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Shadow's Geriatric Workup

Dog Dancer
July 3rd, 2009, 10:46 AM
So Shadow had her geriatric blood workup this week. She was sooo good with the vet. He said she was in excellent shape for a 12 year old dog. But... Her blood work came back with the kidney readings up a bit, the urine was fine, the liver enzimes were double and her hemoglobin was low. So we're taking her off the Evo Red Meat due to the high protein content, and he's put her on some Iron supplements for a month to start with and then we'll redo the bloodwork. Anybody got any input on what else I should be doing?? I think I will just cook food for her as she's very picky about eating dry dog food (like she really doesn't like it). Any input on that would be appreciated too, but I'm going to go search some threads. Wish me luck on getting her blood works back on track.

July 3rd, 2009, 11:37 AM
Hi Dog Dancer - long time no talk! I am sorry I cannot add anything but I hope that everything goes well.:)

Dog Dancer
July 3rd, 2009, 11:44 AM
Yeah long time! Hope you are well. I'm kind of hoping somebody else may have had similar blood readings and have some input. I'll be talking to the vet more at length next month again.

July 3rd, 2009, 01:21 PM
Did you vet mention trying denosyl (Sam-E) for the liver issues? It is an awesome liver support. I also have Lucy on this supplement from her homeopathic vet and her liver seems to be working better these days. The homeopathic vet feels her liver is much less inflamed at our last visit and we will do a blood check at her visit next month.

I would not worry about the high protein food. That seems to be an "old-school" thought and actually a good source of highly digestible food is much more important. I have Lucy on a raw diet and that works very well for us. I think home cooked is actually a great option if you are willing/able to do that :).

I'm guessing the iron supplements are for the lower hemoglobin levels? Watch out for that as iron supplements may make Shadow feel quite naseous. I would actually think that incorporating some good red meats into his diet would be a better choice. Lucy has has low hemoglobin levels a few times over the years but they stabilized easily on their own without any supplements. I would personally skip the supplements and work on the diet a bit and retest in a month or so and then add the supplements if needed.

I don't really know that much about the kidney stuff. Lucy has had some minor increases lately but her urine is still very good so I haven't been overly worried. I do try to add some extra water to her meals to help keep her fluid levels high.

Good luck :goodvibes:.

July 3rd, 2009, 01:36 PM
That's awesome you're willing to do homecooked for her! :thumbs up

If you find that gets difficult at times, one food that she may like is Acana Provincial by Champion Pet Foods. It's high-quality and grain-free, but has lower protein levels than EVO and Orijen. :)

I'm surprised she has low iron having been eating EVO Red Meat though.....I agree with above that maybe some fresh red meat could be tried prior to iron supplements. I've taken those myself and didn't find them easy on the stomach. If you continue with the supplements I would bump up her fibre intake with some pure pumpkin.....the iron can cause constipation.

Dog Dancer
July 3rd, 2009, 01:40 PM
Hi TeriM, I thought you may have some insight as I know you have a senior as well. The vet didn't seem too concerned with the levels at this point, and yes the iron supplements are for the low hemogloben. I have just recently been adding liver to their diet (they like meat on their kibble). We have been cooking it though, does it lose it's value if it's cooked? I'm not sure they would eat it raw to be honest... They sucky girls and not used to raw food. I honestly don't know where to start with the home cooked food, but am going to give it a try I think. Will have to do some research though while we finish off the EVO. I've read a couple articles today about the high protein being okay with senior dogs also, so mostly I just get confused with it all. I only talked to the vet on the phone yesterday, so next month we'll get more info.

Dog Dancer
July 3rd, 2009, 01:45 PM
Hey Chase Mom. Thanks for your input also. Shadow won't eat pumpkin. I've tried her on that before. I was surprised about the iron too given the food they're on - go figure. The vet just said she doesn't metabolize it well it seems. Thanks for the Acana recommendation, I will look at it next time I'm at my supplier. Overall we're not too worried about her, she is in really good shape for her age, but I'd like to see this stuff stabilized. They already eat more chicken breasts than we do so now I have to give her steaks instead??? Damn dogs eat better than us - how sad is that! Ah we love them though.

July 3rd, 2009, 01:55 PM
Shadow won't eat pumpkin. I've tried her on that before.

