part 2: Coming.....We'll look at his prescription diet!
462827 tn?1333172552
Part 2:   The Prescription Diet:
1st. - Corn Grits- GRAIN   Means the bulk of this food is corn. I'm going to break Corn down even further because of this...Digestion of Corn causes skin irritations, hair loss, ear infections, kidney and liver disease, obesity, CHRONIC DIGESTIVE problems, bloat, heart disease & thyroid  disease in Dogs. NO Nutrition
2nd. - Brewers Rice - GRAIN - This grain is actually already used. It is used to brew beer. When the brewing process is done, there is no other use for this so it is added to dog food. Yes, as a filler. Brewers Yeast is the same. NO Nutrition here, either.
3rd. - Chicken-By-Product - By-Products of the chicken would include: Feet, Heads, beaks, Viscera (free from fecal content & foreign matter). NO nutrition here! yuck!!!!!!
4th. - Chicken  (Is this a maybe?) In 4th place, probably not.
5th. - Fish Meal - You know what this is..NO Nutrition
6th. - * Chicken Fat  
That's it for this one....
*Now you see #5 in the first food and # 6 in this one? Both Chicken Fat. Know what they do with this? It is sprayed on the outside of the kibble..Know why? (Your not gonna like this)......ANIMAL FATS - Used to encourage a pet to EAT INGREDIENTS they normally would NOT eat! Ingestion can cause GASTROINTESTINAL UPSET & PANCREATITIS!!!
Well, well, well.........Really?????      Bottom Line:  Neither of these foods have anything that a dog requires. There are NO PROTEINS in these. He needs MEAT!!   Not Cereal... I'm surprised that he's not any sicker. I am afraid that he's starving to death, though. His system is trying to tell you this...I bet he's hungry, too.  Note: This is NOT your Vet's fault (Although he sold you both of these!) Vets are schooled in Medicine for years..They have a very short course in Nutrition (8 hrs. or so). Guess who provides the instruction?  THE PRESCRIPTION FOOD COMPANIES!  I guess you see where this is going?
Part 3: Coming......I'm almost done!!!!!!       Be back
462827 tn?1333172552
Part:3  There is no doubt in my mind that it's his food that's making him sick. You've had everything possible tested. You said your Vet (On your second to last visit) said it's now food allergies. HE'S RIGHT! This isn't food. Baxter's not allergic to Proteins (Meat) cause he's never had any. He however, may be allergic to grains, now. You are going to have to get him something better to eat. There are many good foods available. Well maybe a few!  Also, some good grainfree ones. Since you should mix some of the old food with the new, this might be tough. I wouldn't give him either of these foods again, but you could use a grain that he's use to. While your looking for a better food: Scramble him an egg (Excellent protein source) mixed with rice. Next, boneless, skinless, chichen breast w/rice. Add some fresh parsley.It's wonderful for digestion. Cottage cheese w/rice is another good choice. Snack: Yogurt (Unflavored) Wonderful for the digestive tract. Give tiny portions cause he's not use to this. Alright, I gotta go to bed. I am leaving town tomorrow. Just for the day....If you have any questions, let me know. Good luck to you. And to Baxter:  Happy Eating!  :)  Oh yes, how was the bloodwork yesterday?  Let me know...........Take care....Karla
129422 tn?1222703189
Wow!  You did do a ton of work on my (our) behalf, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.  I feel awful I've been feeding him so poorly.  We have a Golden Retriever too (he eats something totally different---he is 9 years old---that is probably starving as well.  He eats Purina One for Seniors (No, I am not asking you to research this...hahahha).  He looks to be in wonderful muscular shape and acts like a puppy still but he does get a lot of hot spots around on his cheeks and by his ears especially in summer when he is in and out of the pool a lot.  Anyway, I digress.  See below for continuation.

129422 tn?1222703189
Baxter seems to be doing a little better.  No vomiting, wretching or pain episodes, but I wouldn't say he is actually totally like his old-self though.  His recent blood draw went to some Texas lab where they specialize in dx gastro-intestinal disorders of all types.  It will take 10-12 days for my vet to get those results.

I am confused about one thing, though, I did look at the canned Iams (Vetertinary Formula) Intestinal Low-Residue my vet put Baxter on after the mild pancreatitis dx initially.  That food label starts out different than the prescription dog food you listed above, which I assume is your research on the Iams I just mentioned.  Anyway, that "label" says "Chicken Broth, Chicken, Whitefish, Brewers Rice, Corn Grits, Chicken Liver, Beef By-Producrts, Chicken By-Products, Dried Egg, Chicken By-product meal, Fish Oil and other suppl. you say don't do a damn thing.  I only mention this because Chicken is #2, Whitefish #3, Chicken Liver #5, Dried Egg #8, I don't see mentioned in your post above.  The can also says "Crude Protein MIN. 7%, Crude Fat MAX 2.8% and Crude Fiber MAX 1%, and gtives min. omega 3, etc. values too, in case that means anything to you.
I just want to make sure your discussion of "The prescription diet" above actually refers to the Iams (Veterinary Formula) Intestinal Low-Residue that Baxter is actually eating currently (with some white rice).  

