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New Dog Painfully (Dangerously?) Thin, What To Do?


Guest Vayda
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Hello all,

 

I have owned a beautiful retired racing greyhound for 3 years now, and never had trouble keeping him at a healthy pet weight. If anything, he's a little over where he should be thanks to my toddler who loves to share. I say this to show I'm pretty well versed in what a healthy greyhound should look like, and I don't have delusions about making a grey look like a Labrador or anything silly like that.

 

That said...

 

I just took in a greyhound from a friend who is going through a nasty divorce. This dog is seriously neglected and INCREDIBLY thin. You can count every single rib when you look at him from the side and his hip joints, well, he looks almost skeletal. It's scary. He's pretty comparable in size to my 80lb guy, and he probably weighs around 60 pounds. It's THAT dramatic. I'm really worried about his health. Since his arrival at my house, he's had some tummy troubles (I'm sure from the stress of everything, plus his old owner was feeding him really terrible food), and we've had him on a bland diet to get that settled down. We are starting to reintroduce dry food now. So, a couple questions.

 

My original hound eats about 3-4 cups of dry food a day, split between morning and night feedings. Should I put my new hound on the same schedule/amount? Or should I feed him more? If more, do I feed him larger meals or add a third meal in the middle of the day?

 

Next, is there anything I can do to just get some extra calories in his system in a healthy way? If he were human, we'd be adding avocado and nuts and olive oil to every meal, but I'm not sure what to do for the pupper, especially since his digestive system isn't the most robust thing in the world.

 

Thanks for any help or advice you're able to offer!!

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Definitely more via a third meal. I prefer to make the "more" add ins that are protein rich and easily digestible like cooked chicken and hard-boiled egg. Mix with the amount of kibble he should be getting to maintain his proper weight and then feed over 3-4 meals. A bit of coconut oil is also a decent option for adding some healthy fat. Satin balls as treats are also a good option.

 

If he's that severely underweight though, I would do this under the guidance of a vet and make darn sure you've ruled out potential underlying medical conditions. Also worth worming prophylactically with Panacur if he hasn't been on a monthly preventative. Do you have any idea how he got to this state?

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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I'd feed him 4-5 meals a day if you can, at least 4 hours apart so as not to stress his digestive system too much.

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When a relationship of love is disrupted, the relationship does not cease. The love continues; therefore, the relationship continues. The work of grief is to reconcile and redeem life to a different love relationship. ~ W Scott Lineberry

Always Greyhounds Home Boarding and Greyhounds With Love House Sitting

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I would take him to the vet's and get him checked over. Hopefully he is healthy, but if nothing else it will be useful to have them pop him on the scales and that will give you a baseline to work from.

 

Has been wormed? If he has worms he won't get the full goodness from his food so unless you know he's been wormed recently I would either worm him myself/ask the vet to do a faecal test.

 

Feeding amounts - go by the weight he should be, not the weight he is now. I would certainly be feeding him three times a day, maybe even more - smaller meals at more frequent intervals are easier to digest and absorb.

 

Extra protein should be the easiest kind of food for him to metabolise. My old boy Doc had a tendency to be too skinny and my vet always advised adding a bit of raw minced meat to his kibble if he looked too ribby - preferably economy grade beef, as that's a bit fatty, or lamb for the same reason. Other good additions are a bit of poached chicken, off the bone but with its broth, a couple of scrambled eggs, oily fish - tinned sardines are very popular here or raw green tripe. If he has a delicate tum take things gently, one new thing at a time will let you see if it is easy for him to digest.

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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I have taken in several pointer fosters that come straight from shelters and have been very under weight. Definitely add a meal with extra protein such as chicken and some rice mixed with the kibble. Do his poops look normal? New fosters usually have soft yellow poop which seem a combination of poor quality food and stress.

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Guest DarkHorse

Agreed with everyone else - smaller, more frequent meals are easier to digest. Also agree that you should get him to a vet ASAP and get him checked over. Get bloodwork done if you can. Best to know now if high protein add-ins are going to be a problem because he's got kidney issues.

