Gastrointestinal Issues.

This page will provide examples of dogs that have IBD or other GI Issues and how they were helped using whole food nutrition.


A yellow Labrador Retriever with IBD and lymphangectasia.

Rigby, a four year old male castrated yellow Labrador Retriever had been suffering

from severe recurrent vomiting and profuse watery diarrhea. The clinical problem

started at 6 months of age, immediately after castration. He became unable to gain

weight, eventually developed head tremors, and was listless. The diarrhea was

somewhat antibiotic responsive but recurrent.  He began to lose weight and showed

evidence of stunted growth. At this time, he was being fed kibble.

Upset and alarmed, Rigby’s owner sought out Dr. McFarland in 2012.  Dr. McFarland

had been Rigby's veterinarian initially but then she moved to a new clinic. He weighed

a mere 40 pounds in September of 2012, with a body condition score of 2 to 3 out of a

ten point scale. His owner had tried to get him to put on weight by increasing his

caloric intake and purchasing a new kibble that had been recommended to her. 

Dr. McFarland's rule outs included: dietary indiscretion, parasitism, food sensitivity,

food allergy, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD),  and immune mediated disease. He was

treated with multiple rounds of antibiotics and dewormers while further diagnostics

were done. Dr. McFarland tried a few trials with prescription GI veterinary diets

(including hydrolyzed protein diets). The patient was acutely allergic to amoxicillin

and sulfa/Primor. Dr. McFarland decided to biopsy Rigby’s GI tract as he continued

to decline.  He developed head tremors and Metronidazole appeared to exacerbate the

head tremors.

Intestinal biopsies results:
“Duodenum: prominent submucosal lymphoid tissue, dilated lacteals;
Jejunum: dilated mucosal lacteals, eosinophils within lamina propria with lymphocytes + plasmacytes
Ileum: lamina propria expanded with neutrophils with lymphocytes and plasmacytes, mild dilation of mucosal lacteals.”

Dr. McFarland concluded that the patient had IBD and lymphangectasia.

Rigby was switched to a home cooked diet and gained almost ten pounds (5/2013 – 49 lbs). The home cooked diet also stopped the diarrhea.  However, the labrador still had issues with anal sacculitis. About this time, a generalized pruritis started, with the axilla, crook of elbows, and lower rear limbs being the most intense areas. The owner declined herbals and the dog was started on Hydroxyzine 25mg q8-12 PRN.

A Nutriscan panel was submitted on 3/2014, and after receiving the results, the owner started rotating safe proteins.  His body weight increased to 52 pounds and his body condition score went from a 3 to a 4 on a ten point scale.

Blood was submitted for an allergy panel taken in 6/2104.  Results were unremarkable so desensitization was not started.

In 2013, armed with new knowledge from an IVAS course, Dr. McFarland started Rigby on a raw diet. Rigby still had severe anal gland and ear issues, was very pruritic in general and his body condition score was only four on a ten point scale.

The Nutriscan panel was repeated in March of 2015 and showed almost completely normal results. No more sensitivities to certain proteins.

At this point, Rigby weighed 55 pounds. The owner started the Labrador on Answers Detailed with Answers Raw Goats Milk. Rigby was rotated through the all the protein sources Answers offers.

However, the patient continued to be pruritic.  Hydroxyzine as needed or Apoquel was given to patient when needed, but neither stopped pruritus completely.

In May of 2015, Dr. McFarland repeated the environmental panel, this time the patient showed moderate reactions but owner declined recommendation to start desensitization at that time. Owner also declined recommendation to start herbal therapy.


Severe IBD and lymphangectasia plus environmental allergies.
Idiopathic head tremors, which were clinically worse when Rigby had GI clinical signs.

Anal sacculitis resolved around August of 2015, after patient had been on Answers raw for a few weeks. (Rigby was started on Answers Straight but now is on Detailed.)

Body condition and weight improved tremendously. The patient started at 40 pounds in 2012 with a body condition score of two to three on a ten-point scale.  In March of 2016, after 3 years on raw (last year was all Answers raw), Rigby went up to 72 pounds with a body condition score of six out of ten.

The patient still has generalized pruritis.  Dr. McFarland hopes to start a desensitization protocol in Spring of 2016. The results shared in this case history indicate the pruritis was due to environmental allergens, rather than food.  However, the raw diet  did decrease the severity of the clinical signs of purports and vastly relieved the clinical signs associated with IBD and improved Rigby’s quality of life.

Dr. McFarland can be reached at:  

Bella and Chloe.

Both were diagnosed with and suffered from IBD and who improved greatly after their diets were changed to Answers Raw.










{Photos by David Rice; copyright owned by Diana.}
Bella and Chloe are both female Great Danes who live with and are loved by Diana S in PA.  Both girls enjoyed agility, though Bella is now retired.

