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GSD continues to lose weight & muscle despite eating
04-14-2017, 03:35 PM,
GSD continues to lose weight & muscle despite eating
My german shepherd (GSD) began losing weight and muscle several months ago despite eating 4 cups of iams (2 cups twice a day). I took him to the vet and they ran 2 different blood tests, took x-rays, and an ultra sound and have not been able to diagnose his issue.  The only left they said was to give him CAT SCANS and MRIs which I can’t afford.  They put him on Prednisone hoping that maybe it’s some kind of inflammation in his digestive track that is causing him not to process his food correctly.

They rules out the basic causes of weight loss:
  • Diabities
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
  • Forms of cancer that would show up with a blood test, x-ray, or ultrasound
  • heart worm
He doesn’t have a noticeable change in behavior. No Diarrhea. No obvious blood in urine or stool.
I recently started feeding him 1.75 cups 4 times a day in the hopes that he will stop losing weight long enough for them to check a few more things. He will eat as much as I give him. I also want to make I don’t feed him too much because german shepherds are highly susceptible to bloat.

Any Ideas?

What would be the best food to feed him that has the highest and most easily digestible nutrients.   

I also attached my dogs chart from the vet  which shows what they have checked if that helps.

Attached Files
.pdf   ari-dr-kate copy.pdf (Size: 1.68 MB / Downloads: 5)
04-14-2017, 04:47 PM,
RE: GSD continues to lose weight & muscle despite eating
The only abnormal reading was the urine proteinuria. BUN value does not have to be elevated for kidney damage. Then the question is what could cause kidney damage? See Table 1 in this article:


Your Vets have ruled out just about everything, except maybe Hyperadrenocorticism or the beginning of Cushings, and a degenerative muscle disease. Where the muscle wasting could be an auto-immune disease. Hopefully it's not the later.

Hyperadrenocorticism can be checked with a ACTH stimulation test. That's about a $250 test. If positive, then they have to run another test to differentiate between the Adrenal glands or the Pituitary tumor being the cause. A MRI being definitive for checking the pituitary if the testing gets that far. If not positive with the ACTH stimulation, it might turn positive in a few months. As partial symptoms may run in front of lab results. Thus, a re-test in a few months.

The only catch to feeding a high protein/fat doggy diet, is that high protein can make any kidney disease developing worse. That being said I recently switched my 2 cancer puppies from Nutro High Endurance (e.g. they gave it different packaging, and charged 2X more), to Blue Buffalo "Dental" formula. Because or in spite of the switch, they have both gone from 70 to 90 lbs. Nothing like putting additional weight onto the hips of arthritic dogs. The all meat non-grain kernels are smaller than the Nutro brand. So I'm probably feeding them more from the measuring bowl, without knowing it. Now trying to cut back a little bit. Anyway, that's one brand forumulation that packed the weight onto my cancer dogs. There's probably other brands of high protein/fat which would do the same. Multiple smaller feedings to avoid bloat sounds like a good plan.
04-14-2017, 07:21 PM,
RE: GSD continues to lose weight & muscle despite eating
Hello, just though to chime in. I looked at your dog's records. I am not a vet but have been around dogs most of my life. Curious as to why there is prescription Hill's food w/d on the records? If I recall well, one of my dogs was on that many years ago to combat his obesity and make him lose weight. I know w/d might help with digestive issues and in my dog it helped reduce the incidence of anal gland problems thanks to its fiber content,but does your dog have digestive issues like vomiting? I saw you mentioned your dog doesn't have diarrhea.

Perhaps the w/d was prescribed for another dog in your household? Just wondering, perhaps I am missing something and your vet believes that its benefits outweigh the possible further weight loss or maybe rather than weight loss it just helps transform fat into muscle mass or something else I am not aware of.

