The Case of The Barfing Dogs

A couple of years ago we “inherited” 2 senior dogs. They had been taken in by our Daughter-in-Law in L.A. as street strays, cleaned up, and given a new happy life. Then they married the Son. Then the whole kit and caboodle moved to Chicago. Then the Grandson arrived.

Needless to say 2 elderly dogs and an infant in a 3rd floor walkup in Chicago Winters wasn’t going as well as could be hoped. One is a Malty-poo Maltese Poodle cross. A small lap dog. The other a Dachshund. Not particularly built for stairs… Carrying both a Dachshund and an infant up and down 3 flights of stairs a few times a day was, er, wearing…

On a visit both dogs “Lobbied for Lap” and found willing accomplices in the spouse and me… So we were elected to deal with the dog issue… Another round trip to Chicago some months later… and the dogs were relocated back to California where they were very happy to have a yard just outside the door with almost no steps, and a Doggy Doorman at their service.

They had been living on dry kibble. Inspection of their mouths confirmed several (most) teeth gone. Most of the lower front for the Malty-poo and some of the top front. We decided to move them to softer food, so went for canned dog food.

We did trial feedings of many different kinds, and the dogs seemed to prefer a couple, so we chose from them the Pedigree brand.

Now these being older dogs, we expected some problems. We didn’t expect the Dachshund to barf up a slimy mucus wad with bits of food in it… Then occasionally the Malty-poo did as well. Hmmm….

I’ll skip over the details of how to clean carpet…

We swapped the dogs (after far too long…) over to a more “pure” food. We suspected that perhaps it was an issue with “grain” in general (and more speculatively GMO grains and / or BT Toxin or Roundup residues). We chose the “Beyond” deluxe food from Purina. Things got better, but not resolved. I’d guess about 2/3 reduction in The Barfing Dogs Problem.

OK, that’s a clue. There IS something in the food causing an issue if changing the food changes the issue.

I decided to go whole on wholistic and bought Trader Joe’s dog food. It’s pretty darned simple per the label and I figured if anyone would be having less chance of such issues it would be them or Whole Foods.

That ended the Barfing Dog Issues.

We still had 2 cans of Beyond on the shelf, and after a couple of months of no problems, I had the “Bright Idea” that I could likely blend a 15 ounce can of Beyond in with the 22 ounce can of Trader Joe’s and “get away with it”. One feeding and cleaning up two spots of Bowser Barf later… I pitched about 30 ounces of mixed food.

We’ve had no more issues of Doggy Cookie Tossing since.

In Conclusion

I can’t say why.

I can’t attribute to any particular ingredient nor process.

I can say we have definite modulation of tendency to upchuck with change of food.

The Dachshund had a very thick slimy saliva on the “bad” food (she likes to lick to show appreciation – we had taken to calling it “being slimed”). On Trader Joe’s food, her saliva is more normal / thin. I suspect this indicates a mechanism. That “something” in the other foods is causing a thickening of the saliva / mucosal secretions.

I would speculate that it is GMO grain even if only in the gut contents of critters like Chickens when they went to slaughter (what? You thought dog food was made from the ‘white meat’?…) or that it is the result of Bt and / or glyphosate getting into the farm animals from being fed mostly GMO “stuff”. There is evidence for GMO grain feeding to mess up the guts of farm animals, so a secondary exposure ought to do similar things. Certainly it could be something else, but across two different processors with different providers and methods? That argues for something “upstream” in the suppliers, and that’s slaughter animals and their feed.

Sidenote: The Malty-Poo had been very reluctant to eat. We’d thought maybe he was just having trouble with his teeth or was a “fussy eater”. (The Dachshund eats anything, even likes potato peels … well, not quite anything – she tried a bit of ginger when lobbying for some of my sushi, but rejected it the next time ;-) After changing to Trader Joe’s, the Malty-poo now is happy to see his breakfast and eats well. It seems he was aware that the “other food” wasn’t doing good things for him, so was eating just enough to avoid discomforts while stemming hunger. What your dog does matters.

