Author: Dr. Clarissa G. Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS
Back in the fall of 2018, Dr. McGlothlin found a new companion when she decided to adopt Rose, a 7-year-old Labrador Retriever Mix. While Dr. McGlothlin knew she was getting an amazing dog, she also realized she had her work cut out for her because Rose had some health conditions that would require her focused attention. Rose was dealing with chronic skin problems, and she was also severely overweight.
At the time of adoption, Rose weighed 105 pounds. Now, this number alone doesn’t necessarily indicate the severity of her weight problem, so we also have to think about what her body condition score (BCS) was on the Purina Body Condition Score chart. She was an 8 out of 9. The Body Condition Scoring system helps the evaluator more objectively quantify how ideal (or not ideal) an animal’s weight might be. A score of 4 to 5 out of 9 is considered ideal: the ribs are easily felt with minimal fat covering, the waist is easily noted from above, and an abdominal tuck is present. An 8 out of 9 on the scale indicates there is a heavy covering of fat over the ribs, making it fairly difficult to feel the ribs. Noticeable fat deposits are present in the lumbar region (lower back) and at the base of the tail. The waist is absent or barely visible, and an abdominal tuck may or may not be present.
Cutting right to the punchline – Rose now weighs 55 pounds! Dr. McGlothlin says that her Body Condition Score is now an ideal 5 out of 9. That is certainly an incredible amount of weight loss. Imagine how much better her body must feel after losing that much weight! In order to help our readers learn more about Rose’s journey, we decided to go right to the source of her excellent care. We’ve talked with her owner and veterinarian Dr. McGlothlin – and here is what she has to say:
Question: Prior to adoption, what kind of food was Rose eating?
Answer: She was eating a combination of table food and over the counter kibble.
Question: What are some of the health problem(s) that you thought might be the underlying cause(s) of her obesity?
Answer: Lack of exercise, Unhealthy eating habits, Cushing’s Disease, Hypothyroidism.
Question: What diagnostic testing did you perform?
Answer: I did ALL the testing! I started with a blood chemistry, complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis, and T4 (thyroid) level. Her T4 was very low. I was able to get her thyroid somewhat controlled, but her skin problems were persistent. She also continued to exhibit increased thirst and urination, so I did ACTH stimulation testing for Cushing’s Disease (you can learn more about Cushing’s disease here). That was normal. Since she maintained a skin infection, I also sent out a culture and sensitivity on her skin. She had a methicillin resistant Staphylococcus pseudointermedius which we have been treating with antibiotics and medicated baths. I have not yet performed environmental or food allergy testing. However, since her skin problems (although greatly improved) are still hanging on somewhat, allergy testing is probably in her future. I can’t thank our Kennel Manager, Beth Padron, enough for all the help she has given me with Rose’s medicated baths. Beth has been giving Rose her medicated baths twice weekly and she is always happy to help. Rose certainly enjoys the additional attention from Beth as well!
Question: What food is she currently eating?
Answer: Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Defense Environmental Sensitivities. Although we had to address the weight loss, I felt this diet would be a good choice for her skin condition.
Question: What was your overarching strategy to address the obesity and hypothyroidism?
Answer: I started Rose on levothyroxine to supplement her thyroid. I also started walking her around the block twice daily. She did not have much stamina at first, but she has really come a long way and she is able to get all the way around the block now! I also decreased the quantity of food to 1.5 true, measured cups twice daily and only 2-3 Hill’s Hypoallergenic treats through the day.
Question: What struggles have you had along the way with her weight loss?
Answer: She is ALWAYS hungry and will eat anything, including getting into the trash if I forget and leave her access.
Question: How do you think she feels now that she has lost weight?
Answer: Rose feels SO much better, you can see it in how she carries herself. She runs, she is wagging her tail constantly, and she jumps up on me to greet me now. She has transformed from a very sluggish dog to a very active girl – she moves much better, and she is all around a much happier dog!
Question: Does she do anything new or different since she’s gotten the weight off?
Answer: She recently started getting up on my couch and jumping up in my lap when I am sitting in my chair and reading.
Question: As a veterinarian, what would you say to pet owners who have overweight pets?
Answer: I would strongly advise pet owners to let your veterinarian work up your overweight pet. There may be an underlying medical condition that is contributing to his/her weight problem. There are so many health issues that are exacerbated by obesity, including bone and joint problems, breathing problems, decreased life span, and more. I want everyone to have as long as possible with every pet, and keeping them at an ideal weight helps!
Question: Now, from one pet owner to another – is there anything else you might like to convey about your pet losing weight?
Answer: You will be amazed at how much it changes your pet and it can change you, too. I love our time together on our walks. It made Rose and me both healthier.