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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My 馃挆 dog will be 15 on the 4th of July this year. Up until the last few weeks, his only issues have been arthritis in the neck and spine (upper). He is on meds, supplements, and has been to the chiropractor (and for acupuncture). The last two weeks, he's off his kibble and yogurt. It started with breakfast only, and the last couple of days, he's also been off dinner. I have wet his food for some time as he doesn't drink enough water, so it's not hard kibble. When he started going off kibble, I incorporated smelly soft canned food. He's now progressed to leaving that untouched (but he'll stare at the fridge). Since he's so interested in the food in the fridge, I caved and made him a plate of boiled boneless shredded chicken and scrambled eggs. He stared at it like - well, what do I do with that? Meh. And he walked away. If I hand feed him, he will eat about 25% of the normal amount. I had to hand feed even the chicken and egg tonight.

He's going between being his sharp old self, showing my younger dog all her training steps 10x over while she's making her mind up to do it once, but then he's utterly confused. He still wants attention (when he's awake - he sleeps about 20+hrs a day, maybe more), but he will not get up to go out unless I put him out.

Last week he had full bloodwork done w/ "Normal geriatric baseline" result. Heart is good. Lungs are good. X-ray shows nothing. All he has is a cough from post-nasal drip (he's on allergy meds too). I was told by two vets he's in better clinical condition than most 10 year old dogs.

I'm realizing that I've never had a dog this old going off food without other serious underlying conditions (i.e. cancer, etc), so I'm a bit nervous about what all this means. How can a clinically "good" body just stop eating? If I didn't hand feed him, I'm afraid he'd just give up.

Curious what those of you with very old dogs have encountered and how you've helped your dogs maintain good quality of life. I will be calling the vet again tomorrow morning to see what she wants to do next.

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Badger's very perky and expressive self just one month ago (right).
 

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My cockapoo Jake did this last year. At his well visit, he had lost several pounds. The vet took blood. I bought him soft food to temp him to eat. That is when I realized he was having trouble controlling his mouth. He was able to eat the soft food, but he struggled. The blood tests came back normal. Within a couple of weeks he lost blink response in both eyes. He started having issues walking. The vet said that we could run some very expensive the see tests to see what was wrong, but it wouldn't change the outcome. Something was destroying his brain.
Loki is our Standard Poodle we got after Jake. At almost the same time of year, he started eating less and less if his food. Then, one morning he woke up with a swollen face. He chewed on something that damaged the inside of his mouth way in the back. I think it was hurt for a while before it finally got infected. A broken tooth or abscess where the other possibilities. They said the abscess was more likely to happen in older dogs.
 

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Your first paragraph sounds so much like what happened with my Holly, weeks short of her 16th birthday, I hope no more than coincidentally.

October 31st 2016 she seemed fine. The other symptoms started showing up in the next couple of weeks and on Nov 16 her eating habit changed suddenly.
I started a journal while this was all happening, so I'd have every symptom or change written down before seeing the IM.

Almost forgot, "got labs back. bun higher than last panel in aug. alt still high but down 3pts, alkp down significantly but may not be significant". This was around Thanksgiving in 2016.


Ultrasound showed intestinal obstruction from a tumorous growth.

About 2 weeks before her eating changed, I'd also noticed some hind end instability, muscle tremors along her back which were possibly pain driven, and she wasn't able to get or remain comfortable lying down.
 

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There are so many things it could be that would not show up in blood tests - for very elderly Pippin-cat it was lymphoma. But I wonder if the nasal congestion might be part of the problem - if he can't smell the food it will be far less appealing. Perhaps try something very smelly, like canned sardines or even canned cat food if the high fat content is not a problem? It might also be worth asking your vet about a vitamin B12 injection, and/or giving him a very little raw beef liver (think teaspoonful, not bowlful!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My vet called in an rx for another pain med to test out this weekend before he has more testing Monday. I picked it up this afternoon and gave him first dose. He ate tonight!!! No hand feeding needed. Poor guy must have been in a lot more pain last couple of weeks. He's moving around more and actually went outside on his own tonight - and his face is expressing much more.

I don't know how much time we have, but I'm grateful he's at least comfortable right now.
 

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Such a sweet little guy. Could it be his teeth? My parents鈥 senior chihuahua mix would beg for food鈥攁ny food鈥攁nd then similarly act like she didn鈥檛 know what to do with it.

She would go entire days without eating.

I finally convinced them to take her to our vet for a cleaning and extractions, even though their own vet insisted her teeth were fine. Three days after the surgery鈥攄uring which almost all of her teeth were pulled鈥攕he was eating voraciously. My parents are thrilled.

Something similar happened with my little Gracie, except her Cushing鈥檚 appetite compelled her to eat through the pain. It took much longer to realize what was going on with her.
 

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Spoo coming 8/21! Buddy, a 16 yo shepherd mix, Fleur a 1 yo cat
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We lost our 2 elderly boys over the past year. Both were 17. My last boy Buddy, had decreased his food consumption over a few months. His teeth were a problem.

However his big issue was dementia. I had asked for advice on here about urinary incontinence and people were very helpful. I did not realize that bladder control was related to dementia. I thought he could not hold his pee but the doctor said he just did not realize where he was. A sign of dementia in people is also sleeping a lot, decreased appetite etc.
The last few months with an old dog is a sweet time but can be very sad and stressful too. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My excitement about him eating last night hit a wall this morning - he spat out little pieces of soft salmon and sweet potato food.

His teeth are quite secure and both vets (different clinics) think they're in great condition for his age. Both are hesitant to put him through anesthesia/surgery at his age. But, my concern for his teeth has nagged at me the last year or so. If they can't find another cause, I will discuss with them and ask to be referred to the dental surgeon we went to before for removal of a damaged molar when he was 11.

I'm still hoping that we will figure this out and get more quality time together. He's been the best dog ever. Here he was a 7 months old being shown by his breeder, handler. That no-nonsense expression at such an early age cracks me up. He's always been Mr. Business.
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He's adorable!! I just wanted to say that you aren't alone. Thomas is 14. He's got his heart problems but otherwise is in "young dog" shape. Even so he's got his days. I'm pretty sure there's some dementia developing. There's been days when I thought FOR SURE it was the end but then he snaps back. It's so stressful. I'm sending you a hug.
 

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Sorry to hear you're going through this. It's so tough, gauging what's normal especially in a time when their "new normal" seems to shift fairly quickly. I'm going through similar swings with my Border Collie Ace. He's approaching 14 which is old for a 65lb dude. Definitely struggling with his comprehension of commands, pain, appetite troubles. It's a real roller coaster of emotions. It sounds like Badger is a lucky guy to have you to care for him through his life. 鉂 14-15 years is a significant portion of one's life and to watch your little buddies decline so suddenly is heartbreaking. -hugs-
 
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