So “going forward” we’re just sticking with the Trader Joe’s brand. It is about the same price / ounce as regular dog food (and a lot cheaper than the Beyond deluxe brand – about the same $/can but 22 oz. vs 15 oz.)

If you have a barfing dog problem, or knows someone who does, whisper in their ear to try Trader Joe’s.


Shopping for dog food at Trader Joe’s has resulted in an increase in my wine consumption as their “Three Buck Chuck” (that used to be “Two Buck Chuck”) Charles Shaw wine is quite drinkable at $2.99 / bottle here. Between the dog food being cheaper and the wine being cheaper and both being much better we now have more episodes of “Me on the couch, dogs on top of me” all of us happy with what is in our tummies. IF you are not happy being part of a snoring dog pile (the Dachshund snores.. the spouse asserts I do too…) do not follow this advice. You’ve been warned!

Yeah, I’m happy with the results ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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7 Responses to The Case of The Barfing Dogs

  1. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Ran into the barfing dog PLUS a dog-with-the-runs problem in Florida. We never had a problem at home, buying pretty much the same dog food the whole time we’ve had these 2 dogs and we’d mix it up for them by buying different flavors in the same product line.

    Grabbed some Ol’ Roy wet food by mistake as it mimicked the label of what I’d been buying. Neither dog tolerated it; one barfed and the other got the runs.

    I thought perhaps at first that they had reacted to something native to Florida but foreign to them that they had put in their mouth. Dogs are sometimes worse than kids about that.

    By chance, I had to take both dogs to the vet to get flu shots. No doggy daycare in Florida will take dogs without their shots but especially flu shots. It seems Florida is ground zero for canine flu. I mentioned the upchucking and the runs and the vet said it wasn’t uncommon for dogs to react to a change in food but it also could be something they got into on our walks.

    Easy enough to check. I went out and got a couple of cans of their regular dog food and they were back to normal in no time. I pitched the Ol’ Roy.

    BTW, if your dog has the runs, you can give them the Imodium anti-diarrhea medicine. I had mentioned I’d done that to the vet and he said (after I’d already done it) that he recommends it where warranted. Look online for the right dosage. The 34-pound Scottie the runs got 1/2 a pill. If I had to give it to the Cairn terrier, she’d get 1/4 a tablet for her weight. It will save you a trip to the vet while you figure out what changed or if you know what they got into to cause the runs, get them over the hump until it clears their system.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    What was your regular brand? (I’d like to know a ‘likely fine” alternative just to avoid lots of search time should the Trader Joe’s not be available – like when traveling).

    FWIW, I’m pretty sure it isn’t something else they are eating nor other upsets. It modulates 100% with the use or avoidance of the designated foods… zero exceptions.

  3. H.R. says:

    Surprisingly, It’s Alpo, but only the series with meat and gravy. They have some versions with veggies but I don’t buy them.

    Their dry food has been Purina One, either from the grain-free True Instincts series, or the beef and rice small bites because the Cairn is small and it’s easier for her to eat.

    I also like Purina One’s wild game wet food. The dogs like the duck and venison versions.

    I can’t recall now, but something I spotted on the Purina One label put me off a bit – no problems in the dogs – and I was reading the Pedigree and another ‘premium’ brand label and then picked up the Alpo can. It beat the other two on ingredients. I found out that Purina had bought out Alpo, but I’m not sure what effect that had on the Alpo brand.

    It says something, too that when I switched from the Purina One wet food to the Alpo wet food there were no signs of upset as they acclimated to a new food, unlike Ol’ Roy! which was a disaster.

    Anyhow, next time I’m at Trader Joe’s I’ll peruse the label on their wet dog food. It will be easy enough for you to check the label on Alpo since most stores carry it.

    OH, I buy a quart of pure salmon oil made for dogs. It has a pump dispenser. Get it online. I put one long squirt on their dry food, evening meal only and they love that stuff. The Cairn had brittle hair and itchy skin so that’s why we started using it. The difference in both of their coats since using it has been amazing!

