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Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14901
Experience:  More than 30 years of companion animal practice.
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My 8 year old chocolate lab appears to have lost weight

Customer Question

My 8 year old chocolate lab appears to have lost weight recently. He has had some accidents in the house, which is very unusual. He acts as happy and active as usual, though. His stool appears normal, with no diarrhea.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.


I am sorry to hear you are worried about Donovan. My name is Rebecca. I am a veterinarian and will do my best to help.

Are the accidents in the house urine, feces, or both?

I see he is drinking more water. If the accidents are urine in the house, the most likely possibilities are urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or diabetes. If he is losing weight, then I would check his kidney function and check if he is diabetic. Urinary infections do not usually cause weight loss.

You could start by taking a urine sample to your vet for a urinalysis. If he is diabetic, there will be sugar in his urine. Then he should have blood tests done if there is sugar in his urine, and also to check his kidney function.

Cushing's disease can cause dogs to drink more and have accidents inside, but usually these dogs do not lose weight. It is still a possibility.

Other less common things to check for are Addison's disease, hyperthyroidism (rare in dogs), diabetes insipidus (different from diabetes mellitus, which is caused by low insulin. Diabetes insipidus is rare, and is from low levels of a hormone called ADH).

I would start with a urinalysis, and go from there probably to blood tests. Please let me know how he is doing and what other questions I can answer.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
His accidents in the house are feces, not urine.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.

I thought it was urine, since you mentioned his water is increased. Has his diet been changed recently?

So he is losing weight, no diarrhea, but is defecating normal feces in the house? I would then look for conditions of his digestive tract such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic insufficiency. He may not be getting all the nutrition from his food that he used to, and diseases of the intestine and pancreas should be checked for.

I might start by looking at a stool sample under the microscope to check for increased bacteria numbers. A test of pancreatic function called TLI will tell you if his pancreas is not producing enough digestive enzymes to absorb all the nutrition from his food.

How much weight do you think he has lost? Weight loss always gets my attention, in dog that are not on a reducing diet.

Let me know what other questions you have.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No idea how much he has lost, but I can see his ribs very clearly now. At his checkup last fall, he was a little overweight, but I figured out that both of my kids had been feeding him each day, not knowing the other already had. We made a chart to keep track of whose turn it is to feed him, and his weight came down. We took him in for a weight check just to be sure.Could he have picked up some sort of worm or parasite? The weirdest thing about this is that nothing else appears wrong. His coat is shiny, his eyes are clear, he is his normal, active self. Tail constantly wagging, typical lab. He seems happy, so I don't think he is in any pain.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, we haven't changed his food. He does very well on Nutro Ultra, and we've fed him that for years.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.

Usually with parasites, there is diarrhea, but having a stool sample checked is easy to do at your veterinarian's office. The weight loss bothers me especially if you see his ribs. If this were my own dog, I would probably start with a microscopic exam of his stool and if that was normal I would do some basic blood tests and then consider imaging such as Xrays or ultrasound.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've requested an appointment with my vet. I have an odd and icky question: how fresh does a stool sample have to be in order to be properly examined by the vet?
Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.

Sorry I was offline when you got back to me. 24 hours is fine and you don't have to keep it in the refrigerator!

Let me know how he is doing and what other questions you have.

Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.

How is Donovan doing?

Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.
Hi Erin,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Donovan. How is everything going?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Still a mystery. Took him to the vet yesterday. He's down 20 pounds since his last checkup, which was at Christmas time. Most of that weight loss has been in the past 4-6 weeks. Nothing unusual during a thorough physical exam. They drew some blood. He tested negative for heartworm and Lyme disease. They sent out his blood work for other tests and will call me on Tuesday.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.

20 pound is a lot of weight to lose! Let me know what you find out from the blood tests.

Kindly consider rating my answer so the website knows I assisted you!

Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.

Did you get the results of Donovan's blood tests? How is he doing?