PDSA

My Lurcher has been off his food for a couple of days. I feed him raw and he loves it but he’s not been running like usual. He is also spending quite a bit of time in a kind of playbow position with his chest on the ground and his bottom in the air. He doesn’t seem very happy and I wonder if he has a pain in his stomach.

Wolfgang Dohne advises…

The really doesn’t sound good and I am concerned as well. If dogs start resting in an unusual position (compared with their usual resting habits), pain or discomfort might be the reason. Bending their backs or stretching the front part – preferably on a cold surface (tiles or wet grass) – is often a sign of upper abdominal pain, affecting the area underneath the rib cage. We find here not only the stomach but also the liver, the gall bladder and the pancreas. Sickness, diarrhoea and/or a reduced appetite can be further pointers.

The feeding of raw diets has become increasingly popular over the last few years, but these diets present us with a range of new risks, very much depending on the ingredients used and on their often inadequate storage.

I am particularly concerned about the use of raw poultry meat in these diets. We know from field studies with poultry meat sold in supermarkets for human consumption that in a lot of cases the outside packaging is already contaminated with campylobacter or salmonella bacteria. I cannot see that this will be much better with any raw dog food and in our clinic, we frequently find these bacteria in the stools of dogs with gastroenteritis.

Regardless of this, conditions like acute pancreatitis or a chronic inflammation of the gall bladder can cause considerable pain and discomfort and your vet will be the best person to check on this, usually with the help of a blood test and/or an ultrasound examination, which can normally be performed without the need for sedation. I would not delay a visit, as these are very treatable conditions, especially if they have been diagnosed in an early stage.

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