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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29808
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My lab is 12 years old. he has stop eating and is listless.

Customer Question

my lab is 12 years old. he has stop eating and is listless. feces are dark to black. and he is throwing up.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Max. While any age dog can become transiently anorexic and suffer from gastrointestinal distress, 12 years olds who do so may not suffer a transient episode as seen with minor dietary indiscretions but, instead, be suffering from major organ insufficiencies such as chronic renal or hepatic failure, neoplasia (cancer) or any number of age-related metabolic disorders. Max doesn't have the reserve of a much younger dog and will become dehydrated and electrolyte imbalanced quickly if he stops eating and continues to lose fluid through his vomitus. His dark stool usually indicates a slow down in the gastrointestinal tract which allows the bacteria in the tract to work on ingesta for a longer time. Bilirubin is then more fully metabolized into stercobilinogen which gives stool its brown/black color. Such color can also indicate digested blood which is consistent with severe inflammation or ulceration in the GI tract. This can occur with primary gastrointestinal disorders or metabolic disorders that affect the GI tract.

It would be prudent to have Max's vet attend to him at your earliest convenience. I would expect a thorough physical exam including diagnostics in the form of blood and urine tests to be performed. If nothing untoward was found in such testing, an abdominal ultrasound would be my next diagnostic of choice. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.