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Not much enthusiasm for food. Going senile?


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Hi, folks!  New poster here - please be gentle!

I'm not a new greyhound owner.  I'm on my third and forth currently and have rescued hounds for something like 18 years.

I've got one of those weird situations, though, so I thought I'd look for advice from fellow houndies :)

So, my oldest boy is 12 and a half and over the past year has had a bladder infection and a rat bite that went nasty (poked his head in a neighbours hedge - came out with a rat on his face!) so diet got a little messed up, but he was back on normal food (Arden Grange kibble, softened with hot water and some Chappie wet food mixed in) and stomach all good.  A little over a year ago he had a cancerous growth removed, but they got it all and he recovered fine.

2 or 3 months ago though he started skipping meals - just looking and walking away or even not bothering to look.  He would get the odd bout of runny poops for seemingly no reason (I know that just happens with greys, but more often than usual this time), but then get better.  Went back to eating.  Went off it again.  I did the usual of adding a little interest (cooked chicken, sardines etc) but that seemed to result in upset stomach (as we know it does with some) which is worse than not eating much.

Over the period he's lost 3 kilos, (was 31kg normally) so is looking a little skinny.  It seemed to be getting worse, so I went to the vets for blood and urine tests.  Nothing.

What makes me think it's senility or something is recently I've found he will turn his nose up at his food, but be interested in what the humans are eating.  Not unusual, but it means he must actually be hungry I thought.  For some reason I thought to try him on the dry kibble alone.  He took it when I hand fed him and then ate some if I lead my hand to a bowl of dry kibble.  He ate it slowly so not too worried about choking...  The last couple of days, though, he won't even eat it from a bowl, but will if I hand feed him!  Just today he won't take a whole load from my hand but will eat one after the other from my fingers!

It's feels like if his brain thinks it's a 'treat' situation he'll keep doing it over and over, on doggy autopilot, but a 'food' situation he can't be bothered with.

I know dogs don't starve themselves and usually, if a dog doesn't eat for a meal or two, it's ok (in fact starving them when they have upsets is what some do), but this has happened for too long and too often to just let him 'get hungry' to force him back to eating what we know his gut is good with (or has been for many years).

I'm not sure if I'm explaining it well, but hopefully you've read this far through my waffle and might have some advice for me?

I'm quite worried, since I've been through something similar before.  My previous girl lasted until 14 but in the last few months went through something very similar.  Nothing was 'wrong' wrong with her, but she lost her appetite in conjunction with upset stomach and slowly disappeared. We had lots of tests done because we didn't want to give up on her, but I get the feeling we maybe kept her around too long.  She was effectively starving and weak and unhappy a lot of the time.  The vets basically said "She's old. Her guts just aren't working well any more" and eventually, with nothing left to test or try, we made 'that decision'.

My current boy is mostly still himself - some senior moments, but still enjoying walks and cuddles and bounding up the stairs at bed time.  I know he's quite old and they don't last forever.  I just want to give him the best quality life I can no matter how much he has left.

Vet-wise I guess my next step can only be ultrasounds and x-rays (and MRI?) but I'm not sure what would show up that doesn't show up at all in bloods and urine.

Anyone have any advice?  At the moment I'm doing the hand feeding kibble and giving him a paste probiotic twice a day.  I'm hoping if his gut feels better he will just start eating his normal food again.

Anyone have this experience themselves?  Is it 'normal' for a grey to get senile and/or go off their food?  What would you do re. feeding?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice!

Edited by ADogDad
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Are his teeth ok?

I forget the name of a powder that can be sprinkled on food to stimulate the appetite. I'm sure someone else here will know the name.

 

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So many things it could be. Definitely check his teeth. "Entice" may be the powder Macoduck is thinking of. You might also try warming some canned dog or puppy food and using that alone or as a kibble topper. Puppy food can help add some weight. Try using a bit of warmed chicken broth or even plain water over the kibble.

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Hi, thanks for the replies.

Yeah his teeth are ok.  Good for an oldie.  I'm not super regular with brushing, but he lets me use dentist tools to scrape away plaque, so no gum disease and I'm not seeing any decay.  Dentist said yesterday "his teeth aren't too terrible"...  They are a bit brown, but not along the gum line.  Some vets these days expect you to brush them twice a day.  Some are pleased if you pick off the plaque with your thumbnail every year...

I'll look into Entice or something similar, thanks.

He used to have a simple canned food topper - Chappie - and loved it, but he turns up his nose these days.  Part of the weirdness.  I always used to wet the kibble too, but that seems to put him off now :(

I'll look into puppy food - do you know what they add to make it good for puppies?

