Is your pet having steroids, phenobarbitone or even cbd oil?
If you are one of the many millions of pet owners out there with an allergic, itchy pet; you will most likely at some point have been given a course of steroid tablets to dose your pet (also known as cortisone or prednisolone). As vets, we also give these tablets for any pets that suffer with an autoimmune condition or with inflammatory conditions such as in the bowels or ears.
We always advise that the dose starts off relatively high to reach the effect we are after (stop the scratching or head shaking); and always to give it in the morning as the body produces a natural cortisol surge as soon as your pet wakes up, so we need to follow this natural rise. We will always follow this up with warning you that your pet may suddenly appear really thirsty and hungry – yes sadly steroids increase the hunger in your pets that already may be prone to appearing hungry all the time anyway!! (Read about too little sleep and a rise in natural cortisone that results in hunger)
If they are certain breeds such as Labradors or Pugs or Cavaliers, they may begin to scavenge, raid dustbins, steal food off the table and appear to have an insatiable urge to eat. One of the very difficult side-effects of this medication that alleviates itching and discomfort so effectively, or keeps a serious auto-immune condition nicely under control.
If you have been very unfortunate to have epilepsy diagnosed in your beloved pet, the treatment for this too – phenobarbitone, causes a surge in hunger. It is known to have this side effect in humans too and is the same drug that we use in humans. There are also behaviour modification medications such as amitriptyline and Prozac that can lead to unwanted pounds; and certain high blood pressure medications such as propanolol can cause weight gain in certain dogs.
Another drug that we do not tend to prescribe as vets but we know many of our pet owners use, is cbd (cannaboid) oil. As it is not licensed for use in pets in the UK so not enough data is available on how much to give. I recently had a consultation with a loving pet owner giving their gorgeous black Lab Paris 4 drops of cbd oil twice a day as she suffered from elbow arthritis and he read that it may be effective. The owner was concerned that when he prepared her food, she was so ravenously hungry that she would jump up and almost knock him over so he had to steady himself in the kitchen against the counter. He suffered with health issues himself and I immediately noticed the danger in this situation.
My advice was to cut the dose right back to 2 drops once daily and see what a difference this made to Paris’ uncontrolled behaviour as cbd oil is known to give dogs an insatiable appetite, especially at high doses.
Sometimes we recommend special diets for your pets if they require a different balance of certain minerals such as a c/d diet or special kidney diet for dogs prone to bladder stones. A quick look at the contents of Hills c/d – Ingredients Dry: Maize, chicken (26%) and turkey meal, wheat, animal fat, digest, maize gluten meal, flaxseed, minerals, soybean oil, pea bran meal, fish oil, vitamins, taurine, trace elements and beta-carotene shows that fat is mentioned 4 times. This is a very palatable diet and very high calorie diet and sadly if your pet has to have this diet, it will put on weight and it will not be your fault!
Another diet that we tend to recommend as vets is Purina Proplan Hypoallergenic diet for all the itchy and sensitive dogs out there. It is mainly made of plants and in order to make it palatable to your pets, Purina have added pure sugar to this food as well as 4 different types of oil to get your dog to eat it! Here is the ingredient list –
Ingredients: Maize starch, hydrolysed soya protein, minerals, coconut oil, sugar, rapeseed oil, soya oil, fish oil.
Having an overweight pet is definitely not always your fault – especially if they have been prescribed medication or a prescription diet!
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