What about sprinkiling a little All-Bran on her food? Iron supplements can cause quite severe constipation, so try to get some fibre in her any way you can. That unflavoured Benefibre from the drugstore would also virtually disappear in a home-cooked meal. :)

July 3rd, 2009, 02:03 PM
Lucy has never done well on the lower protein high carb foods. They make her gain weight really easily even if the calories are the same as the higher protein. I agree that the acana formulas are awesome and are a good compromise between the lower 20-23% proteins and the higher 45% Evo type foods. You can also just give half kibble and supplement with home cooked. If you cook, make up a big soup-pot full and freeze in small portions so it's not too much work. I actually did this for a while with Lucy at one point but with the amount of food Riley eats the cooking would be a full time job.

Boil some boneless meats (chicken, beef, turkey, etc) with a LITTLE brown rice, sweet potatoes, or other whole grains like barley, quinoa, millet, , and some assorted veggies cut into very small pieces - you can buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies for example, as long as there are no onions (at least 3/4 meat and the rest grains & veggies) and if you want to add some flavour then maybe a bit of low-sodium chicken or beef broth. You will need some calcium so for every pound of raw meat you will need to add 1 tsp of finely ground eggshells (collect your shells, dry them well and pulverize in a coffee grinder). You can also get plenty of raw recreational bones to gnaw on if she is interested. They do amazing things for their teeth. I would also supplement with salmon oil and possibly rotate through other supplements. Mix the mush with plain yogurt, or some rinsed canned fish occasionally etc. Try to vary the ingredients a bit each batch!

You could also consider feeding some canned food :shrug:.

July 3rd, 2009, 02:11 PM
I think I will just cook food for her as she's very picky about eating dry dog food (like she really doesn't like it). Any input on that would be appreciated too, but I'm going to go search some threads.

I personally am not a great fan of EVO. I think it is a good food but it seems hard for a lot of dogs to digest. I tried Riley on it and it was one food that he could never seem to process correctly. I have a friend who had her pittie on the red meat formula as well and he did okay but when she finally switched him off their was a noticeable improvement :shrug:.

I think sometimes when they are reluctant to eat something it is a sign that perhaps it doesn't agree with them. Some foods work better for some dogs then others will :shrug:. Of course, it could be that they are just being picky but with Riley when he seems reluctant to eat something I listen. He has a healthy appetite (although not food obsessed like Lucy) so I believe he is telling me something when he doesn't want to eat the kibble.

July 3rd, 2009, 02:29 PM
I had a similar issue with abnormal kidney values, with my one dog that is a senior, after having him on Orijen for a couple of months. I took him off it, and the values returned to normal over the next few months. I am now careful to choose the lower protein formulas when feeding grain-free. There has been no recurrence of these abnormal kidney values since, and it has been close to 2 years I think.

July 3rd, 2009, 02:38 PM
I agree with TeriM about checking on Denosyl. Another you may wish to consider is Denamarin. This is in regard to the liver enzymes only.

Denosyl info:

Denamarin info:

The Denamarin is basically the same as Denosyl, but has milk-thistle/SAMe in it which can help with liver repair and lower liver enzymes.

I've had two Scotties with elevated ALKPhos levels and the denosyl did lower them. But when Tipper had hepatitis the specialist put her on Denamarin and both her elevated liver enzymes dropped significantly in a month. Tipper had some very significant health issues, so we were unable to test further :sad: so I can't offer a long-term report.

Good luck with Shadow. It is hard to watch them age.

July 3rd, 2009, 02:42 PM
:goodvibes: Hope the diet change will help!

Dog Dancer
July 3rd, 2009, 04:01 PM
Thank you all for the helpful info. It's great, exactly what I was looking for. Teri thanks for the cooking tips. I can do this.

Shadow has always been a very very fussy eater. She'll go two days without eating anything at all, even with fresh chicken on it, so I don't think it's the EVO in particular that she's rebelling to. She will eat it fine when she's in the mood. We went with this one because my 8 year old lab Halo has poultry allergies so we were looking for a good food with no poultry or poultry fats. Halo being a lab will eat anything at all so switching again won't really be an issue. But I do think I may go with a mix of dry and home cooked. Can they still have a raw bone - actually now that I say that I stopped giving them raw bones because Halo breaks even the big knuckle bones to shards. I guess I could do them again so long as they only get them when supervised. Weight has never been an issue for Shadow, but is for Halo.

Anyhow, thanks again for all the info, any other info is welcome. I'm taking it all into my little brain to process.

As for watching them age, yes it's so hard. It almost brings me to tears when the dogs howl now. Halo howls at sirens and then Shadow chimes in with her and Shadow has always had a very primal howl that's great to hear. Now she can hardly squeek out a howl. I say she's lost her WooWoo, it's very sad to watch her try to howl now.:sad: Bless their old hearts.

July 3rd, 2009, 06:09 PM
Yes, Bless their old hearts.

