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Rebecca, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15125
Experience:  I have more than 30 years of veterinary practice experience.
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I have a 15-year-old Heeler, male, who is vomiting up water

Customer Question

I have a 15-year-old Heeler, male, who is vomiting up water regularly and losing weight. I don't want to put the dog through a lot of tests, and run up a big bill, only to be told that it's a tumor, cancer, diabetes etc. What do you suggest?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry to hear you are worried about your dog. I am a veterinarian, and will do my best to help.
I get this question a lot: want to know what is wrong, but don't want to spend money on tests to find out it is something incurable. It is a hard choice, especially when a dog is older, and the odds are more likely that it is something serious.
This could be so many things: cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis. The best place to start is a good physical examination: listen to the heart, feel the internal organs and lymph nodes and pulses, check the gum color (should be bright pink), etc. Often just a physical exam tells what the problem is, if the lymph nodes are enlarged or a tumor is felt in the abdomen.
A good physical by your veterinarian may tell you what the problem is, and if there is any chance of something like a course of medication or change of diet or injections to limit vomiting may help. If further tests are recommended, you don't have to do that. Further tests may be needed to tell you what is wrong, if you want to find out what is wrong, but that does not mean you have to do any tests.
I try to work with clients: start with an exam, tell you what I think is going on, and what steps to take next. If the dog owner does not want to do blood tests or Xrays, I offer "symptomatic treatment", injections to slow vomiting, steroids or antibiotics, etc. to try to help. As veterinarians, we know not all clients want to or are able to spend a lot of money on tests, so we offer our opinion and options. You as the pet owner, make the decision about diagnostics and treatments.
It does sound like he could be seriously ill, he could have cancer or diabetes (is he drinking a lot of water; is that why you mention diabetes)?), but there is always a chance it is something that can be managed or even cured. To find out, a good physical exam is the best first step.
Let me know what else I can answer or help with.