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Lab not eating.

Species: Dog
Breed: Lab
Age: 11-15 years
My 13 yr old Lab, Dylan, who has NEVER turned her nose up at any kind of food, has suddenly stopped eating the last two days. We haven't change her foods or meal time. We do a slight variation in her food mix, on a regular basis, to keep it interesting so she doesn't get bored with the same old thing. We have done this her whole life and she has been quit the chow hound. She is drinking more water than usual, and is starting to splash it out on to the floor, which is something she hasn't done since she was a puppy. When she goes out, she has a doggie door, she roams around the yard like she is lost, but does come back in. She is spayed, her nose is normal, her gums are pink and normal, and there are no worms or visual blood in her stool. She is up-to-date with her shots, heart worm, and flea and tick meds. There has been no painting done. There is nothing new in the yard and no seeding, liming or fertalizing has been done in the yard. We are at a loss, other than she is just getting old, and may be nearing the end. Any thoughts?

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Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your question. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things when it comes to Dylan's care. However, I'm concerned by some of the symptoms that you have described.

When a lab loses her appetite there is almost always something going on. The loss of appetite is a clue that she is not feeling well. The problem is that dogs will do all they can to hide their sickness and so it is often hard to know what the problem is.

You mentioned that she is drinking more water than usual. This can be a sign of a problem with her kidneys. There are other possibilities as well including a liver problem, cushing's disease (however dogs with cushing's usually eat more) and others.

Sometimes I can see labs have a declining appetite as they get older because they have arthritis pain. However, this is usually a very gradual decline.

I'm concerned that there is a serious medical issue with Dylan. Unfortunately, any guesses at a diagnosis would be just that - guesses.

I would highly advise having your vet take a look at her. They can do a good thorough exam and also some blood and urine tests. This really should tell us what the problem is. It's possible that there is a problem that we can fix easily such as an infection somewhere. But, I think we need to prepare that there could be bad news.

I wish I could give you better (and more hopeful) advice. :(

Dr. Marie.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.