I took in my foster dog – Hap – about a month ago now. I had only planned on taking him for a couple of days, as an interim home until another foster home opened up. But he is such a sweet boy, and easy, and as no other home was available, I agreed to foster him. Besides, he already had an adoption application on him that looked quite good, so I figured he’d be gone just as soon as he recovered from his neuter.
Unfortunately Hap had some digestive issues that needed to be sorted out before sending him off. It took some systematic trial and error, but my suspicions were soon confirmed that this dog cannot tolerate kibble. As few adopters are willing to feed raw, I typically keep my foster dogs on kibble and just feed a high quality, typically grain free brand and encourage their new home to keep them on it. Of course I always advocate raw, but I have to be realistic if I don’t want to keep every dog I take in (which I don’t!)
Hap, however, needs to be fed raw. Even with a grain free kibble, he produces so much stool it’s as if his body is not absorbing any of it at all. He was pooping up to 6 times a day, and had very little control over when. I quickly grew tired of waking up to a poopy puppy every morning, and decided to try raw. His problems immediately cleared up, so a raw diet is what he must be on. Fortunately his potential adopters seem open to doing so.
After figuring this out and getting the adopters to read up on raw and be ready to give it a try (they are also willing to titer instead of re-vaccinate!), I made an appointment for them to come and meet him and possibly take him home. Unfortunately, while waiting for that day to arrive, Hap developed a limp. I noticed it as soon as I let him start running off-leash with my dogs. The limp was quite significant, so I postponed the adoption and gave him a few days of crate rest. That cleared up the limp, but it came back as soon as he became active again. A vet check didn’t reveal anything obvious, but she thought it was a soft tissue injury and suggested a 10-day plan of crate rest followed by leash walking and slowly building him back up to running off-leash. I followed this plan exactly, but within minutes of running off-leash, the limp came back.
So Hap is off for x-rays tomorrow and we are all keeping our fingers crossed that it is nothing serious. One possibility is that it is OCD (Osteochondritis Dessicans), something I had never heard of. A little research suggested that one cause could be an ‘overly nutritious diet’ that causes too rapid growth in puppies. Read this if you are interested in my thoughts on diet and puppy growth. I have to say I won’t be surprised if this is the diagnosis. I thought from the start that Hap was probably fed poor quality puppy kibble, one of those low grade ones full of garbage that makes them grow really quickly so people think they are doing well by their pups. I thought this for two reasons. First, Hap looks like an adult and is large for the breed, but acts around 6-7 months old. This suggested to me that he was probably younger than we though, just fed growth kibble causing him to be oversized for his age. Second, his digestive problems were what I suspected had him turfed out of his home. When fed kibble, especially grain based kibble, he poops everywhere and constantly with little self-control and was likely thrown out as a result. This was the very reason the shelter was going to put him down, despite his incredibly wonderful temperament.
I will be very curious to see what comes of the x-rays. I really hope it is something easy to improve, but I have a feeling Hap may be here for a while yet.