Diana has had Bella, a harlequin Great Dane, since she was 9 weeks of age. Bella started having Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) symptoms early in her life, around her first year. Diana tried many different brands of premium kibble including grain-free. Unfortunately, symptoms of IBD, such as bloody diarrhea,  sporadic food refusal and occasional vomiting continued.  Bella’s veterinarians recommended prescription diets (such as the hydrolyzed protein diet) plus treating sporadic flare ups with metronizadole and probiotics. Overall, clinical signs with the prescription food were less frequent, but they were not eliminated.

In January of 2010, when Bella was 3 years old, Diana adopted Chloe, a blue Great Dane. who was 16 months of age at the time, from a Great Dane rescue. Chloe was fed kibble with probiotics in her foster home. Diana continued this until Chloe's  symptoms necessitated switching to prescription kibble and probiotics. Chloe's symptoms were much worse than Bella’s. Chloe had frequent bloody vomiting, and frequent bloody diarrhea which would progress to straight blood when she defecated. During the flare ups of IBD, she would also refuse to eat. Chloe was hard to keep weight on, even though she was fed more than Bella, who is the same size. Both dogs went through testing but nothing was found. Other than the IBD, both dogs had normal healthy values. Diana also tested her water at home; no abnormalities were detected.

Diana read about and researched raw for a a couple of years, but was hesitant to try it. She spoke with Dr. Nesselrodt who told her about Answers, and she then consulted with Jacqueline from Answers Raw Pet Food.  In 2013, both dogs were transitioned to raw. Diana had baseline labs drawn and repeats the lab tests at intervals of about every 6 months. The Danes are on the Answers Straight chicken formula in combination with Answers Raw Goat's Milk and sometimes Answers Fermented Fish Stock. Diana reports that overall both her girls have greatly improved and their labs have been normal throughout.

Bella:  was 7 when she started on raw and is now 9 years old. She weighed 114 lbs prior to raw, went up to 121 lbs at one point but then the amount of food was decreased and she now weighs 106 lbs.
On Answers Raw, Bella:
--Has never once refused a meal since she started raw.
--Completely stopped vomiting.
--Rarely has a soft stool, but never had had blood again.
--Has not needed to be treated with metronizadole since starting on raw.
--Has actually put on weight to the extent that the amount of her raw food was decreased.

Chloe: Was 5 when she started on raw and is now 7. She weighed 108 prior to eating raw but is now down to 100 lbs.  Diana would like a little more weight on her.
On Answers Raw, Chloe:
--Has never refused a raw meal.
--Rarely vomits, but when she does, it is not bloody as it was in the past on kibble.
--Occasionally still has NON-hemorrhagic diarrhea or soft stools (was bloody in the past). When Chloe was on kibble her stools would go from blood tinged to bloody to looking like all blood.
--Has not needed to be treated with metronizadole since starting on raw.
--Is fed more than Bella since her symptoms have always been worse & is harder to keep weight on.


A 6 year old Coonhound mix with Protein-Losing Enteropathy and Idiopathic Epilepsy.


Benny was adopted into his permanent home at 12 weeks old in January 2012.  He is a laid-back dog until he sees a deer or rabbit, and then he’s off to chase them!  He’s a sweet boy, and is very active in K9 nosework.  His diet has consisted of Natural Balance and switched to Royal Canin Lowfat Gastrointestinal formula when he began showing low protein levels in 2015.  He began having seizures and was then moved to a home-cooked diet and then to The Honest Kitchen dehydrated food.

Benny tore his ACL in 2014 and during his pre-surgery screening in December 2014, it was discovered that his protein levels were low.  Subsequent testing continued to show this and the levels continued to drop.  He continually acted hungry, drank an excessive amount of water and urinated frequently.  You could hear fluid in his abdomen and he also began having seizures during this time.  He was referred to Dr. Pera at Hope Advanced Veterinary Center in Rockville, MD.  In May 2017, he was diagnosed with Protein-Losing Enteropathy and Idiopathic Epilepsy.

At this time, Benny was eating The Honest Kitchen Zeal or Love and was on the following supplements:  Zonsamide 100mg (3 caps every 12 hours = 300mg/day), Keppra ER 500mg (2 tabs every 12 hours = 2000mg/day), Chinese herbs (Wu PI Yin Plus and Bu Xue Xi Feng), CannaPet CBD oil (2 drops every 12 hours), and Vit B 12 sub Q (once/month).  He was having seizures about every 40-50 days and they would cluster (typically, 3 in 24 hours).  Tracy, Benny’s owner, uses ocular compression and blows in his nose to help during seizures.

Benny’s owner, Tracy, began working with Dr. Pema at Holistic Veterinary Healing in Germantown, MD, and they contacted Answers Pet Food in June 2017.  Benny immediately began a transition to a raw milk fast.  At the time, he weighed 58 lbs and struggled with being too thin due his medications.  It was planned that he would transition onto his new diet and off of his medications slowly over the course of 6-8 weeks to prevent triggering a seizure, which can occur in severe cases of detox.


08/01/17 – Benny finished his transition to an all-liquid diet of Answers Fermented Raw Goats Milk, Raw Milk Cow Kefir, and Fermented Fish Stock.