I've heard the chicken broth thing.  We were adding actual chicken to get him interested, but it leads to upset stomach.

It's that thing that a lot of greyhounds have.  Anything they aren't used to upsets the stomach, so when the vet says to try Royal Canin, even introduced slowly, the change is almost as bad as the original upset, in fact, historically, makes things worse, hence my reluctance to try.

I just spent 10 minutes feeding him kibble one-at-a-time like treats.  If I put down a few in front of him he sniffed and ignored.  If I hand feed or throw him one like it's a treat, he eats it.

Feels like a mental thing.

Edited by ADogDad
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It's so hard to see them age and I have no advice, just sending :goodluck  

 

Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Mario (2nd Chance Rescue).   Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) and especially  Nigel (Nigel), waiting at the Bridge

 

 

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a consult w/ your vet might clear up some of your questions but personally i too would stay away from $$$ diagnostic test. there is a product, Senilife- vitamin supplement for aged dogs w/cognitive issues. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. it might be worth a try. yes, teeth sound like it might be part of the issue of everything else checks out normal. here in the states purina makes a kibble bright minds which i have heard good reviews from friends who had senior dogs. i don't know if you have something similar.  as to the loose stools rx vitamin clay is most helpful. i am sure there are other brands of clay that you can find, amazon carries it. just a small amount and their stool is nice and firm. cooking chicken in rice might just get the taste buds going and dogs seem to love toast. yup, it's sweet and delicious- spoil your old boy rotten and just watch his quality of life. it's not easy watching your best friend decline. i've been there way too recently.

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Thanks for further replies and the crossed fingers!

I would love to spoil him!  He's been one of those hounds that can only tolerate a few treats before he gets an upset stomach though :(

I'll look into the clay and vitamin supplements and, yeah, the chicken and rice is always a good fallback position, though I have to be careful with any change.

I'm hoping the probiotics will get him back on track so I can try supplements and foods without further gut upset!

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I went to smaller meals more often when my oldie, Sam, went off his food. With him, he was just too feeble to stand and eat a full meal.  You'd think he could just eat a bit, then come back later, but I'm not sure that occurred to him.

He also stopped eating hard kibble. Sort of the opposite problem from yours. I started grinding 3 cups of his kibble in the food processor each morning, then adding a scoop of that to whatever special stuff I could entice him to eat: oatmeal, yogurt, Ensure liquid--whatever. He had gotten to the point where he'd eat the special food and lick the kibble clean, so if the kibble was too small to just lick clean, he'd go ahead and eat it. That at least guaranteed that he was getting enough calories of stuff that wouldn't upset his stomach.

But Sam was taking pain meds for arthritis, and when we had a night where he panted all night and didn't sleep at all, I told him he wouldn't have to have another night like that. We went to McDonald's that morning and got him sausage-cheese biscuits, then went to the vet. (Sam was starting to smell funny--almost amonia-like breath--and the vet figured his kidneys were packing up.)

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All of my seniors have gradually self regulated themselves out of at least one meal a day.  They are seniors, and they just don't need as much food - just like a human - and sometimes forcing them to eat can be counterproductive.  Being interested in food prep and human food, but then not wanting to eat indicates your dog may be nauseous.  There are things you can get from your vet to help with that.  Mirtazapine is the drug to help stimulate appetite.  An easy OTC to try at home is givng an acid reducer like Pepcid (or generic) 20 minutes prior to meals.

Puppy food has more calories per whatever to support growing puppy bodies.  Seniors will often find it more palatable and easier to eat.  Also consider that there's no law that says a dog *has* to eat kibble.  It's just more convenient and cheaper for us humans.  So if you can get him to eat enough canned food (a can or two a day might be enough for a senior) and he can hold his weight, there's a solution for you.  If he can do dairy, you can try products like "Ensure" with is a smoothie-type commercial drink, usually for senior humans, to give them additional protein and vitamins.  Just make sure whatever human food you try, it doesn't have artificial sweeteners in it.

But ultimately, if he won't eat and begins to lose weight rapidly, you might be looking at making a tough choice.

Good luck.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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I'm just wondering if as a result of that rat encounter you might benefit from having kidney tests done again? (In the context of Lepto.)

When I've had oldies I've always tried to keep them eating little and often. Vet tests for malabsorbtion and even diabetes may be helpful and so too would be a basic check up. I'd prefer know what I'm dealing with rather than trying dozens of things and having them refused or not work and causing stress to both dog and human.

I think you're handling it very well and will know exactly when that 'enough is enough' time comes. Let's hope there will be many months of happy living still to come.

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Thanks for the further advice.  It's very helpful to hear your stories.

