Everyone meet Cowboy!
Cowboy is a 14-year-old male Beagle that was adopted from the local animal shelter about 6 months ago. Back then he was slow moving and could not bend his body, or what we often hear referred to as “old dog syndrome”. Upon his initial exam, Cowboy carried his 49 pounds in just looking for love and treats- and who could blame him, we could all use a dose of cookie happiness! He was what you call a 5 out of 5 on the BCS chart. That means he was more than just geriatric, he was obese and desperately needed to lose weight.
Cowboy also needed to have dental work done and some minor masses removed, however due to his size, anesthesia was too risky. A new study by scientists at the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare’s Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition showed that the lifespans of overweight dogs were up to two-and-a-half years shorter than those of ideal-weight dogs. Cowboy would need to go on a diet right away.
Lucky for Cowboy, his new owners wanted to be certain they were doing everything they could for him in the meantime. They elected to run a senior panel to check Cowboy’s bloodwork. Annual bloodwork can detect changes in organ function and alert the veterinarian to conditions or diseases. In this case, a low t4 level flagged the doctor to Cowboy’s condition- Hypothyroidism. The symptoms of Hypothyroidism matched Cowboy- overweight, thin or brittle coat, lethargic, and elevated cholesterol levels. Hypothyroidism is a very common condition in dogs and is easily treatable with daily medication and bloodwork checks.
While the medication was necessary to aid in Cowboy’s weight loss, he also needed a strict diet and exercise during his weight loss journey. Cowboy’s veterinarian calculated how many calories he should receive for healthy weight loss and his dedicated owners stuck to the plan. He was always happy to be outside which helped the exercise regime, even during the cold months. Cowboy came in for weigh-in’s often and he steadily lost weight. Now with steady thyroid levels and newfound youth, Cowboy is down to 36 pounds! He has since had his dental work done safely and maintains his bloodwork checks.
Routinely checking bloodwork and calorie content is especially important in aging pets. Early detection may help prevent extreme conditions, like Cowboy’s weight, and allow for quicker diagnosis and treatment for new conditions.