Report for 51 weeks old: Kenai’s still putting on weight and maintaining good body condition. He’s up to 128.4 pounds, a net gain of 1.8 pounds. The height hasn’t changed, still standing 33 1/2″ at the shoulder. Just the right height for me, since I’m short. He’s putting on muscle mass now.
He’s only had one evening when his back legs bothered him, which makes me very happy for him! I’ve been cutting back the meat from 1 cup to about 3/4 of a cup at each meal, since he doesn’t need to gain 3 pounds a week–that’s a bit too fast. So his 1.8 pounds this week hit the “sweet spot” of growing but slow and steady.
His exercise is a daily running romp in the kennel, sometimes with a bone, sometimes with his brother BB on the outside of the kennel. I can’t seem to interest him much in toys, but he still tries to interrupt my computer time for toy time. Wants to play when he wants, loses interest when I want. That’s the fun of a relationship, isn’t it?
Report for 50 weeks: Kenai packed it on this week, good heavens. He’s 126.6 pounds now, a whopping 3 pounds worth of new muscle. And he didn’t even get any Christmas cookies or peanut butter fudge! He’d be a porker if he’d had any. No complaints, just enjoying the opportunity to actually laugh about his weight gain (as opposed to mine).
He hasn’t had a coat this soft and shed-free since around 4 mo old. All of a sudden his puppy pimples came back with a vengenge, though. Hum. I’m thinking he’s got a little holiday stress with all the goings on–his poo is a bit softer the past few days too. A little adjustment in enzymes (up 1/4 tsp) seemed to do the trick.
The vet and I did replace the l-glutamine with a complete amino acid pill; it has the same amount of glutamine, as well as all the other amino acids. That way his body won’t have to work so hard to produce muscle and ligament, and perhaps after the holidays I can start reducing his cooked meat by 1/4 cup at a time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feed him the normal amount of kibble and nothing else? It would be a first for his young life.
Report for 49 wks: Kenai has really settled into his new diet, and is currently doing very well. He’s 123.6 pounds this week, with nice muscle tone and soft coat. Most importantly his leg soreness is reduced. I’m hoping that trend continues! Right now, he’s doing very well, thank you very much! Yay!
His three meals consist of 2 tsp of pancreatic enzymes, 1 1/3 cups of Eagle Pack Lamb kibble, 1 cup of ground beef cooked with one of the following: rabbit, lamb, venison, buffalo, or salmon. He is still getting flexicose, Primal Defense probiotic, and l-glutamine.
Report for 48 wks: Kenai weighed in at 123 pounds even this week. His body condition seems to go up and down every few days, some days looking thin with a dull coat, some days solid and muscular. I re-adjust his service vest fit alot more than I would like to, but such is life.
I’ve cut his Eagle Pack Lamb kibble back to the normal amount for dogs his size, 4 1/2 cups a day, to stop some new joint pain in the front legs, adding protien sources to stop the muscle loss that seems to be a problem for him.
His vet thinks what’s happening is now that the Rx enzymes we add help him actually digest his food, he’s absorbing the excess calcium and minerals from 6 cups a day of kibble. He wasn’t before, so 6 cups was just enough calories and minerals for him to grow on until the pancreas stopped working around 6 mo old. Then not even 6 cups a day was enough, and he gained then lost the same 20 pounds for the next 3 months until diagnosed.
Unfortunately, he seems to not absorb protiens as readily as minerals, and can loose as much as an inch of muscle across his chest in just 3-4 days. His body will scavange muscle and connective tissue to have enough protien to burn as energy. So with some vet help, he’s now getting 1 1/2 cups of kibble , and 1 cup of meat/egg protien three times a day. That’s 4 1/2 cups Eagle Lamb and 3 cups cooked meat a day. I really hope that’s enough calories.
I absolutely hate messing with a Dane’s nutrition, and it scared me to death when he first started showing discomfort in his front legs last week. I’m not a veterinary nutritionist, there isn’t one in this area, and his vet here half relies on me to come up with solutions. I’m told it’s not unusual for dogs to have different responses to food once they’ve been on enzymes for a month or two. Still, all this watching for bone/joint problems, muscle loss/gain, and bowel movement conditions is worrisome.
