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Anorexia In Dogs

Anorexia In Dogs

What Is Anorexia In Dogs?

Eating disorder jokes are a total crowd pleaser. But, ED jokes are never cool to make. At least not for dogs.

While eating disorders are recognized in humans, most of us don’t know about the eating disorders that affect dogs. Dogs have different reasons for having unusual eating habits and there is no surprise over eating in dogs is prevalent, but is there something called ‘under eating’ in dogs?

Yes, there are ‘under eating’ dogs and it is called anorexia or inappetence in medical terms.

Typically, there are several reasons why a dog dislikes eating, it could be anything from being bored with their food selection or stomach upset to something more threatening.

What Are The Symptoms Of Anorexia In Dogs?

  • Early satiety- Eating less food than normal
  • Lack of interest or refusing to eat food and/or treats
  • Hungry, trying to eat but unable to eat
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Pallor

How Is Anorexia In Dogs Treated?

Your vet may recommend diagnostic tests depending on your dog’s health, current symptoms and medical history.

Depending on the underlying cause, vets may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:

  • Therapeutic foods.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Gastrointestinal medication.
  • Dental treatments.
  • Deworming or parasite medications.
  • Short-term appetite stimulant (mirtazapine (brand names Mirataz, Remeron), cyproheptadine (brand name Periactin).
  • Intravenous fluids (for dehydrated dogs).
  • Blood transfusion.
  • Immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Potassium phosphate supplements.

What Are The Home Remedies For Anorexia In Dogs?

There are few things you can try at home to make mealtime more attractive or help spice up your pet’s appetite. Depending on the personal preference of your pet, the suggestions you readfrom books, sites, or from vet will all be trial-and-error only. There is no sure fire fix available

Appetize the dog food: stimulate dogs appetite by attractive foods.

Adding chunks of meat such as lamb or chicken help to stimulate their appetite. Add some warm broth to their food (homemade broth is ideal) also stimulates the appetite.

Choose high quality, specialized food.

A sick dog will need specialized foods than normal to help bolster their immunity. For example, dogs with dysentery will need extra protein, dogs with constipation problems will need more fiber and dehydrated dogs will need wet food.

Add flavor.

Add something more flavorable to their food to stimulate eating, although it will depend on the dog’s individual preferences.

How To Prevent Anorexia In Dogs?

There is no way to prevent anorexia or any other eating disorder. Inculcating a healthy routine from the start is a good way of prevention.

Amongst the list of challenges most dogs owners expect to encounter, an eating disorder will be least expected but it actually plagues a surprisingly high number of animals.

In addition, diagnosing anorexia in a dog comes with an added caveat: the tougher part is the identification of the cause whether it is behavioral, medical or nutritional.

Affected Breeds Of Anorexia

There is no breed disposition

What Is The Prognosis Of Anorexia In Dogs?

Types of anorexia in dogs:

Partial anorexia: dogs aren’t eating enough to get the proper nutrition their body requires.

  • Pseudo-anorexia: dog having a desire and appetite to eat (mental drive), but they are unable to eat due to a primary cause such as bleeding gums, teeth problems or pain due to other injury.
  • True anorexia: This is marked by an actual decrease in appetite, or desire for food. While a physical drive(hunger) may or may not exist, mental drive (appetite) also may have reduced resulting in refusal or food avoidance by your dog.

When To See A Vet For Anorexia In Dogs?

The prognosis for dogs with anorexia depends upon on the specific diagnosis, as well as the dog's health condition at the time of diagnosis.

If the underlying cause of anorexia is diagnosed early and the dog is in relatively good health, an effective treatment for the underlying illness will result in good the prognosis.

Sadly, certain anorexia causes that indicate your dog is suffering from a very serious or life-threatening condition (such as cancer, toxins, autoimmune conditions or severe trauma) have a less favorable prognosis but still it is manageable.

Diet And Food Suggestions For Anorexia In Dogs

To begin with, you need to find out the causes of why your dog won’t eat, and here is how to do it.

‘SMASH’ steps to find out why your dog is not eating.

This is not some gimmick or short-term fix you’ll find in Google, it is a 5 step approach to fixing the problems in your dog.

  1. Survey your dog's behavior.
  2. Measure the changes in the dog’s body ( teeth, gums, rashes in skin, fur, lumps, or injuries).
  3. Stay attentive to any food issues( bored of the same food, spoiled food, etc).
  4. Secure the environment (house environment, medications, pesticides or other pets, weather changes, etc).
  5. Healing actions- Re-examine, routine, and restore.

Have you been giving your dog a lot of table scrap or treats or changes in the feeding schedule?

If you have, it can explain the loss of appetite. Re-examine the happenings, make the changes as routine (here it is changed in food or feeding schedule), and strengthen to restore order.

How to stimulate a dog to eat?

Natural Appetite Stimulants.

Exercise: Take the dog at least for a walk before meals .check out for certain physical ailments that prevent routine exercise.

Herbs: Appetite stimulant ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and celery seed.

Rotisserie chicken: Smells good and it is the secret stimulant that you never dreamed would work. White meat: give the dogs that require a low-fat diet.

Pharmaceutical Stimulants: Mirtazapine, Ghrelin Receptor Agonist.

Food suggestions to solve food related-Loss to Appetite In Dogs.

Low-quality food - Find out what is wrong or Try to get high-quality food.

Changes in food - Switch gradually to new food/try mixing the two together for a few days.

Spoiled food - Give your dog fresh foods, and check the expiration date.

Dog dislike food taste/smell - Add chicken broth or feed the dog food that smells and tastes your dog likes.

Overweight dog - diet food or high-quality food? - When switching food, choose an option with similar nutritional value.

Switch from kibble or other pet food to home-cooked food - Slowly make the transition, Mix the new food with home-cooked food.

Food sensitivity or intolerance - Eliminate the sensitive food or try an elimination diet.

The dog is bored of the same food for a long time - Add Toppers to their meals. Mix things up every once in a while.

Hot/cold food - Serve the food at the right temperature for your dog.


Long term changes in pet’s appetite, eating patterns or behavior warrant investigation.

Loss or lack of appetite may signal some serious conditions that are luring inside that must be addressed quickly. Consider seriously about the changes in your dog's eating behavior and get your vet involved early.

The cardinal rule is longer your pets refrain from their normal eating, the less likely they will eat, and the risk of developing serious complications becomes greater.

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