Author Topic: Puppy Affected by Rickets  (Read 2668 times)

Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Puppy Affected by Rickets
« on: December 05, 2012, 08:11:26 PM »
One of my Great Pyrnenees/Catahoula pups has recently, this afternoon, been diagnosed with rickets.

The vet wasn't that great, my favorite and more knowledgeable vet was a tad busy, though in the building. This vet continuously recommended that I switch her over to Science Diet.... ick. I insisted that I would simply get her a puppy food if a reduction in her current diet didn't clear up the problem. The vet tech, who I trust and is, seemingly, more knowledgeable seemed to agree with me.

Back Story:

About two months back Runty began regurgitating soon after meals, though the amount she was being fed had not changed. She couldn't keep down the same amount or even two thirds as much as her siblings, even with moistened kibble. So, after a few days of experimentation with fasting and bland diets I figured out that she can keep down mush (ground kibble mixed with water, 1 part kibble - 2 parts water).

This is what she has been on since, it's not really abnormal to me seeing as how I have another dog with a sensitive stomach that has to be on the same sort of diet.

She was originally eating a cup and a half of kibble morning and night, the same amount as her siblings, but with a bit more observation I'd found that she really didn't seem to want to eat more than a cup at each meal, so I reduced her portion. After a month of mush she began to limp on her right front, then the limp would switch to her left front, it became worse as time went by even with forced bed rest, restricted exercise, and daily attempts at icing the legs (though the icing seemed to worsen it and was ceased after three days). A month after the start of the limp and she was started on an aspirin regimen, 2 81 mg tablets every 6 hours. The limp cleared up within a  day and will not appear again until she is taken off of the meds for 24 hours.

A week later, today, she was taken into the vet to get her legs checked out, she was diagnosed then.

Treatment: The vet recommended that she be switched to science diet, she seemed upset that I refused to feed that particular brand, but it's just... ick, a bunch of artificial vitamins and minerals mixed with slop. Not my cup of tea, and I'd prefer not to feed it to my fur kids.

Because of my blatant refusal she then recommended that I switch her to puppy food, since TOTW was labeled as an 'All Life Stages' food, but, is it necessary?

Due to the cause of the rickets being excess calcium, most probably from overfeeding, my thought was to reduce her meals, again, and feed 2/3 of a cup morning and night instead of 1 cup morning and night and see if she improves in two weeks. If she doesn't improve in the allotted time then I plan to purchase TOTW puppy food and see if she improves on that.

Would this be an acceptable plan, or should I just purchase TOTW puppy food asap and skip the two more weeks and smaller meals?
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Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2012, 07:25:00 PM »
Does anyone here have experience with rickets?

I just restarted Runty's aspirin regimen last night and the limp has, once again, vanished by the second dose. She's easily medicated, all I do is grab six pieces of food and slip in each pill with a piece of kibble, she knows they're there and will willingly take them as long as a piece of kibble goes in soon after. So far she has had no adverse reaction to the meds, and even though the vet did mention that stomach ulcers may develop she did not prescribe any pain medication, though she did admit that any effect a diet change may have would take weeks to show.

Has anyone here ever used low doses of aspirin long term?
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Offline RattiesSix

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2012, 07:34:40 PM »
I know that aspirin is an NSAID and longtern use of NSAIDs can lead to stomach bleeding and ulcers.

I have no personal experience with rickets, but all my research is finding that its cause can be a deficiency of vitamin D. Can you supplement instead of changing her diet? Because of this, I also wonder if you should just stop the NSAIDs completely. You're giving her two pills ever 6 hours, that's a total of 8 pills a day and that just seems excessive in a puppy.

Offline SSTFLFPS

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 08:25:58 PM »
+1 on stopping the aspirin.  Aspirin is a safe pain reliever for dogs, but that dose is way too high.

