PDSA

“Help! My dog won’t eat”

My German Shepherd Dog is two years old and her top weight at the vet was 40kg. After moulting, she has lost interest in her food and has dropped to 35kg. The vet said she should ideally be between 38-42kg.

She is healthy in every other way except for the odd runny poo – she just doesn’t want to eat. She has had a faecal test for worms, which was negative, and now my vet wants to run further tests that may not give me an answer. Is it possible this is just a summer/heat thing? We got her expensive vet food that she ate well at first, going up 2kg in a week, but she is only eating about half of that now.

James Farrell advises…

You seem to have done all the right things so far. It can be a seasonal trait for dogs to lose their appetite in the summer if it is hot. I’m not sure if your bitch is neutered, as entire females can be more prone to loss of appetite and condition around their season.

Once the routine and common things have been addressed (like worming status) then I would recommend listening to the options your vet can run through, as although some tests might appear expensive, they offer good value if you get to the heart of the problem. Unfortunately, with the nonspecific signs your dog is displaying we have to start with routine tests and work up from there, ruling out conditions one by one, which is why sometimes the results can be frustrating if an answer is not immediately found.

Blood tests to rule out exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (common in GSDs, causing weight loss and loose stools) would be sensible and possibly some sent for allergy testing (common in one- to five-year-olds). Routine abdominal X-rays and ultrasound will ensure that the insides are OK.

Be prepared that occasionally we can only get the information we require by more invasive methods, such as biopsy via endoscopy or surgery. We reserve these options for later, but often these will be the most rewarding in terms of finding out what the problem is and successfully treating it.

For more pet care advice, see our Pet Care Advice pages.

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