Besides the time that Sharav was attacked on an isolated hilltop in Israel and after the time he was consumed by sneezes in Maryland, his most serious illness was in late 2013, shortly after we moved to New York from San Francisco, when he began having diarrhea every day and losing weight for no easily diagnosable reason. Over a period of several months, he lost about a third of his bodyweight.
The veterinarians were clueless. I took him to one very expensive vet who ran tests that all came back normal, and when the problem didn’t resolve, I took him to a different very expensive vet who reviewed the previous veterinarian’s labs, then ran more tests for more exotic issues, and eventually came back with this assessment: Sharav might have been allergic to an ingredient in his food. Or he might have had inflammatory bowel disease that was triggered by a reaction to ingredient in his food. Or he might had a malignant tumor that would kill him imminently.
The guidance that I got online was to keep changing his food until I found one that he could tolerate, and I spent months trying lots of different foods for him (you can’t just start giving different food to a dog overnight; the new food has to be phased in slowly).
I even ventured into making his food by myself, in my own kitchen, which required me to buy certain vegetables in the grocery store that I had never bought before and have never bought since – until we finally landed on a commercially available limited-ingredient food: Natural Balance’s duck and potato formula.
Maybe Sharav was allergic to chicken (or maybe not), and maybe he was allergic to grains (or maybe not). Maybe he did actually have IBD (but I doubt it). He tolerated both the Natural Balance duck and potato dry kibble and Natural Balance canned duck and potato meals very nicely, along with the whole range of Natural Balance duck and potato treats, proceeded to gain back all the weight that he had lost and return to a healthy appearance, and ate that specific food exclusively for the rest of his life, nearly a decade.
When he got older, I started mixing the dry kibble with water and serving it to him in mushy form, and he liked it even better that way.
By the way, I never fed Sharav table scraps, and he never got fat.