Eden’s first vet visit (with us)

Waiting for the vet
Skinny puppy waiting for the vet.

So, I feel like a bad dog guardian again. (What’s new these days?)

Yesterday morning, we took her for her first check-up with us. (She had recently had a full vet visit/annual/all the vaccinations when we adopted her in January, so that’s why we waited until now.)

And it turns out that Eden is 15 lbs. underweight. Whoa. I’ve always known she was skinny, but I chalked it up to her being a gangly, gawky adolescent and how much energy she expends every day. I figured she would catch up soon enough. We feed her 4 cups of kibble a day (a cup more than Pyrrha; 375 kcal/cup), so I wasn’t that concerned. But, apparently, I ought to be, because she needs to bulk up. A LOT. She currently weights 44.4 lbs., and at 8 months, she should probably weigh 57–60 lbs. She just isn’t building muscle or seemingly maintaining any of the protein that she should be from her food.

She’s been having off-and-on loose stool issues (gross, but what’s dog blogging if not gross?). The vacillating nature of this problem didn’t cause me greater concern; some days it would be pretty normal; some days, soup. We got the results of her fecal sample this morning, and she’s clear for all worms and parasites, which is good. The fact that she’s been on Heartgard since we’ve had her also makes whipworms* rather unlikely. (*Whipworms were the leading guess at the vet’s office.) So, now I’m wondering if she has giardia, which would explain the vacillating poop-firmness situation and her inability to gain weight.

The vet put her on a week’s worth of the antibiotic Flagyl, along with the probiotic FortiFlora to help even things out. (Flagyl is also a common treatment for giardia.) I’m hoping this helps! Poor little skinny girl. I feel bad for not being more concerned about it earlier, but I’m glad she went in when she did.

Otherwise, though, she seems totally happy, normal, and energetic. The vet asked me, “Is she lethargic?” And I chortled. “Ha! God, no. I wish she were lethargic.” Joking, of course…

Sigh. I feel negligent. Hoping that this pair of meds will turn things around for her quickly! I’m ready to see a fatter puppy!

Have you dealt with these GI/underweight issues with your dogs before? What has helped?

17 thoughts on “Eden’s first vet visit (with us)

  1. Yikes. Silas has been slightly underweight a few times, as his food issues flare up, but overall he seems good about keeping himself at weight. (Right now he’s bordering on pudgy, even.) I can’t think of anything that would help a lot without putting too much stress on her intestines–fats are hard to digest. All of Silas’s problems were with vomiting, so my go-to ideas are all on that side of digestion. Maybe the probiotics will help her.

  2. I hope the diagnosis and treatment works out!
    We haven’t had issues with underweight, but we have with overweight. After Moses got neutered, we didn’t alter his diet and he got fat. A changed metabolism and new interest in food definitely meant we should’ve monitored closely and adjusted (reduced) accordingly. But we didnt, and then he got a litte chubby and we had to work it off. Lesson learned.

  3. I really hope this isn’t an issue with Eden, but did your vet say anything about concerns with EPI? I know that has similar symptoms to Giardia. Good luck, poor baby, hope she is okay!

    1. Yikes, no, but now that I’m reading the EPI website, I’m a state of pure panic. A lot of its symptoms sound like what she’s been experiencing.

      1. 😦 Don’t panic, some of those symptoms are so generic, you know, but I did want to make you aware as it’s common in GSDs (what isn’t, I know). I have also heard that it can be somewhat difficult to diagnose, so you might want to have a convo with your vet about it. Good luck and keep me posted!

      2. I just sent them an e-mail about it; they didn’t bring it up as a possibility when we visited. Giardia was mentioned, however. There is a blood test, apparently, that is very accurate as to whether a dog has EPI. So if things don’t start to improve (stool-wise) after she’s done with Flagyl, we may look into that. Thanks for sharing the info, though; I know I can always count on you for GSD-related health stuff. The poor, long-suffering breed…

  4. My girl had Giardia has a pup. It can reoccur, and does not always present in a fecal. She had multiple fecals over a two week time period, and only one was positive for Giardia. Hoping it is not EPI, and that she is able to put on some weight.

  5. Both our pups have been skinny at some point.

    Kasper was underweight until about 2 years old then he really chunked up. Zoey is still very skinny now but, as with Kasper when he was her age, the vet has given her a clean bill of health. They seem to think it is an age thing, and when she hits 18 months – 2 years she will fill out 🙂

  6. Could it be a food allergy or intolerance? We went through that with Coop (weight flux, GI issues, etc.) until we figured out his food sensitivities. To get him to bulk up, we added Greek yogurt – the full-fat super creamy kind – to his kibble. Worked like a charm and helped regulate his stomach a bit,

  7. Küster is on the small side for a male GSD. One thing we had to deal with regarding him was pano. It is NO FUN at all, for the puppy or the humans. Imagine the horror of finding that you have to keep your high drive puppy crated for weeks to recover. One thing that we learned would help was feeding him a little less protein and he actually ate different food than the girls for over a year so we could try to minimize the pano flare ups. I always felt that he was a little underweight and I wanted to feed him more, but honestly, even though he’s on the smaller side now, I’m not too upset that we didn’t. I think GSDs do tend to be very rangy teenagers and DDR GSDs are smaller than their American line counterparts. My bottom line is that I’d check and see what someone who really knows the breed says about it. She might be small for an American line dog, but within normal range for a DDR dog, if that makes sense. Küster is 2.5 and still only about 70 pounds.