Since his tli blood test for pancreatic insufficiency was 6.2, (5-35 normal in adult dogs), it’s likely that he doesn’t have actual epi where the pancreas atrophies. What the vets at Texas A&M think, the country’s experts in epi, is both he and his brother (11.5 score) have inflammation of the digestive tract causing the pancreas to not function properly. They have several recommendations for his diet, 4 out of 5 we’ve tried.
All that’s left is a raw diet, and I don’t want to do that unless I must. It can be difficult and time consuming to provide the appropriate nutrition for a Dane on raw, made harder by his malabsorption problems. I’m not opposed to it, just a bit scared of screwing it up and Kenai winding up with skeletal issues. It’s a diet of last resort for me.
The initial trigger for epi-like inflammatory symptoms was likely the coccidia problems they had as tiny tots. A disproportionate number of dogs with epi or very low blood tests have had hard to treat coccidia, giardia, and other bacterial problems in their medical history. The poo problems started at 9 wks old, and went on and on for months as we battled coccidia and other funky bacteria that are supposed to be in their bowels, just not in the proportions they showed up in fecal tests.
Why Kenai and BB had such ongoing difficulties when their littermates didn’t is a mystery. Some of the other pups developed the coccidia overgrowths, but it went away with one or two treatments. I haven’t heard of any other pups with the pancreatic problems. The vets assured me that it wasn’t the diet I chose for them: the food wasn’t too nutritionally dense or unbalanced in any way. That was a relief! The best theory I heard is stress related–Lord knows we’ve had that this year, with my brother his daughter here for months and months. Stress affects the GI system.
The antibiotics to treat the boys’ infections likely also caused more inflammation, and being the standard 7-10 day course, weren’t enough to treat effectively. The standard treatment for epi dogs with SIBO, the bacterial overgrowths that happen after epi manifests, is a 30 day course of antibiotics. Kenai in particular doesn’t handle antibiotics well at all, not even for a few days.
So plan of attack for getting him well is to 1)balance the natural bacteria in the small intestines with a specialized multi strain probiotic, and 2) heal the inflammation of digestive tract. If the Texas vets are right, that should eventually kick his pancreas back into working order, and reduce if not stop the need for adding enzymes to his food. In theory.
He’s been on the probiotic for almost 3 weeks, and we’ve noticed a reduction of body odor and drastic reduction in puppy acne on his chin. BB’s odor especially is much improved. Cross our fingers! To it we’ve added an amino acid for Kenai who seems to be worse off. The two brothers react to treatment in very different ways.
L-glutamine, which is proported to heal inflammation of the GI system is part of Kenai’s “appetizer”, given a short time before his meals. DGL, a modified form of licorice can also be helpful, but we’re staying with just the l-glutamine for now, giving it time to work. Any bouts of loose stools respond best to slippery elm bark. Nothing else seems to stop it. Thankfully we’ve only had one day where he needed it.
I’m not as freaked out as I was when first told Kenai had epi, and again when told it may not be clinical epi. Still, it’s a continual worry for me, trying to get my boy well without doing any harm to his growing body. His diet is a fine, fine dance, so I have to be watchful for small little signals that something’s off. But I can do that, if it helps my lovely boy.
Report for 46 wks: He did it! My love buddy put on some weight! He’s up to 121.6 pounds, a gain of 1.3 pounds. I still see his last couple ribs, which is good, he’s not over weight. But I can’t count the prominences of his back bone, see the ridges of his shoulder blades, and the hip bones aren’t sticking out. Whew… it’s such a relief to see him back to excellent body condition.
As for the pancreatic insufficiency, he’s getting 1 tsp of enzymes per cup of food, still at 6 cups a day total of Eagle Pack Lamb and Rice. If he gains too much on 6 cups I can take it down to 5 1/2 cups. For now, we’re sticking with what’s working. The poo is solid and normal finally, though he still has the burps and occasional tummy aches. But he’s so much better, so much.
His hind legs are also not as sore, though after his Saturday morning runs in the park, when he can really stretch out his stride, they are sore for a day or two. He gets his traumeel liniment for it, and lots of puppy massage, recovering nicely. I won’t take away his park run, since it keeps his spirit happy–it’s the only time he’s able to run off leash now that he’s started chasing critters at home.