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Some good advice here. My 2 cents worth, based on kennel dogs that came to us from owners that neglected them, and all mentioned above in one way or another:

 

1 Vet for blood work and exam to rule out medical and parasites

2 An extra meal: If the normal daily food is 4 cups of kibble, increase by up to 25% by adding in an extra 1 cup meal of regular food.

3 Easily digested calories such as raw pumpkin (not pie filling) and a couple table spoons of full fat yogurt will add calories, but also include some fiber and probiotics. This can be given with the extra meal. Fully cooked white rice and ground meat (do not drain the fat) also work well, or any combination.

 

I would put the vet as priority 1 however. 20 lbs underweight (especially if it represents 25% of healthy weight) is dangerous. If it is due to neglect, the body can start to cannibalize itself for protein causing muscle loss and damage to organs.

 

The vet may prescribe treatment different than 2 and 3 above. I included those for if the vet says the dog is ok medically, but just needs to put on weight. They should add a few pounds a week.

 

If the stool is loose, it may be from recent change in diet, or a mis-match in food for that particular dog. Blending in the extra calories can help from upsetting the dog's digestive system, by having some of it's regular diet in every meal. Sometimes adding in meals or mini-meals of non-regular food types can cause digestive issues all on its own.

 

Apologies for repeating others or telling you things you may already know. This is what I would do. This is what I have done.

Edited by GreytXpctations
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He hasn't been to the vet yet but he will go soon - to be honest, this was kind of thrust upon me and I need to get paid on the 1st before I can get him in to the vet. We will see about worms and get a baseline weight then.

 

My friend is going through a really nasty divorce and had to take her kids and leave her home. She was unable to find an affordable place to live on short notice that would take a large dog, so she left him with her ex. Her ex seriously neglected the dog - I mean, she dropped off a brand new bag of food, went back a week later to gather some things, and the new bag of food was still unopened. When her ex finally allowed her to see her grey it was clear that he had been very neglected for some time - living entirely outdoors, not being fed regularly, and based on the way he reacts to my husband, there was possibly some other abuse involved too. He's fine with women, but won't allow any men to touch his collar. It's really a pretty sad state.

 

My dog eats Whole Earth Farms, but my new buddy came with regular Purina. I'm not sure if I should keep him on the kibble he's eaten forever, even though it's not quite as quality as the whole earth, or if I should use this as a chance to transition, or if I should keep him on the kibble he's used to for the moment and then when he's back to a healthy weight transition him to the whole earth.

 

My husband works from home, so I'll ask him to feed the dog multiple small meals throughout the day. Maybe that will help with the man-hating thing, too!! Thanks for the tips on sources of protein (I didn't even think of eggs!) and fat!

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If he's already got stool issues just switch him to the new food asap. You only need to worry about transitioning if the stool is in good shape right now. Regardless of how you do it, I'd get him off the Purina.

 

You may already know this, but encourage your husband to be very cautious and avoid grabbing hte new dog's collar at all. A large number of dog bites happen that way. When he's feeling better, you can systematically desensitize him to having his collar grabbed by pairing it with receiving high value food, but you'll want to do it first, then possibly have another woman he trusts do it before having your husband attempt it.

 

You're a good friend to take the dog in when finances are tight. If he gets a clean bill of health from the vet, you may want to think about pet insurance through Healthy Paws or a similar company.

 

Last thing I'll mention, a negative fecal doesn't mean the dog is free of parasites. If it were me, and he turns out to be healthy otherwise (normal blood work, no TBDs, which I would definitely test for using a 4D snap test) then I would deworm prophylactically. Still do the fecal so if it is positive you know what you're dealing with, but I would deworm regardless of results. The only exception would be if the husband kept him on a monthly preventative that includes dewormer like Heartguard Plus, but that seems unlikely given what you've said.

