This post is sponsored by Wellness and the BlogPawsTM Pet Influencer Network™. I am being compensated to help share the availability of Wellness Products at PetSmart including Wellness® Complete Health™ Line and- Wellness® Core® Line, but we only share information we feel is relevant to our readers. Neither Wellness nor PetSmart is responsible for the content of this article.

Earlier I shared with you a little about our sweet little Maltese, Gracie, and the health challenges she faces and how knowing the Five Signs of Wellness in Dogs & How Food Factors In helped us realize something was seriously wrong with her. I thought I’d tell you a little be more about her condition and how it’s affected the switch to Wellness Complete Health  food.

Gracie and Protein-losing Enteropathy  (PLE)

Gracie, our 6-year old Maltese, was diagnosed with Protein-losing Enteropathy (PLE) a year ago after we noticed her belly was swelling. At first, we thought she was just eating too many treats and had gained weight. After all, at only 6 pounds, any weight gain is very noticeable. But it was just a few hours later she became lethargic, her gums were pale, her eyes dull, and she was not her happy, healthy self.
I called our veterinarian, and he had me bring her right in. By now her belly felt like a huge, overfilled water balloon and she had several bouts of watery diarrhea and vomiting. We’ve never seen anything like it before so you can imagine how worried we were!

My sick Maltese - she has Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE) - you can usually feel her ribs. She's in a lot of pain. Poor baby. The Importance of Choosing the Right Dog Food #WellnessPet @wellnesspetfood @PetSmart #ad

My poor little girl. She’s in the midst of a Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE) attack – Her belly is huge and feels like a water balloon about to burst.

The vet didn’t seem concerned at first, but I pointed out the changes in her behavior and health. I also described in detail her lack of energy, loss of appetite, and the completely watery nature of her stools. His best guess was she’s eaten something that made her ill.

Thankfully, my dog-mom intuition made me speak out and insist he prod a little further because Gracie isn’t big enough to get into a garbage can, doesn’t spend any time outside without us there, and is rarely left home alone. At my insistence, he brought in another vet for a second opinion. Once he heard her symptoms and felt her belly, he said they needed to do lab work to check her protein and calcium level as well as do a fecal test to verify it wasn’t an intestinal parasite or infection.

Lymphangiectasia is a pathologic dilation of lymph vessels.1 When it occurs in the intestines of dogs, and more rarely humans, it causes a disease known as “intestinal lymphangiectasia.”1 This disease is characterized by lymphatic vessel dilation,2 chronic diarrhea, and loss of proteins such as serum albumin and globulin. It is considered to be a chronic form of protein-losing enteropathy. It can be fatal when it doesn’t respond to treatment.

The labs came back and supported the senior Vet’s PLE diagnosis. Her protein levels were dangerously low because the PLE was making her lose protein through her intestinal track and it was filling her abdomen with fluid. They did a needle aspiration and removed 8 ounces of the fluid, giving her some relief from the pain of her skin stretching from the fluid on her belly. That was all the fluid they felt safe removing and was just a fraction of what she had. They also prescribed pain pills, strong steroids, and a change in food. She can no longer eat dog food with common proteins like chicken and beef. The treatment for PLE is to switch to a unique protein she hasn’t had before and that’s not easy.

My sick Maltese - she has Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE) -Her belly doesn't usually touch the bed.. She's in a lot of pain. Poor baby. The Importance of Choosing the Right Dog Food #WellnessPet @wellnesspetfood @PetSmart #ad

My sick Maltese – she has Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE) -Her belly doesn’t usually touch the bed and she’s usually a happy little girl.

Since her diagnosis, Gracie has had several serious bouts with the disease, and each one was preceded by my well-meaning husband giving her table scraps and treats. What I can’t get him to understand is that his 60-pound Brittany could eat anything and be fine, but this little girl’s system has become sensitive to proteins and feeding her cheese, meat, and other “treats” sets her off on a painful and expensive journey.  My loving husband can’t look at her sad little face; this little girl adores beef jerky, cheese, and roast beef and will dance for it, he can’t resist her cuteness.

Chosing the Right Dog Food & Living with PLE

During this whole process of learning more about Gracie’s PLE, I’ve learned a lot about dogs and proper pet food. While we thought we were feeding her a healthy food, it turned out to be very high in low-quality protein and we were also giving her far too many meat-only treats. The combination over a few years made her sensitive.  I also discovered that while a high protein, grain-free diet is perfect for most dogs, our little girl needs a lower-protein diet which isn’t easy when she will go on a hunger strike and hold out for a meaty treat.

For dogs like Gracie, a high-qualtiy protein with healthy carbs food is perfect. Wellness uses potatoes and other easy-to-digest carbs so pups get a balanced diet. Wellness has so many options that there’s a perfect food for every dog.

Wellness CORE and Complete Health - there's a perfect one for every pet. The Importance of Choosing the Right Dog Food #WellnessPet @wellnesspetfood @PetSmart #ad

Wellness CORE and Complete Health – there’s a perfect one for every pet.

This Wellness makes a complete line of dog food and treats including formulas for healthy weight, adult, small breeds, and puppies in grain-free varieties  and more. Each food has complete nutritional information on the back of the bag and online so choosing the correct Wellness Core and Wellness Complete is easy.

A full list of ingredients and guaranteed analysis is provided for each Wellness Complete and CORE The Importance of Choosing the Right Dog Food #WellnessPet @wellnesspetfood @PetSmart #ad

A full list of ingredients and guaranteed analysis is provided for each Wellness Complete and CORE

Gracie’s Future with PLE

Unfortunately, PLE has no cure, and it’s kept in check by a proper diet and exercise. When it flares, treating her with steroids and antibiotics, and subjecting her to fluid aspirations is all we can do for her. Unfortunately, the week we were going to start switching her from kangaroo to Wellness Complete Adult Lamb & Barley Recipe, Gracie started showing signs of a PLE attack, so we held off.

Sadly, she progressed and is having an acute attack that we’re working hard to get her better. In the meantime, her elderly sister, Jewel, a Pomeranian, is happily taking her place in the Wellness food swap. Jewel has her own health issues, but they don’t involve her stomach or intestines, so changing her food shouldn’t be an issue.

Jewel, my Pomeranian, hasn't been able to walk for almost 2 years - she's still a happy girl though The Importance of Choosing the Right Dog Food #WellnessPet @wellnesspetfood @PetSmart #ad

Jewel, my Pomeranian, hasn’t been able to walk for almost 2 years – she’s still a happy girl though

Even though she hasn’t been able to walk for nearly two years, Jewel doesn’t appear to be in any pain, seems happy, and she loves food and treats. Yes, we let her have lots of treats, after all, she’s an old lady, and she’s earned them! While we don’t expect Jewel to show signs of better health with the Wellness food, even with its balanced blends of high-quality proteins, select fats, and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, her problem is neurological and degenerative. But it’s still worth it to me because she deserves the best. I do expect it to help her stay happy and feel great as long as possible.

 The Importance of Choosing the Right Dog Food

I wish I knew more about the quality of dog food when my girls were young. I truly believe that our choices back then have played into their health problems. Sadly, we thought we were feeding them a quality food. Now I know it’s my job to learn more and feed them a food that is right for them. We’ll check in to let you know how the girls are doing in a few weeks.

How would your pup benefit from Wellness Core or Complete Health?

Visit PetSmart to check out the extensive Wellness lineup in order to pick the right food for your dog.

1  McGavin/ Zachary (2007), Pathologic Basis of Veterinary Disease

2lymphangiectasis” at Dorland’s Medical Dictionary

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wellness. The opinions and text are all mine.