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When Your Greyhound Stops Eating

Many greyhounds may miss a meal from time to time, or even a whole day of eating. If you are worried about it, you need to do something about it!

We, being human, know that when we miss a meal our stomach begins to growl and our disposition turns on the downside. We know we need to eat something to feel better. When a greyhound has an upset stomach from not eating, it may not instinctually know it needs to eat something to feel better. It's stomach may growl, and it will often go outside and eat grass to pacify the discomfort. As the day wears on, it may or may not have thrown up some bile or stomach acid, and it may eat it's meal. If that doesn't happen and it goes on for another day, it may be something more serious than just an upset stomach. In my own home we use intervention, every day if need be, so that our greyhounds' stomachs are continuously metabolizing food and thereby feeling well.

Let's just say that several days have passed and your greyhound still is not eating. You have tried chicken, ground cheese, cottage cheese and any other favorite to try and entice it, but it still seems to have no desire to eat. You have given it an antacid and it still seems to have no desire to eat. Usually your next course of action is to see your vet, tell him your dog is not eating, and ask what you should do.

At the National Greyhound Adoption Program, when faced with a greyhound that is not eating, we will first try to get something in its stomach force feeding. That feeding is a barometer to determine if the dog just needs to get back on track or if it is truly sick. If it just needs to get back on track, the food that we forced fed will begin to metabolize, making your dog feel better to the point that it will begin eating on its own again. Many greyhounds need to be fed late in the evening around 9:30pm so they are metabolizing food overnight and do not wake up with what I have dubbed, 'empty stomach syndrome'. However, if your greyhound still refuses to eat or continues to throw up what has been fed or force fed to it, you will most likely have a difficult road ahead.

Recently, we saw a greyhound in-clinic that had declined eating over a 7-week period. The owner had already taken her dog to her local vet where blood work and x-rays were done. The x-ray determined that there was no visible blockage. The owner had been diligently force feeding her greyhound cans of Hill's Prescription A/D. The dog continued to lose weight and looked somewhat skeletal when it arrived. In the past, we have been very successful by initiating a force-feeding schedule to see if the dog would begin to eat on its own. If that didn't work, we would then revert to the steroid Prednisone, 20mg twice per day, to see if it would stimulate eating, which it usually does. This particular dog did not seem to respond to Prednisone and my staff continued to force-feed her. Unfortunately, she began throwing up and could no longer hold food down. This could have been due to the increased the amount of food we gave her in hopes of reversing her weight loss but more likely, whatever illness she had was getting increasingly worse. It was determined we could do nothing more for her and her owner agreed that it was in her best interest to euthanize her as opposed to letting her slowly waste away. In this particular case, I was determined to know the cause of this dog's inappetence. We performed a necropsy after she was euthanized and one by one examined all of her internal organs. When we finally came to her stomach, one look told us exactly what the problem was. Where the walls of her stomach should have had a thickness of about 1/16 inch the wall thickness was well over 1/4 inch. Instead of feeling elastic, her stomach was tight as a drum. The opening where food would normally exit the stomach was so small that it barely existed anymore. This poor dog had stomach cancer. We had tried our best for almost a week to make this greyhound well, but could not do that, and now we know why.

Too often, pet owners under similar circumstances are faced with decisions involving ultrasounds, MRI's, CT scans or exploratory surgeries. Although we all want to do the best for our pets, all of these procedures can become very expensive. In reality, if you cannot get your dog to eat, it will die. If it still will not eat after force feeding and steroids, it will still die and, in some cases, even very exotic tests may still not be able to tell you exactly why. Often, even if your vet is able to diagnose the problem, the outcome will still be the same. You should only be doing these tests if there is a possibility that you will have more than one choice in the end. Otherwise, you will simply be enriching the vet and will have less in your bank account or more debt on your credit card. I firmly believe that symptoms must be treated the best they can be and when once there are too few options left, a decision should be made. Exotic tests may soothe our conscious but in reality won't change things.

As difficult as they may be to look at, below are photos of the stomach of the dog in question. where we will delineate healthy parts of the stomach and unhealthy parts and give you some This should give you some sense of what this gentle creature had to deal with at only six years of age.

When our new clinic is up and running at full speed, we hope to offer the ability to do a necropsies on dogs that die due to internal organ failure. The autopsy/necropsy itself will be free of charge but if we needed to send tissue samples out for biopsy, the owner would be charged for that accordingly, and owners would also have to pay for cremation whether it be private or mass cremations. The results of our findings from visual inspection would be given to the owners.

Stomach Cancer

Above: Entire stomach with hard center core, not pliable.

Stomach Cancer

Above: Thick walls of the stomach lining. These walls should be thin and pliable.

Stomach Cancer

Above: Far ends show how it should be soft and pliable.

Stomach Cancer Stomach Cancer Stomach Cancer

Two Photos Above: Soft pliable tissue on the left side and far right saide. The balance was stiff and thick.

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