Here's what the Hill's website says "Digestive / Weight / Glucose Management

Some dogs can be more prone to gain weight than others. Even a little extra weight can impact the pet's quality of life and relationship with family because that extra weight can reduce play time, impact mobility and affect the lifelong general health of your dog. Weight problems can be successfully managed through changes in your dog's food.

Hill's nutritionists & veterinarians developed Prescription Diet® w/d® clinical nutrition especially formulated to support your dog's weight management. In fact, w/d is clinically tested nutrition for conditions that respond to fiber.
Helps metabolize fat and maintain lean muscle
Helps maintain healthy weight
Promotes urinary tract health
Supports a healthy immune system

I see that your dog has Low CPK which can be associated with reduced muscle mass and/or reduced physical activity. The proteinuria (high protein levels in urine) as Dragondawg pointed out can be a sign of a problem (most likely, early sign) with the kidneys (glomeruli). Proteins should not be in urine normally and their presence can be indicative that the kidneys are no working as they should, allowing proteins to escape into the urine. The use of ACE inhibitors from your vet can help lower leakage of protein into the urine, but you may want to find out why this is happening in the first place.

Was your vet concerned at all from the proteinuria? Was anything suggested? It can happen at times that there are false-positive results with proteinuria.
Did the vet advise testing for microalbuminuria as the records suggest?

I would wait to hear from your vet before considering drastic diet changes as dietary requirements may vary based on underlying conditions. For example, dogs with kidney issues need a moderately restricted protein diet while diets for weight gain may have too many proteins.
04-15-2017, 09:23 AM,
RE: GSD continues to lose weight & muscle despite eating
Thanks for the responses. I really appreciate it.

I’ll add that I recently relocated from Columbus Ohio to Sarasota Florida and it was a new vet here (in sarasota) where he was diagnosed a few weeks ago. The vet, after running all the tests (described above), didn’t have a positive outlook for him. He weighed 71lb’s when I took him in on March 29, and was 65lb the last time he was weighed on April 6th. On the last visit the vet gave me Tylan Powder to sprinkle on his food, Prednisone, and told me to feed his 3 times a day.

For the first week since then he seemed to be losing weight, but when I added a 4th meal ( a few days ago) he seems to be putting a little bit of weight on. I’m now feeding him 2 cups in the morning and 2 cups at night with 2 more meals of 1.5 cups throughout the day (usually about 1pm and 6pm).

Today I can feel a bit more padding over his ribs than I did a few days before.

With all of this feeding it I’m guessing I need to be really careful about his exercise after eating. I normally wait 2.5 to 3 hours after feeding him to allow him to run/swim/fetch. But feeding him 4 times a day that doesn’t leave too many windows for him to be active. What is the least amount of time after feeding that I can allow him to run or swim?

Dragondawg: I’m taking him to another vet on Monday that specializes in more of a holistic approach and will be sure to ask about Proteinuria and Hyperadrenocorticism.

Meba: The hills high fiber food was an attempt to clear out his colon a bit to see if he’ll absorb nutrients better. He’s off of it now and back on Iams for now. I’m going to ask the new vet on Monday what they recommend as well.

The vet never mentioned anything about the protein in the urine. In fact she said we ruled out any places where he could be losing protein/nutrients. I’m glad I chose to see a new vet on Monday. I’ll be sure to bring that to their attention. Thank you!!!!!
04-19-2017, 10:40 PM,
RE: GSD continues to lose weight & muscle despite eating
With the prednisone you should have seen an increase in appetite as that's a common side effect of this drug and consequent weight gain. About how long after feeding one can exercise, I would think minimum two hours to err on the side of caution, but best to check with your vet to be safe. Keep us posted on what your vet says. Best of luck,
04-26-2017, 05:55 PM,
RE: GSD continues to lose weight & muscle despite eating
I ended up going to a new vet that specializes in more of a holistic approach and his outlook was much more positive than the likely terminal diagnosis I received at the first vet.

The new vet thinks it's either an issue with his small intestines or a hormonal issue and said we should start with the intestines.

