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Greetings Everyone! My wife and I have an eight year old black lab female named Molly, who has been an active professional therapy dog for seven years working with children in schools, adult day care situations, and retirement centers.
Recently, Molly experienced a very painful neck and could not turn, raise or lower her head without yelping. Our vet put her on Prednisone and two pain meds,Tramadol and Gabapentin. Prednisone was for four weeks, cutting dosage in half for the last two weeks. Tramadol and Gabapentin for two weeks.
Molly had heavy panting even before the meds due to the pain, but even heavier after starting meds. She began drinking massive amounts of water and peeing every 1 - 2 hours. We noticed within a couple of days her appetite fell way off, she was lethargic yet restless and had great trouble sleeping.
After two weeks we took her back in for a checkup and discovered she had dropped weight... from 81.6 lbs down to 74.4 lbs... say seven pounds in two weeks. The vet said she appeared fairly healthy and nominal considering the neck pain and meds, and showed definitive improvement in neck/head movement. Still not sleeping well, lethargic and restless.
By halfway through the fourth week, we could not get her to eat at all. She was refusing all her normal food and even treats (carrots and green beans). We tried a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice which worked for maybe three meals then she began refusing that, also.
Now, the vet took blood for analysis and says it looks like she has elevated glucose in blood and urine, and suspects Molly has diabetes. We have ordered a pancratitis test.
Frankly, I have read numerous articles about Prednisone and find they mostly agree that the steroid affects metabolism of carbos and fats to produce glucose... much more than normal... which could easily be a false positive to diabetes indications.
Molly has no other side effects, decent stools and regularity, no vomiting or obvious nausea, no diarrhea, no firmness or soreness of tummy area.
What I am finding weird about this is the total reverse of the normal side effect of increased appetite for the steroid... we are having difficulty getting her to eat anything! At the end of four weeks, she is down to 69.6 lbs, a total loss of 11 pounds. That's like a human dropping thirty pounds in 4 weeks... not healthy!

Has anyone else out there experienced anything similar? Any thoughts or advice?

Thanks in advance,
Dan and Shirley
 

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Prednisone can cause an increased appetite, but it can also cause anorexia. I would get Molly off the Pred ASASP, and look for a chiropractor. (Yes, there are chiropractors for animals, and some regular chiros will also work with animals.) Wishing you and your pup all the best.
 

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Yes pred usually causes an increase in appetite. But there could easily be something else going on here. Pain in general can decrease appetite. If it's her neck that's hurting, can she comfortable eat? And if she does have something else going on like pancreatitis, that'll impact appetite too.
 

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Poor Molly. My girl recently has a bad reaction to prednisone too. Couldn't even do more than a few days on it without bloody diarrhea. She's been on tramadol too. Tramadol makes mine super lethargic. She was lazy to begin with but I blame the tramadol for her heavy-lidded, bloodshot eyes and barely being able to raise her head. She wouldn't get up except to eat and go out to relieve herself.

Did your vet do blood work before the prednisone? Because everything I've read myself and heard from my vet says being on it is going to screw with all kinds of blood values. As I said, my girl was only on it a few days but it is still skewing her liver enzymes, lipase, and other things.

I feel your pain on the not eating part. We battle that here too. Vet ok'd giving her whatever she wants but that may also be skewing some of her values and we're trying to get to the bottom of that.

You may have tried these already but a few things that have worked for me, even if temporarily have been:
Canned wet food
Toppings of real meat on the canned food
Giving it to her by hand when she turns her nose up at the bowl
Warming the food

When she was really bad and I was battling her diarrhea also, I ninja'd the food real smooth and gave it via syringe. Once she got a taste, she just said gimme that bowl, I'll do it myself :)

She HATED every kind of bland diet I made for her. Would straight up spit the rice, potatoes, pasta, quinoa on the floor if she got any in her mouth by accident and only pick out the meat....which gives her diarrhea by itself :(
And if I ninja'd it together so she couldn't pick and choose, she didn't want any of it.
Please keep us posted on how Molly is doing and the results of her tests.
 

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I agree with Tuckersmom Find a chiropractor. I have been lucky enough that both the chiropractors I used will treat my dogs. The drugs are probably responsible for the not eating. Can you imagine being on two pain pills. I would not be able to get out of bed let alone eat. On top of that the prednisone.
 

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I agree with Tuckersmom Find a chiropractor. I have been lucky enough that both the chiropractors I used will treat my dogs. The drugs are probably responsible for the not eating. Can you imagine being on two pain pills. I would not be able to get out of bed let alone eat. On top of that the prednisone.
I'm on three ...

If you're in pain, pain pills don't have that effect. You might get a little loopy for the first week, but you get over it.