Offline Dragonfly

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 08:29:54 PM »
I was also going to mention that the dose seemd really high.
My black lab puppy (dog) that I we had when we were younger (he passed in 2007) was on an asprin regime for almost 3 years. He was about 65-75 lbs at the time and he got one baby asprin once a day, usually with his AM meals.

The vet told us that even with such a small dose he could develop stomach issues. I  can't imagine giving 8 in one day..
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Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2012, 12:19:40 AM »
I know that aspirin is an NSAID and longtern use of NSAIDs can lead to stomach bleeding and ulcers.

I have no personal experience with rickets, but all my research is finding that its cause can be a deficiency of vitamin D. Can you supplement instead of changing her diet? Because of this, I also wonder if you should just stop the NSAIDs completely. You're giving her two pills ever 6 hours, that's a total of 8 pills a day and that just seems excessive in a puppy.

I had come across that in my search, but the vet had only mentioned a reduction in diet to treat the rickets. If it is a deficiency that is causing this how would I go about supplementing her? Would I purchase a human grade vitamin and have the vet calculate a proper dose?

As for the NSAIDs, she's only getting 6 pills every day, still quite a few, but the reason for the quantity and frequency is that one pill has proven ineffective for more than 2 - 3 hours and two seems to work well for her. We tried giving her one pill every 6 hours, to no avail as it had no affect on her. The frequency, on the other hand, is due to the recommendation on the bottle. It says on the bottle that ages 12 and over should take 4 to 8 pills every 4 hours.

The average weight for a 12 year old is 90 pounds, according to this: http://www.livestrong.com/article/364818-the-average-weight-height-for-a-12-year-old/ and Runty weighs a little over a third of that... I may have to cut some pills in half and see if a pill and a half at each dose would be sufficient.

She was dosed once at 6 am, once at 1 pm, and once at 8 pm just before bed, no adverse reactions have, thus far, been observed. Though I will lessen her dose tomorrow and see if she does well on two doses, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon due to the concern for the quantity of meds she's getting. I'll also start giving her a pill and a half at each dose instead of 2.

Here is what we're using: http://www.walmart.com/ip/St.-Joseph-Safety-Coated-Aspirin-Pain-Reliever-Tablets-81mg-300ct/20526289

I'm going to try and call the vet tomorrow and see if we can get a more canine safe pain killer for her, I'm wishing that the vet would have just prescribed one while we were there...

Is there any specific pain killer I should request for her, Metacam, maybe?

Thanks for all the replies, I probably wouldn't have second guessed the dosing otherwise. :)

Edit: Found dosage chart: http://www.walkervalleyvet.com/otc-meds.htm 1/2 a regular aspirin is recommended for her weight range and two low dose aspirin equal that, so the dosing was right...ish, though I'll still try a pill and a half twice daily for a few days to see if that works out for her. And I'm definitely still calling the vet tomorrow to see about getting her a more appropriate pain killer.

Thanks again guys.
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Offline Rats_Red

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2012, 07:20:41 AM »
TOTW is a high protein food as is...32% which is the same as most higher end puppy foods.

And for the vet to push science diet...she is either not smart or just stubborn. Vets are paid by science diet to promote them, sadly.


I am not very familiar with rickets. is high protein desirable? from reading, its calcium and Vit D definicancy. 

I would add some raw bones to the diet. find a local butcher, maybe? look into a calcium suppliment, and i would add another suppliment for joints like cosequin...at a feed store you can get it for 40$ but the powder will last a lot longer for the price than the bottled brand for dogs/cats but it depends on how comfortable you are with careful dosing.
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?279131-Cosequin-for-dogs-which-type a thread about it here
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Offline SSTFLFPS

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2012, 07:48:42 AM »
Note that the link said 1-2 a day short term.  Every six hours is too often.  Also my vet has always told me that it should be baby aspirin and the highest dose I've ever been recommended is a whole tablet twice a day for three days.  Canines don't process aspirin like humans do so the dose on the bottle should be completely discounted.  Also take into account, that even in humans aspirin can be dangerous if taken incorrectly.  My grandpa ended up in the hospital with 2 pints of blood left in his body from the massive ulcer he got from underestimimating aspirin, and he's a large, and at the time healthy, man.  I know you're going back to the vet, but I just thought this info should be out there.

Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2012, 09:06:18 AM »
Note that the link said 1-2 a day short term.  Every six hours is too often.  Also my vet has always told me that it should be baby aspirin and the highest dose I've ever been recommended is a whole tablet twice a day for three days.  Canines don't process aspirin like humans do so the dose on the bottle should be completely discounted.  Also take into account, that even in humans aspirin can be dangerous if taken incorrectly.  My grandpa ended up in the hospital with 2 pints of blood left in his body from the massive ulcer he got from underestimimating aspirin, and he's a large, and at the time healthy, man.  I know you're going back to the vet, but I just thought this info should be out there.

I know the dangers... my extended family isn't the brightest and my aunt once took an overdose for a headache, which ended with an ER visit. :doh:

And the link posted on Aspirin is a low dose pill, it's the same dosage as baby aspirin and it's coated.

If there are any changes in Runt, even the most minute, I will stop the aspirin.

I'm on my way to school now and my mom has assured me that she'll go in and ask for a prescription at the vets while I'm at school. Hopefully they'll give us something for her and we can stop the aspirin.

TOTW is a high protein food as is...32% which is the same as most higher end puppy foods.

And for the vet to push science diet...she is either not smart or just stubborn. Vets are paid by science diet to promote them, sadly.


I am not very familiar with rickets. is high protein desirable? from reading, its calcium and Vit D definicancy. 

I would add some raw bones to the diet. find a local butcher, maybe? look into a calcium suppliment, and i would add another suppliment for joints like cosequin...at a feed store you can get it for 40$ but the powder will last a lot longer for the price than the bottled brand for dogs/cats but it depends on how comfortable you are with careful dosing.
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?279131-Cosequin-for-dogs-which-type a thread about it here


Small town vets are usually a little of both, the main reason that I'm now going to specify which vet I want to see when I set my appointments.

As for joint supplements... I don't think that cosequin is going to help with Rickets. As for a vitamin supplement, I'm having my mom look into that while she's at the vet.
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Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2012, 06:48:28 PM »
Just talked to my mom, she went in and talked to the same darn vet we saw the day before and of course she didn't get a different answer.

Apparently my preferred vet was out, so I'll see about going in Monday to get some real advice, and hopefully a proper pain killer. Though apparently a proper pain killer may mask the pain to the extent that she'd end up injuring her self... yeah, on lead with restricted exercise... this vet is irritating me.

Thus far, the vet told my mom that apparently it isn't rickets, as she previously diagnosed, it's just "like rickets" and that it should be treated by switching her over to puppy food. My mom was given no explanation as to how this would treat the problem, just that it would. :doh:

She even asked about supplements and the vet wouldn't recommend anything, so I guess that's off as well until my preferred vet comes back and we can ask him about it.

It's so darn frustrating... on a good note, Runty does seem to be doing well on her new dosing, so, for now, I think I'll keep her on that. The vet didn't recommend any specific dose, just said to give her aspirin, so, again... :doh:
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Offline RattiesSix

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2012, 08:14:33 PM »
You may not notice adverse reactions in the aspirin until it is too late. It will slowly create problems until something ruptures or herniates. Then the puppy will get a bleed. In humans, this is when you would be rushed to the ER, where most of the time they can fix it. However, dogs aren't humans and can't vocalize their issues. She could bleed out internally before you knew there was a problem. Or bleed out overnight. Or while you're at school. Or on the way to the vet. Or waiting for the vet to open. Is your vet advocating an aspirin regimen for a puppy -long term-?

My vet also is hesitant to prescribe painkillers for injuries, as a bit of pain helps keep them grounded. Especially puppies.

