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NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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Older dog unable to gain weight

Customer Question

I have a border collie/springer mix who is aprox 13 years old.
He had diahrea for a few months and after switching to WD
perscription dog food (canned mixed with dry), he's okay. He
used to be on Innova mixed with raw dog food. Since his stroke
almost 2 years ago, he went from 50 lbs to 38 lbs. I feed him
good size portions 2-3 times/day but he is not gaining weight.
His bones are showing and I don't know what to do. The vet
suggested giving him protein (boiled chicken) but that just
brings on the diahrea again. In Jan, he fell and was unable to use
his hind legs for awhile. 2 vets suggested putting him down but
he's very stubborn and can walk again although wobbly. He still
'goes' outside but sometimes, he seems lost (short term vs long
term memory?) He seems to drink more often since the stroke.
He's had blood work and only liver levels a bit high. What can I
do to get him to gain weight? He's slowly starving to death even
though he has a very healthy appetite. No cause of stroke but
MRI suggested. I am against sedating him for anything b/c of his
fragile state.
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Tammy F. replied 11 years ago.
Did the vet diagnose a stroke? Or are you assuming that's what it was?
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Tammy Falkner's Post: I took him to the Animal Medical Center Emergency and the vet
on duty said it was a stroke but I needed to bring him back to
see a neurologist who didn't tell me anything specific but x-
rayed his hips. He told me he had arithritis which I knew for a
long time. The emergency vet also x-rayed his chest for hidden
tumors/cancers. Said it could happen again or never happen

This is what happened: I came home from work and he was
excited to see me. He collapsed with his legs spread out and had
a spasm. Afterwards, he passed urine in the hall (never
happened before) and walked with head tilted one side and
walked in circles. He was able to control his bladder afterwards.

I've been to 6 different vets and even consulted an herbalist in
Australia. Vets just seemed to think putting him down is the
best way.
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
The head tilt and circles could be vestibular disease which is pretty common in older dogs - has to do with neurological or inner ear issues and they do get over it though they may retain the head tilt.
I am concerned if you have been feeding WD for more than a short period of time. Its used for weight control here and is VERY low calorie as well as being high in fiber. I've known dogs kept on this too long who become emaciated and have seizures due to the lack of blood sugar and any excitement made them keel over as you describe.
Instead of the WD I would slowly mix in the top most digestible dog food you can get for him until he is swapped over completely to it and see if that doesn't improve many of his problems. If he needs extra fiber in his diet for bowel control then add canned pumpkin or squash (plain kind) or if green beans don't give him gas then try green beans for fiber.
I hope this helps you!
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: He was on Innova prior to WD. He's only been on WD for about 1
month due to his chronic diahrea. He has diahrea even if I give
him more than 2 dog cookies! What digestible dog food dog you
suggest? If I alter anything - add green supplements, boiled
chicken or cookies, his diahrea comes back.
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
It sounds like the high fiber in the WD is helping with the stool problem but it won't help him put on any weight.
Has your dog been tested for food allergies? if he is allergic to chicken for example that could explain a lot. Dogs develop allergies to things they eat and that can make for a big problem if you don't know which food item it is.
You might try California Natural Lamb Meal and rice or Wellness Fish and Potato and see if that helps.
You can do dog food ingredient comparisons here
to see similarities and differences in food ingredients.
If he needs more fiber try some plain canned pumpkin - see if that bothers him if while he is still on the WD.
Also read here about the problem called Dog Show Crud and also go over to the link on Campilobactor from the top.
In cases of non specific diarrhea my vet likes to treat with a round of Flagyl also known as Metronidazole. Even when we can't find a thing in the stool that indicates this will help I've seen it cure up digestive problems with diarrhea as the biggest symptom.
If the vet didn't check for pancreatic insufficiency you might want to have that checked also - he could then be eating but not getting any food value from what he eats. It is a known problem in collies and you can read about it here to see if it matches up with what you see and its an easy fecal test to check for it.
As your dog is a mix the vet might not have thought of it as a possibility.
NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience: 30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
NancyH and 4 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Just an update: Blacky has maintained his weight. I tried giving
him other dog food but the diarrhea comes back. I continue to
give him WD and mix in a small amount of other food.
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
Mixing might work. You might also find some canned pumpkin (plain not spiced up for pie) will also give him fiber and will let him eat more of the higher calorie food.
Maintaining is better than weight loss!
As the chicken made him ill when you gave him plain chicken try boiling a little bit hamburger and draining off all fat and see if he can tolerate some of that in his food. Chilling the broth after you cook the hamburger will make the fat on the surface easy to skim off.
If hamburger doesn't work you can try stew lamb and see if that does. Goal is to keep him from being sick but increase the calories he can get from his meals. Taking the fat off helps if the problem is inability to handle the fat content of his food. Just try very small amounts - a tablespoon of extra meat to see if that is safe for him then if it is you can up it a little more.

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