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Amber has too much fat in her blood ...

topic posted Fri, May 22, 2009 - 11:55 PM by  Cal
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Wondered if any of you have had experience with an old dog developing hyperlipidemia - too much fat in the blood. My 9 year old lab has been in decline the last year or so - losing weight at about 1/2 a kg a month. The weight loss and slushy stooles stopped when I started to feed her tripe & pork pancreas ... but she's still very weak in her back legs and stiff from arthritis. The vets I've taken her to say she is old and 'on her way out'. I've been having tests done to see if there is anything that can be done or at least know what the problem is so I can manage her last time with me appropriately. Everything seems to point to diabetes, but her blood sugar reading is normal. Her weight loss & slushy stooles point to pancreas insufficiency - but the vet is puzzled about how her blood fats are so high if she if not able to digest her food. I am taking her in again on Monday for liver function tests. The vet suspects there may be something wrong with her heart too as he could not hear it with his stethoscope. I live in a small town that doesn't have ECG facilities so can only check her heart out if I take a couple of days off & head off to the nearest city facilities with her.
Wondered if any of you had any experience with this kind of doggy decline ...?
posted by:
Cal
offline Cal
South Africa
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  • It sure sounds like pancreatitis. What is being done about the hyperlipidemia? Fat plays a big role in pancreas disorders, and there are drugs which will reduce her blood levels of fat. I would put her on a high fiber, low fat and low protein, diet. I know it sounds counter intuitive for a dog which is losing weight. But if I am correct, then the reason she is losing weight is because she is not digesting her food. Improving her pancreas function will improve her digestion, so a lower calorie (specifically low fat) diet will give her more available nutrients.

    On a personal note, I have a very old female. She loses weight, and has other problems, when on a "normal" canine diet. I make her food, but when I don't have time, or I run out of home made - then I give her weight control formula commercial food and she does pretty well on that.
    • Thanks.

      She was on weight control kibble formula for several years - before she lost so much weight because she has always been a podgy dog - vets always telling me she needed to lose weight to help with her hip problems. I'll put her back on that & see how it goes.

      The vet didn't mention putting her on meds for the hyperlipidemia ... I'll google that a bit & ask him about it on Monday when I take her in.
      • I can offer my experience here, with my own Lab, Alyssa. She, too, had soft stools for months before the Big Scare which led me to learn she had pancreatitis - on that day, we were going about our morning, getting ready to go to work, when she threw up. I cleaned it up, and continued with getting ready for work. Then, she threw up again, and I noticed it was a very dark brown. This concerned me, but being unsure what to do in the moment, I put her on the patio, and tried to think what might be wrong while I continued getting ready. Then the boyfriend said, "hon, we have a problem."

        I ran to the patio, and it looked like a slasher film. My poor baby was puking up blood and having bloody diarrhea at the same time! We rushed her to the vet, who did tests for lipids, determined she had pancreatitis, and had me feed her one tablespoon of nonfat cottage cheese mixed with one tablespoon of white rice about once an hour, gradually increasing the amount - and the time between feedings - over the course of the next few days, until I was feeding her a couple of cups of the mixture a couple times a day. From there, as her stools started firming up, I started mixing in a low fat kibble (I use the senior version of an all-natural brand). Within about a week-ish, she was on the kibble entirely, and her stools have been normal since (unless the b/f or well-meaning friends give her fatty table scraps or too many biscuits, in which case I just cut them out for a day or so, to much sad-eyed puppy pouting, until she's back to normal again).

        She's never had to be on meds - just the low fat food (and monitoring of the biscuits and treats offered by those well-meaning friends). She gets Iams low fat biscuits for treats, and the only table scraps we give her now are leftover, unbuttered vegies and clear nonfat meat juices, etc..

        This all happened in early July of last year, and she's been fine since, but it was touch and go for a few days there. On that first day, I actually left her with the vet so she could be on an IV, as she'd lost so much blood and was so dehydrated I wanted her in constant care. I took the following day off from work so I could monitor her, too, but after that, she just gradually got better and better. She's still a little bit overweight, but not chunky, so I feel confident she's all right.