  8. Oh poor Eden! I have never had issues with “too skinny” until recently with Snoopy, he’s getting harder to keep weight on as he’s getting old. Hopefully all is well with Eden and she’s just going through a lanky teenager stage!

  9. My parents’ GSD has had loose stools her whole life until we recently switched her to Kaya & Norman’s food – Nature’s Variety Instinct (we feed the LID turkey & lamb types). Now her poops are super firm for the first time at 10 years old. It is super high quality stuff and worth the price IMO:)

  10. Hi, I wonder if your dog’s digestive issues are better.

    My eight year-old dog, Ruthie Mae, has had GI problems for more than six months. Sigh… I am feeding her a prescription diet (Hill’s ID), which is expensive and the ingredients are not what one would expect would be good for a dog, but so far, has kept my girl pretty healthy (or rather, kept her stool mostly normal). I’ll spare you and your readers further details, but thought if you had advice about food, that would be good, and also, I do hope your doggie is all better 🙂 I gave Ruthie two rounds of the medicine (generic), and am continuing with probiotics.

    Happy Day to You, and your four-legged!


    1. Hi, thanks for your comment! I’m sorry to hear about Ruthie Mae’s GI issues. They can be so frustrating. What does your vet think could be the cause? We have seen slight progress with Eden, after a week on Flagyl, but I think I still may want to do the blood test for EPI, just so I can put my mind at rest about her — either way, to confirm or deny whether she has that unfortunate condition. Good luck!

      1. Thanks and my pleasure to read your blog.

        The vet school did many tests on two separate visits; once during her overnight stay in the hospital, and again in early Dec/13, when she went for a full exam/work up at Internal Medicine, but I don’t know if this was one of the tests. One test was slightly high, but I can’t remember the name of the test. The vet said it indicates either an allergy or parasites.

        We are deworming her to be safe, but we didn’t find parasites in the fecal exams. I’m supposed to give her the third dose in a couple days, but I just started her on Flagyl last night, so I don’t know if the medication will interrupt the deworming schedule.

        After my comment here, my girl has had severe diarrhea again! I had bought a bag of dry Hill’s ID food, thinking I could save money buy adding the dry form to the wet, but she got so sick! She also ate dirt, which I feel bad about, but it wasn’t much..

        On the dry ID food, she started scratching and acted allergic. Then it was an explosive tummy. So, no more dry Hill’s ID.

        The vets suspected HGE, but I never saw the “strawberry jam.” I also never smelled the classic odor I’ve read about.

        I do know one thing, each of her episodes happened after a change or a stressful event. I moved in January, and am living alone now, so Ruthie and I are less stressed.

        They mentioned Addisons disease (sp?) once, but maybe they would have to do more tests.

        Oh, I’m so sorry for the long comment..

        The vets told me to start her on hydrolyzed protein, but it was more expensive, plus, she started licking her anal glands after eating it, so I figured it was like most other foods that way. (Lately, her anal glands bother her a lot, and they were full on her last exam).

        Now, they tell me to go meet with their nutritionist to learn how to make homemade food. I don’t have the money yet, and I worry about my ability to cook. I do love her so I know I’d give it a try, but realistically, I don’t cook for myself often and live with fatigue that makes cooking hard for me.

        I am out of sorts and worried. This is the third, or maybe fourth, round of Flagyl since September 2013.

        Thanks very much for ‘listening’ and I invite feedback.

        Ruthie’s Human,
        Michelle (dogkisses0.

  11. I went through this with my German shorthair mix. When I realized how many calories I was feeding him a day (even supplementing with a cup of peanut butter to help him gain–which I later realized could distress his stomach over time), I realized there was no reason I should be losing weight from his already rib-showing condition to start seeing his ribs and spine. My vet did the usual food test (spend a week or two on I/D) and at another time put him on a strong antibiotic (in case there was too much bacteria in his stomach) and made sure he was parasite-free (he was). I was lucky in that the I/D worked for him (no drugs for the rest of his life). I didn’t want to feed him Science Diet for the rest of his life (or at all, really), so I spoke with my local, knowledgeable feed store about our options for food that might keep his stool firm and keep him eating (he is high-anxiety and will skip meals easily). Here’s what my feed store recommended:

    Her first recommendation was Nature’s Logic Beef Kibble (this is what we are currently using and he has done well on for about 6 months, though I would like to rotate). She said, “this formula has all the digestive enzymes in it that even Hill’s admits dog’s like yours are lacking …yet they don’t put it in the food (?), plus additional bone meal to help with poop formation, which I really appreciate. Also it is 36% protein to help build muscle tissue more effectively.”

    My dog sometimes doesn’t like to eat, so if this happened with the Nature’s Logic, she recommended I “add warm water to it about 10 minutes before feeding time to stimulate the aromas in the food and alter the texture a little bit. Adding water to kibble also helps keep him hydrated and his kidneys well flushed. (Imagine eating top-romin with out any water day after day, pretty thirsty stuff ! )”

    Since she talked with my vet and knew the dog has some loose stool issues, maybe even a sensitive GI tract, she recommended feeding the new food 50/50 with the old food for several days. After that, slowly decrease the old food portion until he was eating entirely new stuff. This was really interesting and works for me–“PLEASE NOTE that over feeding a biologically appropriate highly absorbable food like Nature’s Logic will result in a soft stool (not diarrhea though) and if his stools are soft, CUT BACK on his ration. A dog’s short gut simply can’t absorb that much real food in such a short length and your merely losing your money via food out the back door. Also offer to feed him twice, even 3x times a day, rather than one meal.”

    Hope this helps!

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