Case study: Larry

Larry, an 8-year-old male retriever mix, came to Crossroads Pet Hospital when his owner noticed he was breathing heavily, having a hard time getting up, and having apparent joint pain in his hind legs. His owner also noticed three lumps under Larry’s skin, around his chest area.

Dr. Diann Smith examined Larry and determined the lumps under his skin were likely lipomas – knots of fatty tissue situated between the skin and underlying muscle. Lipomas are slow growing and typically harmless.

Dr. Smith ran a CBC/Chem 12 – a complete blood count (CBC) and a comprehensive metabolic panel of blood tests, which serves as an initial broad medical screening tool. She also ran a T4 test, which measures the amount of T4 thyroid hormone in the blood. When the level of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream decreases, the hypothalamus releases thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to produce and release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). This test is done to rule out hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). The blood panel also evaluates liver and kidney function and measures blood sugar to evaluate the possibility of diabetes.

Larry’s CBC/Chem 12 came back substantially normal, though the cholesterol and triglycerides were slightly elevated. The T4 also came back normal. We asked Larry’s owner to bring him back to Crossroads Pet Hospital for further evaluation and Dr. Erin Houser took radiographs of Larry’s legs to check for torn ligaments. There were none. Now that several potentially serious underlying problems had been ruled out, the doctors could focus on Larry’s weight problem.

Dr. Smith and Dr. Houser diagnosed Larry with obesity, and advised Larry’s owner that he needed to lose weight. They recommended Larry begin a new diet, Hill’s Metabolic formula, to help him reduce his caloric intake, with instructions to feed as directed by Hill’s guidelines. The Crossroads Pet Hospital doctors also advised Larry’s owner to take him on short, frequent walks, and to perform a monthly weight check. Larry was to receive only low-calorie treats, such as iVet Healthy Rewards – no table scraps. The doctors also prescribed carprofen, an anti-inflammatory, to reduce the inflammation in his joints.

Over the course of six months, Larry lost 14.4 pounds.

Time elapsed Weight
Starting weight 87 lb
Month one 85 lb
Month two 83.3 lb
Month three 80.6 lb
Month four 78.4 lb
Month five 75.8 lb
Month six 72.6 lb

Larry is now more active and can move around without pain. At a lower weight, Larry applies less pressure to affected joints, relieving the stress and strain that was painful for him.

“Nutrition is an important part of keeping your pets happy and healthy,” says Dr. Smith. “According to PetObesity.Org, a 12-pound Yorkie is the equivalent to a 218-pound woman, and a 14-pound feline is equivalent to a 237-pound man.”

Think your pet may be overweight? Check out our blog on pet obesity to learn how to check for signs of obesity and how to exercise your pets.

“Many people believe that grain-free diets are good for their pets,” says Dr. Houser. “However, studies show that there is no benefit to feeding your pet a grain-free diet. In fact, it could actually lead to heart disease. Unless your pet has a known grain sensitivity, choose a high-quality, well-balanced food.”

Here’s how to choose the best food for your dog or cat. You can find high-quality foods, as well as prescription foods and healthy treats, in our pharmacy. If you have any questions on pet obesity or diet, call Crossroads Pet Hospital at 972-416-4060.