Have any of you had an old dog (especially a Lab or Shepherd type) with both pancreatitis and hypothyroidism? I know they can be difficult and variable problems, but I am wearing out our vet with questions we don't seem to have answers for, and this dear dog is wearing us out, as well!
Last year, he got diagnosed at age 13+ with low thyroid T4 (probably had been getting worse for years), so we started on the thyroxin pill regimen the vet prescribed. Immediately that caused his metabolism to rev up (of course) and we noticed he was panting more, drinking a ton more water, and acting like somebody stole half his food! But also, tummy problems became way more frequent. He always did have a sensitive stomach.
We decided to cut his thyroxin dose to half but supplement his feed with a retail thyroid-stimulating herb mix, and it seemed he was settling into his new regimen with months of good T4 blood levels on the half dose + herbal therapy.
But then, a few months later, he started having attacks of diarrhea every four or five days, so the vet ran another blood test, and found low pancreatic enzymes. We added prescription pancreatic enzyme pills before every meal and we have had to sharply limit fat and keep his protein content under 20%. Very few affordable feeds work for this kind of diet, and he isn't happy about all this, either!
But here's the weird thing: after a year of expensive tests and prescription pills, his lab work just showed he's healthy and within normal ranges, and the vet thinks he's doing well enough. Yet he is getting more and more difficult for us to figure out (especially, when he needs to go out!)
Just last week, we found a true low fat kibble (5%) and started transitioning him to it for a quarter to half his regular senior dog food ration. At 70 lbs., he gets 1 scant cup of the mixture of 2 low-fat, low-protein feeds at each feeding, whereas their charts say to feed 3-4 cups a day. We switched to the 2nd dry kibble because my little home-cooked rice and ground beef "brownies," added to 1 cup of senior kibble, seemed too much bulk for his gut. We blamed them for causing loose stools.
But soon after we started with this new mix of feeds, he has double the volume of #2, and now wants to go OUT urgently 3 times or more a day...lately, he is even dumping a load in the house in the middle of the night! (At least it's "formed" and not too bad to deal with.) And with not a shred of guilt...in a dog who never did this in his long life? Either dementia, tummy distress, or both...
The fine print of the new feed might explain part of this: 10% fiber versus the existing senior kibble's 4.5% max. But surely, a relatively small increase in fiber would not by itself double the bulk of his #2 business?? Plus, due to the restricted diet, he had been losing enough weight we can feel his ribs. So after consulting with the vet, we figured 3 meals a day might help his tummy deal with this new blend of food while keeping his calories up.
But nothing seems to work well for long. Today, we skipped his midday feed but still only gave him his 1 cup tonight of the 2 dry feeds, along with his pancreatic enzyme pills and Fortiflora probiotic powder. Soon as he finishes eating and drinking, he begs to go out for a massive #2 but then, 2 hours later, we get another desperate request to go out, only this time, it's diarrhea. I am stumped.
My husband wonders if he is "forcing himself to go" sometimes, because the smart old dog understands the People are going to bed soon, and the night is getting long; 8 hours now is too long for the old guy, I think.
I guess I'm at the end of what we know to try, and wondering if anybody else has figured out how to anticipate their old dog's needs - without becoming caught up in a game of "What? You wanna go out AGAIN?" :) I wonder if he's having a bit of memory loss, that he forgets he just ate or forgets he just went. Yikes. I'm committed to this dog until death do us part, but it's just about all my husband and I talk about, any more! We have heard similar tales of woe from a couple other dog owners who have had a pancreatitis and/or hypothyroid to cope with. I'm trying to cope....help!?
If you read this far, thank you, even if you have no suggestion!