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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16289
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I am looking after my friends 2 year old springier spaniel.

Resolved Question:

I am looking after my friends 2 year old springier spaniel. He is a lovely boy but very thin, you can see his rib cage. He has a normal size head but looks out of proportion. He has been wormed.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about Oscar's extremely lean body condition.

Some dogs are naturally very thin. They are not good eaters and eat to live rather than being concerned about food.
That said when when a dog is too thin, with ribs well outlined and a very tucked up abdomen then we should look for underlying disease processes that interfere with the digestion, absorption and use of food. Here is a link to a webpage with a diagram and descriptions of body condition that will help you determine whether he is really too thin:
http://www.pet-health-care-gazette.com/2010/05/16/dog-body-condition-score-chart/

What is his diet? If he is fed a poor quality food low in nutrients he may not be able to eat enough to maintain his weight. I recommend foods made by Hills Science Diet, Royal Canin and Purina Pro Plan.

I know that you say he has been wormed but general wormers may not cover some of the more unusual parasites and if his environment is infested with parasite eggs and cysts he may be picking parasites up again immediately. I do recommend that a stool be submitted to his veterinarian to be sent out to the laboratory for analysis for the more unusual parasites.

I also recommend a complete blood count and biochemistry profile to make sure his organ function is normal. Dogs with kidney disease will lose blood proteins through their kidneys and thus can have trouble maintaining his weight. Dogs with liver disease also have trouble maintaining their weight.

Does he ever have abnormal stools?
Dogs with a poorly functioning pancreas, one that doesn't produce enough digestive enzymes, will have trouble digesting and absorbing their food, and thus have trouble maintaining their weight. These dogs will often have large stools, which may be loose or greasy in character. Their poor ability to digest their food means most of it passes through. This is easily tested for with a blood test called a TLI, which measures pancreatic digestive enzymes in the blood. Treatment is replacement of these digestive enzymes along with his meals.

Dogs with primary intestinal disease, inflammatory bowel disease or protein losing enteropathies, cannot properly digest and absorb their food and as a result can be too thin. These disease are more difficult to diagnose but measuring folate and/or vitamin B levels in the blood can point toward a particular area that is diseased. A definitive diagnosis is achieved by gathering intestinal biopsies via endoscopy or an abdominal exploratory.

I know that Oscar isn't your fellow, so the things I am recommending are really beyond what you can do for him if he really is too thin, but perhaps you can pass on this information to his owner.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.



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