Some Signs Your Pet Might Be Sick

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - September 28, 2011
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How do you know when your pet is sick? A rabbit with no energy, a bird with feathers that are fluffed and a dog with a dry nose may qualify and be a concern for their owners.

One clinical sign, however, tops the list and pertains to all species: poor appetite. When an animal that loves food suddenly snubs his/her daily meals, a red flag goes up for most pet owners.

This is exactly what happened when Jordan, an 11-year-old male Shih Tzu skipped a couple of meals.

“Dr. Kaya, I’m really worried about Jordan. He hasn’t eaten his breakfast or dinner, and that’s definitely not like him,” said Mrs. Fujimoto. “What should I do?”


Mrs. Fujimoto is a longtime client and friend. We’ve shared a lot of laughs and shed some tears over the years, and when her furry family member is sick my response is simple: “Bring him in.”

Jordan had many ailments. The most serious ones were chronic arthritis, kidney insufficiency, heart failure and a glandular problem called Cushing’s disease.

He was on 12 medications and supplements for his problems.

Each was essential for his health but possessed potential side effects. If Jordan wasn’t eating, something was definitely amiss.

Half-expecting Jordan to be carried in recumbent and poorly responsive, I was surprised when he waddled into the exam room wagging his tail. If he was suffering, you couldn’t tell. I proceeded with the exam and did a barrage of tests to figure out which of his maladies may be responsible for his poor appetite.

The results were astounding. He was absolutely fine.

“Mrs. Fujimoto, the results of his exam and tests show that Jordan is very stable. His heart, kidney and glandular diseases are all under control. Can you explain again what’s going on with his appetite?”

“Well, I know how important his medications are so I give him his meds twice a day, just as you said. Then I microwave his food so it’s nice and warm for him. Usually he eats right away but he hasn’t touched his food for the past 24 hours.” Mrs. Fujimoto looked worried.

I questioned her about the freshness of the food as well as what was given.

Finally I asked, “Do you give Jordan his medication on an empty stomach?”


Mrs. Fujimoto replied, “Recently he’s been difficult. For the past week I needed to be creative so I put each pill into a tasty ball of food so that he can’t taste it. It’s actually quite a sight. I have 12 food balls lined up on the table with meds hidden in each. Jordan sits nicely and swallows each one like it’s a treat. He’s a very good boy,” beamed Mrs. Fujimoto.

And there it was.

I explained to Mrs. Fujimoto that Jordan’s stomach was full after eating the 12 food balls needed to get his meds down. That was a lot of food for a 12-pound dog.

We chuckled about the incident, and I salivated as Mrs. Fujimoto described the homemade brownies that she brought for the staff.

Later that day, I wondered if medication would go down easier if it was stuffed into one of Mrs. Fujimoto’s chocolate brownies.

If I had 12 medications, could I wolf down 12 brownies? Why not?

If it’s good enough for the wild side, it’s good enough for me.

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