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Susan Chambers
Susan Chambers, Dog care specialist
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 283
Experience:  20+ yrs helping people care for their dogs, 10 yrs vet. office manager,5 yrs pet loss & bereavement
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My dog is acting lethargic and he vomited a couple of days

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My dog is acting lethargic and he vomited a couple of days ago, but has not since then. He is having normal bowel movements and he's even drinking water fine. He just seems very sleepy, mopey and weak. He tried to jump on the couch this morning and could not. I also saw him eating grass this morning, but he did have a bowel movement. I don't think he's eating normally and he has some goop in his eyes. I was laid off work recently so I have no money to take him to the vet and end up spending loads of money on all the tests they run. Any advice on what to do or what to keep an eye on? He is a 5 year old 10 lb. Maltese and I have never had any problems with him before. Are there any signs of serious sickness to look for or do you think I should just keep an eye on him to see if he starts getting better? Should I hold off food or should I give him boiled chicken and rice?
Hi, well, let's see how I can help you.. first, if he had eaten something and it had become lodged (obstruction in his intestines) he would be refusing food completely, throwing up constantly (yellow bile as well) and would not be having any bowel movements.. so to hear that he is taking in water is good news - (keeping them hydrated is very important as when they become even a little dehydrated they fell really bad (like we do).. he is rather young, but I have to tell you there is no real replacement for a vet exam and blood work to rule out any conditions (genetic or acute) such as kidney problems or such.. but I understand. it can become very expensive very fast.. the goop in his eyes? is it a bad green discharge - from both eyes or one.. that could be allergies .. if he is squinting - especially in one eye you would want to see a vet as he may have scratched his cornea which is serious for his eyesight and he would need an eye stain and ointments (for pain and antibiotic) .. if it is allergy - they would likely send one home with a steroid in it. ... it is very important to put the right ointment in for the right condition, if they have a scratch - you would not want to put in a steroid. he could have a bit of a dry eye condition. again, a vet would check with a strip to see how much tears are being made... you can try an eye ointment (like a triple antibiotic or a artificial tear product made for people to see if that eases his discomfort... eating grass... well, must tell you , I dont' think anyone knows why they do that.. is it because they like grass, but it makes them sick, or they feel sick so they eat the grass... try to keep him from doing so, as it will not do his stomach any good.   if he is having normal stools and not vomiting at this time.. all good signs.. IF he has an upset stomach it could be from eating the grass or something else that has passed thru but has left a residual ill effect.. you can always offer some rice with some boiled chicken (very little fat is best) to him, or for a day let his stomach rest and give him some very dilute chicken broth to help him feel better.   the thing about him trying to jump on the couch but not being able to makes me wonder if he has injured his back from jumping.. which would lead him to not feel well all over... for that you can try a very small amount of aspirin ... normally it is 81mg (1/4 normal size adult size) per 15 lbs.. so he would get less than that by alittle.. be sure to give with some food - never give tylenol, aleve or ibuprofen) only good old aspirin.. keep him from jumping up the best you can for a couple of weeks and see if he improves..   so keep him quiet, hydrated and get some food in him to try the aspirin and see how he does.. if he is around other dogs often he can get viral problems, you didnt' mention any coughing.. make sure he is continuing to have normal bowel movements (even though they will be less as he eats less) .. see if you can get him to have some boiled chicken and rice like you were thinking... let me know if you have any other questions.. I think I covered it all.... thanks for caring for your best friend and sorry to hear of your recent lay off..   again, the serious signs you would want to look for would be continuous vomiting, diarrhea, pacing and signs of serious discomfort. you can always rule out a fever by temping him - rectally, it should be 101-102 if you have the proper thermometer. Susan
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thank you so much for the helpful advice. I gave him some boiled chicken and rice after I got your response and he scarfed it right down and actually started looking a lot better. Then last night he was up off and on making hacking noises like he was trying to vomit. He did not end up vomitting last night, at all, so I gave him a little more chicken and rice this morning. I took him to my mom's for Thanksgiving so we could watch over him and he threw up the chicken and rice and slept most of the time.


When we got home he threw up a couple more times, but it was mostly stomach bile and grass probably from yesterday when I caught him eating it. I think this was the last of what all he ate yesterday and I was trying to decide tonight whether to give him more food or have him fast. He was shivering a little bit so I decided to put some water on the chicken and rice and try to get him to eat it to keep him hydrated and keep his caloric intake up. He actually refused the food tonight so I gave him some Nutrical and decided I should probably just take him to the vet in the morning since he is still acting lethargic and now finicky...