 

I hope he's healthy and just needs to put some weight back on. What a sad story for him.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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We found out about the collar issues when my husband went to leash him for a walk, so a pretty innocent collar grab. Thank goodness we have a fenced in yard and he doesn't need to be walked on a lead every day! Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier that right now he's separated from the toddler entirely, since she's not even 2 yet and I worry about her getting handsy and the new dog not reacting like my big lug does :)

 

I'll discuss with my vet about deworming and which products to use and so on. My friend had him on a regular preventative, but he was with her ex for about two months. Considering the ex couldn't be bothered to feed the poor guy or let him inside, I'm guessing the heartguard didn't happen either. Just in case, though, I want to speak with the vet and make sure there's no danger of combining medications.

 

He seems pretty OK, just painfully thin. His eyes are bright and now that his stomach is calming down, he is energetic and eating well. I think we will transition him from the bland diet to the whole earth, perhaps using the purina just to bulk it up and add some extra calories and use it up. Plus I know he likes the purina, whereas we haven't even tried the whole earth.

 

Thank you again everyone!! He's such a sweet dog, and I'm really hopeful he is just underfed and neglected and there's no greater health concern going on.

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Guest GreyOrchard

In the past ten years I ran a small private greyhound sanctuary in Ireland. I specialized in cases of extreme neglect.

 

First, if you are going to bring this dog to a vet, only bring him to a vet who is experienced with very poor dogs. I know of several vets who played guesswork with very poor dogs and sometimes with fatal results. Many are very quick to load a dog up with pharmaceuticals that his body might not be able to handle. Also consider that this dog has already been through a lot, and a trip to the vet could be very hard on him.

 

That said, the most important thing about clinically emaciated greyhounds is water. Almost all emaciated greyhounds are also dehydrated. If they are not getting enough water, but plenty of food, this could be a dangerous combination. Water needs to be available at all times and needs to appear to be in unlimited amounts. By that I mean that many dehydrated and neglected greyhounds have gotten out of the habit of drinking, and like some elderly people, might not even realize they have not been drinking. Once they realize they are indeed thirsty, they will want to drink a lot. If you leave out a small bowl of water, they are reluctant to drink their fill, and might just have a few laps and feel the need to conserve it. So a small bucket of water is best, always being topped up. They need to feel that they can drink their fill and there is no need to conserve the water. Even the most poorly emaciated dog will look somewhat improved in 2 days once they start getting re-hydrated.

 

For food, I would give a combination of puppy kibble and brown rice with some shredded meat or fish and warm water mixed in, to make it a stew. The puppy kibble is rich in vitamins and nutrients, and almost all puppy kibble is made to be easy on the digestive system. The rice will help control runny poo. As the dog gains weight, you can slowly begin to replace the puppy kibble (and rice if you want) with what ever you have your other dog on. Do it a little bit at a time. Three meals a day is good, with the middle meal slowly being decreased to nothing as the weight comes on.

 

This has worked well for me with many dozens of poor cases. This link shows a case I dealt with recently, though certainly not the only one.

 

https://www.facebook.com/greyhound.sanctuary/photos/a.1650475078530254.1073741826.1650475028530259/1650478241863271/?type=3&theater

Edited by GreyOrchard
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I am very, very fortunate on my vet front - the greyhound kennel we adopted my guy from is a mile from my house in the basement of our vet's office. The vets there see greyhounds day in and day out, and I definitely trust them to offer sound greyhound advice.

 

I had no idea about the water! I will make sure we have the biggest bucket available topped up constantly. Great idea on the puppy food, too!

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The water is a good point. I would suggest multiple bowls around the house rather than a single large source, especially since this guy is a bit nervous around your husband. That way water is accessible to him regardless of where in the house he is. Especially in the bedroom overnight as I think many people tend to not have water in the bedroom as most dogs just sleep soundly through the night. When my cat developed kidney disease that was one of the changes we had to make, to put water bowls in various rooms so it was always easily accessible to him.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Hmmm, that'll take some creativity. My daughter likes to tip over water bowls, haha :) Right now we have King (the new guy) gated into the kitchen so that he cannot get to my toddler (and she can't get to him) and so that he's separated from Abner (my original dog) and my cats until he gets a clean bill of health. And, also, because accidents were happening pretty frequently and the kitchen floor is tile. He's in there with a big comfy bed and lots of interaction from us and from Abner at the gate, so no worries about him being locked away or anything :) As we transition him out into the rest of the house, I'll need a way to keep the toddler out of the water...any suggestions on that front?