        Hope that helped. Best of luck and love to you and your sweet baby.

        Blessings,
        Thuri
        • I don't know...I would take a different approach. The problem with low cal kibble is that it is mostly carbs...carbs convert to sugar which messes with the blood chemistry and can send them into diabetes.
          If it were me, I'd try a high protein, low fat, low carb diet. Lean meats such as skinless chicken, and if you have a source of exotic meats, lean buffalo or ostrich would also be great as they are very low in fat. To this, just add steamed veggies, canned pumpkin and a vitamin tablet to cover any essential vitamins that may be missed. Also a small dollop of plain, low-fat yogurt will help aid digestion. As a snack, give fresh, raw veggies...most dogs seem to like these as much as biscuits.
          I see so many obese dogs on low fat kibble and the only difference I see in them is that their skin is drying out and their coats are dull and they shed a lot. They don't seem to be losing much, if any weight. There are some vets in my area who are recommending to owners of obese cats to feed canned food only because it is lower in carbs and higher in protein....and they have been losing weight without compromising skin or coat.
          Well, that's just my 2 cents. I hope all goes well. It's not easy dealing with a senior dog. Pip is almost 11 now and although he seems to be in great health, I do worry about the onset of problems due to age.
          • Good advice... Wow Cal I'm sorry to hear this, I'm sure it's a bit scary and worrying.... I hope Amber gets better soon... Sending you and her healing wishes. I am off to work at my vets, I'll try and get a minute to ask him...
            • Thanks all for your input - much appreciated.
              • A high protein diet is NOT recommended for pancreatitis. Amino acids and fats trigger a pancreatic response. You want her digestive system to rest by introducing carbs as she is able to digest them, and then increase the protein. The rice and non-fat cottage cheese or yogurt advice is excellent.

                Pancreatic enzymes are triggered by certain gastrointestinal hormones, including gastrin, secretin, and cholecystokinin (CCK). These hormones are triggered by fatty acids and certain amino acids. You don’t want to trigger the pancreatic enzymes, because that can lead to further inflammation of the pancreas. Therefore the foods you feed your dog must be foods that do not trigger these enzymes including many foods made from humans.

                Carbohydrates have a weak effect on the gastrointestinal hormones the trigger the pancreatic enzymes, so they are a good food to introduce after your dog has had pancreatitis. Rice is a highly digestible carbohydrate and can be fed in small amounts.

                If rice is tolerated, then you can add some easily digestible, low fat protein, such as low fat cottage cheese or boiled skinless chicken breast. It is important to stick with low fat foods because fatty foods can lead to further inflammation of the pancreas.

                Some dogs have pancreatitis once and have no further trouble with their pancreas ever again. They are able to return to their normal diet. Other dogs have repeated problems with pancreatitis. They require an on-going special diet. Many vets recommend that once your dog has suffered an episode of pancreatitis, he should be placed on a canine pancreatitis diet.

                A canine pancreatitis diet is low in fat. Nutritionists say that less than 18% of the energy in such a diet should come from fat. Based on this figure, many diets designed to manage gastrointestinal problems are not suitable for a canine pancreatitis diet. Ask your vet what brand of food you should be feeding your dog. A prescription diet is probably necessary. You should not feed your dog table scraps and should feed treats sparingly, as these are often high in fat.

                Many dogs with pancreatitis are overweight. A low fat diet combined with an exercise program may help reduce the risk of future problems.
          • I totally agree Thistle. Also, the quality of protein is VERY important. I think a natural diet is better than a manmade diet anyways and going this route from the beginning will help keep a lot of health problems at bay. When my mom's dog got diabetes (from the unhealthy food she always fed him), she put him on a prescription diet (the first two ingredients were corn and paper!!!!) and even with that she could never get his blood sugar within range. It wasn't until I taught her how to make food for him that he finally leveled out.