He took Ari off of prednisone, and completely changed his diet.

feeding him this 4 meals day so that he has more off a chance to absorb the nutrients

Switched from Iams to Orijen (man is that stuff expensive)
Started adding complex carbohydrates to his food (usually a 1/2 potato or sweet potato baked with a little coconut oil)
Probiotics & digestive enzymes
fermented goat milk kefir - more probiotics
Colostrum (instead of prednisone) for any possible intestinal inflammation
Chinese herbs to balance cortisol/hormonal issues
Vit b-12 to help small intestines absorb food
a little cottage cheese ( i think for the extra calories)

It's been about 10 days and he jumped up 3 pounds (to 68lb) after just a few days and it feels like has prob gained another few pounds since his last weigh in. He's due for another checkup early next week and I'm hoping he's in the low to mid 70's and then I can begin to cut back the calories a bit.

I'm definitely feeling much more positive with him putting on a few pounds. The change in diet has also made his coat more soft and silkier (haha..so there is that).

I'll keep you guys posted. thanks for the suggestions and support
04-26-2017, 06:08 PM,
RE: GSD continues to lose weight & muscle despite eating
(04-26-2017, 03:54 PM)Ben_Fido_Fan Wrote: Hello,

I am so sorry to hear about your digestion issue. While I can't offer the advice of a veterinarian, I can say that there is a TON of research coming out on the role of the microbiota in regulating things such as mood, hormones, and metabolism. I saw that you're using IAMS dog food, have you tried switching to a more natural food? In lieu of that, I would give your dog a daily regiment of probiotics. Resetting the gut bacteria could significantly help. I have a friend who was sick for weeks with an undiagnosable problem, he felt weak and his body just wasn't right. He eventually underwent a fecal transplant from his brother and his condition dramatically improved. Try going to http://www.fidobiotics.com . There is a probiotic product called Immuno Boosto that could really aid your pup.

I hope everything turns out alright.

The TON has actually been micrograms.  And mostly speculative.  There is some interest in helping Type 2 diabetes.  But there are no definitive studies.  Note the dog in question already had pancreatic function tested, and found normal.  Probiotics do not affect the hormones of the host, or at least the ones most likely involved with this dog.  The pituitary, or thyroid, or adrenal glands will function the same with or without a daily dose of probiotics. 

IAMS is made with "natural" ingredients as is any dog food.  I can't think of any ingredients which are not naturally occurring.  

Feeding a probiotic will not reset the gut bacteria.  The resident bacteria finely turned to their host will over a 24 hr period displace the probiotic bacteria ingested.  The only benefit of feeding probiotic bacteria to a dog would be for those cases where the dog has experienced severe diarrhea, and overgrowth of other bacteria.  Where a probiotic may help stabilize the small intestine, helping the resident bacteria to recover.  The dog mentioned in this thread was not experiencing any GI upsets such as severe diarrhea. 

As for "Immuno Boosto" it's safe to label it as worthless per its claim.  There is no evidence that a probiotic with/without some ad hoc "proprietary" blend of mushrooms will have any effect on the immune system.  Yes, there has been tissue culture studies with the extract of one of the magic mushrooms - Shiitake.  Where to get the equivalent amount of extract, a dog (or human) would have to consume large quantities of the raw mushroom each day.  Possibly in toxic doses.  A supplement company comes along, and makes the leap of faith.  Instead of consuming large amounts of the raw mushroom, one is consuming the sprinkles over the food representing a tiny amount of desiccated mushroom.  Did the active polysaccharide extract (e.g. a nanogram fraction of the original mushroom) identified in the lab even survive the desiccation?  The end result being the dog is consuming a powder with some carbohydrates, and vitamins.  

Also the "Immuno Boosto" claims to combat allergies.  Now why would one want to boost the response of the immune system to an allergen?  After all it's the immune response to an allergen, which results in the symptoms of an allergy!  An example where a supplement mixes&matches claims.

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