  4. Power Grab says:

    I will have to ask my siblings what our mom fed our dachshund when he got the runs or threw up. I seem to remember something about cottage cheese. That may have only been to prevent his poo from being so stinky.

    I haven’t had to deal with barfing doggies, but my offspring had two occasions where the school purchased commercial pizza and fed it to the kids. Projectile vomiting in the evening was the result in both cases. I wondered if perhaps the pizza shop (part of a chain) used soy cheese instead of dairy cheese because it was such a big order and they wanted to maximize their profit. If it had been soy, I assume Glyphosate was present, since most soybeans in this country are GMO.

    I wonder if some of the problem dog food had more antibiotics in it than others. Or maybe they washed the animal byproducts in strong disinfectants before adding it to the mix.

    I have figured out that avoidance of germ killers in food and drink goes a long way in keeping my own digestion trouble-free.

    When my baby was born, the doctor recommended the B.R.A.T. diet to deal with diarrhea. B = Bananas. R = Rice. A = Applesauce. T = Toast.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    While I appreciate folks generalizing the problem, in fact it was very specific. No “runs” were involved. Not even the whole lunch contents of the stomach. It was more like a gooey mucus blob with just a few food bits stuck in it. As though most of the food had moved on but a residual effect caused this Goo in the throat / stomach that they hacked up…

    I generally avoid anything that listed “soy” as an ingredient, but it might have slipped past me. As we were specifically avoiding a lot of grain products it was surprising that there was any reaction. Thus my speculation it was something the critters ate before they ended up in the can… Though I think maybe the “no grain” came after the Pedigree as an attempt to diagnose the cause… Having no Pedigree can I can’t check it at the moment.

    THE big relief for us is that with the Trader Joe’s there is no problem at all of any kind.

    Well, maybe one. The Dachshund was starting to “eat poo” so we’ve been mixing in a Tbs of canned pumpkin per 3.5 oz meal. That is supposed to make the food taste good but the poo very bad ( I’d like to know how they determined that…) It does seem to work. When we do it, the poo is “uninteresting”…

    And before anyone asks: No, nothing changes vis a vis the barfing issues with pumpkin present or absent. It is entirely neutral.

    At one time, many years and a different dog and cat ago, I tried making my own pet food. It was a modest success in that the pets loved it. However the work involved in canning it was a bit of a bother and the costs were a bit high (largely the lids. Somewhat the meat. Cat food in 4 oz jars…) I’m just glad I didn’t have Yet Another DIY job drop on my head making dog food again… MUCH easier to just pick up a dozen cans at Trader Joe’s.

  6. Larry Ledwick says:

    One of my rescue dogs had a problem with diarrhea when I first brought him home, the vet had me put him on a boiled rice diet with what ever meat or natural flavor I wanted to add to it.

    I would boil up a big pot of rice and then stir in some chicken broth or canned chicken meat etc. After a few days of that, his diarrhea went away and then the vet had me slowly move him to the straight high pro dog food. He said many of the fancy dry dog foods has food dyes and flavor additives that not all dogs could handle. The original dog food I had tried for him was one of those dried dog foods that had food colorings and stuff to make them look appealing.

    He and the other dogs thrived for years on Hi-pro (Purina) with occasional meat dog food from a can as a treat change of pace, and just a bit of meat leftovers.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    When I was a kid we had a restaurant. Our dogs mostly ate discards from the restaurant. Chicken and chicken bones (we asked the vet, he said nothing like pig bones that were too big and hard for the dog to take down as a predator, but something prey sized for them was OK. just take the little spur bone off the legs…) along with the odd chunks of steak someone didn’t finish.

    Dogs were very health and happy for years…

    Though is was odd to see a dog look at the food dish and look back with that “What, T-bone steak again? look ;-) Jaded? Oh yeah…

    The food I canned up was mostly poultry with a bit of rice in it to soak up the juices that came out in canning. Worked well. Cat loved it. Needed some added taurine for the cats, so “innards” also used. Then again, the cat caught their fair share of “birds on the hoof” ;-)

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