Miniature Schnauzer - Common Blood Problem

This beautiful puppy is a Miniature Schnauzer named Heidi.  Schnauzers are a popular companion dog because of their energetic and affectionate personalities.  It is very important to keep this breed of dog fit like her owner's do with Heidi.  Obese Schnauzers are prone to developing a blood disorder that may lead to serious problems.  What is the name of this possibly inherited disease?  What are the clinical signs? 


Diagnosis:  Idiopathic Hyperlipidemia

Unfortunately, Miniature Schnauzers are prone to hyperlipidemia which basically means too much fat in their blood.  In severe cases, the blood is thick and reminds me of a strawberry milkshake.  After it is spun down to separate the cells from the serum, the fat accumulates in a white clump.  It is disgusting! 

Clinical signs of hyperlipidemia include anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, neurologic problems including seizures, cloudy eyes from fat accumulation and abdominal pain if pancreatitis is present. 

Because hyperlipidemia is so common in this breed, I recommend routine annual blood work.  I also encourage owners to avoid high fat foods or treats and provide plenty of exercise for their dogs.  With treatment, these dogs can avoid the health problems hyperlipidemia causes and live a long, healthy life.   

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  • 1/17/2012 6:20 AM laura wrote:
    Cousteau is a 5 year old MS that has been battling hyperlipidemia for a year now. We've tried Hill's WD and Royal Canin LF. He's been on Lopid for about 8 months now and his tryg results have been very inconsistent. Last one a few days ago was over 1000. Do you have any suggestions? I am at a loss as to what to try next...
    Reply to this
    1. 1/17/2012 8:11 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am sorry to hear about Cousteau's hyperlipidemia. As you know, a level of 1000 is very concerning.  When a patient is not controlling, I always look for other health problems like diabetes, Cushing's disease, protein losing nephropathy, pancreatitis and hypothyroidism.  These can cause secondary hyperlipidemia. If you have already done that, then I would try another diet including Waltham Low Fat or Eukanuba Low Calorie. In addition, talk to your veterinarian about omega 3 fatty acids, chitin, niacin and/or increasing the dose of gemfibrozil (Lopid).  Hope that helps! 
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  • 5/14/2012 8:53 AM Bob Pedersen wrote:
    Dr. Nelson,
    Maxwell is a 14 year-old Miniature Schnauzer. He has always received plenty of exercise, and I've kept him lean and healthy.
    Unfortunately, he has suffered chronic bouts of Pancreatitis -- his first bout brought on by house guests who fed him bacon! The last time I took him to my veterinarian, they did a blood work-up which confirm the diagnosis. One of the doctors suggested I feed him peas and carrots.
    I gave him this diet in small amounts with his prescription dry food, (WD), and he got better. The other day I gave him only the dry food, and he became sick again, (vomiting and a little bit of diarrhea).
    Should Maxwell be off dry food entirely. Are the peas and carrots good advice. Maxwell's regular doctor retired, and his replacement has a tendency to run his patients through like an assembly line.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/14/2012 9:49 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am sorry to hear about Maxwell's pancreatitis.  Dogs who are prone to pancreatitis often struggle with carbohydrates as well as fat.  Dry food contains more carbohydrates than canned.  Therefore, I would put him on a canned  prescription food formulated for dogs with pancreatitis.  Once he has stabilized, you might add in some dry but I would never go over 50%.  As for the carrots and peas, feel free to give them to Maxwell.  You may use them as treats or mix them into his food. Hopefully, future house guests will respect his dietary needs.    
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  • 11/6/2012 10:15 AM Mary OBrien wrote:
    Can you recommend a food for this condition that is a limited agreement food? My Mini is allergic to eggs, chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, beef, pork, oats, wheat and rye. And that's just the food allergies!
    Reply to this
    1. 11/6/2012 7:57 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      With all of those allergies and the need to keep the diet low in fat, home cooking might be the best.  I would recommend having a nutritionist formulate a diet for your dog. Your veterinarian will be able to give you a referral to a veterinary nutritionist.  If home cooking is out of the question, there are some prescription diets with limited antigens (duck, venison or trout usually combined with rice and/or regular potatoes) that might work.  I would use the one with the lowest fat content as reported in M.E.'s.  Hope that helps!
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  • 11/7/2012 10:41 AM Laura wrote:

    We had similar problems and used Just food for dogs to formulate a diet for our pup, complete with supplements! I'd recommend something like that.
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  • 1/15/2013 9:28 AM Dorothy Starrett wrote:
    I have 2mini schnauzers that are 10 weeks .. I am feeding them Blu Buffalo food. Is this a good one for them? My last schnauzer, Zoe, developed diabetes brought on by hyperlipidimeia. I had fed Science Diet but when she got sick I made her food with fresh venison. Vetsulin didn't work
    Reply to this
    1. 1/16/2013 6:51 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am sorry to hear about Zoe and her diabetes.  I recommend a diet with low to moderate levels of fat for all schnauzers.  Once they are diagnosed with hyperlipidemia, I put my patients on a prescription low fat diet (< 10% M.E.'s) unless the client wants to cook homemade meals.  Please call Blue Buffalo and ask what is the fat content on the product you are feeding in metabolizable energy (M.E..'s), not dry matter or as fed.  For your dogs, I would recommend a level below 18% M.E.'s.  Hope that helps!
      Reply to this
  • 1/31/2013 3:07 AM Rich Crisp wrote:
    I have a 10yr old(in september 2013)mini schnauzer. He is constantly sniffing and licking his anus. It is not swollen,inflammed or red. He will be lying down and out of nowhere jump up and sniff and then start licking.His stomach seems to gurgle alot. At night he seems to sleep better on his back. His stool has no blood nor is it discolored. Ive felt around his stomach area and there are no lumps and he doesnt seem to be in pain and remains playful. I changed his food to diet science chicken for seniors. Live in Edmond,OK. Please help
    Reply to this
    1. 1/31/2013 7:44 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      From your description, I am concerned that your dog may have a problem with his anal glands.  The two glands or sacs sit at the 4 and 8 o'clock position on the anus.  These glands can become impacted and/or infected causing severe pain.  I would recommend bringing your dog to your veterinarian for an examination including a rectal exam to check his glands.  If the glands are normal, then the next step is to rule out parasites and food allergies.  Hope that helps!
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