My old guy is deaf. He can't even howl (or in his case, his Scottie "aroo") at sirens any more. He has coped well with his disability. I have learned so many lessons from my old dogs--the most important: treasure every day.

July 3rd, 2009, 08:18 PM
I hope Shadow's better soon, Dog Dancer! :goodvibes: If all this was caught in a blood panel before she started showing any symptoms, it's early yet and :fingerscr fairly easily fixable!

July 5th, 2009, 11:36 PM
Just wanted to send along some :goodvibes: :goodvibes: for Shadow

Dog Dancer
July 6th, 2009, 10:16 AM
Thanks HRP and Growler. Shadow is actually just fine for all intents and purposes. Just her blood workup that's a bit skewed right now, but no physical symptoms at all. She was ripping up the yard last night playing ball no problem! Thinks she's 2 not 12, it's great. So I tried some home cooking yesterday. That was a failure. Well not total. Halo ate the slop well enough, I put some on top of her kibble (reduced the kibble). Shadow was having none of it though. She picked the meat out and left everything else behind. This morning I just put a tiny bit on her food and she ate the liver and left the rest. Oh well, back to the drawing board. I think for Shadow home cooking will just be some meat and liver, which she likes anyhow.

July 6th, 2009, 04:23 PM
Iron deficiency in a dog is really not very common, especially for one that eats a commercial kibble. Vitamin C will help the dog absorb the iron from her food. I do know that some experts claim that soy based products interfere with a dogs ability to absorb iron.

Many things can affect the levels in bloodwork, which is why most vets will follow the 'treat the whole dog' philosophy. Meaning that if the dog is healthy in every other respect but the bloodwork shows issues, they'll hold off on trying to resolve those issues until the dog shows symptoms that would require treatment or subsequent bloodwork shows the condition to be worsening.

Dog Dancer
July 6th, 2009, 05:02 PM
Thanks Kandy, I agree it's odd that she has low iron given she eats EVO Red Meat and I add on beef and chicken normally (just a bit so she'll eat). The vet did give her an Iron/vitamin supplement to take, he said three a day, but really I'm just going one right now and am supplementing her EVO with liver (which she loves to say the least). You know aside from the odd blood work she appears to be totally healthy, the blood work was just an age related precaution - I expected thyroid because she doesn't eat much for a 70 lb dog!

July 6th, 2009, 06:01 PM
While its definitely something to keep an eye on, I think I'd go more by the dog than the bloodwork. I think that bloodwork is a valuable tool when you know something is wrong, but you can't figure out what.

Does she get regular bloodwork done? Or was this the first one in a while?

Dog Dancer
July 7th, 2009, 10:12 AM
This is the first one in a while. She hasn't been ill at all and since we moved two years ago this was her first "back to the vet" visit. New vet, although we've seen him with the other girl last summer. So it's sort of a baseline to work with now. She needed her rabies vaccine so I asked for the blood work due to her age, although I'm sure he would have suggested it anyhow. So we'll tweak her diet a bit, adding the liver to help her iron levels. The vet suggested three of these iron/vitamin supplements a day - I give her one plus the liver on her food. We'll see what happens in a month and at that time I'll talk to him at length about what the other test results could represent. Shadow is my first truly senior dog so I want to do right by her. My other dogs never made it to old age sadly.

July 7th, 2009, 10:33 AM
Liver is a great iron supplement. :D I can tell when I'm anemic cuz I'll suddenly have this craving for it. Pity my poor husband who has to share the meals! :laughing:

Iron supplements can upset the stomach, so the more she gets through the luscious liver, the better! :cloud9:

July 7th, 2009, 11:11 AM
You might look for a liquid form of vitamin C to mix with her food to help her absorb more of the iron from the liver.

I truly believe in having periodic bloodwork done - the results are useful in many ways. What concerns me is having a vet push for big changes, meds, etc based exclusively on those results when the dog is obviously healthy. I think that sometimes those kinds of drastic approaches do more harm than good. It sounds like you are making a good compromise there though, and I would think that as long as subsequent tests don't show those levels getting worse then she's likely just fine - she's just getting old. :)

Dog Dancer
July 8th, 2009, 12:06 PM
Thanks Hazel and Kandy. I have to say that other than the iron supplements the vet suggested he hasn't tried to push anything at all. So yeah, Shadow is happy with the liver (Halo gets some too). I will see what I can find with vitamin C to add for her. Right now Halo has the runs really bad though, and I can only think it's from the addition of the home cooked mash I have been adding to her food. I think I'll stop that, it must be too much for her, although it's only a small glob on top of her regular food, but something is not agreeing with her. So tonight she gets pumpkin instead of veggie mash.