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Unexplained Weight Gain


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Hello all - I wasn't sure if this was a more health/medical or food question - but thought I'd post here first.

 

Our girl is almost 8 and over the last year, she has gained 10 lbs! Now, this was during a time when I, unknowingly, switched her and her brother (who has since passed away) to a very low-cal food and didn't adjust how much she was getting. Last summer, our boy lost interest in eating, so we switched foods. It turns out, our girl went from 2.5 cups of day of a 500 cal/cup food to 2.5 cups of 370 cal/cup food. Treats didn't change, they always got a small lunch treat (around 90 calories) and a bedtime treat (also around 90 calories).

 

So, for about 9-10 months, she was on about 1,100/day (down from almost 1,700/day!!) and still went from 60 to 70 lbs! During this time, two things also happened - first, she went on phenobarbital for seizures. Also, I had a knee replacement in December and then our other grey got very sick, so her exercise levels went down for about 3-4 months.

 

So I've been religiously taking her on two walks per day for the last month and a half. I did a crazy spreadsheet to find a good, low-cal food she'd like and I measure exactly, and I feed her an exact number of treats per day so she will get 1,000 cal/day - this is on our vet's recommendation for weight loss, and a few calorie calculators I found online. We weighed her (on our scale at home) a little over 3 weeks ago and she was at 68 lbs to get a baseline, just weighed her again today and she's up to 70.3.

 

She loves her food, but she's never gotten into anything - so I know she isn't sneaking food from anywhere. She isn't overly active, but I've been faithful about her twice daily walks. I also know she is a little older, but she isn't that old. We've never had a grey with a weight issue before - we've never really looked at calories in food (which is why we didn't realize when we dropped to a much lower calorie food) and we'd just adjust up or down if we saw they had gained/lost a few pounds at the vet.

 

The only thing I found online was hypothyroidism - but she isn't displaying any other symptoms, other than maybe itchy skin (but she's always been a bit itchy). Is 1,000 cal/day still too much? Just wondering how we could've dropped from 1,700/day less than a year ago down to 1,000 and made sure she's getting regular exercise and she is still not dropping weight. :(

 

Any ideas?

 

 

 

 

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The seizure meds -- I copied this from one of the sites

 

As a result, many of the side effects of Phenobarbital are neurological. You'll notice your dog appearing lazy, sedated, restless, hyper-excited or uncoordinated (ataxia). These side effects will disappear after a few weeks of treatment when your dog's system gets used to the medication.

Long-term side effects of Phenobarbital include frequent urination, excessive drinking and eating. Because your dog is eating more, he'll most likely gain weight, a secondary effect of the drug. Although, it's rare, Phenobarbital can also cause anemia, which would necessitate discontinuation of treatment.

Seizure meds relax (for lack of a better word) the dog and in my opinion, it results in a lowered metabolism and with that, weight gain.
Also, low cal foods may not be the best (just like for people). You might want to feed regular food, just less of it or add fillers like white rice/green beans.
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Hi MaryJane! Thanks for the reply - the food we're giving her isn't marketed as low-cal, it just happens to be a fish blend, so just naturally lower in calories! I wanted to stick with a high quality food without too many ingredients and protein she likes. Since our boy hated fish, she never got it, either! She does like her veggies, so I can definitely supplement with some nice mushed up vegetables.

 

I was actually asking my sister-in-law and brother (both pharmacists) about the phenobarbital last weekend, and they both said that it isn't used much in humans anymore but they thought that long-term effects were typically lethargy and more personality-type changes due to that - not really weight-gain in and of itself. She has never been a super active dog, so can't really say she's gained weight because of less activity (other than the few months that I couldn't walk!).

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I was actually asking my sister-in-law and brother (both pharmacists) about the phenobarbital last weekend, and they both said that it isn't used much in humans anymore but they thought that long-term effects were typically lethargy and more personality-type changes due to that - not really weight-gain in and of itself. She has never been a super active dog, so can't really say she's gained weight because of less activity (other than the few months that I couldn't walk!).

 

 

They are right - the weight is not usually a direct result of the medicine - it just seems to dull out the nervous energy in the dog and as a result, less burning of calories. Lucy tends to be a more lazier on the seizure meds.

 

You're probably doing the liver tests on a regular schedule - you might want to do a check now just to make sure that it is not puffiness due to liver swelling. Also look into denamarin (sp) for liver support. Buy the way, the white fish is great for the liver.

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Worth looking into. Pheno makes a lot of dogs hungry, which leads to feeding more, which leads to weight gain. But that's not happening with your pup.

 

If you decide to check thyroid, I would recommend sending to Michigan State because pheno does affect those values and their testing protocol can help work around that.

 

I might also ask your vet to get a good feel and perhaps a quick x-ray or two of her abdomen, just to make sure there's nothing like an enlarged spleen going on.

 

Hugs to you and your pupper!

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Thanks so much! We actually have a very recent x-ray and ultrasound of her belly, as one night she had extreme stomach pain/gas/bloating (on her old food) and as it was about 2 weeks after losing our boy, I took her to the e-vet right away. She had a complete blood panel, as well, and she checked out fine. They just gave her Gas-X and a couple other things to settle her stomach, and we switched her to boiled chicken & rice until her tummy settled down.

 

She's doing a lot better on the fish blend! We also have her on milk thistle for liver support - but I'll definitely call my vet about when her next liver check is, it's definitely coming up soon.

 

Thanks again for all the ideas!

 

By the way, does 1,000 calories a day sound about right for weight loss? Since we've never had any problems with weight, we've been really remiss in even checking.

Edited by Sundrop
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even your reduced calorie food is a lot of calories per cup. my 8 year old 78# male eats 3-3.25 cups of a food that is around 380 calories per cup daily and is maintaining his weight(at 4 cups a day i considered him too well filled out). i had great success getting weight off my late scottie w/ the lite- weight reduction diets from science diet. http://www.hillspet.com/products/sd-canine-adult-light-dry.html i just looked them up and they are around 300 cal a cup. i also fed carrots for treats, they have sugar but are basically roughage and fill them up. ice cubes work well as treats. i would try a lesser calorie food, cut out all commercial goodies/treats and go hard core. see what happens in 2 weeks. getting 10#s off can take some time.

 

if you do not see any results from the hill's food in 2-3 weeks then i would ask about having her thyroid tested. there are plenty of links on gt re: #s for gh thyroid range.

good luck-

 

with the lower calorie food you might consider a supplement of cold pressed salmon oil for the coat.

Edited by cleptogrey
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