Hi, this is Dr. Thompson. I’ve been a dog and cat veterinarian since 2000. Thanks for your question. I understand you have an 11-year-old yellow lab with a bloated abdomen, eating grass, panting a lot and decreased appetite. I will be back in a few minutes after I fully review your question...
First let me say I can understand why you're concerned about Riley! The symptoms you're describing sound abnormal, especially the decreased appetite.
Things that can cause abdominal bloating can range from simple indigestion and gas (any recent food changes?) to enlarged liver or spleen.
When I have an 11-year-old patient present with these symptoms, my thoughts are:
1. Is there excessive gas or fluid causing abdominal distension? Excessive gas may be caused by food intolerance. Fluid in the abdomen can be caused by liver disease, cancer, or abnormal blood clotting. Sometimes I suspect fluid in the abdomen just from the way it feels, but often I need x-rays or ultrasound to confirm.
2. Is there an enlarged organ or mass in the abdomen? Sometimes I can feel it from the outside but often I need an x-ray +/- an ultrasound study to figure out if there is a mass and which organ it's affecting. Abdominal tumors are fairly common in older labs.
3. Are there other signs of indigestion like vomiting or diarrhea? Has there been a food change recently? Does the dog have a history of food intolerance?
4. Does it look like Riley has lost weight? This indicates that something has been going on for more than a couple of days. Some things cause more weight loss than others. Diabetes causes weight loss and tremendous thirst.
5. Are there changes in urination or thirst? An increase in either or both can be related to kidney disease, diabetes, Cushing's disease, cancer (plus several other things).
If I were seeing Riley in my clinic, I would want to do a thorough physical exam-- that can tell me a lot and help decide what other tests might be most helpful. If the belly feels abnormal, I would want an abdominal x-ray. A blood test including a chemistry panel, cbc, and urinalysis can be done if there is nothing diagnosable from exam and x-rays.
As far as how to help her until you can get her to the vet, feeding a bland diet of cooked boneless/skinless chicken breast and very mushy rice works well for many dogs. My clients sometimes give Pepcid AC 10 mg per 20 lb. of body weight twice a day for simple upset stomach.
Are there any other questions I can answer for you about Riley?
You're quite welcome. I hope Riley feels better soon!
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