Adopting a Malnourished Dog

airforceguyOctober 14, 2012

Hello from Nicaragua----Great country if your looking for a cheap vacation with miles of miles and beaches, BUT lot of poverty issues--1 being an abundance of stray dogs!! And I won't even go into detail how many look, as it would break your heart! Plus many are not exactly kind to them!

Our situation We are adopting--well fostering first to make sure the new dog is a good fit with our 1 other dog and 2 cats!

This new dog is approx 1 to 2 yrs old and was found on the streets of Grenada! She appears in semi-good health, but she is very light for her frame! I'm guessing she weighs between 10-15 lbs and if she was at her healthy weight, would be closer to 30 lbs, as she is around the same height as our dog.

I pick her up on Monday from the Rescue and taking her straight to our vet to be checked over, as well as be groomed and given a flea/tick bath! So I will be asking him questions as well

Since she is sooo underweight, would it be better to feed her puppy dog food for the first while?? The bestr dog food we can get at the moment is Kirklands puppy food! I order Merricks adult food online, and have abundance of that. But thinking puppy food has more nutrients and calories which she badly needs!

So after all my blah, blah blah, do you think I should start her off on puppy food to help her gain weight?


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I'm not sure about severely malnourished dogs, but I know that with starved cats and horses (and humans), there is a serious danger of refeeding syndrome, which can occur if refeeding is not done very carefully and which can also be quickly fatal. A starved body needs to "relearn" to process nutrients correctly. If an improperly balanced diet is fed or if too much food is given per meal or per day, the animal's electrolytes can be thrown dangerously out of whack. You REALLY need to discuss this with a vet who is specifically knowledgeable about the techniques of safely refeeding a starvation victim.

It's absolutely wonderful that you are rescuing this dog! I wish you and your new girl all the best.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 3:05PM
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I believe she has been at the rescue for a bit now and she eats...but the feed she has been getting is probably a very low low quality feed. Will take it slow in feeding her, I'm sure her body will appreciate the higher quality feed and will quickly put on the pounds

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 3:50PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I would slowly increase her protein too, so she has some real meat, not just kibble for food.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 4:25PM
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I would feed her like a growing puppy, with more food, smaller portions, 3 - 4 x a day. Like 3/4 cup.

I don't agree about the meat, but I would be sure to add water to the food, to increase hydration.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:30PM
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Having taken care of adopted racing greyhounds who have had intestinal issues when they arrived, I have to say, you may be dealing with a life long affliction no matter what diet you choose. I would suggest avoiding chicken since that is one of the number one causes of allergies, instead I would suggest you get use Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet - Bison and potato (high in good cholesterol and low in fat, Bison or Buffalo, to start off with. Feed a 3/4 cup at a time with some white rice. Make sure her teeth are in good enough condition for the kibble, if they arent - I suggest PRIMAL frozen nuggets in venison. This is expensive food but it is also less likely to cause problems or add to pre exisiting conditons later down the road. Good Luck

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:32PM
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Talking with a few others that have adopted street dogs here in Nica..Allergies do not seem to be a problem.....As they have had to live off whatever they can find! Were thinking she had a home and came into heat, so they kicked her out!! She isn't as thin as many dogs you see here!

The rescues here in Nica try their best, but with limited funds and sooo many stray dogs, its a hard battle! They have said in Grenada their sterilization efforts are paying off and the amount of strays you see are way down

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:47PM
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It must be so sad to be surrounded by all those poor starving animals, I don't think I could deal with it. She is very lucky to have found a great new home.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Nicaragua has a lot to offer in regards to tourism! Lot of beaches and resorts and much cheaper than Costa Rica! But in some ways its just not as pretty as CR when going from 1 destination to another!! But one can have a much better time in Nica as things are cheaper!!

Nica is the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere--just behind Haiti!! Lot of very poor people AND a lot of very rich people--very few middle class---ur either living the good life or living in a hut!! Breaks my heart seeing the starving animals and older people begging for $$$$. many kids don't goto school--instead you see them juggling balls or balls of fire for $$$.

Picked up the pup this morning, And off we went for her 1st car ride!! Within a few minutes she had peed and poo'd in the crate!! Poor girl!! Stopped and cleaned that up and off we went!! She threw up a bit, but I forgot to bring more cleaning stuff!!

She is approx 18" high and weighed in at 14.8 pounds!! I'm thinking she should be closer to 30 at full weight. She is all legs and ears!! The big ears is very typical on all Nica dogs!

She Remained very calm on the vets table and one could see a few tiny tiny ticks fall off of her!! So its flea and tick bath time for her at the vets!! She may have to stay over night there and do a 2nd bath tomorrow!! Vet stated we could have a huge problem otherwise (we already have 1 dog and 2 cats)

No Vaccinations at this time, He stated best to wait a week--same goes for getting her spayed. He said she is probably right around 1 yr of age. He recommended Puppy food--so went and got some Kirkland (costco) puppy food!! From my research its pretty good stuff. Feed her multiple times a day. As well he has prescribed this jelly stuff thats like a multi-vitamin. As well they did blood-work on her--no phone call, so could not have been that bad.

Hopefully all goes well.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 3:08PM
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Update: Poor pup has to stay over night at the vets! They found a lot of tiny ticks on her!! So another flea/tick bath tomorrow.

Bloodwork was sent out and wasn't back yet. A rough start for the pup, but she will be better off for it.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Ticks can kill a dog.

Be sure your vet checks for anemia & ehrlichiosis & treats aggressively.

Congratulations on your new companion & bless you for your loving heart.

& her Pets Forum aunties want pictures!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 9:19PM
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    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 9:40PM
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Such a cutie pie! Lucky dog, and lucky you!!!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 9:51PM
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That is one cute dog!
You can tell by her expresssion she's smart as a whip!

& she doesn't look badly malnourished, just a little underweight;
she'll fill out beautifully.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 11:14PM
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Very cute dog.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:29AM
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Just adorable, I can see why you want to fatten her up. :o)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:18PM
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Yes prob needs another 15lb on her body or so. have nothing but time, so no rush!!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:20PM
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Mel is now home!! She is 1 stressed out girl, poor pup! My other dog is confused--she just wants to play. Why bring me this new dog--if she won't play! 1 thing she does well is eat!! Fed her a few small meals and she just chows it down. Put in a little salmon oil as well. I'm guessing in a few days time, she will be a different dog. Gone from the streets and the elements to living inside with AC,lol

Vet wasn't there when I picked her up and I missed his call, he said she was a bit anemic. Will call him back tomorrow and discuss Vaccinations and Spaying.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

What a funny picture! Those ears! So happy all is coming together.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:03PM
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You want ears----Here is a better pic. I have a feeling I can't open the fridge without her knowing

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:16PM
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I must first say "thank you" for your big heart and for opening your home to this beautiful girl. She is adorable and sooooo very lucky. In such a great environment, I am sure she will "settle-in" in no time !

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:28PM
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spedigrees z4VT

That is a very, very cute dog! You have a kind heart for adopting her, and I don't envy you having to witness the many 4-footed victims of poverty where you are. It must be very hard. But you've certainly made a difference in this dog's life. BTW your other dog is cute too.

I don't really have any advice to offer about feeding, as I have no experience rehabilitating a malnourished dog. Hopefully other people's suggestions will be helpful to you. Best of luck with your new family member and thanks for sharing the photos!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 12:34AM
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What a sweetie! Thank you for opening your home and your heart to her!!!!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 10:55AM
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