What makes a dog food "low residue" and what are alternatives to Iams?

My 7 month yorkie-bichon has been having diarrhea fairly consistently, as well as having itchy skin with some flaking. She has been chewing at her front legs so much she has lost hair, so I took her to the vet.
The vet is having her eat Iams Low-residue with a fish oil supplement (3v), and I'm giving her allergy medicine twice a day.

After I got home I looked the Iams ingredients over and I wasn't too happy about them. I also don't like Iams because of the animal abuse I've heard reports of but I don't know my alternatives. Lulu was previously on Innova Puppy which I felt was great... unless its causing diarrhea.

I'd like to know what makes a food "low residue", and what might be a smarter choice with the same benefits. Thanks you!

Asked by Member 569562 on Apr 11th 2008 Tagged diarrhea, allergy, lowresidue, iams, itching in Food & Nutrition
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Best Answer


Some vets push IAMS because they sell it or get a kickback. I'm not saying that's the case, but honestly any good vet won't recommend IAMS since it is such a notoriously bad product, for all the reasons you are already suspicious of it!

If Lulu has food allergies, IAMS is not the solution. What you need to do is actually much more complex if you want to isolate the allergen. You'll have to feed her a food she's NEVER had before with one protien and one carb she's never had before. No other treats for a few months before you can see how she reacts.

Wellness brand has an excellent anti-allergen line which comes in white and light blue packaging.

Innova is a great food, but it is one of the richer foods out there. Could be Lulu just couldn't take the richness rather than a true allergy.

Food allergies don't always cause diarrhea or upset GI tract symptoms, actually. It could be two seperate issues. The hallmark of food allergy symptoms is itchy, red ear flaps and paws.

Jack answered on Apr 11th.

Other Answers


Miss Buddie

My sweet Rosie had food allergy issues. We ended up using Natural Balance Duck and Potato with her and it was great. Her skin improved almost immediately and it was fine on her tummy.

Miss Buddie answered on 4/11/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer

~Angel (RIP 11/20/07)~

I have no idea what 'low residue' means. Sounds like she is allergic to something in the Innova Puppy...looking at the ingredients I see chicken which a lot of dogs are allergic to (my Angel was also).

Basically you are just looking to change the protein source, because that is usually the cause of the allergy symptoms. I don't know anything about puppy food in terms of how long they are supposed to eat it...But you could try something like Canidae Lamb & Rice, or any of the Natural Balance foods (that is a good go-to brand if you are looking to switch to a new food because of allergies).

The fish oil is a good supplement. It will help her skin recover from the allergies. Keep in mind though that food allergy symptoms can take up to 8 weeks to completely disappear. So if you switch to Natural Balance, stick with it even though it seems like it is making no difference.

~Angel (RIP 11/20/07)~ answered on 4/11/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer


My guess on the allergy would be the huge amount of corn in the Iams. It's nothing but cheap filler and has no place in the diet of a meat eater. Lily has colitis and prone to diarrhea. She has done great on Premium Edge Puppy food ( I know she's not a puppy, but the PE online vet recommended puppy food for the calories because she was so underweight) and now on Canidae Chicken & Rice. Canidae recommends a 1 meat formula for dogs with sensitive systems. The Lamb one has 4 meats. Lily did not like the puppy food, so I had to mix it with the C. to get rid of it. Both Canidae and Premum Edge have human grade ingredients with no gluten, no corn, no pesticides and natural preservatives. Canidae is All Life Stages, so it's appropriate for all ages of dogs and puppies. PE has a Salmon & Rice for Sensitive Systems. I imagine the Natural Balance is similar, but it's not available here and I'm not paying shipping on dog food. Watch your treats for corn gluten or other unwanted ingredients.

Lily answered on 4/11/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


"Low residue" simply means that there is very little in the dog food that your pet's body can't metabolize (ie, low in grains and other fillers). Most high quality dog foods (most often found in "pet boutique" type stores) are low residue foods. We feed California Natural. Wellness also makes a good dog food.

Fish oil is almost always a good supplement, but does more for the skin, not so much for diarrhea.

We add a tsp. of probiotics to Gracie's meals to help keep her regular (1 tsp. for every cup of food). This supplement usually come in powdered form, is tasteless, and can be used in/on canned and kibble. Best thing we ever did for her digestive tract! We also mix pro-b's into our cats' food :)

Gracie answered on 4/14/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer


I do hope Lulu is on her way to better health. It does seem as though she has a food allergy. So not sure why she is on the low-res as it's 1st ingred is corn which I have heard irritates allergies.

I have a 9mo old rescue German Shepherd & the vet suspects she has colitis. The vet recommended the Iams low-residue & after 3wks her very loose stools have finally returned to normal. I am not happy about the Iams as Ethoxyquin is used as a preservative. Can anyone suggest something else. I have tried Blue Buffalo and Wellness before the Iams low-res & neither helped her stools.

Member 627104 answered on 4/28/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer

♥ Opie ♥

I thought "low residue" meant very few fillers.. but the vet said it meant that it was easy to digest. After looking at the ingrediants, I noticed "Corn Grits" as the first ingrediant which is hard to digest. It also contains a chemical preservative called "ethoxyquin", believed to cause cancer.

My Jack Russell just had surgery for an intestinal obstruction and when I went to pick him up they prescribed 5 cans of wet and a bag of dry Iams Low-Residue Veterinary Forumula in my hand along with 5 other meds. When I asked about it and told them I have Opie on a premium food (Nature's Variety) without fillers (corn, wheat, etc) and is highly digestable, they just ignored me........this was the nurse (not the Vet). I don't understand how they can push this junk on people and not even understand it! He won't even eat a fraction of it in the 3-4 days it's prescribed yet I had to buy it. I'd like to know what alternatives there are too. Hope someone has an answer.

♥ Opie ♥ answered on 5/29/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer