You Make The Diagnosis: Common Schnauzer Blood Disorder

Pictured below on the left side is a blood sample from a Miniature Schnauzer who presented for vomiting. Abdominal X-rays showed an empty stomach with no other abnormalities. We drew blood from the dog, placed it in a serum separator tube then spun it in a centrifuge. After the spinning finished, the yellow colored material in the tube separated the cells in the patient’s blood (Dark red area below the yellow plug) from the serum. Instead of the normal clear straw-colored serum, this dog’s serum was pink. Name the condition, what medical diseases are often associated with it and how is it treated? (Please note: The serum on the right is slightly red in color because some the red blood cells ruptured during the blood draw and spinning.)


Diagnosis: Hyperlipidemia

Miniature Schnauzers are prone to a condition called hyperlipidemia which means ‘too much fat in the blood’. In my experience, patients with hyperlipidemia are prone to pancreatitis, diabetes mellitus and inflammatory bowel disease. This condition improves with a low fat diet. In a few dogs, I have to prescribe additional therapies to control it.

Unfortunately, many dog foods marketed as low fat aren’t. Pet food manufacturers list the amount of fat in the food either ‘as fed’, ‘guaranteed analysis’ or ‘metabolizable energy’. I use the metabolizable energy because it tells me how much of the fat will actually be metabolized by the patient. I had a client  who didn’t want to feed a prescription diet. They found an over-the-counter diet with a minimum of 8% fat in the guaranteed analysis and fed it to their dog. He developed pancreatitis after two weeks on the food.  Although the guaranteed analysis was 8%, the fat actually measured well over 30% in metabolizable energy.


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.