My brown bear is better, and I’m happy too.
Report for 45 weeks old: Kenai’s managed to hold his 120.3 pounds with adding pancreatic enzymes to his food in a ratio of 1 tsp per cup of kibble. The grain free kibble doesn’t seem to agree with him, so we’ve stopped it for now.
Overall he’s better, but not quite in tip top shape yet–the coat is good but still has a bit more shed and less shine than it used to, and he still has semi soft stools at times.
So we’re increasing his enzymes by 1/4 tsp at each 2 cup meal, and have ordered a specialized probiotic that has been helpful to other dogs with digestive issues like epi. I’m hoping the probiotic will be enough to not have to go to antibiotics for the bacterial overgrowths in the small bowel. SIBO is an underlying factor in the wet burps, deadly gas, reflux, and gastric upset that often accompany pancreatic insufficiency (about 70%).
I’m planning on giving the probiotic a couple months before re-evaluating if we need to do anything else for him. After Christmas we’ll consider if antibiotics or finding a grain free kibble he does well on is neccessary. I’m crossing my fingers that this probiotic does the trick! It would be so nice to reduce the amount of food to normal and feed just twice a day.
Report for 43 wks: Kenai is doing much better! He stopped shedding, his coat is shinier every day, he’s not as thin and lethargic, or food pushy. He’s gained 1.3 pounds, coming in at 120.3 pounds. It’s amazing the difference a pound or two makes, even at his size.
His new vest came, the next size up, and he has plenty of growing room in it–likely to be the last one he needs. I haven’t started seriously shopping for a harness yet, waiting for the money to loosen up.
I’m relieved to see him doing better, though the pancreatic enzyme supplements can give dogs body odor. So he is sprayed before we go someplace, in addition to brushing if needed. He’s doing good again.
Report for 42 wks old: He gained weight–2.6 pounds to be exact!! He is looking much better, his coat is almost not shedding and nearly as soft and shiney as it used to be. I’m feeding him a mix of Eagle Pack Lamb & Rice, and EVO low fat kibble. The ratio is roughly 70% Eagle, and 30% EVO. Also he’s being given PancreaPowder enzymes, with 3 meals a day again. There’s some tinkering to do, how much to feed, how often, etc. But he’s doing better, back up to his weight from 40 weeks!
Report for 41 weeks: Kenai has lost 2.6 pounds, down to 116.4 pounds. He’s grown 1/2 inch in height, up to 33 1/2 inches tall. His coat is still dull and shedding. His backbones and hip bones are more prominent, too. So I’ve done some research, and found that dogs with pancreatic insufficiency have an intolerance to grains, which explains all the kibble swapping we’ve done looking for a food he could tolerate.
This leaves me with three choices: change his food to EVO grain free low fat kibble and risk the high protien and high minerals, go back to the Eagle Lamb and Rice he did best on despite it’s very slow growth, or mix the two. I can also switch from tablets to powdered panakare enzyme supplements. I haven’t decided yet what to do, but we see the vet this week.
Report for 40 weeks:
Kenai is 119 pounds even, a very slow rate of growth. 1.2 pounds is a little too slow, but I wouldn’t be concerned if his coat hasn’t returned to as super shiny, and there’s some shedding.
So I’ve increased his pancreatic enzymes by ½ a pill, hoping he will absorb more nutrients. Also since his hind legs have been so sore, I’ve added a product called flexicose twice a day to his food. The glucosamine chondroiten and MSM in it are high dose and readily absorbed. I’ll give it a couple weeks, and hope it doen’t upset his tummy.
His body is in good condition, so the tinkering is to return him to great condition. He is 33 inches tall, which I hope doesn’t change much since he’s the perfect height for me. His neck is 22 inches, mostly jowels. The girth measurement is 36 inches, meaning the harness we order for Christmas is likely going to have to be a custom order.
Report for 39 weeks: Kenai weighed in at 117.8 pounds, a full pound of weight gain. I haven’t seen much change in his body shape, and he still looks lanky compared to the stocky growth of his younger puppy days.
