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Ask the Veterinarian/17yr Chih/Mix not eating


QUESTION: Hello, my 17yr old Chih/Mix, Coco has not been eating going on day3 now. He has been to the vet recently, though was eating a little then & lost 1.2lbs since his last check up. He is drinking water & spoke with the vet on phone in which she suggested feeding him anything at this point. I've cooked beef & rice, hot dogs, ham,  even Ensure drink & would take some until a few days ago. He doesn't appear in any pain at all, though has arthritis & won't take his anti-inflammatory chew meds anymore. I'm afraid to put him down, so should just keep him comfortable & let nature takes it's course. I'm so upset seeing him so thin @ about 5lbs now. Please help with some advice please!!

ANSWER: I'm sorry about the delay in my answering Marcy.
I am really sorry about Coco not eating. To be honest with you it sounds like he is ready to leave.

When people ask me what to look for when they are trying to make a decision about putting their pet to sleep. The one thing that I always tell them is that when they stop eating. You can often force them to a point, but a 17 yr old dog is not going to last long with no food intake.

It's understandable that you are upset and yet if you keep in mind that he is with you, and as long as he is comfortable, his passing should be very peaceful.

Going through heroic efforts to make him eat at this point is only going to stress you both out and I wouldn't do that. You might want to ask your vet if you should give him anything to make him comfortable, as dehydration can make them very uncomfortable.

If he is still drinking, that is good as he won't get to dehydrated.

Again I apologize if he has already passed for the lateness of this message. Most of my messages were coming through with eligible writing.

I hope things go smoothly for you both. Just love on him daily.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your reply Jana! Coco resumed eating a little bit more, which astounded me since I thought his passing would be any time. He is & has been drinking a lot of water which I know is good. I've been putting the arthritis Meds in his mouth for him to swallow, in which I'm not happy doing that, though helps walk much better. I'd rather him pass naturally & with me. And again, doesn't appear in pain, so as not to sound selfish. I've never experienced anything like this before, it's really a lot of time & care I give him & feel so fortunate to do so. I guess then, I should let nature take its course then? Again Jana, thank you for your advice, I greatly appreciate you time & advice!

Oh Marcy that's great news! I am glad the little guy is rallying but keep a close eye on him. I think what you are doing is perfectly natural and normal.

There are plenty of Hospice veterinarians around now that would agree as well. Letting nature takes its course is all you can do if you are not comfortable with having him euthanized.
I totally get it, but it's a very personal decision that everyone has to make.

I hope you have a long time left with him. Thanks for letting me know he was eating again.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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