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Gastrointestinal illness in dog - Losing weight; picky eater; diarrhea & vomiting

by Karen
(Upstate New York)

We have a 3.5 year old female cockapoo named Cassidy. Her highest weight in early 2011 was 7 pounds 4 oz. The dog came to us from a very reputable breeder from upstate New York.


We moved less than 2 months ago from Long Island NY to Upstate NY. Before we left Long Island we realized that Cassidy had lost 1/2 pound, but we were not overly concerned. 2011 has been a stressful year with my retirement, our decision to sell the house on Long Island and move permanently to Upstate NY.

We were in our new home (farmland, country, rural) for less than 2 weeks when we discovered a huge engorged tick on Cassidy. We were scheduled to see a new veterinarian the area for a meet and greet so we used that appointment to discuss the tick. I removed the tick that morning and the vet verified that the entire tick was removed.

She was given a full dosage of Frontline Plus which she had never had before. The vet took quick blood results in 10 minutes which did not show problems of any kind. We decided to take a full blood test that day as well. It was a stressful appointmentas the blood was difficult to take from her legs. The vet called in a couple of days to say that nothing was too concerning in her blood results.

Over the next seven days things went downhill. Cassidy began vomiting with diarrhea throughout the day. This went on for several days. On Friday we then called her breeder who we now live 45 minutes away from. Carol is very knowledgeable and told us to come right over and she would bring us to her vet who cares for the mama dogs and puppies at the breeders.

We went to her vet (60 mins away from our new home) and were pleased with the time spent and discussion with the vet. Cassidy was weighed and to our shock weighed 5 pounds 6 oz. She was very gaunt. Although I had the records faxed over from the recent blood test, the new vet decided to take blood again because some of the readings of the first test were marked with "Error".

We were told not to feed for at least a day, until the vomiting and diarrhea were done. We were given Rebound and told to hydrate her 3x daily with 5cc.

On Monday, 3 days later, we were phoned and told to come in and pick up food for her, which was canned gastrointestinal dog food with packets of probiotics. We were also given a prescription for Marin to aid the gallbladder in digestion. When I got there the vet gave me a copy of the bloodwork results which I have uploaded along with a picture of the dog. We had a urine and bowel movement sample with us and the vet said these came back negative.

Since the breeder went with us to the vet for the first visit on Friday we had a lot of discussion about diet for the cockapoo. Carol feeds her mama dogs and puppies Vets Choice which has very few ingredients on the can and dry food - basically chicken. She mixed in Breeders Edge powdered milk which is loaded with good stuff. She gave us one can of dog food, some dry and some powdered milk. She showed us how to mix it all up. Carol strongly suspected worms (hookworms or tape worms which are usually not present in fecal samples). We wormed her that Monday and she had a slimy looking bowel movement which may have contained worms. From that moment on she ate heartily, had good energy and no symptoms.

Starting that Monday we started Cassidy on the vet's prescription food. She had not eaten in a few days, so she was hungry and ate the vet's food several times, then refused it. Two days later on Wednesday we started her on a mixture of the breeder's suggestion which was the canned Vet's Choice, a small amount of dry Vet's Choice and Breeder's Edge powdered milk mixed in. She ate this heartily for several days. Then she stopped eating that and we waited her out per the breeder's suggestion - putting food down 15 minutes and then taking it up. No treats of any kind. We found her on the dining room table snarfing human food off our plates - fruit salad - something she had never done. So, although she refused to eat the Vet's Choice, she was obviously very hungry and wanted to eat.

We then switched her back to her regular food she's eaten for 3 years: Halo's Spot Stew. We picked out the vegetables and she ate this heartily for several days. Never more than 3 oz per meal, never more than 4 meals a day. During this post diarrhea/vomiting stage her bowel movements were regular, dark brown and smooth. She seemed to be steadily gaining weight.

About 4 days ago, she suddenly stopped eating the Halo's Spot Stew. She jumped up on the cat's table (raised to prevent Cassidy from eating their food) and she snarfed down their canned food - Instinct. I went on Nature's Variety's website and saw that Instinct for Cats and Dogs seemed to have the same exact ingredients so we fed her instinct for the last few days. We also put down Vet's Choice and Halo from time to time, but she would only eat Instinct. I ordered 3 cans of Dog food to test it out but it hasn't arrived - so we only had the cat's food on hand.

