Need specific diet advice for senior, disabled dachshund (urinary crystals/liver dz)

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    Hi, Dr Jeff-
    My friend XXXXXX recommended I contact you to see if I could pick your brain about my sweet Dexter. He is almost 14, a neutered male standard dachshund, who has had back issues for about half his life. He did have surgery back in 2006. It went well for a while, but as he got older and lost muscle mass, he lost more of the use of his hind end. We did get him a cart through Eddie’s Wheels last year.
    His liver enzymes have been elevated for some time, and he has suffered through many UTI’s and crystals on and off. Currently he is on amoxi/clav liquid for the latest UTI which also revealed both struvite and calcium oxalate crystals.
    For a while he was eating Royal Canin’s SO diet, but now he refuses it. I’m not sure if that’s my fault, because sometimes I would mix his meds and supplements in the food (he’s been taking a liquid thistles compound, thyroid meds, glucosamine supplement- when he isn’t having tummy trouble- and Denosyl.) I think the thistles liquid at least has a strong odor and probably taste to it.
    My major concern right now is his diet. I would prefer to home cook (even though I don’t cook for myself! lol!) but am very confused about everything I am reading. A lot of it is contradictory and although I can find some basic ingredients that seem ok, I can’t find the ratios or amount that he should be eating (he is usually close to 30lbs, but recently lost about 5lbs which has me worried!)
    I also know there should be additional supplements in there.
    I have spent more money than I care to think about- not that I regret one cent, but I am completely tapped out at this point. He is the sweetest dachshund. I adopted him at age 3. He is not suffering- if he wants to get around he doesn’t mind dragging himself with his front legs (I always check him for sores) or he uses his chair, but can’t do it for very long because it wears him out. He just likes to be near people, snuggling under warm blankets. He still enjoys the occasional car ride and chewies (though it’s getting harder to find anything he can have!)
    If you could help me come up with a diet, I would be so greatly appreciative! I looked into some other sites and can’t afford the consultations (I only work part time) and then a friend told me about your site!
    I’m so afraid that I will do something wrong, or not feed him the right thing or enough of the right thing! So any help you can offer would be great.
    Thank you so much for your time 🙂

    Amy & Dexter

    Dr. Jeff Feinman

    Thanks for posting your question Amy. I’m sorry about the delay in getting back to you. The past few weeks have been occupied with patient care and getting ready for next weekend’s vote by the AVMA to discourage the practice of vet homeopathy.

    I typically advise feeding a wide variety of foods to my patients vs. one or another recipe. When feeding fresh food, balance is achieved with variety (much as for you and I). Commercial foods need to be balanced because they are designed to be fed throughout the life of the animal.

    I commonly see clients who think that they are doing a great job by feeding fresh food, but are not feeding a balanced diet, e.g. toy dogs fed chicken breast + rice (or whatever is in the recipe) day in and out. Calcium imbalances (inadequacy) is most common as muscle meats are high in the mineral phosphorus and need to be balanced with calcium. My favorite calcium sources are eggshells and certain seaweeds.

    This being said, there are a number of books and other sources available for dog food recipes. There are many in Dr. Pitcairn’s book among others. Dr. Strombeck is the original guru of veterinary gastroenterology (the study of stomach, intestinal and other abdominal diseases) and he is also a big advocate for home cooked diets. His info is even now available for [url=http://dogcathomeprepareddiet.com/]free online[/url].

    Personally I think that many of these recipes are too high in carbohydrates and still advocate [url=https://www.homevet.com/diet-discussion]variety (and moderation and freshness)[/url]. Also consider commercially available fresh food diets (typically dehydrated or dried) such as those from The Honest Kitchen, ZiwiPeak and Wysong Archetype.

    I’d also reduce some of those expensive supplements and stick with a good multivitamin (I like the on from Rx Vitamins, but there are many available) vitamin C and sporadic cranberry extract (to reduce UTIs). Even this is not critical if you feed a wide, fresh variety.

    Regarding the crystals in his urine and UTIs, be sure to promote excellent hydration by adding extra fluids to his diet and avoiding dry dog foods. The kind of crystals and specifics of the UTIs may help decide on realize ingredients. He also may not be fully emptying his bladder when he urinates associated with his paralysis and nerve/muscle weakness. This would predispose both to crystals and UTIs.

    Good luck! I wish you and Dexter a great New Year.

    Dr. Jeff

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