Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post reflect my opinion based on research. You do not necessarily need to agree with my opinion to read this post, however, I will judge you heavily if you do not.
Week 6: February 16-22, 2015
It happens quite a bit that the topic I happen to be studying applies itself to real life inexplicably. Or perhaps I’m more aware of the issue and can recognize it? Regardless, nutrition was the topic of study this week, and two cases presented itself that gave me an opportunity to educate clients as well as learn first hand the importance of a balanced diet in a pet’s life.
The first case was Hazel, an 8-week old German Shepherd puppy much beloved by her worried owner. She had done her research before purchasing Hazel, and had purchased her a week earlier from a reputable breeder, who recommended a feeding schedule that included a raw diet. Unfortunately, the owner was unable to find the particular raw food product the breeder was feedings, so she attempted to make her own supplemented with dry puppy food. Her owner had no interest in continuing the raw diet, but when her puppy wouldn’t eat anything else, what could she do? The problem with raw diets is often a lack of balanced nutrition and the risk of pathogens in undercooked, raw, or contaminated meat. Hazel continually snubbed her nose at the puppy food and would eat the meat, resulting in a BCS of 2/5 and bloody diarrhea. A fecal sample was run, and the vet and technician suspected Giardia present, so we kept Hazel in order to collect enough of a sample to send to Idexx for a diarrhea panel. We theorized that the owner unintentionally fed Hazel improperly prepared meat. Upon discharge, we sent Hazel home on a prescription i/d diet for gastrointestinal problems, panacur, and amoxicillin. It will be interesting to see what the results of the send out reveal next week!
Symptoms of giardia infection include vomiting, diarrhea, failure to gain weight, dehydration, and poor hair coat.
Another case involving improper nutrition involved Wiley, a black lab who couldn’t poop. He had a history of anal gland resections and constipation, but this time was worse. Poor Wiley had not had a proper BM in weeks, though he tried valiantly. His owner worried he was in pain, and tried to help him by feeding him coconut oil, which he immediately vomited up. She also fed him pumpkin and tried giving him a prescription laxative, with no relief. His usual diet consisted of pumpkin and limited ingredient, grain-free dry dog food. The doctor who saw Wiley that day felt his diet should have been evaluated when he started having the issues with his anal glands. Wiley clearly needed a balanced diet that would not cause digestive upset and constipation. For the immediate instance, Wiley’s suffering had to be relieved. The doctor performed a rectal exam to check for tumors and to examine Wiley’s prostate. No abnormalities were found, though we all agreed Wiley’s feces and gas smelled oddly like livestock. He did appear to be eating quite a bit of grass…The next step was an enema, much to Wiley’s shock, which yielded some success. He later went home on the i/d diet and instructions to take him for a long walk!
This week highlighted the importance of feeding pets a balanced, nutritionally and medically appropriate diet. I’ve listened to many owners spout the importance of “organic,” “limited ingredient,” “raw,” “vegetarian,” and any number of fad diets. Applying human diets and requirements can be detrimental to our pets’ health as they require specific dietary requirements. In addition, animals with medical needs, such as kidney disease, have different needs than an animal in maintenance. As a veterinary professional, I learned that part of my job is educating clients and how to read food labels and feed their pets appropriate diets. Even if an owner is insistent in their beliefs and will not change, at least they can make the decision as a well informed owner.