If I were you, I'd stop all treatment until you can see a worthwhile vet. You have a puppy who nobody is even sure what is wrong with her. Continuing to treat her by guesswork can do some serious damage.

Offline Dragonfly

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2012, 08:49:06 PM »
You may not notice adverse reactions in the aspirin until it is too late. It will slowly create problems until something ruptures or herniates. Then the puppy will get a bleed. In humans, this is when you would be rushed to the ER, where most of the time they can fix it. However, dogs aren't humans and can't vocalize their issues. She could bleed out internally before you knew there was a problem. Or bleed out overnight. Or while you're at school. Or on the way to the vet. Or waiting for the vet to open. Is your vet advocating an aspirin regimen for a puppy -long term-?

My vet also is hesitant to prescribe painkillers for injuries, as a bit of pain helps keep them grounded. Especially puppies.

If I were you, I'd stop all treatment until you can see a worthwhile vet. You have a puppy who nobody is even sure what is wrong with her. Continuing to treat her by guesswork can do some serious damage.

Agreed.
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Offline staarlight

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 10:14:07 PM »
You may not notice adverse reactions in the aspirin until it is too late. It will slowly create problems until something ruptures or herniates. Then the puppy will get a bleed. In humans, this is when you would be rushed to the ER, where most of the time they can fix it. However, dogs aren't humans and can't vocalize their issues. She could bleed out internally before you knew there was a problem. Or bleed out overnight. Or while you're at school. Or on the way to the vet. Or waiting for the vet to open. Is your vet advocating an aspirin regimen for a puppy -long term-?

My vet also is hesitant to prescribe painkillers for injuries, as a bit of pain helps keep them grounded. Especially puppies.

If I were you, I'd stop all treatment until you can see a worthwhile vet. You have a puppy who nobody is even sure what is wrong with her. Continuing to treat her by guesswork can do some serious damage.

Came here to say exactly this. A man I used to dog walk for had his dog on two aspirin daily for only four days- she ended up in the ER with a bleed. They almost didn't catch it in time. I wouldn't risk it. :/ Hope you can get everthing under control! Keep us updated.
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Offline Kati33

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2012, 11:25:19 PM »
And for the vet to push science diet...she is either not smart or just stubborn. Vets are paid by science diet to promote them, sadly.

That is completely 100% inaccurate. I'm not going to take over this thread with a dog food discussion, but vets are not paid by a pet food company to sell their food. Please do not continue to perpetuate this horrible lie.
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Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2012, 09:53:26 AM »
I do want to take her off the aspirin, but I don't want her limping severely every time she comes out of the crate. The vet didn't seem to be bothered by the aspirin recommendation, infact my preferred vet was the one that told us to use it. He's quite old fashioned when it comes to some things and I suppose that this may be one of those things.

As for a bit of pain keeping her grounded... not this pup. When completely devoid of any drugs the limpmay cause both front legs to unexpectedly knuckle over, at which point she will face plant, then she'll get up and, if off lead, begin running around like a maniac tripping all over herself as she goes to entice my other dogs to play tag. The pain doesn't deter her in the slightest, she has a very high pain tolerance.

I'd be willing to try going without the aspirin, but I'm really concerned for her and don't want her to be in pain until we get a prescription. Is there ANYTHING else I can use?

As for seeing another vet, I would like to, but we are really strapped for cash right now (back to being a single income household) and the one other vet I'd be willing to take her to is far from affordable. At this point I'm going to get puppy food for her once pay day comes around, Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and hope that may treat the problem if the vet doesn't recommend anything more on Monday.

Edit: Just looked at the TOTW site and it looks like there is actually more calcium in the Adult formula than in the Puppy formula.... ???
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Offline RattiesSix

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2012, 11:36:16 AM »
Are you even sure this is a pain issue and not something muscular or inflammation? It doesn't sound like she's in that much pain if she's acting as you describe.

What has the vet even done to diagnose the problem?

