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Spotting Sickness in Dogs: Tips from Will Draper, DVM

09/29/2010

  • Joe Callahan:

    There is a question I’d like to ask. If a dog just doesn’t eat or express any interest in food, how long should you wait before you realize there might be something wrong?

  • Will Draper, DVM:

    A lot of times it can be dental disease, or a dental issue, or a toothache.  You know when we have toothaches, we don't want to eat. And your dog will feel the same way. So one thing to look at with that is that, if they do eat, are they chewing on one side of their mouth as opposed to the other? And if they chew on one side, do they appear to have any discomfort with that?

    It could be a dental issue. It could be a GI issue. So you would want to first kind of observe and see if you can ascertain for yourself. Is there a reason my pet is not eating? Because they don’t like the foods? Steven talked about his princess there as very finicky, which is so surprising to us with her bling on (Laugh). That’s a different issue. In that case you have to just be stern and make them understand that I am going to leave this down until you eat it up until a certain point. I kind of have a two-day rule.

    If your pet has not eaten in two days, look for other signs. Has there been any vomiting? Has there been any loose stool? Do you notice any obvious pain anywhere in the stomach? Those are signs that also will let you know whether or not they are being stubborn or they need to see the vet pretty readily.

  • Renee Genthner:

    What do you do with a loose stool over a period of time?

  • Will:

    What I generally recommend is what we call NPO or nothing per os for 24 hours. Nothing to eat for 24 hours, with the exception of maybe a little bit of water. And then at that point put them on a bland diet. White or brown rice, you know, if your animal is not having some sensitivity to it. It could be chicken, turkey, plain yogurt, something bland for a period of time, which usually I'd say on average is done for about four or five days until their stool firms up. And then, at that point, you want to gradually move them back out into their regular diet or some other diet that they can handle better. And the challenge of course then is figuring out exactly what caused the problem . And if we could just say, “Hey Missy, can you tell us what it was you ate that caused that?”

  • Renee:

    Doctor, earlier we saw Missy scooting her rear-end against the carpet. Is that a sign of something in particular?

  • Will:

    A lot of dogs do it because their anal sacs are full.

    Is everybody here familiar with what anal sacs are? There are two little sacs, or glands, back there that you know, the wild animals use to mark territory or to express fear.  If you've ever smelt the discharge from an anal gland it is not anything you want to smell or enjoy. It's a pretty nasty odor. But now they are just there. They don't benefit that much expect to get on your carpet or in your car. Some dogs will actually have issues with them where they become impacted and they need to be expressed by a veterinarian. What do you do to help your pet if they happen to have anal gland issues a lot? Well, the keyword is fiber; increasing fiber in their diet. Another pretty simple way is give them things like canned pumpkin, which helps to make them have less problems with anal gland issues. It also is great for a great laxative; we call the bulldozer of the GI system. So a great question.

Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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