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Friday, 10 June 2011

Immunity boost needed!

My long coated GSD has had a runny tummy for a few weeks and is beginning to look rather lethargic. We’ve been to the vet and had the usual antibiotics, but he’s no better. The vet is sure there’s no infection.

Is there an alternative treatment which might help boost his immune system naturally?

Joanne Booker, Woking

Alison Logan, vet, replies...

It sounds to me as if your GSD needs further work-up. I wonder whether you have been back to your vet since being given the antibiotics? If we vets dispense treatment and do not hear back from the owner then we assume the treatment has worked. Without knowledge of his age and diet, it is hard to be specific but there being no improvement would suggest that more investigation is needed, such as blood tests and faecal analysis. Alternatively, or additionally, there may be an underlying food hypersensitivity.

Presumably you have already ruled out obvious things in his diet which could be causing diarrhoea? For example, a table scrap you add to his food may be a trigger. Do you give him the milk from the bottom of your cereal bowl? Milk is a common cause of diarrhoea, and obviously would not respond to treatment with antibiotics. Does your dog add things to his diet of his own free will which upset his intestines? I am thinking of scavenging – the cat’s food, under the bird table, take-away leftovers whilst out on a walk, and so on.

It is not surprising that your GSD is becoming lethargic. Passing liquid faeces means that your dog is not able to derive full benefit from his diet and is therefore missing out on energy and other nutrients. You really need to know what is causing the diarrhoea so that the correct treatment can be initiated. As much as an immunity boost will always help, it would be ideal for your dog if the cause of the diarrhoea could be identified and sorted out appropriately.

Also, being long coated must be posing you problems with keeping his rear end clean. Do please take care during this hot weather because he could be at risk of fly strike, a really unpleasant situation.


  1. Has the vet treated for / ruled out giardia at all? Might be worth considering.

    Other then that, I would be looking at his diet, as it could well be a food intolerance.

  2. 1) Yogurt is a natural probiotic to help replace flora that was killed by the antibiotics. Mix it with your daily food.

    2) Some high end foods have probiotic bacteria in them to aid in digestion. Try one of these foods.

    3) Your vet can recommend other probiotic supplements which are far more concentrated such as FortiFlora. This can quickly return balance to the digestive tract.

  3. This is more a dietary problem than an immune system problem (althiough food allergy is actually an immune system defect.
    Burns Pet Nutrition has a number of foods which should be suitable for him. They are all hypo-allergenic and easily digested. Which one is best? That depends on his own individual makeup and you cannot predict that. We have a team of Nutritionists who can advise on the type and amount of food. When you get that right there is no need for supplementation.
    Also, it is important to keep the feeding amount low; too much of any food reduces digestibility and could make him loose.
    Jonh Burns BVMS MRCVS
    Burns Pet Nutrition

  4. My 9 year old GSD experienced the same problems, it went on for weeks. He was treated for suspected Giardia, he did improved but wasn't 100%. An experience GSD breeder suggested giving him Slippery Elm tree bark powder either mixed in his meals or half hour before his meals (mixed with yogurt and honey), this seems to have done the trick. He is back to his normal self and slowly getting back into good condition. I purchased the powder from Dorwest Herbs (Tree Bark Powders). Excellent stuff!