Weighty Matters

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Weighty Matters – The Dog Edition

on January 11, 2013


I have two English Cocker Spaniels.  Nat and Pyxi are brother and sister.  They’ll be six in April and we’ve been a family since they were seven months old.  He’s bigger than she is, which is normal for males.  She was always this more delicate, girly-looking dog.

Many people take better care of their furry companions than they do themselves and I’m no exception.  Over the years, with other pets, I faithfully took them to the vet for their shots, for checkups, for visits if they appeared the least bit off.  I’ll sit home self-treating myself for the flu without calling a doctor, but when/if one of my dogs is sick, I hit speed dial on the phone to reach the vet office.

I work with Nat and Pyxi, do fun training for enrichment, play and cuddle with them every day.  I’m ashamed to admit, however, that in the couple of years before my surgery when my own physical condition was at its worse, I slacked off on their exercise.  I’m doing my best to make up for that and get them into better shape.

The effort has worked for Nat.  He’s doing great.  Unfortunately, Pyxi is porky.  I’ve seen it for months and have been extra careful at monitoring her food.  I measure.  I don’t over do it with treats.  We play and I’m taking both of them out for walks more often.  However, she still needs to lose around eight pounds.  On a dog that should weigh 21 or 22 pounds, eight additional pounds are definitely too many.

I brought it up to the vet earlier in the week when a group of us were out to dinner.  We’re friends and I also work with his wife.  He said that the next time I had the kids in, he would take a good look, listen to her heart, and evaluate.  He thought that we might want to check Pyxi’s thyroid function just to be on the safe side.

Last night, the dear friend who bred my furkids and gave them to me after my beloved Brittany died was in town.  I talked with her about my concerns with Pyxi.  She came over and assessed my little girl with a visual check and a hands’ on exam.  She agreed that Pyxi is overweight, but made a particular observation that most of the pounds are carried in the middle instead of being distributed over her body.  In her expert opinion, she concurred that we should do blood work and check the thyroid function.

I told her what I feed Pyxi every day and it didn’t seem like too much food to her.

Then she said something that alarmed me, even though she was quick to say that she didn’t mean it to scare me, she just wanted to be even more on the safe side.  She suggested that I talk to the vet about the possibility of pre-Cushing’s Syndrome if the thyroid test didn’t show a problem.

As soon as she left, I naturally did an internet search because I had no idea or knowledge of Cushing’s.  It’s pretty confusing but the gist is that too much cortisol is produced and that causes problems.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen an ad for a diet product that talks about cortisol and belly fat.  I can’t actually see them, but I bet a lot of hands just went up.

Pyxi has some of the symptoms but I’m worried so I might have been picking out the things that seem like a fit for her and looking at the worst case scenario.  These same symptoms could also be from thyroid imbalance or the plain fact that she wasn’t getting enough exercise and it will take some time to work the extra weight off of her.

I woke up this morning determined to not borrow trouble but to approach this calmly.  I called the vet’s office first thing this morning and left a message, asking the vet to call me when he had a minute.  When he did a few hours later, we talked it all over and devised a plan.  I’m taking Pyxi in Monday morning for a blood draw so we can test her thyroid.  If the blood work reveals an issue, then we can treat her condition.

If the blood test is negative, we’ll do the first test for Cushing’s.  This means that I will soon face a new experience — collecting a urine sample from my dog.  I’m sure that Pyxi will be as thrilled as I am about this process, which is to say less than enthusiastic. 🙂  Doesn’t matter.  Whatever my little girl needs, I will do.

When all is said and done, I don’t want her to have either condition.  I’d rather do the tests, have them all come back negative and have the vet tell me that we need to cut her calories more and up her exercise.  I’d rather find out that I have been in denial thinking that I was doing better with her food and activity level and need to give myself a wake-up call.

Maybe we can make it all better with a lower calorie food and more activity.

Doesn’t that sound like every sensible “diet” plan we’ve ever heard?  Consume fewer calories, burn more with exercise.

When I started this blog, I never dreamed that I might one day have to discuss weighty matters that concern my dog.   I feel like a Mom with an obese child who only wants to know what she can do and how she can help her poor baby.

I’ll keep you posted.

5 responses to “Weighty Matters – The Dog Edition

  1. Hope says:

    Fingers crossed for Pyxi!

  2. Mimi says:

    Hi Mary. My precious male was diagnosed with Cushings just before Christmas. May I suggest an ingenious devise incorporating a straightened wire coat hanger to hold a small Dixie cup for urine collection? It’s a wonder. I’m very glad you’re checking into the condition before your little girl exhibits more symptoms. You haven’t mentioned gorging on water, so I’m going to hope that Pyxie will test negative. Either way, the symptoms are manageable and she will be here to love you for a very long time.

  3. Skye says:

    Keeping my fingers crossed that’s Pyxi just needs a bit more of the lifestyle change.

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