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Elderly boy not eating


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Hi. I am after some advice. Around 10 months ago we took in a 13 year old rescue lab. He was suppose to be a foster but we failed & he had to stay :) When he first came he wouldn't eat out of bowl or the raw meat our their 2 eat. So we started him slowly with some kibble on the floor, then on a plate & eventually a bowl & them moved him over to meat. He was ( and still is) very thin as he previous owners had stopped feeding him, hence needing a new home.

Anyway, he has been quite happy on the same food for the intervening months, got his lab appetite back & put on some weight. In the last couple of months he has been sick occasionally or had the runs but he does eat stuff when we're out in the fields :( And it has never gone on very long. He didn't seem to be putting on much weight to I increased his food a bit but it just seemed to increase the output.

He then started needing a poo in the early hours of the morning so I moved their afternoon feeding time to a bit later and that stopped.

Last Sunday morning there was a large amount of sick by the back door & he didn't want his breakfast but ate a little dinner. The next morning there was a large slimey poo by the back door. Again he didn't want to eat his breakfast. He will have small biscuit treats but not a bonio. He has not been sick again. This has gone on all week & I'm worried about him getting thinner & he seems a bit subdued.

I took him to the vet a couple of weeks ago & he had tests for liver, kidneys & enlarged heart which all came back clear.

I wondered if he didn't want to eat the same food that he had thrown up so I swapped from beef to chicken & he ate that fine for a couple of days but stopped again. I have tried various alternatives & he is ok for a meal or 2 & then not eating again.

So this seems to have coincided with us getting a puppy a couple of weeks ago. Initially he was not happy with the little one jumping around but now he tolerates him.

Sorry for such a long back story. My questions are - could he be depressed because of the puppy? Is his age affecting his digestion?

He seems very happy to eat the same food as the puppy & I wonder if this could be because it is easy to digest.

Another recent change is he has been given painkillers as the vet found he has a torn crutiate ligament but I feel he is too old & fragile for surgery. He is on Cimalgex, not sure if this affects appetite.

We lost another lab in February with a suspected bowel tumor, this is the hard side of taking on older dogs.

Any advice would be very welcome.
The only thing I would say is you need to change his food to senior and stop feeding him puppy food.

Puppy food is far too rich for an elderly dog and this could be causing the sickness and the sloppy poop.

You need to look at buying senior food effective immediately and getting this changed over. (10% per day of the new food incorporated into his old food until its changed over to avoid a poorly stomach).

Sometimes older dogs don't like puppies coming into their homes, but as you say they tolerate them. I think as long as your boy gets extra cuddles and bit of extra special treatment from you to show you still love him just as much the "new puppy" syndrome will soon lapse.

The food thing is very important though, so please do sort this out. :)

Good luck and hope he starts to improve soon.

Sophie x
Hi. Thanks for your reply. He has only had the puppy food for a couple of days to see if he would eat it. They are fed a complete raw diet that he has been happy on for months but has suddenly stopped eating. There is a senior version so I will get some of that and give it a go.

Just to clarify the sickness and horrible poo came while he was on his ongoing food and then he stopped eating, which is what's worrying me. He is 5kg below his ideal weight already so I don't want to see him lose any more weight.
I see where you're at now! Apologies for my response then, I clearly got the wrong end of the stick! :ermm:

I have never experienced this myself, so hopefully someone will pop up on here and help you out!

I hope your boy starts to improve soon.

Sophie x
Hi, im very sorry you are going through this with your dog, it can be very worrying when an old dog stops eating. Not so long ago we had this with out old boy. It depends how long he has been not eating for and how far you want to go..bloods can come back clear sometimes even if there is something else wrong, but normally you would need to get your dog sedated for things like scans and you really want to put him through his?. How long has he not eaten for now, and is he still drinking ? watch carefully for dehydration...

