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August 13, 2015

The dogs in my life have always been PIGS. Serious P-I-G pigs. It’s helpful because if they won’t eat, then you KNOW something is wrong. Really wrong. Enter our new canine heroine, Clover Lee Hawn, who for about a month now has NOT been eating well. It’s STRESSING me out. So, when our friends and sponsors at Purina asked me to write about the new “natural” version of their veterinary diets for pets with tummy upset, I agreed. More about Clover’s tummy, two cool infographics, and a Q&A with Purina’s veterinary diet experts … just ahead.

Clover’s Tummy Troubles

No joke. We’re about a month into near-daily trouble getting Clover to eat her normal food. She’ll eat treats. She’ll eat what we’re eating. She just won’t eat her normal food — sometimes even if I doctor it up with tasty things like sardine or canned food. I have a whole post planned about the myths and facts about dogs being “Picky Eaters,” but for now, let’s focus on the tummy troubles at hand.

It’s a long story that began:

  • While Clover was still in heat
  • Overlapped my poorly timed attempt to switch her from puppy food to adult food
  • Overlapped us finally pulling antibiotics after some 10 months (for recurring UTIs)

In other words, we have so many variables at play that it’s hard to know which one may be related to Clover’s sudden aversion to eating her normal dog food.

Last week, after far too little eating and Clover dropping 1.5 pounds in a week, I ran her down to our main veterinary hospital for a complete exam and full blood work. Her blood work came back perfect, which is great. So, what’s the working diagnosis?

False Pregnancy — that’s making her feel barfy

I’m NOT even kidding. Coming out of her first heat cycle, which we allowed to happen for medical reasons, Clover’s body is going through the motions of what we’ve started calling her Phantom Puppies.

dog blog, champion of my heart, border collie head tilt
What do you mean I have pretend puppies in my tummy?

This is overly simplistic, but basically, Clover has Morning Sickness. She indeed does typically eat better later in the day.

So, we’re going to have to wait out the full False Pregnancy “Gestation” — which can last as long as a real one — about 63 days.

Since Clover’s heat cycle ended around July 4, we could have another few weeks of tummy troubles.

Our vet sent us home with some anti-nausea meds that seemed to work for one meal, but then appeared to cause sudden and pretty severe diarrhea, so on the advice of our veterinarian, we nixed those and used some anti-diarrhea meds that we had left over from Lilly. That helped a bunch, after just 3 doses Saturday into Sunday.

Clover even started eating better, at least for a few days, until the meal refusals returned. She full-on walked AWAY from her bowl this morning, without even trying to eat. I ended up giving her a little bit of canned food, which she will eat, so that she got at least some calories this morning.

Trust me. We’ve tried all the usual things to get her to eat, and not just what she has eaten for most of the last year, but several other foods. Some she’ll eat for a few days, then quit. Some she refuses from the get-go. We had her eating puppy food pretty well again for a while, but lately she has wanted Ginko’s new senior food instead. Except now … she is even refusing that.

Canine Tummy Troubles are Common!

That brings us to the reason for this #Sponsored Post. I told you recently that I thought it was BIG NEWS that Purina was bringing “natural” formulas for its Veterinary Diets to the market. 

Introducing … Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals With Added Vitamins and Minerals Canine and Feline Formulas

It’s a big deal to have natural formuals available because a LOT of people refuse veterinary diets due to certain ingredients that they don’t like such as corn.

Sometimes, however, a food formulated for dogs and cats experiencing Tummy Troubles is exactly what they need.

(Use the scrolling bars off to the right of the graphic to see the whole thing. Or you can click on the little arrow in the top right corner to have it pop into a new window.)

[gview file=””]

How do you know what’s normal and what isn’t when it comes to your dog’s digestive tract? It’s all in the POOP, my friends.

(Use the scrolling bars off to the right of the graphic to see the whole thing. Or you can click on the little arrow in the top right corner to have it pop into a new window.)

[gview file=””]

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals Q&A

Q. How does EN Naturals work? (In other words, why is it good for tummy troubles?)

EN Naturals formulas are easy to digest to help ensure that dogs and cats with gastrointestinal problems get the nutrients they need to support recovery from GI issues. EN Naturals diets are approved for both growth of puppies and kittens and long term maintenance of adult dogs and cats. The length of time on the diet will vary with the individual need and the condition.  For example, if a dog gets into the trash can or a cat is transitioned too quickly to a new diet, they may have a temporary problem and the EN Naturals diet can be fed for a short time.  Other pets, however, may have chronic GI conditions or “sensitive stomachs” and will benefit from long term/maintenance feeding of EN Naturals.

Q. Typically, how long do people need to feed the veterinary diet before symptoms improve (assume run-of-the-mill problems, nothing serious)?

The length of time needed will depend on the severity of the condition and the individual animal, so it’s not possible to give a specific time.  EN should typically be fed for at least a week or until stools are normal or a minimum of two days.

Q. Would your team also recommend using your probiotics in these cases, in conjunction with the EN veterinary diet (if the dog isn’t already getting daily probiotic supplements)?

Absolutely!  Because EN and FortiFlora are complementary, using them together is the best approach.  Fortiflora helps to restore microbial balance in the gastrointestinal tract, while EN Naturals provides easy to digest nourishment to support recovery.


Purina is sending me 2 coupons for Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals With Added Vitamins and Minerals Canine and Feline Formulas.

I may use one for Clover (maybe she will eat the EN), and I’ll give the other one away. Holler if you want / need it.

These coupons for a free bag of food can be redeemed at a veterinary hospital. These veterinary diets are NOT available elsewhere.

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. Roxanne, that’s quite an interesting article that you wrote on tummy troubles for dogs. I know something like this is actually happening to our dog after my wife caught him eating out of the cat bowl. It seems like I’ll have to take him to the veterinary office to get treated because of how bad the cat food made him feel.

  2. Poor little Clover! She sure has been through the ringer! I hope once this false pregnancy is over she will finally start to feel better! I totally sympathize with you on the food issues. Zoe can be like that sometimes, too and it stresses me out when she won’t eat.

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