How to increase your pets appetite.
Do keep in mind that different diseases cause loss of appetite for different reasons.
The following information is to given to help you encourage your dog to eat.
Things to try at home to increase appetite
- Try different diets. Like people, as a disease progresses your dog's tastes change. Start by trying different brands and textures ( kibble, moist and meaty, canned ) of diets. Do try to stick to major brands that have a high calorie content. Most dogs with illness will not eat as much as healthy pets, so diets with higher calorie content will help your dog maintain their weight.
- Try mixing wet food with dry food or chicken broth with dry food. If you are feeding a large breed dog it is very difficult to feed enough canned food to maintain weight. This is because canned food is 50% water and it takes much more food to give your large breed dog enough calories to maintain weight. Adding extra flavor to the dry food will often encourage a large breed dog to eat better. When using chicken broth buy low salt and low fat products.
- Try canned food. Many people do not feed canned food because they believe it does not help their dogs teeth. During hospice our goal is to keep your dog comfortable. So feed canned food if that is your dog prefers.
- Try warming canned food in the microwave to increase aroma. Some dogs with age and illness have a decreased sence of smell. Warming the food will help increase the aroma. Just be careful not to overheat the food.
Medical options to help increase appetite
- Treat underlying disease - Treating your dog's underlying disease state will often help with your dog's appetite.
- Appetite stimulants - Mirtazapine or Cyproheptadine may be options available to increase your dogs appetite.
- Steroids are not technically appetite stimulants, but through different mechanisms they can increase the appetite. Steroids may help increase your dog's appetite depending on your dogs underlying disease.
- Increase hydration - Dogs that are dehydrated do not feel well. Dogs that do not feel well do not eat. Re-hydrating a dehydrated dog will make that dog feel better and may help increase your doig's appetite. SubQ fluids given at a clinic or at home can help re-hydrate your dog.
- Manage nausea - Like you, dogs that feel nauseous do not want to eat. There are several different medications that help with nausea. Depending on your pets underlying disease process your vet will prescribe an appropriate medication.
- Feeding tube - A feeding tube is recommended for diseases that make it difficult for your pet to eat. Dogs with cancers in the mouth or nose often have a great appetite, but as the disease progresses they might have difficulty eating. A feeding tube bypasses the mouth and allows you to feed your pet with a special gruel through the tube.
Talk with your Veterinarian about which of the above treatments or medications can help treat your dog's symptoms.