Thursday, January 17, 2019

Symptoms to Watch for In Your Dog: Excessive Hunger

A healthy appetite is considered a sign of a healthy dog. As a general rule, it is. A dog that is ill is likely to eat less, become finicky about their food, or stop eating altogether.

Symptoms to Watch for In Your Dog: Excessive Hunger

Even ravenous appetite can be normal depending on the dog and their activity level.

So what constitutes excessive hunger?


I would like to believe that you'd know it if you saw it. The important thing is to understand what is normal for your dog--how much they usually eat. If their appetite changes dramatically without anything else having had changed, something is up.

Seeking more food versus trying to eat everything within reach


Is your dog so hungry or are they trying to put out a fire? A friend's dog would behave this way. She would eat anything that wasn't nailed down. She was also sick frequently, without a diagnosis. She was being treated symptomatically which wasn't working. It wasn't until a family vacation when she was seen by a different vet when her problem finally got a name--chronic pancreatitis.

Jasmine was always hungry when she was on steroids for her bad neck, but that was nothing compared to another friend's dog who was on high dose steroids for brain inflammation. That poor girl too would ingest everything she could get her mouth on including her own diapers and carpets. In this case, it was caused by the high levels of cortisol in their blood from their treatment.

I would be very careful before concluding my dog had pica, which is considered a behavioral issue. Is it really? Sometimes maybe.

Whether your dog is putting out a fire or being so hungry they could eat nails--literally sometimes--I'd absolutely want to rule out a physiological reason foremost.

You can read my thoughts about pica here.

Excessive hunger with weight loss


If your dog keeps eating and eating and yet losing weight, this is serious. Often, they will suffer from diarrhea as well. Their body is not getting the nutrients it needs no matter how hard they try. Either their body is unable to use the nutrients, or somebody is literally stealing them--yes, I mean intestinal parasites.

Problems within the digestive tract or outside of it can cause this.

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)


What this complicated term stands for is your dog's inability to digest their food. The pancreas has two big jobs--production of insulin and production of digestive enzymes. When the pancreas fails to provide these enzymes, your dog's body cannot break food down to usable nutrients. In other words, the food just goes through untouched. This is when your dog can literally starve to death while eating like there was no tomorrow.

To learn more about this condition, check out my EPI article. Dogs having problems with digestion of nutrients will nearly always have obviously abnormal stools as well.

Bowel disease


Simplified, food gets broken down into nutrients in the stomach and absorbed by the intestine. Infections, inflammatory conditions, or cancer can mess up the function of the intestinal walls, making them unable to absorb the nutrients. This can result in excessive hunger though in many cases, such as with Jasmine, it can cause the opposite--refusing food.

Hyperthyroidism


Hyperthyroidism is rare in dogs, but it can happen. Excessive levels of the thyroid hormone push your dog's metabolism into overdrive keeping your dog constantly hungry.

Excessive hunger with weight gain


Diabetes


What everybody seems to know about insulin is that it removes excess blood sugar (glucose) from the blood. Which is kind of true but it's not the whole story. The job of insulin is indeed to regulate blood sugar levels and put the excess away for storage. However, it is also insulin's job to deliver glucose to all the cells in the body where it is used as an energy source. In other words, cells need glucose to function. Your dog's cells are starving, your dog keeps eating trying to provide the energy they need, but it's not getting to them.

Cushing's disease

I already mentioned drug-induced high levels of cortisol above. However, it can also happen naturally, when your dog is producing excessive levels of the hormone. With Cushing's disease, the perceived weight gain might be just that--perceived as it can have to do more with changes in organs and tissues rather than an increase in fat tissues.

Nutritional deficiencies


Could it be just the food? Why indeed. If the food doesn't provide sufficient levels of needed nutrients, your dog will keep eating until their body gets what it needs. Jasmine's vet always used to point out that dogs will eat to the limiting ingredient. This could be a vitamin, a mineral or amino acids. The food your dog is eating might offer it at levels that are too low or not at all.

This should not be very common these days, but it absolutely is a possibility. Since other, usually calorie-rich nutrients, are abundant in almost every food, your dog will be crazy hungry and getting fat while missing something important their body needs.

Nutritional deficiencies too can lead to eating non-food items, such as dirt or feces.


Related articles:
Loss of Appetite
Pica
Weight Loss, Brittle Fur, Starving All The Time ... Beaner's Story (Part I)
Beaner Has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: Beaner's Story (Part II)

What is your dog telling you about their health?


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

An award-winning guide for dog parents

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hunter's Teeth Chattering: What Caused It?

Hunter is a sweet, 8-year-old Golden Lab mix. He's always been healthy and happy. Until something started bothering him a great deal.


Out of the blue, one day Hunter started chattering his teeth, licking his lips, yawning and looking downright miserable. He held his head low, and the look in his eyes was saying, "help me."