Again, I'd really recommend you not be treating her with anything until you know what it is that you're treating. Especially with OTC meds. I understand it's hard to keep a puppy down (Trust me, I do. My dog was diagnosed with luxating patellas at 6 months old.), but if you keep her activity restricted to keep her from flailing like a mad-dog around the others dogs so she doesn't hurt herself more, and find a way to get her to a better vet, you'd be much better off. Can you borrow money from someone or sell something/pawn something to get the dog to a better vet? Sometimes if you go in with the money for the office visit, they'll let you pay for the rest the next time you come in.

(And an aside on dog food, maybe you should just go ahead and try the Science Diet. I know it's not the best food (It's also not the worst), but a lot of Science Diet's formulas are formulated for specific medical issues. On top of that, your vet is more likely to take you seriously if you at least try his recommendation for treatment. If it works, you can take the ingredients and such into account and try to find a comparable dog kibble. If it doesn't work, you can come back to your vet and tell him that his recommendation didn't work and you need to try something else.)

Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2012, 09:10:10 PM »
It may not be pain, but it's hard to tell, she is a very... abnormal pup. She's very much instinctual in her behavior, when she was only a few weeks old she was very flighty and independent (she acted much like how a poorly socialized hybrid would act). She's always been a street smart kind of pup, very logical and tends to think on her feet. She's not very sociably and even now, with her spending most of her days with my mother, she still actively chooses to spend her time with me, she is a velcro pup with me just like my other mutts.

The vet diagnosed her by doing a check for range of motion/stiffness, a gait check (though poor lil' Runt was nervy and hunched when this was done), and then she palpated both of her forelegs. Her temp was taken and she did get a basic, physical once over. Other than that they don't really do any blood work or 'fancy' tests if they don't believe that it's necessary.

The only thing she said was that the joints in her forelegs are large, nobby, and probably inflamed and that these were signs of Rickets. Then she recommended that she be put on Science Diet Large Breed or 'a puppy food' and claimed that would fix the problem.

As for my previous description of Runty's behavior, that was one of two attempts to check if she would behave herself on a very hot and lazy day last month. All of my dogs were relaxing in the dirt gnawing on sticks, I couldn't rouse them, I seriously tried to lead my yearling to the water dish and she just flopped over on her side and refused to rise (she's fine, quirky, but fine). I figured she'd be okay and that she'd lounge with everyone else...not so much, she managed to engage them in a short lived game of tag.

After the above incident I tried once more on another, hotter, lazy day. The same behavior was observed, so, now when the other dogs are outside she's on lead or inside following me around as I do chores. If the other dogs are inside she is crated, usually she's fine with that, she has three different chew toys to pick from in her crate and the house is nice and air conditioned.

I'm going in to the vet Monday, or possibly having my mom go in while I'm at school, and I'm going to try and get some more knowledgeable advice from my preferred vet. If he still recommends puppy food and nothing more I'll switch her over pay day, Tuesday or Wednesday I think, and try that out for a few weeks to see if she improves, while I continue with the restricted exercise. If no change is observed then I'll go back in to insist that something more is done to diagnose her, we'd originally gone in expecting x-rays.

If nothing else works I'll do what I can to get her in to our expensive vet in town, their prices may be outrageous but the vets are very knowledgeable, the only things keeping us from going is the expense and the drive (the latter of which stresses the dogs).

She is off the Aspirin completely, I've instructed the household not to dose her, period. And I'm really hoping she does alright.

Sorry for the late reply, I was volunteering for Reilly's Ranch today helping them do Christmas pictures and such to raise money for the rescue.
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Offline RattiesSix

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2012, 03:47:07 PM »
I've done a bit of hunting around, and I've mostly found that the treatment for rickets is getting them on a better diet. So I'd definitely switch her asap. Maybe you can supplement with RMBs and a bit of raw?

