Misty is a five-year-old mixed breed cutie. Her mom was feeding her very high quality, grain free dry food and Misty was having amazing issues with her waist. Essentially, she was being fed half of what her weight recommendation was and her waist was expanding. She was lethargic, her coat was dull, and she had a lot of dandruff and was shedding.
To make sure there was no underlying disease, we ran general bloodwork looking for liver, kidney, or other organ system malfunction. Everything was normal. The next logical step was to check her thyroid function. We did the full thyroid panel. The gold standard for thyroid testing includes looking at several different circulating hormones: T3, T4, free T3, free T4 and auto antibodies to thyroid hormone. T4 is the hormone that floats around in the blood after it is made in the thyroid gland; it has 4 iodines on it, thus the name. Every single cell of the body takes in the T4, removes an iodine, making it T3, and uses that as the active hormone for metabolism. Auto antibodies refer to the body making an allergic reaction to its own thyroid gland. Essentially, many dogs, for some unknown reason their immune system attacks their own thyroid gland leading to its destruction and low thyroid function for the rest of their lives.
Luckily for Misty, and quite surprising actually, her thyroid function was completely normal. The next step was to look at her diet.
Many weight loss diets are marketed as low-fat. The implication being that eating fat leads to weight gain. However, if we stop and think about it, carbohydrates are where weight gain comes from. Imagine eating rice and pasta all day every day. Our waist would quickly get rounder. Same thing happens for pets. Food ingredients are divided into broad categories of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. If fat is reduced then most foods increase the carbohydrates. Therefore low-fat foods are counterintuitive and can lead to weight gain. This is the last thing we wanted for Misty. Misty’s mom decided to start making her food following the guidelines spelled out in my cookbook Dinner PAWsible.
The first change her mom noticed was Misty was not guzzling water like she used to do. This happened within the first three days. Misty’s stools became smaller. Slowly, her coat became shiny, the dandruff stopped, and slowly the weight started to come off.
In May 2014, Misty top the scale at 61 pounds. At her weight check this week, she weighed 42 pounds. And she looks beautiful! Look at her smile!!!
Something to keep in mind, Misty lost 20 pounds. For many of us humans 20 pounds does not seem like much weight loss. However, think about it as percentage of body weight. Misty lost over 30% of her bodyweight. For most average humans that’s equivalent to losing 50 to 75 pounds! When put into perspective that shows you just how dramatic diet change can be for our four-legged friends.
Congratulations to Misty and her mother, a mother who was dedicated to her girl’s great health!!
Dr. Cathy Alinovi DVM
As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Cathy treated 80% of what walked in the door — not with expensive prescriptions — but with adequate nutrition. Now retired from private practice, her commitment to pets hasn’t waned and she looks forward to impacting many more pet parents through her books, research, speaking and consulting work. Learn more at drcathyvet.com