Apart from these episodes, Hunter was still eating, pooping, playing and barking as usual, or so it seemed.

What could be wrong with Hunter?


Could it be an upset GI tract? Seizure activity of some kind? Or a dental problem? If you read the article about teeth chattering in dogs, you might remember that the most common cause is oral pain.

Hunter's mom took him to a veterinarian, but they couldn't find anything wrong. Hunters teeth looked good, but his breath smelled bad. Blood work came back clean.

Suspecting that there could be an oral issue going on where it cannot be seen, the veterinarian scheduled Hunter for dental work. The big C was uttered as well.

Did Hunter need dental work?


Hunter's mom was very concerned, particularly being told that there was the possibility of cancer. She decided to get a second opinion.

The new vet checked Hunter's mouth and found the problem immediately.

Hunter had a stick stuck between his upper teeth, lodged in there all the way across the bridge of his mouth.

The vet was able to get it out right there on the spot. Fortunately, no tissue was seriously damaged. Hunted walked out of there his normal happy self.

Sticks and foreign objects can be troublemakers


Stick injuries in dogs are, unfortunately, quite common. Splinters can embed in the tongue, gumline, and other tissues. Large fragments can lodge between the upper teeth like happened to Hunter, or even in the hard palate. This can cause severe damage and require surgery. Hunter was lucky. Large swallowed fragments can damage or obstruct the digestive tract. Small or even larger pieces can even be inhaled.

Read Dr. Jason Nicholas' article to learn how much trouble playing and chewing on sticks can cause.

Dogs will be dogs


Depending on your dog and their lifestyle, it may not be possible to divorce your dog from sticks. It is a good idea to give it a fair try, though, and try and replace sticks with safer alternatives. If your dog does have an obsession with sticks, be aware of the potential problems it can cause so you can act fast.

Our male dogs ate their share of sticks, particularly when out on the horse farm when one couldn't watch them the whole time. Other than throwing them up the next morning, nothing worse ever came from it--but it could have. This was the main reason I got health insurance for JD.

JD once almost impaled himself on a stick which landed funny and I stopped using sticks to play fetch right then and there.

It is quite possible that a splinter from a stick which traveled through the hard palate, and resulting infection, was JD's undoing at the end. It might have been that or cancer but the result was one and the same.

Cookie was more into eating rocks; not really that much less dangerous--fortunately, I was able to get her to abandon the habit.

There is a balance between keeping your dog safe and letting them live their lives.


I struggle with finding the balance daily. A dog cannot live in a bubble. But being aware of the risks that being a dog comes with is important.


Related articles:
Teeth Chattering
Observe, Analyze, Deduce

Further reading:
Why Sticks Are not Free Toys for Dogs

What is your dog telling you about their health?


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

An award-winning guide for dog parents

Monday, January 14, 2019

What Would You Do if It Was Your Dog: Molly's Arthritis Acting Up?

Molly

11-year-old German Shepherd
spayed female

Dog Symptoms: What Would You Do if It Was Your Dog: Molly's Arthritis Acting Up?

Molly has a history of mobility issues and lameness. Five years ago she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She recovered well.

When Molly's symptoms returned, Lyme disease was the go-to diagnosis and Molly was put on antibiotics. This time, however, the treatment was not working. Molly was getting weaker and developed anemia as well.

Could it be the Lyme disease? Arthritis?


Some days Molly would feel better, some days worse. Some days she could barely move and wouldn't eat. Molly ended up in the emergency hospital when she passed out.

What would you do if Molly was your dog?


What would you make of these symptoms and what steps would you take? Molly was under veterinary care but the treatment was not working.

Read Molly's story to learn what her diagnosis was.


What is your dog telling you about their health?


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

An award-winning guide for dog parents

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Sudden Blindness in Dogs, Uveitis, and more ...

Sudden Blindness in Dogs

Dr. Justine Lee

Having your dog go blind is heartbreaking. Sudden vision loss is devastating. I imagine when it happens that fast, it is pretty overwhelming for the dog as well, having had no time at all to adjust.

Your dog can lose vision due to various issues, including trauma or diabetes. There is, however, a condition--sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS). Have you ever heard of that? I hope you never will hear these words from the mouth of your veterinarian.

Unlike with some other issues, with SARDS, the eyes will look perfectly normal. This acute condition, sadly, has no cure. At least for now. I wonder whether one day, stem cell therapy might help. For the time being, when this happens, your dog will remain permanently blind.

Strangely, there seems to be some connection between SARDS and Cushing's disease. While the relationship between these two things is not understood, it is a reminder to stay on top of any symptoms your dog might be showing, such as excessive hunger, drinking, and urination.

To learn more about this condition, read Dr. Lee's article.