He has been very uncomfortable in his hind legs, too. It’s a strange sort of growing pains, not really involving pain in the bones as pano does. It’s the tendons that bother him, especially the flexor and achilles tendons. His front legs are fine. There is a spot on his back that is touchy too.
I’ve slightly upped the MSM, and am trying the flexicose joint protector again. Hopefully we will find a solution soon. Pain meds don’t help nearly as much as muscle relaxants, which leads me to believe connective tissue is the problem, not bone. Tis a puzzlement!
Report for 38 wks old: Kenai didn’t gain much, up to 116.8 pounds. I wonder if his pancreatic enzymes are affecting his growth. He’s got some growing pains in the back legs still, and is just a skinny minnie right now. I miss that muscle bound even growth he had! He’s starting to look more like his tall slim Mom from the neck down.
I’m going to increase his food just a little, by 1/2 cups to see if that gets him through this minor growth spurt better. If his legs don’t stop hurting soon, we’ll have to go see the vet about it. I don’t want to put him on remadyl or steriods at such a young age if I can help it. He runs and plays outside still, he’s just more lethargic inside. My poor guy, growing up is tough.
Report for 37 weeks: Kenai gained just 1.6 pounds this week with 6 cups of food. He’s fine with two meals a day thankfully. I was hoping the slower growth would reduce his growing pains but it hasn’t. He seemed to have a bit more pain, poor guy. Overall his body shape is still lankier than the growth pattern of his early puppyhood. I don’t want him any taller! Maybe he has more of his tall mom Jez’s genes than I’d thought. Still his body shape is nice and trim, and he has lots of time to fill out before he’s done growing.
9/16/08 Kenai is 37 weeks old.
Report for 36 weeks old: Kenai lost some weight this week, with the increase in exercise and reduction of calories. He was getting 5 cups on the new food, so I’m upping to 5 1/2 or 6 cups. I’ve also gone back to giving him the homeopathic joint pain drops 3 times a day, since 2 isn’t enough to control the growing pains. He is 114.4 pounds. That’s a really big drop, so I am wondering about the scale being off a couple pounds.
Mentally/emotionally Kenai is back to his old gentle and easy to handle self. He is at times insecure, mostly because of my chest cold–he’s alerting and whining. That will settle as I get better, and as he matures it should be less disturbing to him. We are spending more time upstairs or outside together, to avoid the unstable atmosphere in the house. He’s doing good.
9/9/08 Kenai is now 36 years old…Ha! Not. He’s 36 weeks, exactly 9 months
Report for 35 weeks old: Sorry, still no new camera, so no new pics. Kenai packed on a bunch more weight, up to 119.2 pounds. He hasn’t gained height or length, adding almost 1/2 inch in width to his chest: 12.25 inches now. Most of what he added was muscle, and he is filling out nicely again.
I have sucessfully gotten him down to 2 meals a day now! Yay! He eats at 7 am and 6 pm, with 3 cups for each. I chose to try again since the seasons are changing, and winter’s dark will be on us soon. I don’t like taking him out in the dark, both because of my wobbles, and not being able to see what animals are out in the field. Now I can adjust the times as the day length decreases.
His behavior is starting to return to his usual dignified self, now that I have demanded 2 outside playtimes from my legs. He desperately needs the exercise, and I make sure to give him his homeopathic pain drops since his back legs are still sore. Poor kiddo. But the exercise makes such a difference for his mental outlook, that I will continue with the re-instituted second run time.
Report for 34 wks old: Kenai has hit another spurt, coming in at 114.9 pounds. Wow, that was some 5 pounds this week. I thought he was putting on more muscle mass, and I knew his legs were sore so I’m not surprised he’s gained quite a bit. His service vest is getting too tight across the chest strap. I’m glad, too, because I don’t prefer his relatively lanky look of late. His previous growth pattern was even: he gained muscle and width evenly with his height.
Most of the rough behavior has stopped, so I guess my bull elephant is coming out of must! He still wants to be swatty and smushy, but it is at least controllable. Maybe this pre-teen phase is leveling off? Or pausing? I really believe he had a big testosterone surge.
8/26/08 Kenai is 34 weeks old (still no camera so pic is from 32 wks)