Tuesday, April 17, 2018

When Your Dog Stops Eating: Julie's Story

When a Labrador stops eating and when a Border Collie becomes lethargic, even just a little bit, you know you ought to worry.

Dog Conditions - When Your Dog Stops Eating: Julie's Story

Julie is a two-year-old Border Collie, and she did both. Stopped eating and had less energy than usual.


Julie is a typical girl for her breed. Happy, active, spending a lot of time outdoors, living the perfect life a Border Collie should live.

She always enjoyed a good romp and a good meal. Until the day when she walked away from her bowl without touching what was in it. She refused her next meal as well.

Could it be the food?


Well, it could be the food though I'd think that is much rarer than one would figure. Dog food can spoil, the fats in it rancid. Or it can be a new bag with a different formula or perhaps even some contamination.

This was not a new food or a new bag, and Julie is not a picky eater. And she refused treats as well.

More importantly, she was acting somewhat lethargic.


Julie didn't have a fever, and her dad was confident she didn't get exposed to anything toxic. Some of their friends suggested that it is so unusual that a dog would occasionally go off food for a day or two. Which is true, it does happen, and it can be from an upset belly after some dietary indiscretion. But Julie has never stopped eating before and has not gotten into anything.

Julie's dad considered all the possibilities.


Your primary job is to know your dog and know when something truly doesn't add up. Julie's dad did his job.

The veterinarian examined Julie and recommended x-rays.

The x-ray images showed that Julie's belly was full of rocks.


However that happened, her dad did not see her eat them, Julie needed a surgery. I suppose the cause was a dietary indiscretion after all. But it was the kind that you don't just sleep off.

Julie's surgery was successful, and she's recovering well. The question, I believe, remains, what came first? The upset belly or the rocks?

Naturally, the rocks ingestion would make the belly upset. But what if the belly was already upset BEFORE?

Sometimes a dog can eat things that are not food because they're trying to fix their already unhappy belly.


For example, even though not listed as a common breed-specific health issue, according to one study, collies have an increased relative risk of chronic pancreatitis. So Julie's dad has a bit more work to do in figuring out why she figured that eating rocks was a good idea in the first place.


Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Pica




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Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

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16 comments

  1. Excellent post, and lifesaving!! I know my dogs very well, so as soon as something is off, especially when it concerns my old girl Red, I'm on the phone with my vet's office. When she stops eating, or doesn't eat with gusto you know something's up. Lately that's been some bouts of pancreatitis so I watch her like a hawk when we're out, and very careful with what we feed her. I have never had a dog with pica, that would be so worrying.

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    1. Yes, it is important to watch for things out of the norm. And the further away from the norm it is, the more significant it is.

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  2. Poor Julie! I'm so glad that her dad figured out what was wrong. Ringo had a similar issue a couple of years ago. Took him to the vet and xrays revealed that he had eaten a bunch of bones. Not raw bones, old brittle ones. Turns out the people who owned our house before us buried their dachshunds in the back yard in shallow graves years ago and the bones were starting to surface after years of being in the elements

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    1. Ouch. I'm glad you found out and he's doing well now.

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  3. Oh my gosh...rocks! I had to read it twice to make sure I wasn't losing it. Thank goodness Julie was able to get surgery and be ok. Yes, we as pet parents definitely need to do our best to stay in tune with our pets to help identify when something is off or really wrong. Very informative post.

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    1. When we got her, Cookie had the tendency to eat rocks too. Fortunately, they came out on their own and she stopped doing that soon enough.

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  4. Oh my, full of rocks! I can't imagine the worry. I hope Julie ends up ok!

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  5. I know Layla now like the palm of my hand and when she does not want to eat food or treats is when I get really worried. I then automatically email my vet to discuss it with him which I love to do as that way it is less stress for her unless he says to bring her in. I am so happy Julie is ok, phew, rocks ???? that is scary and am so happy they found it in time and she is on the mend.

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    1. With some dogs, lower appetite is a major deal. With most, really. The most important criteria is how big of a change it is.

      I've seen x-rays of dogs who ate worse things than rocks; saw x-rays of a dog who ate a large serrated knife. I can't even imagine how he managed to get that down.

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  6. Whoa! I know Cheyenne had some tummy trouble that she lost 6 pounds in about 3 days. She didn't refuse to eat, but everything went right through her. When I could see her ribs, I knew something was very wrong. We never did determine the issue, but the vet got us on an antibiotic that cleared her right up! I'm glad Julie had a good dad to help her out and figure out what was wrong!

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    1. Poor Cheyenne; I'm glad it resolved with antibiotics. It could well have been an infection or bacterial overload or something of the sort.

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  7. I'm so glad that Julie's dad followed his instinct (or his friends') and took her to the vet.

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    1. Yes, it is important to follow the gut when it tells you something isn't right.

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  8. OMG, I can't believe poor Julie decided to eat rocks to help her tummy. That is really scary, I'm so glad they figured out the issue and got her the help she needed.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Not the first story like that I know off. All is well what ends well.

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