& welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
Since you noted that she has heavy breathing, can you take a breathing rate (just count the breaths seconds + multiply by 6)?
If you press on her belly, does she have any pain or tensing?
Any vomiting, retching, lip licking or gulping?
Are her gums pink or pale/white?
Could she have eaten something she should not have (ie bones, toys, rocks, plants, chemicals, etc)?
Has she had any diarrhea?
Any straining to go or black feces?
If you press on her belly, does she have any pain or tensing? Not Really
Any vomiting, retching, lip licking or gulping? NO
Is she drinking at all? Not know, a bit last night
Are her gums pink or pale/white? Not Really
Could she have eaten something she should not have (ie bones, toys, rocks, plants, chemicals, etc)? Unlikekly
Has she had any diarrhea? Not that aware
Any straining to go or black feces? not that aware
Now when a dog goes off their food in this manner, these are vague clinical signs that can occur with a range of issues. In a dog her age, this includes grumbling bacterial infection, viral disease, metabolic conditions, cancer, pancreatitis, toxin and/or foreign material ingestion (hopefully these last two will be less likely in her situation --since these would be the urgent ones we'd be concerned about with your lass).
Now if she is turning away from her food and potentially not drinking, then we do have to be suspicious of nausea despite not showing any vomiting (often nauseous animals go off their food rather then eat/vomit). To rule out nausea as an anorexia differential, you can try her on antacid therapy. There are a number of antacids that are available over the counter and pet friendly. I would advise only treating with one, but the two I tend to recommend are Pepcid (More Info/Dose) or Zantac (LINK). This medication of course shouldn’t be given without consulting your vet if she does have any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medications. Ideally, it should be given about 30 minutes before food to ease her upset stomach.
Once this has had time to be absorbed (20-30 minutes, you can try and see if you can get her eating (as you have been). Favourite foods are allowed or you can tempt her with a light/easily digestible diet. Examples of this would be boiled chicken, scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk), meat baby food (do avoid the ones with garlic powder in the ingredients) or there are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used here (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity.) Offer small volumes to start (just a spoonful) and if she eats, let her have 30 minutes before giving any more. This will ensure we don't overfill her and risk inducing vomiting.
Now she has not been off her food a wee bit, syringe feeding wouldn't be indicated at this stage. Still just in case you find that tempting isn't working, then I do just want to note some diets to use if initiating syringe feeds to get food into her. we tend to use Hill's A/D (LINK) or Royal Canin Recovery diet. These are critical care diets that come as a soft, palatable pate. They are calorically dense, so a little goes a long way nutrition-wise and this could just help get some more calories into her even if we can’t get a huge volume of food in. As well, food, you can use the animal version of Ensure (balanced dietary requirements) called Clinicare Canine/Feline Liquid Diet (LINK)). It is actually by the same people who make Ensure, but is formulated to meet out pet's dietary needs. Your vet should be able to order it but it is available without a prescription (some pet stores may also carry it). Otherwise, if you cannot obtain these, you can use meat baby food or wet puppy food (watered down into a gruel)as a short term option to syringe feed her. These would be a means of getting food into her, avoiding nutritional deprivation side effects, and buying you time to uncover the reason anorexia.
On top off all of this, you do need to keep an eye on her water intake.I am glad to see that she is drinking, but I would say this is a good point to check her hydration status. To do so and make sure she is not becoming dehydrated there are a few things we can test at home. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether she has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters , you can find a wee video on this (http://www.ehow.com/video_12232503_dog-dehydrated.html). They use a big dog but it makes it easier to see and the principles are exactly the same no matter their size.
In regards ***** ***** you can do to help stave off dehydration at home (though do note that if she is already then she will likely need more the oral rehydration), encourage her to drink but offering fresh water or even low-sodium chicken broth. As well, wet foods (as mentioned above) are 35% water, so getting her to eat will help us deal with water intake as well. If she isn't amenable to drinking, you may wish to offer unflavored pedialyte via syringe feeding. While we cannot do this if they are vomiting, it may be an option situation. A typical maintenance rate in an animal 48mls per kilogram of her body weight a day. If you do give syringe pedialyte, this should obviously be divided up into multiple offerings through the day rather then all at once. This value will give you the total she needs day and is a good starting point to give you an idea of her daily requirement. If she does vomits if you give pedialyte, I would discontinue this as a therapy. (since we don’t want her vomiting because of our intervention).
Overall, when a dog is anorexic and lethargic, it can mean a wide range of underlying issues. Therefore, at this stage, we want to use the above supportive care and monitor her closely. If you try the above and do not see improvement in 12-24 hours or she worsens (vomits, is painful, her breathing rate doesn't settle, etc), then you do want to get your vet involved once they are open. They can assess her hydration, check her signs of any sinister lumps/bumps or internal issues. They can also cover her with antibiotics, anti-nausea/vomiting medication by injection and even appetite stimulating drugs if necessary. Depending on the findings, the vet will be able advise you on what is likely our culprit and what can be done to get her back on track.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
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