Why is my Labrador retriever lethargic and not wanting to eat?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – My 12 1/2 yr old Yellow Lab is lethargic and doesn't want to eat. We took he in to the vet who took x-rays and blood tests. He advised us to watch her tonight and if she is more lethargic to take her to the emergency clinic. What is he looking for?


Kelly Johnson


Hi – thanks for your email Kelly. You wrote that you 12 ½ year old lab is lethargic and doesn't want to eat. You vet did x-rays and blood work (Do you know the result of these tests) and told you to watch her and if she gets worse to take her to the emergency clinic. You asked what is he looking for?

The first thing I personally worry about in an older lab that is that the lethargic is due to a hemoabdomen – that is bleeding into the abdomen secondary to a tumor. It is possible any organ malfunction or cancer could also cause those signs.

What would I look for at home? Look for progressive lethargy, weakness, pale gums, trouble breathing, vomiting, diarrhea or any other abnormality.

An article that might be helpful to you is Your Dog's Physical Examination at Home

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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