…and thank goodness! Because, as you know, Ebony is MY dog. I was trying to write a dramatic nutritional case study, but by their very nature, nutritional case studies ARE boring…
Problems take months or years to develop and resolve, and (here is the upside of boring) dog and cat nutrition is SO excellent these days, that we do not have most of the dramatic health issues we had in the past.
So read this if you are having trouble sleeping…otherwise, just be thankful we have such excellent nutritional choices for our pets, and that problems like nutritional hyperparathyroidism and feline taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy are so rare anymore, that we usually only get to read about them in medical journals!
Nutritional Case Study
Ebony: nine-year-old 70 lbs. spayed female Labrador Retriever mix
Ebony presented as a four-month-old puppy, thin (body condition score two) and healthy. She ran and walked regularly and was fed Science Diet Puppy at one cup per ten pounds per day divided into three meals. At six months of age, she was switched from three meals a day to two meals a day. At one year of age, Ebony was transitioned to Science Diet Adult, and her daily amount of food was decreased to one cup of food per twenty pounds, due to her decreased rate of growth. At about this time, her body condition score increased from two (thin) to three (normal).
At three years of age, Ebony decreased her exercise from running and leash walks to leash walks only. Her diet remained the same. Over a period of several months, her body condition score increased from three (normal) to four (overweight). Hypothyroidism, a common contributor to excess weight gain in dogs, was ruled out with blood work. She was switched to Science Diet Light and returned to a body condition score of three.
At seven years of age, Ebony was switched to Science Diet Senior. Between lower fat and higher fiber in the senior diet and some age related muscle atrophy, Ebony, now age nine, has remained at a body condition score of two (thin) for the past two years.
She has recently developed osteoarthritis diagnosed by clinical signs, physical examination and hip radiographs taken under anesthesia. She has done well on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Rimadyl, carprofen). Her diet has not been changed, as she is at an ideal weight (body condition score two, thin) and an adequate nutritional level.
Pets have advantages over humans in reaching and maintaining nutritional goals. Willpower is a much smaller consideration. The caretaker has control over the amount and type of food a pet eats, as well as his or her exercise schedule. It is often easier to be objective about someone else’s nutritional and health needs than our own.
Another advantage pets have over humans is the widespread availability of complete balanced nutrition in a single food source. No similar product to dog food or cat food exists for humans. Only a few decades ago, very serious nutrition-related diseases were commonly seen in pets that are rare today. The range of available pet foods continues to be expanded and improved by veterinary nutritionists and other professionals in many excellent organizations working to promote health and longevity in our dogs and cats and even pocket pets, birds and exotic pets.
Though nutrition cases today are inherently less dramatic and slower to develop and resolve than other veterinary cases, nutrition and body condition scores are central to the health and longevity of our pets.