Pet weight loss

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     Why is my pet losing weight? 

Recently one of my older cats started losing weight and I diagnosed him and started him on appropriate treatment and he is doing well, but it made me think about writing an article on this topic, so here it is.

What are the causes of unexplained weight loss in a pet? Well it can be something as simple as the food has gone bad or the pet just doesn't like it anymore and so isn't eating as much. Obviously, increased activity can cause weight loss, just like in people. Pets can pick up parasites that use up their nutrients. Dental problems can also make a pet not want to eat so teeth need to be kept clean and healthy. Certain medications can also cause a pet to feel nauseated and not want to eat as much.

Then there are all kinds of diseases. Common ones especially in older pets are high thyroid levels (mostly cats), kidney disease which makes the pet not want to eat, liver disease for the same reason and cancer. Diabetes causes weight loss and can happen at any age, but tends to be in adults to seniors. Chronic diarrhea from poor digestion or absorption of nutrients causes weight loss as well. Basically any chronic disease or illness with a fever or nausea, plus or minus vomiting, can cause a pet to lose weight.

So what can you do? Firstly, pay attention to your cat's or dog's eating habits, watch when they eat to see if there are any troubles chewing or swallowing. Notice how much is being eaten and if there is a change. Also, watch water intake and stool quality as these can point the direction to fewer diagnoses and therefore tests and costs to figure out the problem. And, of course, get to a good veterinarian once you notice it so it can be sorted out and handled before it gets to be debilitating.

Common tests are fecal tests for parasites and blood and urine tests for the other diseases. A good physical exam will rule out such things as dental disease or oral masses that can interfere with eating.

Then the appropriate treatment can be done. The simple ones are the first listed above. Get fresh or different food. Get higher calorie food if increased exercise is the problem. Use appropriate parasite medications if that is the issue. Remove or change medications if interfering with appetite. And of course, get dental cleaning if the teeth need it.

The diseases each have their treatments, often some medication and a special diet depending on the cause.

Even though most of us probably have the opposite problem of our pets being overweight, I hope this is helpful.

Please check out our products page for helpful supplements for some of these conditions. Go to pet vitamins and supplements

RECOMMENDED ENTERTAINMENT: Pick up a classic and one of my favorite books, "All Creatures Great and Small" by James Herriot

Until next time:

Dr. Jan

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