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Sudden Blindness in Dogs, Uveitis, and more ...


Uveitis in Dogs & Cats – A Common Eye Problem

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Uveitis is an inflammatory disease of the eye tissues. It is quite common. It is essential to know what it looks like as early diagnosis and treatment are needed to preserve your dog's vision.

Uveitis can be brought on by anything that damages the eye tissue, including trauma, toxicity, infections, immune over-reaction, and systemic disease.

As you can imagine, uveitis is painful. It can cause sensitivity to light, squinting or involuntarily closed eyelids, tearing, depression and loss of appetite.

To learn more about uveitis and how to recognize it, read Dr. Byer's article.


All About Vizslas

Dr. Andy Roark

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: The Big Picture

Any changes in your dog's appearance, behavior, activity, eating, drinking, and elimination habits are a reflection of your dog's state of health--physical or emotional. Some things stand out--such as vomiting or diarrhea--and there are things which are not as straightforward.

You are not expected to diagnose your dog, nor should you try. You should, however, be able to tell when and how fast you should see a veterinarian.


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: The Big Picture

A lot of things might depend on circumstances, and that's where good judgment is vital. Some things are always an emergency--they are listed below.

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Severe pain in any part of the body
  3. Profuse vomiting, particularly associated with an inability to keep down water, blood in the vomit, depression or pain
  4. Repeated unsuccessful attempts at vomiting, especially if associated with an enlarged abdomen
  5. Seizures
  6. A severely depressed attitude or unresponsiveness
  7. Extreme weakness or wobbliness
  8. Large amounts of blood in the stool
  9. Collapse
  10. Bleeding that drips or pools (a “smear” here and there is probably not an emergency)
Note: A sick puppy is always an emergency.

Is there some rule of thumb to use when assessing your dog's symptoms?


Having a way to measure what you're looking at is always helpful. Vital signs, for example, can be measured quite accurately if you know what you're doing. Vital signs include temperature, resting heart rate, resting pulse rate, resting respiratory rate, capillary refill time and color of mucous membranes.

Normal average vital signs ranges:


Temperature 37.5 - 39.2 °C (99.5 - 102.5°F)
Resting Heart Rate 60 - 140 beats/minute
Resting Respiratory Rate 15 - 35 breaths/minute
Capillary Refill Time 1 - 2 seconds
Mucous Membranes pink

Checking vital signs graphic from First Aid for Pets Manual


It is a good idea to learn how to check your dog's vital sign and what is normal for them.



What about things that cannot really be measured?


Here are the criteria I use to get the big picture when my dog looks or acts sick.

  1. Speed of onset
    When something hits like a ton of bricks, out of the blue, there is a great chance are you're looking at an emergency. It might be an acute problem or a chronic one where something has changed dramatically. This can include trauma, injuries, poisoning, venomous bites, but even immune-mediated reactions and some infections. The faster it hits, the faster I am on my way to a veterinarian.

  2. Severity
    For example, did my dog just throw up some bile, a bit of food or something that shouldn't have found its way into their stomach in the first place? Or are they projectile vomiting all over the place? Does my dog just look a bit under-the-weather or are they listless, unresponsive or unable to stand?

  3. Frequency and duration
    Did my dog just throw up once, or do they keep throwing up repeatedly? Is my dog having cluster seizures? Has my dog been having diarrhea for more than a couple of days?

  4. Other symptoms
    Did my dog just had diarrhea or threw up but looks and acts normally otherwise? Or are they having both diarrhea and vomiting, being lethargic, weak, having pale or yellow mucous membranes? The more warning signs pile up, the more urgently your dog needs medical attention.

  5. Circumstances
    Did my dog just have diarrhea or throw up after they snatched something from the garbage? Or did it happen after they were given fatty food? Could my dog had been bitten by a snake or gotten into some rat poison? Were they just hanging out in the garage and could they have licked something toxic?

    Is my dog panting because they just had a good run, or because it's hot or are they panting for no obvious reason? And so on.

The higher your dog's situation ranks in these categories, the faster you should see a vet. That is not to say that progressive or wax and wane situations should be ignored. For example, wax and wane weakness, lethargy, reluctance or inability to walk are a major red flag that could indicate a serious condition such as bleeding splenic ulcer.

As well as conditions that seem relatively low on the panic scale but fail to improve or are progressively getting worse. For example, lameness that's getting worse rather than better--with or without treatment--could indicate bone cancer. Progressive weight loss without an explanation, gradual loss of interest in food, increasing intolerance to exercise ... all these things might not have to be addressed today or tomorrow but should be addressed.

What is the most important thing you can do for your dog's health?


Knowing what is normal for them. If you like my article, I urge you to also check out Creature Clinic's post and start watching your dog now.


What is your dog telling you about their health?


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

An award-winning guide for dog parents


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