            And with the whole weight loss thing, it is SO true. My cats eat only canned and raw food and they all stay very svelt. My fiance's family only feeds their cats low cal kibble, and even though they only feed them very small amounts, they are easily mobidly obese. My cats easily eat twice as much as their cats. One of my cats did have a weight problem when I first got her and was feeding her kibble (because I didn't know any better) but is now down to a healthy weight since putting her on the current diet.
            • I'm an advocate of home-made food.

              For an animal with pancreatic problems, it should be high in carbs. I run everything in my geriatric dog's food through an electric grinder, even the rice. I find that she digest the food better that way.

              In Amber's case, if it is panceatitis, you don't want to stress her digestive system with too much protein or large chunks of food to break down. Wait until she is processing her food better, and then increase the protein. But in order to avoid a relapse, you will want to keep the food quality high and the protein relatively low. Otherwise, you might induce another episode.

              Pancreatitis can often be treated with diet.

              As an aside, I have heard mention of dogs on phenylpropanolamine on this this tribe, which usually goes by the brand name of Proin or Cystolamine. My experience has been that a low fat and low salt and low protein diet helps these dogs with their incontinence problem, even to the point that the dog does not need the PPA, or can be on a much lower dose. I don't think that dogs like to take PPA. I have had a number of cases where the dog refused to take the pill after a while. Giving it in smaller doses, 2-3 times daily seems to help reduce the uncomfortable side effects of the drug. BTW, PPA was the active ingredient in the old formulation of Dexatrim which was taken off of the US market by the FDA.
  • My 8yr old Chihuahua has just been diagnosed with too much fat in her blood. We found out when her eyes became cloudy within hours so I knew it wasn't cateracs. The fat has gone into her eyes. Diet hasn't changed and she was tested and she was negative for all the deceases that normally cause this. I used to cook for my dogs and never had problems like this. I think I'm going back to cooking so I know exactly what is going into her body. This breaks my heart. You should give your dog stuff for atrhritus. I have rheumatoid and it's very painful. Artritus meds helped my daughter's great dane.I'll pray for you and our dogs.
    • Ocular lipid deposits are often associated with hyperlipoproteinaemia, a fancy word for high cholesterol in the blood. You should at least try to modify your dog's diet, if it is high in fats. Avoid fatty table scraps. Your dog may also benefit from cholesterol lowering drugs. Lipid deposits in your dog's eyes can result in damage over time.

      As a general note, there is a lot of thinking, for a few years now, that most old age diseases in dogs (and people) are caused by inflammatory conditions - arthritis, atheroschlerosis, etc.. There are many who believe that eating a lot of inflammatory foods will result in inflammatory illnesses.

      The mechanism is basically understood as follows. When your cells produce messenger molecules to communicate with other cells in your body, lipids from the cell membrane are used. If those lipids are of of a certain type, then inflammation results. If the lipids are of another type, then there is essentially no inflammation.

      The lipids which do not cause inflammation are often called omega 3 types of lipids. It is now known that, in general, these come from photosynthetic parts of the plant and are highly perishable. The inflammatory lipids, in general, come from seeds and grains, and are not very perishable. This is why people who eat fish exclusively, tend not to have inflammatory diseases. The fish eat chlorophyll producing food sources at the bottom of the food chain. This is also why grass fed beef is good for you, and grain fed is bad for you. If you cook the two side by side, you will see an immediate difference in how the fat melts. The same advice applies to vegetarians. Seeds and grains are inflammatory, as a rule, etc..

      If you decide to put yourself and/or your dog on a low inflammation diet, then it will take you about 3 years, and your dog about a year, to convert the lipids in the body to the less inflammatory types. If the current theories are correct, this might help to lessen many of the unpleasant effects of aging.

      This is the principal reason that I make my dogs food for her. She has her challenges, but overall she has a good life. She is a 16 year old labrador, and she has her degenerative disease problems, mainly spinal degeneration and a heart murmur, which keep her from acting like a puppy. But I believe that the past couple of years of a non-inflammatory diet has extended her life, and more importantly has reduced her painful symptoms. I believe I have mentioned that she is in full remission from immune moderated hemolytic anenemia, which is rare to achieve at her age. The expected survival rate of that particular illness is only 30%, even for a younger dog.

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