Little by little after eating the Instinct for Cats over the past few days her bowel movements became less firm and goopy. She was scheduled today for a followup at the vet's - new blood work to see what if anything has changed. The new vet's office is 60 minutes away so during the 2 hour drive, Cassidy vomited yellow liquid several times.

At this point we know the following facts:

1) She's lost 2 pounds (for a 7 pound dog that's not good)
2) She was found with an engorged tick on her
3) She got a full dosage of Frontline Plus (for 8 to 22 pound dogs)
4) She has had 3 full blood tests (2nd one attached)
5) She has switched food several times in last few weeks
6) We need to find a vet who partners with us in finding solutions who is no more than 20 minutes away from our home (like we had in Long Island)

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Karen

Comments for Gastrointestinal illness in dog - Losing weight; picky eater; diarrhea & vomiting

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Dec 27, 2011
My Online Vet Response for: Gastrointestinal illness in dog-Losing weight; picky eater; diarrhea & vomiting
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Karen,
Poor Cassidy. You are correct that things are becoming critical and she cannot lose any more weight. The blood test did not come through, so I am at a loss as to why the second vet suggested the Marin (milk thistle supplement for liver and gall bladder). A more appropriate supplement would be digestive enzymes, such as Prozyme, and Acidophilus, to help with digestion. Unless the blood test did show that Cassidy had an underlying problem with her liver.

Check to see if there were any results to check her amylase or lipase or a test called Spec cPL. (Stands for Specific canine pancreatic Lipase, which is a very specific test for pancreatitis).

She may have a problem called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, EPI, in which her pancreas lacks the ability to produce digestive enzymes. She will want to eat, in fact have a ravenous appetite, but because she does not have the ability to digest or absorb the food in her intestine, it will pass on through, becoming rancid and causing diarrhea, and she will continue to lose weight.

Confirmation of this problem is done with a test called cTLI, canine Trypsin-Like Immunoreativity blood test.

In the meantime, you may need to prepare homemade food for her. Make it slightly cooked or raw, chicken or turkey, mixed with cooked yam, green beans, and carrots. Adding in cooked rice or potato is ok. She should also get some B-12/B-vit injections sub q. You would be able to give them to her at home.

I am concerned that the Breeder's Edge powdered milk supplement may be too high in fat, as is the (feline) Nature's Variety Instinct. The Halo Spot's Stew for Dogs, canned, would be very good, if she would eat it.

Of course, she needs some fat in her diet, but I am afraid that she is unable to digest it at this time, and that is what is making her worse. She does need to have acidophilus added to her diet, since all of the diarrhea has flushed out her 'good' bacteria from her intestine.

As for the tick bite that she had, if you are going to have the TLI blood test done, they can include the blood test for Lymes' Disease. It may show she has antibodies, indicating an exposure. It does not necessarily mean that she HAS Lyme Disease.

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO

Dec 27, 2011
My Online Vet Response for: Gastrointestinal Illness in dog-losing weight; picky eater; diarrhea & vomiting PART TWO
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Karen,
Here is the rest of my response:

You may be interested in a holistic veterinarian, but I am not sure who would be available in upstate New York. To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click on the link below
Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Dec 27, 2011
Results from vet appt yesterday
by: Karen

Hello,

Thanks for your advice and comments. Here is some additional information:

Cassidy gets a full capsule of probiotics (acidophilus) per day, spread over each meal since her troubles began. Today her diarrhea and vomiting has stopped but she has not eaten at all. The doctor called and left a message regarding her followup blood test yesterday. She said of the test results of 12/2/11 which showed problems or elevations, all have been corrected and are within normal guidelines or going in the right direction:
ALKP was 404, now 72 within normal range
BUN/UREA was 64, now 45 much improved
GGT was 18 - did not get update
B/C Ratio was 49, now 45 improving
ABS MONOS was 1265 - did not get update
Monocytes was 11% - did not get update
Platelet C was 33 10>3/ul - did not update

Her weight gain yesterday was 0.3 pounds and the doctor was very pleased with that result. We agree completely with your assessment of the food - that Nature's Variety is likely too rich for her to handle, whether it be dog or cat food. We'll also hold off on the Powdered Milk which we thought was helping her immensely because while she was eating her bowel movements never looked better (until the Instinct was eaten).

