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Senior dog needs blood work to get proper diagnosis

Q: My male Yorkie is 14 years old and in fairly good health for his age, other than decreased hearing and eyesight. Ever since I got him as a puppy, he was never a big eater. I would always leave out dry dog food and he ate as he was hungry, plus I would give him dog treats occasionally. He never overate and his weight was always around 5 pounds.

In the past couple of months, he is hungry all of the time. He keeps barking for food and even wakes me up during the night for something to eat. He never seems satisfied and if I give him too much, then he has diarrhea.

This is totally new for him and I am not sure what to do. My vet did not have an answer other than maybe he is getting old, but that does not address the problem.

Thank you so much for your time.

— J.S. Akron

A: The top three diseases that come to mind are diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroid and hyperadrenocorticism. There are other possibilities, but this is where I would focus my attention initially.

You mentioned that his weight has always been around 5 pounds but did not specify if he has had any recent weight loss or weight gain. It would also be helpful to know if he has had increased thirst and/or increased urinations, vomiting, excessive panting, lethargy or muscle weakness. If his decreased eyesight is due to cataracts, although common in older dogs, this may be a sign of diabetes.

Diabetes is a fairly common disease in dogs and, left untreated, can be life threatening. While hyperthyroid is a disease that affects cats more often than dogs, the cause of the disease in dogs is often more serious. Dismissing signs of the disease can lead to a poorer prognosis when finally diagnosed. Although most dogs with hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) are not very ill at the time of diagnosis, prolonged exposure to excess steroids produced by the body can lead to catastrophic problems.

My suggestion is to get him to a veterinarian for a proper workup without further delay. No matter what other signs he is showing, I would recommend a quick blood glucose test in the office. This can be done in under a minute for just a few dollars and may give us a pretty good idea what’s going on. Additional blood work should be completed as soon as possible starting with a complete blood count, chemistry profile and thyroid hormone. Depending on these results, more tests could be ordered.

I hope you are able to get the answers you need and start a treatment plan for your special boy very soon.

— Dr. Connie White Lawless

Pet Vet Animal Clinic,
 Copley Township

Please send questions about your pet to Kathy Antoniotti at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; or send her an email to Please include your full name and address and a daytime phone number where you can be reached. She will forward your questions to the expert she thinks is best suited to answer your particular problem. Phoned-in messages will not be taken.


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