An eight-month-old male Saint Bernard developed tetanic seizures and hyperthermia
during evaluation of the shoulder joints, which revealed bilateral signs of
pain and mild muscle wasting. Serum biochemical analysis revealed severe
hypocalcemia, hyponatremia, hypochloremia, hyperphosphatemia, vitamin D
deficiency and taurine deficiency. Diffuse osteopenia was identified on
radiographs of the mandible and long bones, confirming bone demineralization. Further
investigation revealed the dog was receiving a homemade diet that was severely
deficient in a variety of nutrients.
dog responded positively to treatment for hypocalcemia, hyperthermia and
seizures. The diet was changed to a complete and balanced dog food formulated
for growth. Body weight and condition were monitored, and dietary intake was
adjusted to achieve optimal body condition during growth. Serial monitoring of
serum calcium and taurine concentrations revealed that values were within
reference limits, and the dog had no further clinical signs associated with
in this puppy highlight the risks associated with feeding an unbalanced
homemade diet during growth and the importance of obtaining a thorough dietary
history from all patients. For owners who elect to feed a homemade diet, it is
critical to have the homemade diet carefully formulated by a veterinary
nutritionist to avoid severe nutrient imbalances, especially in young, growing
Source: D. Hutchinson et al., 2012. Seizures and severe
nutrient deficiencies in a puppy fed a homemade diet. JAVMA 241: 477-483. doi: 10.2460/javma.241.4.477
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