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The Penny Saga

So, what the heck is happening with Penny?

(For folks just dropping in, this is a continuation of concepts discussed in my recent free webinar. Click here to access the webinar and get fully caught up!)

A quick recap on Penny’s history as a “picky eating”, complicated, breakdown inducing puppy. 

  • Strong aversion to eating and food bowls since 8 weeks old

  • Unusual positions and habits when she could accept food

  • Extreme struggle to maintain body weight, despite remaining in a “healthy” weight bracket

  • Lethargy and depression

  • GI issues

  • Coarse, brittle coat

  • Extreme aversion and pain on car rides

  • Sensitive to handling

  • Sensitive to larger or paw-forward dogs



After almost a year of getting nowhere with traditional vets, we consulted with a holistic vet. He recommended one simple blood test to check her B12 and folate levels to check for bacterial overgrowth or absorption issues.

The results? 

A folate deficiency.

Penny’s body wasn’t absorbing nutrients properly. Low folate is supportive of proximal intestinal disease and the symptoms include: 
  • Lethargy

  • Weakness

  • Diarrhea

  • Irritability

  • Loss of appetite

  • Mouth sores


She had almost every symptom. Except... 

She wasn't drastically losing weight. So, had we listened to the original vets (which, we have obviously stopped seeing) and gone on the assumption that a “healthy weight” equals a healthy dog, things would have gotten a whole lot worse. 

I had pushed for X-rays to be done when Penny was around 9 months old. We paid extra to have a radiologist look over them, and were told everything was good by both the vet, and the radiologist. 

When we finally started seeing Penny's rehab vet, she immediately wanted to discuss Penny's X-rays. There was some narrowing of some disc spaces that she was concerned about... can you guess where? Yep! In her neck, and between her shoulders. Because of her symptoms, she referred us to a neurologist. 

The neurologist's findings? 

She believes Penny's main problem is... drumroll please...

in her spinal cord, in her neck. 


Pain is such a complex issue. In our dogs, it is even more complex. They can't just tell us where it hurts, and oftentimes the ways they show us they're hurting come out as behavioural concerns. Which on the surface, often don’t make any sense (unless we know what we're looking for). 

Just because your dog isn't limping or whining doesn't mean they aren't in pain. 

Just because your dog likes walks, loves to play, has a "healthy" body weight, or any other number of traits that are often viewed as "healthy” and “pain free", doesn't mean they aren't hurting. 

Just because one GP vet has "cleared" your dog, doesn't mean they aren't hurting. 

We need to look at the whole picture. Not just bits and pieces. And as you've seen, sometimes, those bits and pieces seem to make absolutely no sense at all.

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