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Ask the Vet About Weight Loss in Dogs and Cats

Weight Loss in Dogs and Cats
Symptoms & Diagnosis
Treatment
Ask the Vet
Ask the Vet About Weight Loss Causes in Dogs and Cats
MichaelDym, V.M.D.
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
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As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Dym has over 19 years of experience and dedication to enhancing the overall health and well-being of pets. His commitment and passion for pet health continuously drives him to learn more about the art and science of homeopathy through ongoing training and education.

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Showing 1 - 15 of 48
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Showing 1 - 15 of 48
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Date: Aug 2, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Health

Question:What is causing my dog to vomit. Drink lots of water. And can hardly walk

Answer:While antifreeze toxicity runs through my mind first, dogs can vomit for a LOT of different reasons: dietary indiscretion, GI viruses, toxins, kidney disease, liver disease, foreign body, intestinal parasites, etc. etc. so you will need to visit your veterinarian and have some tests run.

Date: Jul 18, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Sick

Question:Every time my dog finishes her heat cycle she never feels good. And her and my other female dog seem to have irregular heat cycles

Answer:If she has an underlying health problem, that may explain those things. I know that's kind of general, but it could be a lot of things. Have your veterinarian check her out, examine a fecal sample or two especially if she is underweight, and run some blood work. The blood work can pick up a lot of different things: infection (uterine, etc), kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc.

Date: Jul 11, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: Skinny

Question:My cat eats all her food but is skinny i dont know why

Answer:Weight loss can be caused by a number of conditions: intestinal parasites, hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, cancer, etc etc. Have your veterinarian check her out, do a fecal test and run some blood work on her. Bring a fresh fecal sample from her litter box the day you bring her in - this serves 2 purposes: it gives them are larger, better sample and (more important to her) they don't have to stick the big ole fecal loop up her rear end.

Date: Jul 10, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Hydrocodon and Ibuprofen

Question:I had just received medication for a work injury and got picked up to get food. Two of the dogs each weighing about 55 lbs consumed or were in contact with 2 hydrocodon 5-325 and 15 ibuprofen 800mg. I'm not sure of how much was injested because there was debris on the ground from plastic and pills. There were about 5 ibuprofen pills that were licked that I discarded. What should I do?

Answer:Unfortunately, these questions are not often answered for up to 24 hours. If you are not sure, and it is within a few hours of possible ingestion, you may want to see local vet for possible induction of vomiting of both dogs with apomorphine, just to be on safe side if one or both ingested these items

Date: Jul 10, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Weight

Question:Hi, My bichon has problems with his pancreas and takes a Pancrevet tablet with every meal. I feed him boiled chicken breast with rice. A big bowl 2-3 times a day. He's super skinny and I can't get him to gain weight. If I feed him anything that's fatty or processed it gives him diarrhea and then he gets even skinnier. I feel so bad. My vet doesn't tell me much other than give him high calorie food but doesn't tell me of what. Which is hard when it can't be fatty. What can I give him to help him put on weight? I rescued him about 2 years ago so he's about 4 years old and only about 10-11 pounds. Please help! And thank you!

Answer:Yeah, it's a balancing act with patients with chronic pancreatitis because foods that are higher calorie tend to be higher in fat which can anger their pancreas. The food that my chronic pancreatitis patients sometimes do well on is Science Diet I/D Low Fat - it would be more balanced than his current diet - here is a link to the product on their website if you want to read about it: http://www.hillspet.com/en/us/products/pd-canine-id-low-fat-canned

Date: Jul 6, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: Cat weight loss

Question:Our cat seems to be a lot thinner than normal. His appetite has not decreased at all, he is still eating his cat food, and he even tries to dig in the trash and beg at the table. His habits and behavior are also still normal, he is alert and social.  Also his stool appears to be fine, there is no blood and I don't see anything unusual about it, like worms. He doesn't seem to struggle when going, but he does have occasional gas. His mouth and teeth seem to look fine too. He also doesn't throw up his food. The only other concerns I have pertaining to the weight loss is  he is not keeping his fur as well as he used to and is has several knots. He also has developed a habit of drinking out of the toilet. We try to prevent this and make sure his water is fresh and his bowl clean. He does have a bit of nasal discharge but doesn't sneeze much and he snores when he sleeps, but other than that his breathing seems okay. The only health problem he has had in the past are ear mites, so I try to keep his ears clean and treated. The only other thing that happened recently is that I did change their food because our other cat (who has lost no weight at all) kept spitting up hair balls. We thought we'd switch the food within the same brand to one with more hair ball control.  I would appreciate any advice you can give me, perhaps  it is the food change or there is something else I am doing wrong. Maybe there are remedies I can try before resorting to the vet.  Also just to note he is at least 10 years old, but nowhere near 15 years old so his age is somewhere in between. Thanks again!