But another thing I've found is; http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1561&aid=446

"HOD is a disease of young, rapidly growing dogs. It usually strikes puppies between the ages of 3 to 6 months. It is primarily a disease of large or giant breeds of dogs, although there can be exceptions to this rule. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertrophic_osteodystrophy

A lot of the symptoms include inflamed joints and the legs being weak. It's worth mentioning to your vet. Keep us updated!

Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2012, 06:57:12 PM »
The limp seems to have lessened with the complete absence of Aspirin, continued bed rest, and smaller rations. She's now sound at a walk but still limps at a trot and is very uncoordinated when she tries to lope (sorry for horse terminology, but in my defense dogs have the same gaits).

As for the possibility of it being HOD... I suppose it's plausible that if this isn't rickets it could be a mild case of HOD.

Though there are a lot of symptoms that she lacks when it comes to HOD, she doesn't have a fever, she's not lethargic, her legs seem strong (I mean when she plays she rears up and smacks the floor with both front legs), and she's not been deterred from playing in the least by the limp.

She's doing well today, still trying to be more active than she should be, but the leash and crate are very useful in restricting her movement. Although, I've been cleaning house for the majority of the day and she's been out with me chasing the broom and stealing bites of my lunch off the table, so she's not being locked up all day long, just when necessary for her health.

As for supplementing with raw.. at the moment I don't have access to any butcher shops or suppliers of clean meat, even if I did, we're broke until Tuesday or Wednesday. If she doesn't improve after being on puppy food, and possibly vitamin/calcium/something supplements if the vet recommends them, for a few weeks she'll be in for x-rays and I'll start looking in to other treatment options then.

Thanks so much for looking around and doing research on this, RattiesSix, I really appreciate it.
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Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2013, 11:47:17 AM »
After being on puppy food for around two weeks now Runty has improved substantially, the wrist joints in her legs that were, originally, unsymmetrical are starting to even out. She is also sound enough that the last few days she has been joining the other girls during their out time, though she did get quite sore the first few times she was out with them, that just means that she has to skip being off lead for every other out time until she builds up her strength again.

Also, both her, and Georgia, have been on solid food for the past week and hopefully will continue to keep everything down and not have any tummy issues. Water is still added to everyone's food to aid in digestibility, though, just in case.

Hopefully, she will continue to improve and will not have to be subjected to xrays or any number of tests that would be necessary if she backslides. *fingers crossed*

Oh... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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Offline staarlight

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2013, 07:00:09 PM »
Great news!!
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Offline heelermom

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2013, 06:47:46 PM »
Dog food companies do pay the vet. I work for a vet as office manager and we get a check from SD every month for the amount we sell OTC . For every pet owner we refer to SD we get 40lbs free.

Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2013, 10:24:56 PM »
And that is one of the reasons I chose to ignore the vets recommendation of SD. Runty is now over a year old, extraordinarily healthy, and still eating TOTW. She is by far my strongest most fit dog for her size. I like to joke that she has canine abs because of her muscle control.

I've also been doing a bit of trick training with her and her balance has improved to the point where she can nearly hold a sit up position while stationed on the top rung of a small step stool. I hadn't even asked her for it, I had asked her to put her front paws on the top rung and wave with either paw, but she forgot how to wave. So, she climbed up on the step stool and begged for the bit of food, which she recieved. I mean really, who could resist such a charmer?

I've actually been using ZiwiPeak as training treats because they generously sent me 1.5 pounds of their venison formula when I e-mailed them and requested samples. I've also used Natures Variety samples. Just in case anyone else would like to know both companies are more than willing to send out samples to potential customers.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 10:31:57 PM by HowlsOfAngels »
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Offline Kati33

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Re: Puppy Affected by Rickets
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2013, 12:06:04 PM »
Dog food companies do pay the vet. I work for a vet as office manager and we get a check from SD every month for the amount we sell OTC . For every pet owner we refer to SD we get 40lbs free.

I think you are mistaken about what the check is for and how their program works.
Kati33
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