What concerns me in this situation is referred pain. Your body is not set up to feel visceral pain (pain in the organs) and will often interpret visceral pain as pain in a joint somewhere else. For example, gallbladder pain often presents as shoulder pain. Heart pain presents as pain in the jaw.

I'm worried that this dog doesn't have a neck problem, but something else that is referring pain to her neck and is also causing anorexia. It's also possible she's not getting nearly enough pain relief and that's what's causing the anorexia. (I just lost 7 lbs from this exact thing. The doctor upped my doses and added a third med and I'm back to eating.)

So before you find a chiropractor, get a second opinion on the neck pain and the pain relief dosages.
 

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I'd also like to suggest an acupuncturist. The home-visit vet that I have for my two oldest is an acupuncturist/massagist, and though I haven't had to utilize this segment of her repertoire for my dogs, the Yelp reviews on her performing this treatment are tremendous, and the dogs are greatly benefited. Hopefully something like this is available in your area.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your Molly!
 

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Poor Molly. My girl recently has a bad reaction to prednisone too. Couldn't even do more than a few days on it without bloody diarrhea. She's been on tramadol too. Tramadol makes mine super lethargic. She was lazy to begin with but I blame the tramadol for her heavy-lidded, bloodshot eyes and barely being able to raise her head. She wouldn't get up except to eat and go out to relieve herself.

Did your vet do blood work before the prednisone? Because everything I've read myself and heard from my vet says being on it is going to screw with all kinds of blood values. As I said, my girl was only on it a few days but it is still skewing her liver enzymes, lipase, and other things.

I feel your pain on the not eating part. We battle that here too. Vet ok'd giving her whatever she wants but that may also be skewing some of her values and we're trying to get to the bottom of that.

You may have tried these already but a few things that have worked for me, even if temporarily have been:
Canned wet food
Toppings of real meat on the canned food
Giving it to her by hand when she turns her nose up at the bowl
Warming the food

When she was really bad and I was battling her diarrhea also, I ninja'd the food real smooth and gave it via syringe. Once she got a taste, she just said gimme that bowl, I'll do it myself :)

She HATED every kind of bland diet I made for her. Would straight up spit the rice, potatoes, pasta, quinoa on the floor if she got any in her mouth by accident and only pick out the meat....which gives her diarrhea by itself :(
And if I ninja'd it together so she couldn't pick and choose, she didn't want any of it.
Please keep us posted on how Molly is doing and the results of her tests.
This is mostly true. Prednisone will cause organ damage if used long term. Like any other pain med. It's generally good practice to do bloodwork and check organ function before putting a dog on pred, because if the dog's kidney values are already off and it gets pred, things can go south quickly. BUT, it's not going to cause major fluctuations in levels when used temporary in a young, healthy dog. Where I work, prednisone gets prescribed regularly for skin allergies and ear infections. The goal is to wean them off. There are some dogs that require a constant low dose of pred, and for them yearly or bi-yearly bloodwork is strongly recommended.

I do agree that a full panel blood test would have been wiser before putting an 8 year old dog on all of these pain meds.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The test for pancreatitis was positive so vet put Molly on Tramadol for pain, antibiotics for potential infections, and an anti-nausea to help with the appetite part. Second day on new meds now, and she is still lethargic and not eating. We have tried all methods mentioned including by hand and warming... the only things we can get into her are small bits of peanut butter wiped directly by finger into her mouth, and occasionally she will take a small piece of chicken jerky treat.
Still, having a positive test is a small help in that it gives a positive direction and some hope.
 

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Thank you all for your thoughts and advice! Incredibly helpful, as it led me down pathways of research I had not thought of on my own... such as anorexia and pancreatitis and how both of those can present false positives for other diagnoses.
I had not thought of either chiropractic or acupuncture, either, but will certainly begin checking into those thoughts as well!
Great community!!!
 

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Thank you all for your thoughts and advice! Incredibly helpful, as it led me down pathways of research I had not thought of on my own... such as anorexia and pancreatitis and how both of those can present false positives for other diagnoses.
I had not thought of either chiropractic or acupuncture, either, but will certainly begin checking into those thoughts as well!
Great community!!!

Glad you got some answers. I have been told that the effects of pancreatitis can linger for a month or so depending on the severity so hang in there :) Hopefully her appetite slowly comes back. I broke down and had my nurse mom bring me home a big fat syringe to get some food in my girl. We're in the process of trying to figure out what's going on with her and waiting on some test results, so I'm not planning on this being a permanent thing but couldn't take it anymore. She actually seems to like it. Won't eat it herself but licks her chops and lets me do whatever I want with that syringe :eek:
 
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