I felt his gums to make sure he wasn't too dehydrated and he didn't seem to be too bad so I think it will be okay to take him in the morning instead of taking him to the emergency vet tonight. I'm sure I will be sleeping with one eye open anyways so I'll be checking up on him. LOL


I'm worried because he has been lethargic for a couple of days now and even more so now that today he has been vomitting food up and refusing food this evening. I don't know how long it takes for them to get something out of their system when they have eaten something bad, but I guess I will see whether he is looking better in the morning or whether he stills looks lethargic and make the decision whether or not to take him to the vet.


I'm just hesitant because I know when you take them to the vet with no clue as to what could be wrong, they run every test known to man just to rule things out and I do not have the money to pay for all of the tests. I think I can manage the office fee and blood work, but anything else will be pushing it.


Thanks again for your help. I really hope he feels better in the morning.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Just so this may help anyone else looking at my question who might have a dog with similar symptoms...


We took my dog to the emergency vet because he started vomiting all night long. We requested that the vet perform bloodwork (that I thought at first he would not need because maybe he just ate something that upset his stomach.) After being lethargic for a few days and progressively getting worse and worse...I felt it was necessary to rule out anything serious. I tried to keep him hydrated overnight (because of his frequent vomiting) with a medicine syringe with water in it. I let the water trickle down his throat so he could swallow it and even though he kept throwing it back up 20 minutes later, I still felt like I was helping at least keep him somewhat hydrated.


The bloodwork confirmed what I was most worried about...he had severe kidney failure. His creantine level was a 6.5 so they put him quickly on IV fluids and he has been there since. Our vet thinks he will probably be able to make a full recovery and go home tomorrow with a special diet. This was really scary for us. He is like a kid to my husband and I.


Now I understand what serious symptoms to look for if a dog has eaten something toxic. Looking back on Monday, I now realize that his arched back while giving him a bath was his first sign. On Tuesday he was looking weak and walking around kind of spaced out and vomited once. Wednesday he was acting very lethargic, but still drinking water and eating the boiled chicken and rice I gave him. Thursday he was still acting lethargic, but ate some more boiled chicken and rice and then vomited a few hours later and then started vomiting more and more frequent. He kept me up all night Thursday night vomiting and refused water, food, and even nutrical. Friday morning we took him to the vet first thing and we are so glad we did when we did because if not he probably would not have made it. So he has been at the vet's office over the weekend on the IV fluids flushing his kidneys out and tomorrow (Monday) he will have his bloodwork tested again and hopefully will be able to come home.


Our vet thinks it could have been anything toxic like a grape or raisin (which I know we do not have at our house) or something he found in our backyard that was extremely toxic. He is the type of dog that gets into things and eats everything so I am surprised and feel he's very lucky that it took this long for something like this to happen to him. Despite our efforts to keep everything up high from him, he still manages to surprise us and climb or do whatever it takes to get to something he knows he shouldn't have. We're talking about a 10lb teeny Maltese here too... he was climbing kiddie gates and knocking big trash cans over as a puppy! He is so smart, he even outsmarts our efforts to keep things away from him sometimes.


I definitely will not take these signs lightly from here on out. I am very thankful that it was found in time and I'm eating my words above about not wanting to waste money on bloodwork. Thanks for your help! I hope this helps anyone else as well who might have a lethargic animal with the same symptoms. Our poor animals have no way of telling us what is wrong, so we must learn how to assess their serious symptoms so we know when its okay to treat at home or what serious signs we should recognize immediately to know when they need to see a vet.

Hi, thanks for the update on your little dog, and I'm so glad you realized it was time to take him to the vet.. sometimes we wait hoping they will get better when they really do need to go.. after doing that once myself and it ended up very badly for my dog, I trust my gut now.. when our shepherd went out at 3am and did not come right back into the house.... we called her in.. and within 15 mins were on our way to the ER.. it took one look at her for me to say.. she needs to go to the ER ..and she did have pneumonia.. which we ended up losing her to even after 3 months of constant hospital stays and every medical treatment and home treatment known to man... so, we must know to trust our gut and listen to our best friends.. again, I'm glad it has turned out okay .... as you said they can't tell us what is wrong and lab work is expensive but very important in diagnosing. thanks again for the update and the wise information you provided.. Susan