The vet did say I could give him boiled Chicken that I cooked myself and some white rice---obviously you feel this is much preferable (or egg) to any canned or dry food anyway, right?  I will definitely start boiling some chicken, making egg and/or the cottage cheese and yogurt (in moderation).  I will start out very slowly.

Again, thanks for all your hard work, Karla.  You really went to tremendous trouble for us and it is sincerely appreciated.  Is this something you do for aliving or is pet nutrition your passion?  Just curious.

129422 tn?1222703189
Hi Karla.  I know you are out of town.  I am just writing this while it is in my head so I don't forget.  Another thing I find odd is that on the Natures Recipe Lamb & Rice HARD dog food it says guaranteed MIN protein is 20%.  On the SOFT (moist) canned prescription IAMS (Vet Formula) Intestinal (Low-Residue) it says the guaranteed MIN protein is 7%.  I think, however, that the prescription soft food purposely has reduced protein in it as protein is harder for some types of digestive problems (pancreatitis for instance), as I understand it.  I don't think the idea was for me to keep the dog on it indefinitely however.
82861 tn?1333457511
Misfits gave you some really good nutritional guidelines to look for on dog food labels.  It's true that corn is used in the majority of commercial foods because it's cheap.  Well, it used to be until the government said we had to use it for car fuel, but that's another forum's topic.  LOL!  Corn can cause some very real medical issues in dogs, but usually along the line of allergies. It doesn't have much nutritional value for the dog either.  Next time you're in the pet store or grocery store, do a little label reading (bring your reading glasses - lots of tiny print!) and notice that the cheaper foods are composed mainly of grains.  Anything that says "by product" is off my dog's menu.  Meat by products come from animals that are already dead or diseased and unfit for human consumption.

I don't remember if the foods you listed were ever on the recall list from the Chinese scandal over a year ago.  Many "good" dog foods used protein from China, and the Chinese added a chemical called melamine (same thing as those plastic dinnerware sets sold at discount stores that get most of their stuff from China).  When the melamine-laced protein powder is analyzed, it causes a false result showing a higher protein content; thus allowing China to charge higher prices for the product.  Melamine caused kidney damage and death in our pets, and I just don't trust many of the pet food manufacturers any more.  Melamine was even found in bird seed, and my 20 year old cockatiel got a bag of it before I learned about the recall.  He was sick for several months but actually pulled through.  

Did your vet do blood and urine testing for kidney function?  Sometimes it doesn't show up early on.  Kidney failure can certainly cause the symptoms you describe.  

Making your own dog food is a great idea, but we usually can't ensure all the dog's nutritional needs are being met.  You can easily compensate for this lack with a daily multivitamin.  Dr. Cheng on the Ask a Vet board here at Med Help recommends Missing Link.  It's fairly expensive, so do some more label reading and comparing if the cost is a problem.

I understand how terribly frustrating this illness must be for you, and hope your dog continues moving in the right direction.  Definitely get a second opinion.  It's no insult to a vet working on a difficult case to refer a client to another doctor.  At least, it shouldn't be an insult.  If it is, then you have your answer - you need a different vet.  :-)
462827 tn?1333172552
Jaybay is right!  I think Iams was part of the problem...Not sure they ever got caught!  But, I remember many accounts of dogs getting sick on Iams. I will try to find my old records of the "Pet Food Poisonings". I will dig to see if this food was on the list...I actually stood in the stores and warned people about their food. As much bloodwork as Baxter has had, surely the Vet would have picked up on any Kidney problems. Don't you think? Anyway...Let's see..That was March 07.......I'll see what I can find...Karla
129422 tn?1222703189
I think kidney function was examiend via blood workups, but I will check to make sure.

As for the Iams, remember that the Iams he was put on (March of 08) is CANNED, soft Veterinary Formula (NOT sold in stores) Intestinal Low-Residue.  It does not show any melamine in it, and its contents (as I mentioned in earlier post) were somewhat different that the Iams you reported on in your earlier email (so I am thinking, Misfits4Me probably was looking at DRY Iams product sold in stores rather than the specific canned food my dog is on (right?).

I appreciate, Jaybay, the recommendation about Missing Link (multivitamin).  I personally take probably 35 supplements every day which costs a fortune.  Not thrilled about adding to that expense plus making all my dog's food, but if it is the best thing for him, I think I have to do it.  My husband and I are animal lovers and we do want to do the best by them.  We already have well over a thoursand into Baxter's treatment already -- and we may end up spending triple that before we are done, or more--who knows.  (No, we didn't get pet insurance when he was younger.....darn!)

Anyway, thanks so much for all the advice.  It is more appreciated than you know!