Answer:I am most suspicious of hyperthyroidism, which is a relatively common problem with older cats. It is easy to diagnose and usually relatively easy to treat. A couple of things that you said make me think of diabetes (drinking out of unusual things and unkept haircoat) which is also easy to diagnose. Both of these conditions are diagnosed through blood work so it would be ideal to visit your veterinarian. It is hard for me to make recommendations not knowing what is wrong with him. It's probably not the food if he has no vomiting, diarrhea or decreased appetite.

Date: Jun 28, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Weight control

Question:My 10-year old Samoyed "Samantha" has been overweight since her spay 3-years ago. I currently feed her 1-cup "Blue Buffalo Life Protection" chicken and brown rice once a day. I have previously tried "Blue Buffalo Grain-Free. I am 81-yrs old and unable to walk her. She has a large fenced yard, but spends most of her time laying in the grass or on the concrete drive or on the floor in the ;house. What are your suggestions?

Answer:I really need to know how much she weighs but there is no way she should be overweight eating 1 (8 ounce) cup of Blue Buffalo a day. She has to be either getting calories somewhere else (treats can have a lot of calories, neighbor, relative, etc) OR she has a metabolism problem like hypothyroidism. If you know for sure that she isn't getting calories anywhere else, have your veterinarian pull a little blood and check her for hypothyroidism. It's actually easy to treat, not very expensive and she will fell better and lose weight easily after starting the treatment, so it's not the end of the world.

Date: Jun 1, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Overweight Beagle

Question:I have a 3 1/2 year old beagle which weighs 62 lbs. Yes I know he is very overweight. He stays inside and the only exercise he gets is when we take him walking each evening. I have been feeding him 4Health Healthy Weight Dog Food for over a year. He gets one cup in the morning and one cup in the evening along with a couple of treats during the day. Yet he continues to act as if he is starving all the time. Can you please give me some suggestions on how to get some of his weight off?

Answer:Depending on how many treats he gets and the caloric content of them, he isn't eating that many calories, so that makes me worry about his thyroid gland. He may be hypothyroid, which isn't the end of the world - in fact, most dogs that I test, I almost want them to be hypothyroid because I know they will feel a better and lose weight nicely when I get them started on medication. Testing for hypothyroidism is quick and easy - just a blood draw at your veterinarians. If he isn't hypothyroid, then you are stuck with what you probably already know - decrease his calories and increase his exercise. Also, just to be clear, we are talking about an 8 ounce cup, not a 16 or 32 ounce cup/tumbler - and make sure nobody else in the house (or neighborhood) is feeding him other calories.

Date: May 21, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: Weight loss

Question:He is losing weight in his hindquarters and barely eating at all. Drinking plenty and nothing different with his poop or peeing

Answer:Dogs with chronic higher thirst, picky appetite and weight loss need a complete medical evaluation and likely workup including CBC/Blood chemistry profile, as well as urine analysis, etc as many possibilities here, including kidney disease, diabetes, etc

Date: Apr 29, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: Cat has diahrrea for last three days.

Question:My cat has been getting skinny over the last two months. Cat has diarrhea for last three days. Eats and drinks normally. Had a bad flea infestation recently. I used Advantage on him three weeks ago and it has stopped a lot of the scratching. He is in good spirits and will play and purr.

Answer:Many things can cause weight loss (almost any/every disease process) but with the diarrhea I would start by doing a fecal exam on him at your veterinarian. Taking them a fecal sample is ideal because it will give you a better (larger, more representative) sample and he won't have to have the fecal loop shoved up his poor booty.

Date: Apr 1, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: FIP and euthanasia.

Question:Hello Doctor. I've never been heartbroken in my entire life. My 8 month old cat has been diagnosed with FIP. Do you think it's better to put him down? If so how should I spend my last hours with him? And please provide me ways to comfort him. Thank you. Allie, 16, from Kuwait.

Answer:I'm so sorry you are going through this. FIP is a devastating disease. Without seeing your cat and assessing his condition, I cannot advise you to euthanize him or not. Work closely with your veterinarian and veterinary technician that diagnosed him.

