Thank you again,
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, weight loss in the dog can be triggered by a range of issues. Often we can consider these as declines in input (off food), increased in output (diarrhea, protein loss in urine, etc) and internal issues (ie organ dysfunction, metabolic disease, cancer, etc). In your lad's case, if he has been off his food for a week; that is very much a reason for weight loss, weakness, and lethargy.
Of course, this too can be caused by quite a few issues (just as it can for us). The most common reasons for anorexia in older dogs is nausea (even without vomiting) and oral discomfort (ie dental
disease, oral masses,ulcers, sores, etc). As well, we can see this secondary to systemic issues like bacterial or viral infection, metabolic conditions (ie Cushings, Addisons), organ disease (ie liver or kidney troubles), cancer, pancreatitis
, toxin and/or foreign material ingestion (though hopefully the last two are less likely with his age). And just to note, this doesn't really fit with lungworm but tick borne disease is always a potential concern.
Now if it has already been a week and he is lethargic, we do have to be concerned. The reason we all get worried and need to keep a close eye
on this is because older animals just don't have the body reserves that younger animals will have. And we can quickly see dehydration and malnourishment compound and make them even more ill.
First off, you will want to try and see if you can get him eating (as I know you will have). If he hasn’t been keen to have his favourites, then I would advise also trying to tempt him with a light/easily digestible diet. Examples of this would be cooked white rice with boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled eggs
(made with water and not milk), meat baby food (do avoid the ones with garlic powder in the ingredients) or there are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used like Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity. When offering food, just offer small meals at a time and let him have breaks (~30 minutes) to ensure he keeps down what food he will eat for you.
If he is reluctant to eat, then nausea (even without vomiting) would be suspect and may need to be addressed. To do so, you can consider a trial on an antacid. There are a number of antacids that are available over the counter and pet friendly. I would advise only treating with one, but the two I tend to recommend are Zantac (More Info/Dose @ http://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/library/over-the-counter/ranitidine-hcl-zantac) or you can try Milk of Magnesia (0.5-1 tsp every 8 hours). These, of course, shouldn’t be given without consulting your vet if he does have any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medications. Ideally, it should be given about 30 minutes before food to ease his upset stomach
Hopefully, he will be tempted to eat once his stomach
settles. If he still refuses and isn't vomiting then we may have to consider initiating syringe feeds to get food in. In that case, you may want to try Hill's A/D from your local vet. This is a critical care diet that is comes as a soft, palatable pate. It is calorically dense, so a little goes a long way nutrition-wise and this could just help get some more calories into her even if we can’t get a huge volume of food in. As well, for syringing food, you can use the animal version of Ensure (balanced for animals dietary requirements) called Clinicare Canine/Feline Liquid Diet. Your vet should be able to order it for you but it is available without a prescription. This way it would a means of getting food/fluids in, staving off weight loss, and buying you time to uncover the reason for his loss of appetite.
As well, do keep an eye on his water intake and hydration. To make sure he is not already dehydrated, there are a few things we can test for at home. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether he has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this HERE (http://www.ehow.com/video_12232503_dog-dehydrated.html). If he is showing those dehydration signs at this point, that is our cue to have him to the vet before this can get any worse. If his hydration looks normal, then we'd want to keep encouraging him to drink with fresh water +/- low salt chicken broth.
Overall, it is his anorexia that will be causing the weight loss and making him feel unwell. Therefore, we need to get to the bottom of what is causing that. So, if he has already been off his food for this long, then we do want to see if we can get him back on his food as soon as possible. Therefore, I would advise the above. If you initiate these treatments and do not see improvement over the next 12-24 hours (since he is an older gentleman without a good meal for quite a few days already), the it would be best to take him to the vet so that they can make sure there is nothing sinister afoot.
With his being an older lad and anorexia can be signs of so many conditions, it would be worth considering having your vet check a blood sample (to make sure his organs are working as they should). Depending on their findings, the vet will be able to cover him with antibiotics and anti-nausea/vomiting medication and appetite stimulating medications by injection to help settle his stomach and get him back on track as quick as possible.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
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