Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
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Does anyone have experience with Inflammatory Bowel Disease? My sweet 13 year old Nilla is a rear leg amputee secondary to an aggressive Mast Cell Tumor. Luckily for her all post-op tests came back as cancer free, but she was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. That explains the 9+ months of poor eating prior to the tumor rearing it’s ugly head, and also explains Nilla’s complete lack of eating following amputation surgery. She had a feeding tube in place for about 4 weeks and was eating pretty well for a while, but just as the feeding tube was removed she had a huge IBD flare-up that lasted over two weeks. I’m talking uncontrollable explosive bloody diarrhea. It was so sad. She’s been on high doses of Metronidazole as well as a probiotic, and a bland diet. The thinking behind IBD is that it develops as a long term inflammatory “allergic” reaction to proteins the dog has eaten for most of her life, so the best course of treatment is to switch her to a hydrolyzed protein diet, a food hypoallergenic diet, or a completely novel protein. Nilla has been on a fish diet for most of her life (salmon and/or trout kibble), as well as periods of chicken. She tested allergic to beef, lamb, and rice when she was very young, and has pretty much been off of those her entire life. We tried a hydrolyzed protein food and a hypoallergenic food and she wanted nothing to do with either of them. I now have her on canned rabbit, which she is tolerating well (no diarrhea but she is on 500mg of metronidazole 2x/day), but she is still only eating a very small helping — between 1/4 and 1/3 can per feeding. She should be a 60 pound lab (would be 65 if she had her 4th leg), but she is down to 46 pounds. She is really skin and bones, and it is so sad to watch her sniff her food, lay next to her food, circle her food, but then walk away from it. I am truly at a loss as to what to feed her that she will like and what to feed her that won’t cause a flare-up of her IBD. The best she ate was when I fed her boiled chicken and pumpkin, but after several days on that, her IBD flared up so intensely that her watery diarrhea had tinges of blood in it, so we were advised to take her off the bland chicken. The funny thing is that she would eat snacks all day if I let her. She’s like a picky toddler — she loves any kind of crunchy treats — sweet potato jerky, rabbit jerky, cookies — but there aren’t enough calories or nutrients in treats to sustain her. I was hoping that her love of crunchy would translate to wanting to eat kibble but it hasn’t. Nilla’s m.o. is also that after the novelty of a food taste wears off, she will reject that food too. It’s so frustrating that the most basic animal instinct of eating has become the thing that is going to be her demise. I’m seeing a certified canine nutritionist in two weeks, but in the meantime any advice or knowledge of IBD would be helpful.
Jill & Nilla
Oh my gosh poor Nilla and poor you! That is heartbreaking but stay strong, you are doing exactly what needs to be done and seeing the nutritionist, so that’s a great start.
In the meantime you may want to call the nutritionist and ask for their input about what you can do in the meantime. Two weeks is a long time to wait and she needs to get eating before then as you know.
Yes, I’ve heard that about the hydrolyzed protein food is bland and not very appetizing. SO ironic!
Is there any way you can create home cooked foods similar to the treats she likes, and supplement that with a pet nutrition drink like Viyo?
Our Jerry used to be a very, very picky eater, I feel your pain. We found that the stinkier and gamier the meats, the more he would eat. Things like fresh bison and venison got his appetite up.
Thank you. I’ll look into these things. She has been diarrhea-free for almost 48 hours, and actually had a moderately well formed, albeit soft, poop last night, so I’m cautious about adding too many new things into her diet right now. I’m not adverse to cooking for her, although the challenge is that we keep a kosher home and are therefore somewhat limited in what I can cook. Things like rabbit and pork are not kosher, and the things that are available at a kosher butcher (poultry, red meats) inflame the ibd. Kosher meat is also twice as expensive as nonkosher meat, so if I home cook for her I need to know that she will eat it. Sigh….. we’ve come so far with Nilla. It’s sad to see her starving herself.
18 October 2009
My quad-Pug Tani was diagnosed with IBD when she was 4. For us the biggest symptom was throwing up, which I think occurred because food wasn’t being processed through her stomach. She was x-rayed hours after she ate and her stomach was full. She threw up a couple times a day (at least) for 3 weeks before we got a diagnosis. Tani never really lost her appetite- she always wanted to eat but she couldn’t keep anything down.
I was told by the specialist vet that it was most likely due to a reaction or allergy to the main protein she ate, I was told to change it. The Pug Girls ate chicken a lot- finding a dog food without any chicken parts or pieces was a challenge! That is what led me to a high quality, grain free , limited ingredient food. I was lucky that Tani responded to the diet change quickly and her throwing up stopped pretty soon after I changed food.
The good thing that came out of the IBD diagnosis is that I educated myself on dog food ingredients. I eventually came to believe that it wasn’t the chicken she was reacting too, rather something in the low quality, big name food I was feeding. When I was growing up my parents bought whatever was on sale at the supermarket, that’s what I learned to feed. I did have to be careful with Tani’s diet for the rest of her life- no sudden changes, limited ingredients, and the least processed foods. That lead eventually to removing kibble as the main food source. I never did identify the specific food item causing her symptoms, but I was able to re-introduce chicken after a few years and she ate it without problems.
I’m not familiar with the restrictions of a Kosher household- can you feed a protein that you don’t have to cook? I now feed Honest Kitchen dehydrated food and really like it. When Tani was still around I used a base mix and added my own protein- which was usually duck. But now that my two pups don’t have IBD issues I use one of the complete meal foods they have, although I do still add protein sometimes. They have grain free versions and limited ingredient versions.
I think you are wise to try and stabilize things before you start adding or subtracting. Hopefully whatever you are doing now will keep her steady for awhile! I’m sorry she is having such a hard time.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
22 February 2013
Just wanted to add my support and remind you of how strong uou are and what a wonderful advocate you are for your NIlla. And clearly sweet Nilla is a fighter too! All Jerry’s suggestions and links were greart (as usual).
Gonna give a little bit of a YAY for having a decent stool (relatively speaking)! Hiping that’s gonna continue!! And she IS eating something! Certainly not as much as she needs and not the quality she needs. However, it IS enough to keep her from starvation!
And btw, congratulations on good post- op report! This gal is one tough cookie!!
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!
Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!
I’m not familiar with Tylan powder. I will look into it and speak with the vet about it. What long term side effects does metronidazole have? She is currently on 500 mg 2x/day. It has stopped the diarrhea, but her poops are by no means firm. She is also on 15 mg prednisone 1x/day (tapered down from 20 mg). I’m definitely more concerned about the long term effects of the steroid. To lighten the mood around the house, we’ve resorted to speaking like Elmer Fudd when Nilla goes to eat her “wascily wabbit”.
Some dogs can have neurologic side effects if they are on metronidazole for more than a few weeks, although it seems more common in small breeds. Tylan is also known as tylosin and most dogs start with 1/4 tsp twice daily and some can be weaned down to once daily or to smaller amounts. It tastes bitter but many dogs take it in canned food or you can put it into empty gel caps.