Diarrhea, Vomiting, and Lack of Appetite
If your Lab's stools appear loose or liquid instead of firm and compact, he has diarrhea. Diarrhea has many causes, ranging from eating something that doesn't agree with the dog's digestive system to intestinal parasites to excitement or anxiety. Some infectious or chronic diseases may also cause diarrhea. Depending on the signs, diarrhea may or may not require a veterinary visit.
If you suspect that your Lab's diarrhea results from anxiety or excitement, or because he stole some spicy or fatty food and is suffering the consequences, withhold food for twenty-four hours, but make sure he has plenty of water to drink — diarrhea can cause dehydration. For the next couple of days, you can feed him a bland diet of skinless boiled chicken with white rice, or cottage cheese. Other easily digestible foods you can give are boiled hamburger meat, cooked macaroni, and soft-boiled eggs. Gradually replace the bland diet with his regular food. If diarrhea continues for more than twenty-four hours, take the dog to the veterinarian. Diarrhea that's bloody, black, or tarry looking or that's accompanied by vomiting, weakness, or fever calls for an immediate veterinary visit.
It's not unusual for Labs to eat gravel or even rocks. If your Lab starts throwing up gravel or has intermittent vomiting and diarrhea, an intestinal obstruction may be the problem. Surgery may be necessary for large objects such as rocks, but if your dog eats gravel your veterinarian may suggest dosing him with mineral oil for a week to clear out the tiny stones.
Like diarrhea, vomiting can be caused by any number of problems, including anxiety or excitement, eating too quickly, or eating something that doesn't agree with the digestive system. Vomiting is also a sign of some infectious or chronic diseases. If your Lab is healthy and you suspect the vomiting is related to eating something that didn't agree with him, withhold food and water for twelve hours, then feed a bland meal, such as boiled chicken and rice. Give only one or two tablespoons at first to make sure your dog can keep the food down. If he can, gradually return him to his regular diet. Take your Lab to the vet if he has projectile (violent) vomiting, if the vomit smells like feces, if the vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea, if the vomiting continues even though the dog hasn't had any food, or if the vomit contains blood or worms.
Labs love to eat, so a consistent lack of appetite is cause for concern. Not wanting to eat can have any number of causes, from poor dental health (when it hurts to chew) to viral diseases, such as distemper or infectious canine hepatitis. Any time your Lab loses interest in food — especially if appetite loss is accompanied by lethargy or other signs of problems — take him to the veterinarian.