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Dog looks thin.

Species: Dog
Breed: Yorkshire terrier
Age: 8-11 years
I have a 9 1/2 year old Yorkshire Terrier. Recently she has begun to get thin. I have had her weighed 3 times to be certain and all 3 times it shows no weight loss. Vet checked her and said her muscle mass is good. We are stumped. Blood tests show elevated liver and kidney enzymes but she is on a high protien food and we have seen other yorkies on this food get elevated enzymes and when taken off the food they return to normal, I am feeding her Orijen.

Her activity level has not changed so I doubt it is that she is turning fat into muscle. The only thing that has changed is we brought a foster dog into the house in May and that seems to be around when this started but she and the other dog get along. I thought maybe she was feeling displaced as the foster dog requires extra attention, but then I would assume she would lose weight not just get thin.

She has been on thyroid medications for a year now and we have checked her blood every 3 months to make sure she is on the right dosage and up until 3 weeks ago it was fine and then 3 weeks ago we had to increase her dosage as her level was low again, a low thyroid should make her gain weight though shouldn't it.

I am very concerned, even though blood tests show nothing really out of the ordinary I cannot help but worry and the stress is unbelievable. Do I have reason for concern or am I just being paranoid?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for an interesting question. I have a few thoughts on Pixie's situation.

First of all, do you have the numbers from her blood tests? A high protein diet can cause increases in UREA, but shouldn't cause an increase in creatinine (the other kidney enzyme.) High protein food really shouldn't cause an increase in liver enzymes.

Has she had any urine tests done? The urine specific gravity will tell us if the increase in kidney enzymes is due to kidney disease or not. Also, it would be interesting to see if there is any protein loss in the urine.

When her thyroid test was done do you know if it was a free T4 test that was done? This is usually what we test. However, sometimes there are other things that can lower a T4 level. If a dog is struggling with some other condition then the free T4 can look artificially low. In this case, if we upped the thyroid medicine this could cause problems. In a situation like this I may run a special type of T4 test such as one by equilibrium dialysis or a 2-step T4.

It's a bit of a puzzle as to why she looks thin but her weight is not changing. I'm wondering if she has fluid collecting somewhere. Let's say, for example, that she had fluid in her abdomen. If this was the case, the weight of that fluid could make the scale look like she hasn't lost weight when really she has. One possible reason for fluid in the abdomen is liver disease.

It would be great if you could get a copy of her labwork and let me know what her numbers are. If you can, just reply to this message.

I have some other ideas, but seeing the blood tests would be the best place to start to see if I can help you out.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

I do not have the numbers in front of me, he said they were in the high normal range. Urine tests showed protein in her urine, a lot actually. However this is the ONLY dog food I can get her to eat, besides hills a/d. I home cook for my 2 a lot of the time so she does not eat the Orijen all the time, Except for one meal a day (usually a home cooked meal) she will eat the Orijen approximately 5 times per week, about 1/4 cup each time.

I have no idea what kind of thyroid test she had, I think just whatever they would normally do, nothing special that I know of. I had suspisions that my other girl had thyroid problems so I had them both tested and the other girl came out normal so I questioned the vet if there was any chance they had gotten mixed up, he said he doubted it. It was just strange that she would all of a sudden need a dosage change after a year of being good on the dose she was on.

As I said I am making myself crazy with stress and worry over this, I lost my little boy yorkie 8 months ago and am terrified I am going to lose her too.

Customer reply:

Also forgot to mention she does not appear in any way, shape or form to be ill. This all started around the same time as we brought in the little foster girl. They are fine together, but the little foster girl has required extra attention and Pixie used to be daddy's girl and now the new one monopolizes daddy's time so I think Pixie is a little upset, could that be a cause of this? We still sepnd lots of time with Pixie but she does not get as much of her daddys time as she once did.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

OK. This helps me a lot. "High-normal" in my books is basically the same as normal.

If this were my case I'd be zoning in on the protein in her urine. A normal dog's kidneys should be able to handle a high protein diet. A high protein diet could cause a slight increase in urinary protein but it should not cause a huge increase.

I'm concerned that there is another health issue here somewhere. If her specific gravity is low (it would be a number around 1.008 to 1.012 as opposed to a healthy dog around 1.030) then this is indicative of a kidney problem. It's possible she has a problem called protein losing nephropathy which is quite serious.

Another possibility is cushing's disease. Cushing's can cause protein in the urine. Most dogs with Cushing's will be really thirsty and urinate lots. Usually they have a high appetite, but as the disease progresses they can eventually go off of their food. If you think she has a large thirst and lots of urine then you should ask your vet to test for cushing's.

There are other possible reasons for protein in the urine including infection, cancer and more.

I'm hesitating here on what to type as where my recommendations go from here depend on what her specific gravity is. Do you think you could find out this number and get back to me?

Customer reply:

I will call the vet tomorrow and get the number.

IS there any other type of test I should be doing for her?

Her water intake has not been increased except on really hot days which is understandable. And her appetite is definately not high, in fact it has decreased somewhat

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Cushing's sounds unlikely then. For now, let's start with getting the urine specific gravity. They'll give you a number like "ten-oh-eight" which would mean 1.008 or "ten-thirty" which would mean "1.030". Let me know that and I'll give you some ideas.

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.