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From: Callie (
Subject:         A couple of questions
Date: March 7, 2009 at 7:43 pm PST

In Reply to: lack of appetite posted by Margaret Griffiths on March 7, 2009 at 11:06 am:

Hi -- and welcome to the Board, but I'm so sorry it had to be under such sad circumstances!

Dogs DO grieve -- can you give us a better idea of what the situation is?

1. Under what circumstances did Chloe die? Yes, it makes a difference.

Was Chloe sick for a long time? short time? sudden accident?

Did you have her put-to-sleep at the vet's? In other words, did Riley get to see her for a last time before she was taken care of?

2. How long ago did Chloe pass away -- I think you're saying Chloe died mid-week last week? (Around Feb 26-27)

Riley hasn't eaten SINCE? Nothing?

3. Do you free feed (just leave food out all the time hoping she'll eat?) or do you have set mealtime?

4. Have you tried actually telling Riley "Ok, you need to eat now!" (if she's used to taking her cue from the other dog she may literally need to be TOLD it is ok to eat now).

5. Again, knowing what Chloe passed from may help -- she may think she's 'waiting' for Chloe to come back, or that something Chloe ate made HER sick... help us rule that out?

Helping a dog grieve isn't easy. You may need to go to a completely different type of food. You may need to do something completely novel -- like home-cooking a topper for the food -- like cooked mashed veggies with some meat added.

If neither dog was a good eater, it may simply be that she's really not fond of the food.

A vet visit should be done for sure -- see, if she's already not feeling wonderful (like if there are a couple of bad teeth, stress induced bacteria in the gut -- is she having diarreah or anything?) then eating may just be beyond her.

However, at this point I would even force feed some babyfood meat/veggies (just get beef, chicken, or lamb baby food meat and an equal number of veggie baby foods-- squash, green beans, sweet potato, etc.) and mix them together. Then use a baby medicine syringe (you can get those at any pharmacy) and load it with the combined baby food -- put the tip of the syringe behind the canine tooth and holding the mouth loosely shut just squirt it a bit at a time into the mouth -- letting her work her tongue to swallow.

At this point she's likely become very weak AND deperessed and you may need to help jumpstart her a bit. At this point she's gone anorexic so she doesn't FEEL hungry -- and she'll need to take in food in order to EAT food.

Once you get her to willingly swallow the baby food, you can mix some of it with kibble (the vet needs to make sure there is no sore mouth) then you can mix it with some kibble. But I would make it a better kibble than you've been using. Something with a different taste/different brand. Give her NEW memories.

I would also make sure the vet does a senior blood panel on her -- simply because she may have some illness lurking that has just gone unnoticed and now she may actually feel to yucky TO eat.

She will also need some new activity. A different walk ... maybe some completely different activities.

I'll be honest -- I've had situations before where one pet grieved mightily for another and I found the BEST **remedy** was simply to enroll the survivor in an absolutely basic regular obedience class.

Yes, I know this is a senior dog. But sometimes a completely new routine -- some new interest -- can be golden.

WE lost an English cocker who was a major pet therapy dog a few years ago and my other dog was devastated. Foxy was even older than Muffin had been, and Muffin was ... in many ways ... almost like a child to Foxy.

Foxy had always done some pet therapy with us (particularly in an alzheimer's home) but by enrolling him in basic obedience (and he was a generally obedient dog) I could fine tune a few commands so that then I took him thru and got his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certificate so that I could get Foxy certified as a pet therapy dog.

BTW -- this dog was SEVENTEEN AND A HALF years old!! Yep -- basic obedience at 17 1/2.

HE LOVED IT ... why? Because he already knew most of it and he KNEW how to "please" me anyway. The instructor thot it was great fun having this old guy in her class ... he actually "showed the puppies" how to do things (like coming when called which was EASY for him).

It boosted Foxy's self-esteem in a huge way. He made friends with a few younger dogs but mostly he PREENED at the attention. It was new ... it was HIS alone and it built his confidence.

Muffin had been the dominant dog as well -- and Foxy lived most of his life helping to "take care of" Muffin.

Suddenly now HE was the center of attention ... and well, gee -- he kinda liked it!!

so start something new -- even if it is taking this dog to a nursing home to visit elderly people, or some libraries will start a "read to me" program to encourage little kids to read aloud they will let them read aloud to the dog!

There are all sorts of things you can do -- shoot, even a basic class in tracking (this IS a retriever mix after all) but get this dog involved in something.

And you likely *will* have to force feed to give Riley the strength TO begin something new.

You might be VERY careful not to mention the other dog's name. We noticed with Foxy that for a LONG time the mere mention of Muffin's name would cause grief.

Soooo Muffin became "he who is not named" (literally a code phrase so my husband and I could discuss things indirectly).

INcidentally -- Foxy lived to be just a couple of days short of 19. He DID become a therapy dog -- he used to go to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL and he went to all sorts of other places. And you never EVER saw a more proud dog than he was. It became HIS job. And he really liked that.

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