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Hello everyone, I will try and make this as brief as I can.

A few days back, I noticed some weight loss in my 5-year old border collie/basenji Ayana. She's acting completely normal, energetic, playful, her appetite is unchanged, her stool is normal and overall the only thing amiss was the weight loss. Just to be sure, I took her in to the vet to get her checked out.

Upon weighing her, I found she'd gained back more than a pound of the lost weight just since I weighed her when I noticed the initial weight loss, which was about four days prior. The vet checked her out, gave her a clean bill of health (stool was fine, eyes, ears and gums all healthy, muscles strong, etc) except for one thing. There was a very small amount of bilirubin in her urine.

They did blood work to do a more thorough analysis, and they called me today to tell me that everything checks out except for - again - the small amount of bilirubin they also found in her urine. I picked up some pills for her today, which is supposed to help thin her liver bile (I think???) to help with everything. The vet says it's possible there may be a small gallstone which is causing the problem. (Though she admitted it was odd that there were no other symptoms, and even explained to me how a dog would normally be behaving if a gallstone were present.)

Upon getting home today, I did a search on bilirubin levels in dog urine, and I ended up reading that small amounts of bilirubin in urine tests are sometimes normal for healthy dogs. This surprised me, because my vet had practically convinced me earlier today that my dog is going to be on this medication for the rest of her life!

Is this true? Has anyone else here found low levels of bilirubin in their dogs urine, and if so, what ended up being the culprit? (If any?) My vet wants to do an ultrasound on my dog next week, in which my dog will have to stay at the clinic all day. My dog is incredibly anxious, (despite all my training efforts, she's just a naturally anxious/sensitive dog) and she has never been away from us for that long in a scary place. (She hates the vet. Again, despite all my training efforts.) I don't want to put her through a horribly traumatic experience if there's nothing to worry about.
NOTE: I totally understand that moderate/high levels of bilirubin in urine/blood is a very bad thing, but the vet was very adamant that this was not the case for Ayana, and also assured me that my dog is 100% healthy in every other way.

Topic: Are low levels of bilirubin sometimes normal in healthy dogs? Has anyone here had an experience like this, and if so, what was the result? Is an ultrasound really necessary, or should we just give her the prescribed pills and then re-test her urine in a few days? Any advice would be hugely appreciated!!
 

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Hi, sorry that you are not getting many responses. I think no one here is going to know more than a vet does. Personally speaking, I am not overly concerned if a level of something not horrible is a little high, and the dog is otherwise totally fine. Doing more tests with very inconclusive numbers can be frustrating. It's totally up to you. I mean, likely the ultrasound will turn up nothing but what IF on the one in a million chance she had a gallstone, you know? I don't think you'd be wrong for waiting and seeing with a healthy acting dog and a vet who doesn't seem concerned. I don't think you'd be wrong to rule out potential causes even if it means putting your dog through a little more stress.

I looked up bilirubin and there are a few human studies that show it is correlated with stress. So maybe (I'm reeeeaaally stretching it here) your dog's general anxiety is causing the slightly high levels? But again, I'm grasping at straws here and your vet is your best resource.
 

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Oh my gosh, I haven't read that! Do you have links? Because that would make an enormous amount of sense. Three weeks ago - right before the weight loss started - we brought a new kitten home, and my dog has been freaking out about it almost 24/7. It would also account for the weight loss.
 

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Here's one: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12054631

But really, I would talk to your vet about it! Dogs and humans are similar in some ways and different in many others. It is dangerous to make correlations without hard evidence.

If your dog is anxious in general, adding a new animal to the family can ABSOLUTELY add stress, change behavior, and change the balance of chemicals in a dog's body. I'm speaking very generally here. I hope you find the answers you're looking for!
 
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