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Third Most common Dog ER Visit – what you should know

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Most dog owners guess that the most common problems are various urgent traumas but the truth is that the most common emergencies are ...well the most common problems that dogs get.

The MOST common dog emergency is vomiting. The second most common dog emergency is diarrhea. And finally, the third most common reason that dogs are brought to veterinary emergency rooms is...not eating.

This "symptom" of "not eating" is a common symptom of many different diseases and problems and often accompanies other signs. For example, a dog may not have eaten but also vomited or is acting lethargic. Regardless, not eating is a very common symptom of various diseases, some of which are serious, which causes worried dog owners to bring their dog to emergency rooms.

Because it is so common, it is likely that it will affect your dog at one time or another. Below are tips on how to plan for, prepare, deal with and prevent this problem in your dog.

Do you know what to do?

1. This is basic but important. Make sure you know where your local emergency room is or how your vet deals with emergency. Keep this information (phone number, hours, address and directions) handy.

2. Next, make sure you know your dog's medical history and any medications he is on. The emergency veterinarian will want to know when the last time your dog ate, and if his lack of appetite is associated with any other symptom such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, collapse, trouble breathing...or anything else. Make sure you observe your dog during this time. Take him out on a leash and observe if his urine and bowel movements are normal. Also, this ensures that he is not doing something you don't know about such as vomiting that you may not have observed if you weren't with him or her. Check the trash to ensure that he has not been exposed to any toxins or other objects. Note if there has been any diet change. Is your dog a senior? If on medication, has his medication changed recently?

3. Here are some tips on how to help a dog that is not eating. You can try to offer fresh food – and fresh water. Some dogs respond to "fresh food" from the bag. When an owner calls some veterinary clinics – they may hear some advice (depending on the clinic). If the dog is acting sick or the owner is concerned, the recommendation is always to bring the dog in for evaluation. However, if the condition does not sound life threatening sometimes a bland diet may be recommended.

A bland diet can be made form a boiled lean meat (chicken, hamburger or turkey) mixed 50/50 with boiled white rice. Do not use any additives such as butter, salt, garlic, or seasoning. Over a couple days, you can slowly decrease the bland diet and increase his regular food until he is back on his normal food.

Again, if you are worried, the best recommendation is to have the dog evaluated by a veterinarian.

4. There is no good way to "prevent" the lack of appetite unless you can prevent the underlying cause. To keep your pet safest, prevent exposure of your pet to trash, table scraps and other foreign objects that he may be inclined to chew on. Make any food changes gradually and over several days. Buy only safe toys and ensure your dog does not chew on any objects around that house which he could swallow and be unable to digest or pass through his system causing a possible obstruction.

What will this cost?

How much will going in to see the vet for dog that is not eating going to cost you? Because there are so many possible causes, most veterinarians will recommend some basic blood work and possibly a urinalysis as a starting point to help determine some of the possible causes. Additionally, radiographs (X-rays) may also be recommended. The prices at different clinics around the country vary but without treatment, the emergency fee, blood work and X-rays ranges from $325.00 to about $500.00. This does not include any treatment. If there is a substantial underlying cause, then the treatment for that is additional.

Unfortunately, pets can be expensive and this can be a substantial expense for some pet owners. If you don't have pet insurance – how often can you afford to do this? How many times could you afford to cover pet emergencies out of pocket like this? How about even more costly emergencies?

One last thing, many emergencies of this type are caused by exposure to toxins, owners feeding pet's table scraps and pets getting access to trash. Please be very careful what you feed your dog. Also, do not give any medications unless instructed by your veterinarian.

If you do not have pet insurance, you should be saving money for your dog on a regular basis so you can be prepared for a major pet expense. If you are not good at saving every month (most of us are not), then consider pet insurance. They have a number of different plans to fit different budgets.


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