129422 tn?1222703189
I skrewed up again.....Baxter has only been on Iams Vet Formula soft food (mentioned above) since AUGUST 08, not March 08.
462827 tn?1333172552
Hi Jaylyn, Oops.....Your right. I did my research on the dry. They sure read different to be used for the same thing, don't they? My post last night was a 3;30 AM and I was just too tired to go any farther. Let's see where it begin...My resource for the pet food poisonings is No longer available. I know Iams was part of it. I can't be sure of your specific food, though. The Melamine was in the glutens of certain foods. (Corn, wheat, rice).
I didn't mean for you to start cooking forever; my examples of foods to offer him were what I thought his stomach could tolerate (right now) till you found a better food. Or I would have mentioned a multivitamin, also. No, I feed dry grainfree, canned (usually grainfree) and fresh. I rotate......
I went to look at my can (Different brand) of prescript. food for intestional problems. I keep a few cans on hand and use it for 3days if I have a dog with any issues. Yours read much better than mine. Mine reads 6.5% Protein and the list is Water for processing, beef, & brewers rice. :(  Now, I'm confused. I would never give beef for tummy trouble. So, back to square one....Damn!
My passion is not the nutrition part.  My passion is to save my new friend!  I only adopt dogs that No One else wants. They always have various medical issues, some that are life threatening, along with psychological issues from abuse, abandonment, and neglect. I take the ones that don't have a Chance-in-He!! of finding a home due to age, blindness, teeth falling out of their heads, illness too overwhelming, whatever..Thus began my quest for proper nutrition to get these guys well.. That's after extensive Vet care of course. Anyway, that's my passion.....Is Baxter better, today? I wondered about him yesterday. I went to watch my Alma Mater play football. My son came home from college to take care of the creatures for me. He wonders why we have NO normal dogs..I tell him that normal dogs have a better chance of finding a home!   I shop for Christmas trees this way, too.   Drives my family Nuts!!!!  :)   Let me know how your doing.....Karla
129422 tn?1222703189
I very much admire your dedication in helping dogs that wouldn't otherwise have help. You must be a very special person.

You probably noticed I have now uploaded a photo of little Baxter.  There are a few more photos on my profile page.

Baxter seems to be doing better.  He actually played a little (ran in hide and seek with my husband) this AM.  He is very lethargic now...may have overdone it, but it is the first time he has shown any interest in playing which seems like a very good sign.  We will see.  His symptoms are so cyclical....it is very odd.   He generally is not the same little guy he was a couple of months ago though.  If he did get into something that was toxic, maybe it will take a while to work its way out of system entirely...who knows.  

Thanks for the clarification on the food issue.  I am going to start adding in a little boiled chicken first to his diet.  If he tolerates that well, in a couple of weeks, I may give him a little cottage cheese here and there.  I will keep you posted.

And, again, thanks for all your help and support!
Avatar universal
Hi. Im a mom of 2 Yorkies. My male will be 16 in Feb & my Female will be 12 in March. I seen ya'lls emails & just cant quit reading them.... My female, Darci has had probelms since she was 1 year old. She started out with bloody diarrhea & some vomiting. But it didnt seem to effect her as in acting lathargic until about 6 months ago. She now will turn away food from time to time, usually only last a few hours & then she is ready to eat. I have noticed that a few times she has trembled like her tummy is killing her & she will stretch her little back leg like she is stretching it out to try & relieve the pain. I wonder if its bad gas pains? When she trimbles, I cant take it. Breaks my heart. I usually start crying & praying over her that God will heal her & in just a few minutes she stops trembling & will eat. It may not happen again for a few weeks. My vet says it could be food allergies because she bites at her little feet real bad. I've tried boiled chicken & her favorite food was always Iams tiny bites which I watch like a hawk when that food poisening stuff was going on. That was a very scary time but anyway, that was never on there. It was always canned Iams. My male Yorkie eats all the same things as her but  never any tummy problems, Thank God becasue has other issues.  My vet has also mentioned IBS but he says its very expensive to find out for sure & I cant afford it. Im also scared to have her put under at her age to have some of the test ran. I just keep praying that God will heal my baby & I know he can. Like you said, this is a very frustrasting thing. I have even tried Hills prescription food. Still threw it up... Im now trying lamb & rice plus still giving her boiled chicken. I cant wait to see how she is when I get home today.
How is Baxter doing now? I would love to keep up with his progress. Please feel free to email me at ***@****. I welcome animal friends anytime. Thxs for listening...............                            
Avatar universal
Searching frantically for answers to my 6 year old Havanese's intermittent pain, anorexia, and vomiting, I came upon this site and read your story of Baxter and wondered at how similar his story sounds like my Mia. I know your problem was 3 years ago but I'm wondering if you ever figured it out. Mia has been sick every 2 or so weeks, sometimes sooner sometimes longer for about 6 1/2 months. Like you I have been frantic. Luckily she is completely well between episodes and plays and runs and eats well. The day she is sick it last 12 to 18 hours with grumbling stomach in the early morning, dry heaves or vomiting of foamy stomach fluids for around an hour, and anorexia for the rest of the time. Normal stools with occasional blood streak. She also appears to have stomach pain and restlessness. Once she snaps out of it she is back to herself eating and chasing her brother. The vets (we've been to 3, one an internist) are stumped. Pancreatic enzymes were elevated once and then normal, been through all the food changes without any change in behavior. Treatment for parasites, infection, allergies, pancreatic diet all unsuccessful. So frustrating to see her in pain and discomfort. Hope Baxter recovered and wondering do you have any wisdom to share. Thanks for any help you can give.
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