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Mia Carter
Mia Carter, Animal Expert
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 822
Experience:  Specializing in the training and care of ill pets and special needs animals! Mom of 22 pets!
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golden retriever: 12 year old always hungry..its appetite

Resolved Question:

My friend''s 12 year old always hungry golden retriever has suddenly lost its appetite for the last week... Any thoughts?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Mia Carter replied 8 years ago.
Hello there.

I'm sorry to hear that your friend's dog is unwell.

I'm a bit concerned for this boy, as a refusal to eat is typically one of the first signs of illness. It could be any number of things causing this - it's a pretty generalized symptom that can be indicative of any number of conditions. Unfortunately, the longer a dog goes without food, the weaker he becomes, and this can enable an infection or disease an even better foot-hold, resulting in a rapid progression of the illness. His ags is also a bit concerning - the older the animal, the more difficult it's going to be for him to recover. So with this in mind, I would strongly recommend a vet visit, as the sooner the problem is diagnosed, the easier and less costly it will be to treat.

I can give you information on a few other things that your friend can check, and this will give her a better idea of how urgent the situation may be. In addition, I'll give you some tips to help him until he can get to the vet's office.

Problems with the teeth or infections involving the mouth can also cause a pet to stop eating. This is more common in older animals, so this could be the case. I would put some wet food in the blender, add a bit of water until it's a thick milkshake consistency. Use a liquid medicine syringe (avoid the type with the bulb on the top - the suction isn't that great) and squirt some food on his tongue. You may be able to hand-feed him in this way. Two teaspoon syringes are available in the kid's section of the drug store, while larger versions are available at pet supply stores and at the vet.

A dog's normal rectal temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Ear temperature is slightly different: between 100.0 degrees and 103.0 degrees.
Here's a good site on temperature and how to take it:

Checking the gums is an indicator of your dog's circulation. If there's internal bleeding, anemia, a disruption of normal blood flow, or serious illness, the gums will turn very pale, almost white in appearance. This means that the blood is not properly receiving oxygen or there's a loss of blood or red blood cells.

Normal gums will be bright pink to a pale pink. Abnormal gums are white with greyish, blue, or yellow.

Here is a link to a photo of normal gums:

Here is a link to a couple of photos of pale gums:

I should note that I've seen perfectly healthy dogs with gums that are slightly paler than those pictured in the "normal gums" picture, but there's always a distinct pink tone.

For more information on checking your dog's gums, visit:

The normal heart rate varies depending on the size and age of the dog. A puppy has a heart rate of about 180 beats per minute. And adult dog will have a rate between 60-160 beats per minute. Small toy breeds can have normal heart rates of 180 beats per minute. The rule is the younger the dog, the faster the heart rate (for puppies). And the smaller the dog, the faster the heart rate.

Normal pulse is between 60 and 120.

Also, you can check capillary refill time. If you apply firm pressure to the gums, the area should turn pale and then quickly return back to normal (you can try this on your own skin to see what I mean). If there's no difference, or if your dog's gums take a long time to return back to normal, there could be a problem. The gums should return to normal in no less than one second and no more than two 1/2 seconds.

You can also try him on some bland "people food" such as plain white rice and boiled hamburger if he gets hesitant to eat before you get to the vet. He may find this more appealing than his normal food, as an ill dog can be finicky.

Since he's not eating, you can give three of spoonfuls of pancake syrup every six hours to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which will just make him feel worse.

I would also add unflavored Pedialyte to his water in a 50-50 mix to help with hydration. Dogs who are ill are often dehydrated, which only further impairs the body's ability to fight whatever problem is affecting him. Giving Pedialyte ice cubes is another creative way to give fluids, as many dogs like licking the ice cubes - it's a treat.

You also can visit this link to learn more about an ill pet:

I hope your friend's golden is feeling better soon! Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions!

****Please ACCEPT if my answer was helpful!****

-Mia Carter
Pet Expert

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Mia Carter and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for your feedback.........

James McCarthy

I have some disturbing opinions on Cody and was wondering if I could send you some blood work to see if there is something you see....

He has not eaten anything since Fri. the 16th and two vets can't say for sure what is wrong... High white blood count, could be lymph nodes but hard to find in dog that size... Please let me know if I can fax you some lab results and get your opinion....

Hoping for a miracle,

James McCarthy (NNN) NNN-NNNNedited>39588.7325167824

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