The little-and-often thing seems to be working.  He just had quite a bit of fresh cooked chicken and rice with some wet food mixed in and has been eating kibble hand-fed over the rest of the day, so I'm less worried about him starving now (though it's a good thing I work from home and can sit at a desk handing him kibble every couple of hours!)

Now I just have to fix the diarrhoea and accompanying terrible farts!  I'm hoping the probiotic will kick in soon and have ordered some clay-based stool stiffener.

Hopefully he's still a fair way away from "that decision".  He still loves walkies time and can get up the stairs in 3 bounds at bedtime.

 

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We have a 14 year old who used to eat everything in sight and now is very picky. She also has pancreatitis so we have to be careful with what we give her. She goes back and forth between needing several sessions to finish a small meal and horking down 2+ cups of kibble plus 2 cup of cooked ground beef + handful of cooked mixed veggies + sprinkling of shakey cheese (generic parmesan). 

Hang in there :)

Dave (GLS DeviousDavid) - 6/27/18
Gracie (AMF Saying Grace) - 10/21/12
Bella (KT Britta) - 4/29/05 to 2/13/20

 

 

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He has finally turned a corner!  Phew!  He was up in the night again, but it was raining, so I didn't trot after him in my underwear with a poo-bag catchers mitt for swamp avoidance...

Checking this morning, there were only pickupable (if squishy) poos!  Yay!  Also no swamp gas farts in the night...

Thanks for all you advice, folks!  Invaluable information and reassurance.

In the end, tried a combo of fresh chicken and rice with a little of his normal kibble and wet food.  Probiotic paste for a few days.  A little of that clay powder additive. A pro-fibre additive.

Weening him back onto 'normal' food might be tough, but it's not so difficult to boil rice and roast a chicken each few days and my old boy is worth it!

*collapses in a corner*

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We've all been there in the corner with you!  

Remember - not too many changes at one time.  If something is working, stick with it for a week or so before you change/add anything.  Give the new pre/pro biotics time to work (can take up to two weeks to have full effect) and his gut to calm down.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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I’m a bit late to this but...do you think it could be anything to do with the heat? Buddy’s been a bit off his food for just over a month and we’ve tried a few different things but his appetite seems to be back with a vengeance now the Beautiful British Summer appears to have come to an end. Except now we’re in the habit of adding a smidge of gravy made from a wet food to his kibble.

firming up poos - if you are successful with this please let me know your secret! The wet food might be working, but we’ve also tried adding wheat bran, and a clay additive (which you are advised to only use for three days) with mixed results.

Living with Buddy Molly b. 5 November 2010. Welcomed home 16/6/2018 ❤️

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7 hours ago, greysmom said:

We've all been there in the corner with you!  

Remember - not too many changes at one time.  If something is working, stick with it for a week or so before you change/add anything.  Give the new pre/pro biotics time to work (can take up to two weeks to have full effect) and his gut to calm down.

We had tried various things over the last few weeks and he kept seeming to get better then relapsing.  I think it was multiple causes making things confusing!  He is mostly better, now, though, so now need to try and get some weight back onto him without upsetting him again.

I won't try too hard though - he's ok really.  Went from 31kg to 28kg, but we'll slowly build him up again.

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2 hours ago, MerseyGrey said:

I’m a bit late to this but...do you think it could be anything to do with the heat? Buddy’s been a bit off his food for just over a month and we’ve tried a few different things but his appetite seems to be back with a vengeance now the Beautiful British Summer appears to have come to an end. Except now we’re in the habit of adding a smidge of gravy made from a wet food to his kibble.

firming up poos - if you are successful with this please let me know your secret! The wet food might be working, but we’ve also tried adding wheat bran, and a clay additive (which you are advised to only use for three days) with mixed results.

I think the heat was part of it.  Also him getting a bit dotty in old age.  Also old age appetite change.  Also stomach still being sensitive after treatment for bladder infection a few months back.  A perfect storm!

As for firm poop, the thing we've found with the hounds we've rescued is to get them onto a good kibble asap.  We currently use Arden Grange (Adult Lamb and Rice or Chicken and Rice).  A cup of that with a little hot water to stop it being too tickly dry and mix in half a tin of Chappie (varying between chicken or original).

Try that and cut out *everything* else (things like Dentastix might be good for teeth but can upset tummies. The only neutral dog treat that we've found you can give lots of without effect is plain Bonio biscuits).  Once they are good, you can try different treats and see what they handle (and how much) before they get loose again.

The other thing we give them is Protexin Pro-Fibre additive.  I'm not sure it has a huge effect, but every little helps.

When our dogs are well, their poops are sometimes like baseball bats hehe, but usually just good and firm.

Edited by ADogDad
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