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Hmmm, that'll take some creativity. My daughter likes to tip over water bowls, haha :) Right now we have King (the new guy) gated into the kitchen so that he cannot get to my toddler (and she can't get to him) and so that he's separated from Abner (my original dog) and my cats until he gets a clean bill of health. And, also, because accidents were happening pretty frequently and the kitchen floor is tile. He's in there with a big comfy bed and lots of interaction from us and from Abner at the gate, so no worries about him being locked away or anything :) As we transition him out into the rest of the house, I'll need a way to keep the toddler out of the water...any suggestions on that front?

Ah, that makes it easy then. I think by the time he's got free reign of the house he'll be in better shape and it will be less of a concern. If you do want water in other places, the first thing that comes to mind is a wooden elevated feeder. The stainless 2 qt bowls fit pretty snuggly in those and they're not so easy to tip. I have crates in both my bedroom and living so I went with bowls attached to the crate in those rooms (the cat would just go in the crate to drink) and an autofilling water dispenser thingy in the spare room where his litter was so the water would stay cleaner longer and I wouldn't have to go in to fill it as often.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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We are a very full house :) Me, my husband, our 19 month old daughter, 3 cats, and two greyhounds - and would you believe I'm 36 weeks pregnant too! I'll look into an elevated feeder, that sounds like it would be a huge help. Thanks!

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Good points about the water. I think Vayda's comment about keeping him on the Purina to some degree for bulking up is good too, especially related to the water, as long as he is tolerating the Purina well enough. After just going through some ongoing food/health related issues at home due in part to a higher end, lower sodium food; I think that the lower end Purina may encourage the dog to drink more. If the other food has low sodium, the dog may not drink as much. I know Carlos is hitting the water bowl a lot more, after switching him back to a mid-range food. Multiple full water dishes sounds good too; even if it is just two in the same room.

 

ETA: I also agree with the comment above about letting your husband feed the dog to help the dog warm up to him.

 

It's also good to know your vet has solid greyhound experience. You're a good person for looking after all this.

Edited by GreytXpctations
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Guest GreyOrchard

A couple of points: 1) if a bucket of water is used, then there is no need for elevation as long as the bucket is kept topped up; 2) for Vayda's purposes, it might be easier to keep one bucket from her bowl-tipping daughter than several bowls; 3) to a dog, one filled bucket looks a lot more bottomless than a few smaller bowls placed here and there; 4) the puppy nuts are likely to be full of more B vitamin sources than the adult food, and B vitamins are excellent for skin and coat and the central nervous system

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Probably I'll do one bucket as long as he's in the kitchen, and then when he's got more range of the house I'll expand to a big dog bowl in the kitchen, a bucket on the back porch, and maybe another bowl or two that I can put out at night in the living room.

 

What are puppy nuts?

Edited by Vayda
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Guest GreyOrchard

Probably I'll do one bucket as long as he's in the kitchen, and then when he's got more range of the house I'll expand to a big dog bowl in the kitchen, a bucket on the back porch, and maybe another bowl or two that I can put out at night in the living room.

 

What are puppy nuts?

Puppy nuts are puppy kibble or puppy dry dog food - I live in Ireland, but am American, and everyone calls them "nuts" here and in the UK. Very confusing. I guess I slipped when I said "nuts" - sorry!

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I would 100% go with the Purina if he'll eat it for now. More important to get food in him right now than going on the quest for the Holy Grail of dog food. Before grain free and dog food name dropping became in vogue on internet forums millions and millions of dogs of dogs have lived long healthy lives on Purina.

The idea of puppy kibble with rice and mix ins sounds good.

 

When Cody first came he was a VERY picky eater and chicken broth and a couple of tablespoons of canned really helped. Other popular mix ins here have been sardines, Jack Mackrel (poor man's salmon) scrambled eggs, tuna and tilapia (two pound bags IQF at Wal-Mart for less than $7)...but no one has ever liked fish based kibble...go figure.

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