Is there anything more worrying To a dog parent than Loss of appetite in dogs?
No There isn’t!. Because the first thing that comes to mind is “My baby is sick!”
- 1 How to motivate a dog to eat?
- 2 Dog not eating – How to figure out whether my dog is sick or just not willing to eat?
- 3 Loss of appetite and diarrhea in dogs
- 4 Is Loss of appetite in dogs dangerous?
- 5 Factors that can contribute to loss of appetite?
- 6 How to cope with and Treat dogs that refuse to eat?
- 7 Tips to increase foods palatability
- 8 How to introduce a new food for the dog?
How to motivate a dog to eat?
Good nutrition is essential in pet care. High quality nutrition plays a key role is making your dog grow healthily. It is also important to feed your dog the right amount of balanced diet. How and how much you feed your dog is the best way to prevent long-time nutritional-induced diseases.
Loss and decrease in appetite may reflect many issues, and the first one to take into consideration is illnesses. Sick dogs will stop eating due to an underlying pain or discomfort. It is important to distinguish this from the dog who does not eat because of food dislike.
Dog not eating – How to figure out whether my dog is sick or just not willing to eat?
First you need to test the dog’s willingness to eat. Give your dog pieces of the food he usually eats, all you have to do is to figure out whether your pet wants to eat but he cannot eat. (e.g. swallowing difficulty) or he is unwilling completely to eat.
- If the loss of appetite continues for more than one day, You must visit your veterinarian.
If the dog has not eaten for a long period, he does need a perfusion of glucose and electrolytes to get rehydrated and correct his blood electrolyte imbalance that may threaten his life.
Loss of appetite and diarrhea in dogs
All pet parents know it when their dog is sick, the loss of appetite is noted with other signs like fever, diarrhea, dizziness, etc. Pain and fever are major causes of loss of appetite and controlling them often gets the dog back to eating.
Is Loss of appetite in dogs dangerous?
Dogs do not support fasting for more than 2 or 3 days1, the main consequences of anorexia are the disturbance of blood electrolytes level and gastrointestinal problems.
It is completely normal for bitches to manifest a temporary loss of appetite around the 3 weeks of gestation. This may last few days and is not a health concern, then she continues to eat regularly.
Factors that can contribute to loss of appetite?
Loss of appetite is a symptom that has many causes, it may be due to many factors, like the dog’s willingness to eat, body condition and health status, the food and its preparation may influence the dog’s appetite.
Diseases that are associated with vomiting, or nausea may cause the development of food aversion, resulting in capricious appetite in dogs, some diseases result in reduced sense of smell therefore a lack of appetite, low phosphorus intake, vitamin B1 deficiency (Read and Harrington (1981))
Anxiety and stress
Many hormones in the body inhibit appetite like serotonin, also changes in plasma concentrations of specific nutrients is also responsible for the decline of food intake. Stress and anxiety can also lead to anorexia, emotional stress (e.g. loss of companion), There is also a learned behavior of food aversion.
Use of some drugs
some oral medications can cause anorexia as a side effect, let your vet know when your dog refuses to eat after some medications.
Food smell, composition, texture, temperature and moisture are factors that affect palatability and therefore dog’s appetite.
How to cope with and Treat dogs that refuse to eat?
It is important to ask your vet to rule out any underlying cause for the anorexia, nausea and vomiting are a cause of anorexia that can only be treated with medications, here are some steps to do when your pet refuses to eat:
- Eliminate any stressing factors at mealtimes in the dog’s environment (other dominant dogs, cats…) and keep feeding area clean.
- If the dog has been prescribed some drugs, make sure he takes his oral medications.
- When dog refuses his old food (food aversion), try to feed him a more appetizing food. Choose a complete and balanced, energy-dense foods. And make sure to respect your dog’s medical condition.
- If the dog still refuses to eat, you have to hand feed him, give rewarding and praising to the dog to encourage him to eat6.
- Appetite stimulation: these drugs may be helpful, monitor your pet for any side effects like vomiting or diarrhea7.
- if he is still reluctant to eat, assisted feeding should be done, anorexia that persists for 3-5 days requires a form of nutritional support using enteral feeding with nasogastric tubes.
Tips to increase foods palatability
Commercial food palatability is various, food with rich composition, more to make your dog’s food more appetent:
- Warm the food slightly and if possible add warm water just before serving, or give small portions of fresh or canned foods
- Adding fat or protein to the diet improves palatability, but care should be taken to the dog’s medical condition (uremic and pancreatitic dogs).
- Add sweet flavor (sugars or syrups) or salt, caution should be exercised with pets having diabetes or pets with cardiac or renal diseases when adding salt.
- Feed a food with smaller kibble pieces to minimize chewing
- Always prefer fresh foods, this can stimulate appetite, if possible add commercial aromas.
- Offer multiple foods to give the dog free choice for food. Do not leave served food for extended periods of time.
homemade diets are a good alternative for dogs as they contain fresh amino acids and natural vitamins, these diets are healthy and appetent, fresh foods contain fresh nutrients, Studies have shown that these diets are sufficient in energy, and have a higher proportion of vitamins especially in vegetables and fruits.
How to introduce a new food for the dog?
- Case, L. P., Daristotle, L., Hayek, M. G. & Raasch, M. F. Canine and feline nutrition: a resource for companion animal professionals. (Elsevier Health Sciences, 2010).
- Bosch, G., Hagen-Plantinga, E. A. & Hendriks, W. H. Dietary nutrient profiles of wild wolves: insights for optimal dog nutrition? Br. J. Nutr. 113, S40–S54 (2015).
- Lawler, D. F. et al. Influence of lifetime food restriction on causes, time, and predictors of death in dogs. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 226, 225–231 (2005).
- Kealy, R. D. et al. Evaluation of the effect of limited food consumption on radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis in dogs. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 217, 1678–1680 (2000).
- Delaney, S. J. Management of anorexia in dogs and cats. Vet. Clin. North Am. Small Anim. Pract. 36, 1243–9, vi (2006).
- Okamoto, Y., Ohtani, N., Uchiyama, H. & Ohta, M. The feeding behavior of dogs correlates with their responses to commands. J. Vet. Med. Sci. 71, 1617–21 (2009).
- Zollers, B., Wofford, J. A., Heinen, E., Huebner, M. & Rhodes, L. A Prospective, Randomized, Masked, Placebo‐Controlled Clinical Study of Capromorelin in Dogs with Reduced Appetite. J. Vet. Intern. Med. 30, 1851–1857 (2016).
- Streiff, E. L. et al. A comparison of the nutritional adequacy of home-prepared and commercial diets for dogs. J. Nutr. 132, 1698S–1700S (2002).