We are very concerned that the underlying problems have not yet been addressed, but perhaps we are overreacting? For most of her life she ate when she was hungry - we left her canned Halo down most of the day. She sometimes ate nothing, sometimes 2 cans and sometimes 1 can. On average, I would estimate that she ate 1.3 cans per day which is about 8 oz per day.

We gave her 2 biscuits a day and several LIV-A-LITTLES chicken treats from Halo. These treats were given with great regularity. And, she never refused them. According to the doctor, the Marin was for the liver/gallbladder as a result of the first blood test results.

We agree we must get her weight up, but now I'm thinking it may be a very long process and one that will take patience on our part.

Here are some specific questions that you may be able to answer:

1) Should we re-introduce the treats as described above?
2) Should we put food down 15 minutes each mealtime and if not eaten take it back up?
3) Should we try a new vet - local one - and start all over again?
4) Is the cooked/raw food you describe a better bet than the canned alternatives?
5) Should we seek a dog nutritionist?
6) What is your best guess as to what caused all the symptoms? Do the blood tests simply reflect the symptoms and don't really tell us anything? In other words, she had days of diarrhea and vomiting so perhaps the blood tests show that she was dehydrated and hence the elevations in certain results?
7) Is there any evidence that there is a problem now (except for not eating regularly)?

Thanks again for your help and suggestions.

Karen

Dec 28, 2011
My Online Vet Response for: Gastrointestinal illness in dog-Losing weight; picky eater; diarrhea&vomiting
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Karen,
If Cassidy is still not eating, she should have some B-Vit/B-12 injections to help perk up her appetite and replenish her lack of nutrients. If a conventional vet (your local veterinarian), is not including tests for her pancreas, either for pancreatitis or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, it will be difficult to proceed without knowing what she is able to digest.

The elevated liver enzymes may be due to pancreatitis. Even though the liver enzymes are now returning to normal, her pancreas may still be inflamed and/or non-functioning.

1) Yes, re-introduce the Liv-a-Little treats, especially if it will coax her to eat.

2) Yes, leave food down only 15-20 minutes. If she will not eat it in that length of time take it away and wait until the next feeding time.

3) Consider a holistic veterinarian, since holistic treatment takes into account ALL of her symptoms in order to treat her. Or if there are no holistic veterinarians close by, hopefully a local veterinarian will add on the pancreas tests. If her blood sample is still at the lab, (and it has not been over 7 days), they can ADD on the Spec cPL and the cTLI tests.

4)Cooked/raw home prepared food may be more palatable and easier for her to digest, and continue the Acidophilus.

5) A veterinarian IS a dog nutritionist, although a holistic veterinarian may be more knowledgeable in diet and supplements than a conventional one.

6) You wrote, "What is your best guess as to what caused all the symptoms? Do the blood tests simply reflect the symptoms and don't really tell us anything? In other words, she had days of diarrhea and vomiting so perhaps the blood tests show that she was dehydrated and hence the elevations in certain results?"

Dehydration will cause the Packed Cell volume, BUN, some electrolytes, and Total Protein levels to be increased. Anorexia will cause a decrease in potassium. But increases in Liver enzymes, other kidney enzymes, pancreatic enzymes, white blood cell counts, and several others are a reflection of a disease process. My best guess is pancreatitis AND/OR Exocrine Pancreatic insufficiency.

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO

Dec 28, 2011
My Online Vet Response for: Gastrointestinal illness in dog-Losing weight; picky eater; diarrhea& vomiting PART TWO
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Karen,
Here is the rest of my response:

7) Since she is still not back to normal now, I suspect there is still some underlying problem. But using B-12/B-vitamin complex injections, coaxing her to eat with Liv-a-Little treats, and home-prepared food, will help for now. She may need homeopathic treatments to treat her symptoms, and pancreatic enzyme supplements if she is deficient in digestive enzymes.

Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Dec 28, 2011
Not Pancreatitus
by: Karen

Hello again,
Sorry I didn't mention this earlier, but the vet has ruled out pancreatitis. If the internet information I just found is accurate, here are the 12/2/11 (original bloodwork) results for the pancreas:
AMYL was 663
GLU was 94
LIPA was 119
TRIG was 46

Apparently these results were well within normal ranges.

Cassidy ate a full can of Halo last night (5.5 oz) as well as 1 biscuit. She has had 2 bowel movements today which were completely normal.
As my long narrative indicated, she was gaining weight, eating regularly and bowel movements were great -- until she stopped eating the Halo and we switched to Instinct. We now think she stopped eating the Halo because of the powdered milk which was too rich for her.

At this point, we'll relax a little, compare the new blood results for signs of problems and feed her regularly and see how it goes. Her energy and alertness are very good but at 5.9 pounds she is still underweight. We do have a holistic vet (using your website) within 45 minutes and if her weight is not up within a few weeks, we'll make an appointment.

I'm still not 100% sure what caused all of this - probably a combination of toxic Frontline Plus, huge amount of stress associated with the move, new smells and perhaps ingesting something on the street or in the yard -- but we are watching her closely and will monitor her weight carefully.

Thanks for all your advice - we are not against cooked food but she has always rejected it. We'll go there if and when she rejects Halo.

You were instrumental in us confirming no Instinct - too rich -- and no powdered milk - we thought this was fattening her up. We'll keep you posted on her progress and thank you for your counsel and advice.

Dec 29, 2011
My Online Vet Response for: Gastrointestinal illness in dog-Losing weight; picky eater; diarrhea & vomiting
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Karen,
Thank you for clarifying with the results from the blood panel from Dec. 2. Yes, that would rule out pancreatitis. Her progress now sounds good, with an improved appetite and normal stool.

If nothing else upsets her system, and she continues to do well, she should gain weight! Have you considered giving her Rescue Remedy? This is a Bach flower essence used for humans to help decrease anxiety.

It was developed by Dr. Richard Bach in the 1930's. He was an M.D. and observed that humans that were under chronic emotional distress, would eventually develop physical illness. Animals also have emotional upsets, that will mirror their owner. Rescue Remedy can be very useful in these situations.

I give it in a diluted form. Add 10 drops to 2 oz of Spring Water, and give two times daily for the next 3 weeks. Or, you can add 10 drops to her drinking water twice a day.

In summary, I agree with your assessment, if Cassidy DOES NOT gain weight over the next 2-3 weeks, then you should seek the help of a holistic veterinarian.

Please do keep us posted.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Related Pages:

- Ask a Vet Online Library: Dog Digestive Problems



Dec 29, 2011
New Blood Work results
by: Karen

Hi again,

Yes, we have used Rescue Remedy - thanks for the suggestion. We just put a few drops in the water and we'll do that daily.

Cassidy's appetite is still not great -- but she's eating at least one can of Halo per day, sometimes two. Plus one biscuit after we brush her coat and teeth in early evening.

Her blood work results which I had mailed to us came today. Here are the items that are marked LOW or HIGH:

BUN/UREA 45 (previously 64)
CHOL 347 (previously 207) - probably due to Instinct food
Mg 1.2 (previously 1.5)
B/C Ratio 45 (previously 49)
ABS MONOS 1416 (previously 1265)
Monocytes 12% (previously 11%)
Platelet C 63 10>3/uL (previously 33 10>3/uL)

Thanks again and we'll continue monitoring closely.

Dec 30, 2011
My Online Vet Response for: Gastrointestinal illness in dog-Losing weight;picky eater;diarrhea&vomiting
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Karen,
Cassidy's blood report looks good. It sounds like she is much improved 'on paper', but physically (and emotionally?) she still has some healing left to do.

If her appetite does not decrease, hopefully she will start to get stronger, feel better and gain some weight. If not, then finding a holistic veterinarian for a 'constitutional' workup would be the next step. See our page on homeopathy, http://www.organic-pet-digest.com/homeopathy-for-dog.html.


Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us
by clicking the like button at the top of the left
margin
. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.







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