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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16285
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My 12 year old sheep dog has lost appetite and losing fur from

Customer Question

My 12 year old sheep dog has lost appetite and losing fur from round his he is very lethargic not happy as normal
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 months ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
How long has he had these signs?
Where is he losing fur (since your sentence ends abruptly)?
Any retching, gagging, lip licking or vomiting?
Any changes to his drinking?
Are his gums pink or pale/white? Moist or sticky?
If you press on his belly, does he have any discomfort, tenderness, or tensing?
Could he have eaten something he should not have (ie bones, toys, plants, chemicals, etc)?
Has he had any diarrhea?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
He had a lamb bone xmas day and he has got 2 lumps either side of his throat I think it's his glands they are a bit smaller than golf balls I thought his fur was going grey as my eyesight not good but my son pointed out it is fur loss and it's got worse over night he has been trying to go toilet but either constipated his stomach feels ok and he is not bothered when I touch it he has got lack of interest in everything even a bacon sandwich
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
He is not eating anything now I have 3 dogs 2 terriers as well so it's hard to tell how much he is drinking
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
He usually runs round the park on his walks and he hasn't the last few days
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
His gums look normal and wet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you,
First, I must say that I am very concerned about Mac.
Now if he had a lamb bone back on Christmas day, we'd hope that is not playing a role here and that he hasn't been off food since then. If that were the case, we'd have an urgent situation that we'd want to have seen to urgently.
That aside, what really worries me here for him are these enlarged glands. With them being that large, I would be concerned that this isn't in response to infection in the mouth (which could also put him off food). Instead, there is a real concern that they could be enlarged because of lymphoma (a cancer of the nodes). So, if these are nearly golf ball sized, we'd really want to have his local vet check these (as well as him) and possibly even biopsy them.
Otherwise, I will outline some supportive care we can at least try over the weekend to make sure his stomach is settled enough to eat and get nutrition into him. To start, you can consider treating him with an antacid. Common OTC pet safe options would be Zantac (More Info/Dose @ http://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/library/over-the-counter/ranitidine-hcl-zantac) or Milk of Magnesia (0.5tsp every 8 hours). Whichever you choose, we’d give this 20 minutes before offering food to allow absorption. Of course, do double check with your vet if he has a known health issues or is on any medications you haven't mentioned.
Once that is on board, we want to again tempt him. Favorites are allowed but you can also try a light/easily digestible diet. Examples you can use are cooked white rice with boiled chicken, boiled white fish, cottage cheese, or scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk). There are also OTC vet diets that can be used (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity) too. The aim of these diets is that they will be better tolerated/absorbed by the compromised gut.
Though if he cannot be tempted, then we’d need to think about syringe feeding here. To do so, we can water down calorie rich diets (ie Hills A/D, Royal Canin Recovery diet, even canned puppy food) or use a liquid diet (ie Clinicare, Dogsure). As well, there are paste supplements (ie Nutrical) that can also be used. And these will all get more in per bite even if we cannot get much in.
Since dehydration is a risk here (with out not knowing what he is drinking himself), we need to keep an eye on his hydration. To check this and ensure he’s not becoming dehydrated, there are a few things you can test. Further to checking for gum moisture, you will want to make sure his eyes are not looking sunken and that he doesn’t have a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a good video HERE (http://www.ehow.com/video_12232503_dog-dehydrated.html). If you are seeing any signs of dehydration already, then that would be our cue to have him seen before this becomes an additional issue for him (especially as it is often dehydration that makes them feel unwell).
Overall, the hair loss is a minor issue and the bone ingestion doesn't quite fit with the time frame for Mac's signs. What really is worrying is that we have an anorexic dog with severely enlarged glands. It does raise concerns of severe oral issues and that could put him off his food. But it also raises worries of cancer. Therefore, we need to tread with care. You can use the above supportive care over the weekend, but if your vet does have hours today (many do in our country and you can ring to see if they are or contact their out of hours service), then I'd be keen for him to be seen today. His vet can assess his hydration, make sure there is no bone in his stomach, make sure his mouth isn't in dire straights, and test those worrying glands. Depending on their findings, his vet can advise you on which is the root cause for his signs and start treatment to help him manage this.
Please take care,
Dr. B.
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