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My Senior Dog Is Not Eating – and Also Had Diarrhea

Score for Seniors:
Activity Level:
Weight: Pounds

Your senior dog no longer eating is already a cause for concern. But what does it mean if your dog also had diarrhea? Let’s take a look at the most likely causes that can lead to both a loss of appetite and diarrhea.

What Are the Most Likely Causes?

The following conditions cause loss of appetite, as well as vomiting and diarrhea, with diarrhea often the most commonly observed symptom:

1. Dietary Change

If you have suddenly changed your dog’s food, it can cause your dog to have diarrhea. Many times, your dog will still be eating and not be vomiting. This diarrhea will go away after a few days on its own. When you switch your dog’s diet from one brand to another, it is best to do so gradually over 5 to 10 days. This will help prevent your dog from having diarrhea. Many times, your dog will not need to see a vet and will quickly recover from this diet change.

2. Parasites

Parasites can cause your dog to stop eating and have diarrhea. This can easily be diagnosed and treated by your vet. There are even over-the-counter dewormers that you can give to your dog for some of the most common types of parasites. In a severe parasite infestation, your dog may also stop eating. Usually, dogs with parasites will still be very active and playing – just having diarrhea.

3. Heat Stroke

If your dog becomes overheated, they can develop heatstroke. Some dogs will love to stay outside for long periods of time. Without access to cool fresh water, shade, and sometimes a fan they can develop heatstroke. Dogs who have heat stroke will be panting and drooling. They may also vomit sometimes and have diarrhea.

Below are other conditions that typically will cause both vomiting and diarrhea, in addition to loss of appetite:

1. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is inflammation of your dog’s pancreas. This is a common condition that will cause your dog to vomit and have diarrhea. Pancreatitis is caused by your dog eating a high fatty meal. Your dog will also have a very painful stomach and not eat. Pancreatitis can be treated but in severe cases can be fatal. Sometimes your dog will need to see your vet for IV fluids and injectable medication for them to recover.  For mild cases of pancreatitis, you can try at-home treatment of a bland diet but if your dog does not stop vomiting and eating after 24 hours, they will need to see your vet. The cost of this workup and treatment at your vet can be $500 to $1500+ depending on the severity of your dog’s condition.

2. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is an infection and inflammation in your dog’s gastrointestinal system. This can cause your dog to vomit and have diarrhea. Many times, these dogs also are not eating. This is commonly seen in dogs who ate something that they shouldn’t have such as getting into the trash. Trying at-home treatment of a bland diet and probiotics can help your dog recover. If you do not see your dog improving in 24 hours or they are getting worse, they will need to see your vet. Depending on the severity of your dog’s condition this can cost $1,000+.

3. Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is bloody diarrhea and vomiting. This can happen due to stress, eating something that they shouldn’t have, and sudden change in diet. This condition is more commonly seen in small breed dogs but can also happen in larger dogs. Most times, these dogs will need to see your vet for IV fluids and medications. This condition can cost $500 to $1,500+ depending on how severe your dog’s condition is and where you live.

4. Toxin Ingestion

Dogs are known for eating anything and everything that can get into their mouth even if is not good for them. There are plants, chemicals, and certain human foods that are toxic to dogs. If your dog gets into any of these products it can cause them to become very sick. Often you will see vomiting and diarrhea as some of the first signs of toxin exposure. If you think that your dog ate something toxic, it would be best for them to see your vet right away. Some toxins have just mild signs, and your dog will quickly recover from while other can be very serious and even life-threatening and your dog may need to stay in the hospital for a few days to full recover. The cost for toxin exposure treatment can be as low as $200 and in severe cases can be over $2,000+.

The following condition will also lead to loss of appetite, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. However, vomiting is often the most commonly observed symptom: Foreign body obstruction, bloat gastric dilation, volvulus GDV and food bloat. Learn more on our page: My senior dog is no longer eating – and also vomits and has diarrhea.

These are some of the most common reasons that your dog may have these issues. There are many other health conditions that can cause your dog to stop eating, and have diarrhea.

If your dog does not get better, it would be best to see your vet. They can help figure out exactly what is causing these issues and start your dog on medication to help them recover very quickly. Make sure you also read our tips on steps you can take at home to help your dog while you wait or your vet appointment:


WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]


4 Steps You Can Take at Home to Help A Dog Who is Not Eating & Has Diarrhea

There are a few things that you can do at home to help your dog who is vomiting, having diarrhea, and not eating. Note that you should not give your dog new medication (even over-the-counter medication) without first discussing it with your veterinarian:

  • Withhold food for 4 to 6 hours: If your dog’s stomach is upset, not giving them food for a few hours will allow their stomach to calm down. When you start to offer food again make sure it is a small amount of a bland diet.
  • Entice them to eat: Some dogs will eat more willingly if they are offered human food. Things like chicken and rice. Also adding a scrambled egg to their food will help. When cooking any human food for your dog, try to make it as bland as possible. No fats, oils, butter or seasoning should be used as this can make your dogs stomach issue worse.
  • Give them a Probiotic: If your dog is vomiting and having diarrhea they have also disrupted the normal bacteria flora found in their stomach and intestines. Common probiotics that you can find at the pet store are Fortiflora and Profivex.
  • Give them over-the-counter gastrointestinal medications: Some gastrointestinal medications used for people can also be given to dogs. Things like Pepcid and Imodium can help dogs with GI issues. Pepcid can help decrease the gastric acid build-up and help your dog who is vomiting. Immodium can help decrease your dog’s diarrhea. Before starting any new medications ask your vet to make sure your dog can take these medications.

At What Point Do I Know I Should I Call The Vet?

If your dog does not start to improve with at-home treatment after 12 to 24 hours you should see your vet. Some conditions are considered medical emergencies and should not try any at-home treatment. The severity is mentioned in the description of the disease. These are other conditions that would indicate that you need to skip the at-home treatment and see your vet right away.

  • Bloody vomit
  • Extremely Bloody diarrhea
  • Very Lethargic
  • Seizures
  • Diffculty Breathing
  • Pale Gums
  • Bloated Abdomen
  • Bleeding that you cannot get to stop
  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours or more than 4 times a day
  • Diarrhea that has not improved after 24 hours

All of these issues should see your vet right away. These signs can indicate a major health condition.

Go back to our page about old dogs not eating or continue reading our tips to help your dog:

Author

  • Dr. Ochoa earned her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from St. George University and completed her program with excellent scores. She has been working as a veterinarian since 2015 for Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, TX.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action. Read More.

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