Older dog refuses to eat
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Katharine420 posted:
Our 14 year old Chow mix has been refusing food for about a week, We took her to the vet last Wednesday and they kept her until Saturday when we insisted on bringing her home. They did X rays, ultrasounds of her chest and abdomen and did numerous blood/fecal/urine tests all of which were inconclusive. Her white cell count was slightly elevated. She sounds a little congested and definitely has less energy, but she is still drinking and urinating normally and seems interested in her surroundings. We have tried several different foods (ID, cooked chicken, brown rice and vegetables...even fast food in a desperate effort to get her to take in ANYTHING). She seems a little interested in the food at first and will sniff at it, but usually walks away. If she does eat anything (so far it has been the chicken/rice/veggie mix) she will eat no more than 1/4 cup before she walks away. The vet threw out a lot of different possibilities such as pneumonia, adrenal disease, thickened stomach wall (?) but nothing they tried helped. She is currently taking Baytril which was administered by injection when she was hospitalized and which we now have to push down her throat once a day. She was force fed at the vet but we are not sure how to do that at home, or even if we should at this point. Has anyone had experience with a dog that refuses to eat?
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Kathy_Snyder_DVM_DACVIM responded:
This is a case where you really should call your vet back and let them know what's going on. They may have other ideas or treatment options available that you guys haven't tried yet, and may not even need to see your dog again to prescribe something.

When you say your vet "threw out" different possibilities, I'm assuming you mean those are the things they were most suspicious of? Or did you mean they got rid of those ideas based on the testing they did?

Unfortunately the best way to get your dog to eat is to address the disease that's causing her to not eat in the first place. Only your vet can help with that. Force feeding is challenging, frustrating, can cause food aversions to develop, and is generally not recommended. It's also almost impossible for you to force feed a large animal 100% of the calories they need each day to maintain their weight.

Call your vet--tell them she's not eating and ask what they can do next. As a side note, you mentioning gastric wall thickening is a little concerning to me because you have an older Chow. Chows are breeds that are known to get stomach cancer (gastric carcinoma), which can often cause not eating as the main sign (with vomiting being the other sign). It's often very difficult to diagnose unless you happen to see it on ultrasound exam or perform a endoscopic examination. I'm sure your vet will be able to point you to the next best step.
 
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Katharine420 responded:
Thank you for your reply. We have called our vet and only took Bree home because all of the ideas that were presented as possibilites were ruled out by testing. She had been vomiting, and that symptom is actually the reason that we first took her to the vet. When the vet mentioned the thickening of the stomach wall, it was mentioned in passing and was not discussed after the ultrasound. Apparently it was first noticed after the abdominal xray. Your response leads me to believe that we need to seek a different vet. We insisted on taking her home because there seemed to be nothing left to do and we could not bear the thought of her dying in a strange place hooked up to an IV. Thanks again for your post.
 
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Moonmajestii responded:
It could be the liver..Get a 2nd opinion! Take these results with you and tell the next vet you want to start with blood work focusing mostly on the liver. If your dog has liver problems it will also cause him not to eat. My dog went through this. Hope your dog gets better. =^.^= I am still force feeding my dog and she takes routine meds for her condition.
 
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IVBMXMOM responded:
Hi Katharine, the same thing happend to my dog and we ran all kinds of tests and x-rays. Finally the vet thought maybe it was a blockage so the vet gave Walter barium (force fed). It turned out he had swallowed the squeker out of toy. It was clear and not visable. the barium forced the squeaker through his intestines, he pooped it out and was back to his old self. He started eating again immediantly. I hope this helps.
 
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kensworld responded:
I'm sorry to hear about your pet and her problems. Two years ago, I lost my beloved lab. I had noticed a lack of appetite, low energy, and worsening congestion. I went to two vets who both did not recognize how sick she was. Both vets gave her as B-12 steroid shot and said to bring her back in a week if not better. Of course, the shot would would make her feel like superdog for a couple of days and I would think she was improving. Nonetheless, this wasted valuable time in receiving a true diagnosis. By the time we did, it was too late. She died at the vet. He (the vet where I picked her up from) said that she definitly had pnuemonia and that we had gotten too far behind to cure her.

I hope that you have much better results and that you get a diagnosis soon.
 
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bailey3205 responded:
Hi Katharine, I recently went through a few weeks where my dog would not eat any dog food of any type. He still seemed active (for a 9.5 year old dog) but would not eat. The vet ran blood work, abdominal X-rays, fecals, etc., and everything came up negative. Eventually, we decided to put my dog on a 1/4 tablet of Pepcid Complete twice daily (he is 13 lbs.), and this did the trick. He stayed on the Pepcid continuously for a couple weeks until I knew he would eat steadily. Now I just watch his food bowl, and if he stops eating, I offer him Pepcid ("tummy medicine") and he willing takes it or turns his nose up at it if he doesn't want it. I have also switched his food to a smaller kibble with a different taste to encourage him to eat as well. Hope that helps. You might ask your vet if this is something you should try with your dog.

Diane
 
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Katharine420 responded:
Thank you so much for your post. Bree was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer this week and we had to take her in this morning to be euthanized as she was clearly in discomfort. Apparently the thickening of the stomach wall should have raised more red flags with her previous vet. I appreciate the advice of the vet on this site a great deal because she actually mentioned gastric carcinoma before we even took her to the new vet. I am sorry to hear about your lab. Our old vet gave Bree a steroid shot as well on top of antibiotics that I needlessly forced her to swallow. Thanks again for your kind words.
 
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Meme0221 responded:
Katharine~

I'm so sorry for the loss of Bree! Awww, that is so sad... And to know your dr dismissed the thickening of her stomache! OY! I have to say, our Vet here on board did a wonderful job with your case/suggestions! She hit the nail on the head, didn't she?!

It's very hard to have to put down a pet or lose a pet. They become such a big part of our lives & our family. I hope that time will heal your heart & your families, of such a loss. Take care.

My Deepest Sympathy.......................... MeMe