Maybe try him on something bland and gentle for a few days like rice and chicken or rice and fish..a scrambled egg can help firm up soft poops as can pumpkin. Most dogs love natural yoghurt and a spoonful mixed in with his food can help replace good bacteria if he has had a tummy bug or needed antibioics..but because most dogs love it it can also encourage them to eat. I would also suggest smaller than usual meals...a bow full if he hasnt been feeling himself can be quite off putting sometimes. If things continue the way they are then i would be going back to he vets for further tests, as im sure you know old dogs can go downhill pretty quickly if they are not eating. Good luck, hope things improve and keep us informed , Beth x
Thanks. I read somewhere that Kefir was very good for getting probiotics into dogs. He has not had a day where he's not eaten anything, this morning he ate maybe half of what I gave him. This afternoon I made up a smaller portion and he sniffed it and walked away. I'm wondering about mixing an egg in with it to entice him. I'm at a loss :(

We lost one of our lovely girls in February and she had an absorption issue and lost a lot of weight. All her bloods came back fine and she carried on eating but was just not absorbing it and then one day she couldn't get up and we had to let her go. Still find it really hard and now I feel like I'm watching this old man drift away. :(
Kefir is fab and you should be able to get it something you can give everyday to keep the gut healthy regards your old boy, he is obviously just off his food, try giving him something really liver

Like i said, i have an old boy and he has bad days sometimes..its awful watching him go down hill and getting old..keep us informed x
You must be very worried about him- I know I would be too, in the same situation.

Have you explored things like his sense of smell and taste fading and feeding him food that is slightly warmed up to make it extra pongy? All of a dog's senses get less bright with age and that can make food a lot less appealing over time, and a simple act like warming food up with hot water or a few seconds in a microwave can make them a lot more interesting.

Egg both scrambled and raw, live natural yoghurt, grated cheese or other smelly things like raw tripe can also make food more interesting, so I'd try out some of these. It's quite likely that they will also turn out to be a huge draw for the puppy, so you may have to separate them to be sure how much your old lad is eating.

It is possible that his nose is put out of joint by the puppy, and it is also possible that you getting the puppy has just coincided with him getting very tired with life or him deciding that the puppy is being fed something that smells very interesting and he'd prefer to eat that than his own food. Unfortunately he doesn't answer many of these questions so on that topic he may keep you guessing. At least you have asked questions of your vet and got some answers from them about ruling out the physical things which could be causing him to ignore food.

I hope that you manage to get him stabilised on something that piques his interest :)
Thanks for your replies. I bought some live yogurt & mixed it in with his usual food this evening & he had a couple of mouthfuls & walked away. I was also feeding the puppy at the time & when Prince walked away from his food, Winston (puppy) started eating it. The next thing Prince was eating the puppy food!!

I also wondered about his sense of smell as well. The puppy food has salmon in it & I usually defrost it in the microwave so it is warm, so it is smelly & warm.

I have ordered some senior raw mix which has fish in it so that may encourage him & I'll try making it warm.

I am having great fun trying to feed 3 dogs different food in different rooms. The girl in the middle has what can only be described as a healthy appetite & has been getting double helpings recently when Prince started leaving his food before I realised! :)

It is like having a baby that won't eat & can't tell you why!!
Didn't have a very good night. Prince was really sick at about 1 am & it had a strong fruity smell, really sweet. I've looked up what it could mean & it is pointing towards diabetes :(

So we're off to the vet this morning. Will let you know the outcome.
Oh no! I hope your boy is ok!

I know I cant help with you situation but as a lab owner myself I have been following the replies and my heart goes out to you. You must be so worried :(

Please do let us know what happens and sending big cuddles to Prince!

Sophie x
Fingers crossed you get to the bottom of it, keep us informed . Good luck x
The vet thinks he has a gastro infection so he has had an anti-sickness/nausea injection & I have antibiotics for him. He has had nothing to eat today but was sick in the car on the way home from the vet, thank god for boot liners :)

Have got to stop giving him the pain killers as they may be making it worse & wait to see if he improves. She said the fruity smell was probably his stomach acid & when he had the blood tests a few weeks ago there was no sign of diabetes, which is a positive.

If he carries on being sick then they will do more tests.

He has lost 2kg in 3 weeks which is worrying. He is 24kg and his average weight should be 33kg.

Going back to the vets tomorrow to see if he has improved.

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