08/12/17 – Benny had a single seizure.  It had been 72 days since his last seizure (as opposed to the typical 40-50 days) and he pulled out of it in less than a minute.  He was to begin his transition off of Keppra at this time, but he did not have either of his doses this day.  Benny was left on his normal doses of Keppra and Zonsamide for a three more weeks before beginning to wean him off.

9/19/17  – Zonsamide dosing was reduced, Keppra remained at full dosing 2x/day. Benny’s owner Tracy states “All in all, he is doing well. Still has energy, especially tonight he was running around crazy with one of my dogs chasing each other.”

10/8/17  – Benny had a single seizure.  At this time, Zonsamide has been eliminated and Keppra reduced to one capsule in am, two capsules in pm (total reduction in Keppra dosing 25%).

10/18/17  – Benny had a single seizure lasting 90 seconds; Keppra dosing daily 1 capsule in am, 2 in pm.  Tracy states “I am pleased at the reduction in seizures including the length and no clusters!”

11/7/17  – Benny had a single seizure lasting only a short time; he had reduced anxiety post-seizure; still dosing Keppra daily 1 capsule in am, 2 in pm.

11/26/17 – Benny had an exam and labwork with Dr. Pema.  He has gained 10 lbs and is it a good weight, he has no fluid in his abdomen, and his protein levels are just below normal, the best they’ve been in three years. 


At this time, Benny continues on his current milk fast diet, working to eliminate all medications and control his seizures, and making that last jump into normal protein levels. 


12/11/17 – Benny had a single seizure in what has become his new normal (single episode, short duration, fairly quick recovery).  He did eat something unknown outside while it was dark.

1/6/18 – Benny had a single seizure; and again, got into something (possibly deer poop) outside.  He has gained another 6 lbs so calories were reduced to get him back to appropriate weight.

2/13/18 – Benny’s Keppra was reduced to one in am,  one in pm.

3/8/18 Update from Benny’s owner, Tracy:  His new diet does not affect his physical activity and he still loves his belly rubs. He loves the cheese cubes and I use them for his K9 nosework training classes. My instructor stated the use of the goat milk cheese cubes has really motivated him to search more quickly and accurately as we search for odor. I’m so happy to see he is getting healthier.

Robin Lee.

Robin Lee is a 6 year old Beagle that has been unable to maintain weight. 


She had switched diets a few times and was unable to resolve the problem, even after switching to a raw diet with Answers Pet Food.  Because of this, it was determined that she was not processing her food properly and her owner wanted to try to heal the root cause of the problem.  Robin Lee was put on a “Milk Fast” using only Answers Pet Food Raw Fermented Goats Milk.



4/22/17 – Robin Lee showed a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth; this would parallel a biofilm buildup (the milk will break down the biofilm).

4/28/17 – Robin Lee started the milk fast at 21.9 pounds.  At this time, she was taken off Prozac for separation anxiety and Prion for urinary incontinence.  Her meals were broken up into 6 meals/day.

5/11/17 – Robin Lee was a bit destructive in the house due to her separation anxiety.

6/2/17 – Robin Lee had been fighting with other dog in house; added 1 oz of straight pork to her diet fermented with 2 tablespoons of Fish Stock for at least 8 hours at room temperature (this allows for additional fermentation and breaking down of the nutrients so it’s less work on the dog’s body to process).

6/23/17 – Robin Lee is consuming 2x the amount of normal calories as her body works hard to purge biofilm and cleanse the system; continues to have soft, liquid stools.

7/27/17 – Robin Lee is on week 14 of a milk fast.  Her stools have become more pudding like and almost normal, less liquid.  She is turning the corner.

7/28/17 – Robin Lee had her first “normal” poop. She has been eating dirt so the amount of milk possible was reduced; suspected upset stomach from too many calories

8/10/17 – poop half time is normal/pudding, other half is pudding/liquid.

8/17/17 – 80% normal/pudding poop; 20% pudding/liquid poop.  Her separation anxiety continues (scratched up door).  She was moved to 4 meals/day.

8/24/17 – 90/10 stools; she was moved to 2 meals/day.

8/31/17 – Robin Lee has had normal/pudding poop this week; no liquid. This is great improvement!

9/16/17 – Robin Lee is on week 21 and she had ALL NORMAL FIRM poop!

9/18/17 – Robin Lee begins her transition to add more meat into her diet.  She goes up to 3 oz protein, but it is fermented in fish stock at room temperature for at least 8 hours.  She’s eating 2x/day, but has started drinking more and peeing in her sleep 2x/day since then.

10/5/17 – Robin Lee’s stools have gotten soft again so the amount of milk was decreased; suspected that she was consuming too many calories.

11/30/17 – Robin Lee’s mixed stools continue; owner giving FD treats (chicken liver, lamb liver) when she is left home 

12/4/17 – Owner switched to Answers Raw Goats Milk Treats instead of FD and her stools were solid again.

While it took much longer than initially anticipated, Robin Lee was able to reach a point where she could maintain her weight on a normal raw food diet using Answers Pet Food (a combination of food, milk and fish stock) using a normal amount of calories for her weight.

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These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If your pet has a health concern or condition, consult a veterinarian.