Date: Mar 23, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Mass found on my dog's liver

Question:Hi. My almost 13 year old dog (mixed) recently started picking at his food. I took him in for a blood test, and he had extremely high ALT levels (1400). His T4 levels were low. They've been low since I took him in October. He's been on enalapril for protein in his urine. So he's been eating a kidney diet food by Purina (NF) since November. They did x-rays and an ultrasound in which they did an aspirate of the mass they found on the right side of his liver. The results however appear to be inconclusive. He said it is possible that it could be benign, but cancer couldn't be ruled out completely. The next step would be a CT scan. He has been eating wet dog food without a problem. And doesn't appear to be in any pain. But he does look a little bloated to me. And he's more sluggish since he's gained six pounds in six weeks, which is really unusual. He went from 38 to 44 pounds. He only eats 2 cups a day. And carrots for snacks. I take him for walks as well. Would a CT scan be the best course of action in your opinion? Also, what could I try in terms of trying to get rid of any bloat and weight? If surgery were possible, would that be effective in prolonging his life, or is that basically different for each animal? I just want to do what's best for him. I've included the notes from the aspirate below. Thanks! -Chris SOURCE: Liver Mass; 5 slides examined. DESCRIPTION/MICROSCOPIC FINDINGS/COMMENTS: Microscopic Description: Cellularity is moderate to high consisting of clusters of well-differentiated hepatocytes which display vacuolar change consistent with lipid admixed with blood. There is mild anisocytosis and anisokaryosis. The frequency of binucleation is mildly increased. Trinucleate cells are few. The hepatocytes only rarely contain blue-green pigment consistent with bile or lipofuscin. There is an increase in nondegenerate neutrophilsm, small to intermediate mature lymphocytes, rare macrophages, rare plasma cells, and rare lymphoblasts seen intimately associated with hepatocellular clusters. No infectious agents are seen. INTERPRETATION: Hepatic lipidosis with neutrophilic/lymphocytic inflammation and mild hepatocellular atypia. Comment: Lipid accumulation can be seen with pancreatitis, endocrinopathy, hepatocellular insult, neoplasia, idiopathic, and other rare conditions. The etiology of the inflammation is uncertain but it may represent underlying cholangiohepatitis, pancreatitis, or reactive hepatopathy of unknown cause. The hepatocellular atypia is mild and could therefore be seen with sampling an area of hyperplasia or with well-differentiated neoplasia. Hyperplasia and well-differentiated neoplasia may appear cytologically similar. If clinically warranted, consider liver biopsy with histopathology for additional information.

Answer:Ugh, yeah, this is a tough case. I know you are trying to avoid anesthesia at his age. You ideally need a biopsy, but if it has been a couple months, you could try submitting another fine needle aspirate. Whoever did the first one got a great sample. If it is cancer, the cells will probably be more "angry" now that some time has passed and the pathologist may be able to make a definitive diagnosis. The bloat and the weight may be directly related to the mass causing fluid to accumulate in his abdomen - it may also be because he is hypothyroid. You treat these entirely differently, but to differentiate, your veterinarian would repeat the ultrasound (which he would have to do to aspirate the mass) and/or run more specific tests for hypothyroidism (TSH, T4 & T3 autoantibody, etc). If the protein in his urine has improved you may want to try a different food - our carnivore children aren't crazy about low protein food sometimes. As far as if surgery will prolong his life - it entirely depends on the cell type of the cancer - just like with people, some act more aggressively than others, so if you can get a cell type with another FNA, your veterinarian can go over the odds with you. Good Luck!

Date: Mar 15, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: Underweight but always hungry

Question:Since she was always hungry, could it have been hyperthyroidism? If so, could I have prevented her death? I just feel so bad that I neglected her and never took her to the vet. In all the years I had her, she never got sick. I have other older cats to worry about in the future. What bothers me is that she did not look or act sick. Eyes were alert and her coat was groomed. She was even climbing cat trees the night prior to her death. Could she have fallen, but not on her feet? Please help!! Worried cat mama!!

Answer:Yes, she could've been hyperthyroid if she was always hungry = hyperphagia is what we call that. Pretty much all of the other diseases that cause weight loss (cancer, kidney disease, etc) cause the opposite = decreased appetite. Hyperthyroidism is treatable but don't beat yourself up because it really sneaks up on owners because they maintain pretty normal energy levels and like we are talking about their appetite increases - they also rarely show other clinical signs of illness like coughing, sneezing, vomiting, etc.

Date: Mar 15, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: death

Question:My 10 year old cat was losing weight but eating and drinking as usual. The night before she died she was climbing high on cat tree and being very vibrant and vocal as usual. I don't understand why she died. Please help me find a hopeful answer.

Answer:With her only clinic sign as weight loss, it is hard to say. As you can imagine, most disease processes cause weight loss. Some of the most common in a cat are cancer, kidney failure, and hyperthyroidism, but there are many other causes.

Date: Mar 14, 2017
Category: Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: Very smelly bowel movements

Question:She is an older cat, has hyperthyroidism (on medicine). I have also been giving her "Missing Link" and "OptaGest" and recently "pumpkin". The "pumpkin" has given her stool a little less smell, but it still is pretty bad. It did work the stool is less runny.

Answer:Maybe try Fortiflora next. It is also a probiotic, like Optagest but they are all very different - have different strains and numbers of bacteria, so some work better than others. Here is a link if you want to read about it: http://www.1800petmeds.com/Purina+FortiFlora-prod10376.html


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