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Not eating and vomiting.

Species: Dog
Breed: German Shepard Mix
Age: 2-5 years
Our Dog won't eat and drinks very little if any.
Friday last weekend Harper's appetite started to decline by Sunday she wasn't eating at all and vomitted a few times. We took her to the emergency clinc and they gave her anti-nausea and fluids and said to bring her in to her normal vet tomorrow. Since then she still has not eaten and is constantly on fluids and everything they can think of to get her to eat.
We have had blood work done, urine tests, xrays, and ultrasounds and all of it comes back normal.
They are now giving her antibiotics for tick diseases just incase, but it's killing me to not know what the source of the problem is.

Is there anything you can suggest? She won't even eat cheese, chicken, treats, wet food, or dry food, raw or cooked, warm or cold.

She does drink a little and only water though.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Harper is having all of these problems. I have had a few cases like this where I have done every test that is relevant and still can't find an answer.

Any time a dog is not eating and vomiting yet tests are normal, one thing that I worry about is the possibility of a foreign object in the intestines. Often xrays and even ultrasound can miss this depending on the size and density of the object. You may want to ask your vet if a barium series of xrays would be helpful. This is where a special dye is given to Harper and then xrays are taken as it travels through her intestinal tract.

I don't think that the question here is "what can we give her to eat", but rather "why is she sick?" Dogs can go for quite some time without food without it affecting them adversely so this is not my biggest concern. But, we do need to find out why she doesn't want to eat.

If this were my case, even if the blood tests were normal I would want to be running a PLI which is a test for pancreatitis. If this is not done it's worthwhile asking your vet about. The treatment for pancreatitis is more of the same of what she is getting now - IV fluids and possibly also medication for pain.

I wish I could add more. It does sound like the vets are doing the same things that I would. I really hope she is better soon!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

They already ruled out pancreatitis with the ultrasound and some tests. The only thing I think they haven't done yet is the barium xray. I'll check to see if of the xrays that they've done was that.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This may sound silly but sometimes a barium series can actually cure an unknown ailment like this. The barium acts like a bandaid on the intestines and can make sick dogs feel better. But, if there is a foreign object there then it really should detect it.

Hope things improve soon!

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

So last night her breathing got worse, she vomited again and whatever is in her stomach is coming out as diarrhea. So my wife took her to the emergency clinic. The did another blood work up and xrays to see if there was fluids in her lungs. Xrays CSS back inconclusive and the blood work was all normal except now they are saying that she has no protien. They said the wanted to keep her overnight and hospitalize her.

What would cause the "no protein" if she had good levels on Monday? How bad is it and is it treatable? Also she still isn't eating and they haven't done the barium xrays yet.

I know the vets here are doing everything they can but I don't want to loose our dog without knowing what was really wrong and if we did everything we could to help her.

Thank you for your advise,

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh dear. Being extremely low on protein is not a good sign at all. There are several possible causes. Inflammatory bowel disease can cause low protein. But, it should not happen all of a sudden like this. You mentioned it was normal a couple of days ago.

Extremely low protein can happen with liver failure but you would expect to see liver enzymes that are elevated. I have had some cases of liver failure though where the liver was too diseased to produce enzymes and therefore bloodwork looked normal. But, if this were the case then the ultrasound should have showed something abnormal with the liver.

Blood loss into the abdomen could do this but there should be obvious changes on the CBC portion of the blood work. A stomach ulcer can cause low protein, but really we should see evidence of bleeding. And again, the ultrasound should have shown something.

Low protein can happen with kidney disease but there would be other changes in the blood and urine tests.

It may be worthwhile to ask your vet about something called Atypical Addision's disease. Addison's is a serious, but treatable condition where the adrenal glands don't produce enough steroid. In most cases of Addison's there are obvious electrolyte changes on bloodwork but in atypical cases it might not be that obvious. If the vet thinks that Addison's is possible they may run a test called an ACTH stim test or a less expensive (but not as conclusive) test where they measure the cortisol level.

Please keep me updated on how she makes out.

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.