Most dogs will do almost anything for food, so it can be unsettling when your dog turns up his nose at dinner. There are many reasons why your dog may do this, and many are not a cause for concern. For example, female dogs in heat and adolescent dogs often have normal bouts of decreased appetite. For normal cases of decreased appetite, a simple additive or food change can help. For more severe cases, you may have to add herbs or medicine to stimulate appetite.
Reasons for Decreased Appetite
Just like people, some dogs may experience normal periods of decreased appetite. If your dog is overweight, he may not need to eat every time you feed. As your dog gets older, he may need fewer calories and eat less. As older dogs lose their sense of smell, they also might lose their appetites.
Your dog might be experiencing a mild illness, such as stomach upset, or may have a broken or impacted tooth. He might not like the type of food you feed or have a recent association, such as a bitter tasting pill wrapped in food, that makes him hesitant to eat. Stress also may reduce appetite, so if your dog's environment has changed, this may be normal.
However, loss of appetite can be a sign of a serious illness, such as cancer. How quickly you consult your veterinarian may have to do with your dog. If your dog often skips a meal, one day may not be cause for concern. A dog who hasn't missed a meal in 10 years should be checked immediately.
The solution to the problem may be as simple as offering your dog a novel food source. If you always feed a chicken-based food, try switching to beef. Try adding moisture to the food or heating it up to increase the smell, particularly for older dogs. Feed freshly cooked food or adding fresh foods, such as cottage cheese or eggs. Strong smelling seasonings, such as oregano, rosemary, basil or parsley, may make the food more appetizing for your pet. Avoid onions and garlic, however, as these can be harmful to dogs. If your dog has developed a negative association, changing the feeding routine may help, such as feeding from a different bowl or plate or in a different area of the house. Be sure to check with your vet before changing your dog's diet.
Over the counter medications such as Pepcid AC can soothe your dog's digestive system but should only be used with the advice of a veterinarian. Your veterinarian may be able to provide you medication, such as Mirtzapine and Meclizine, which are anti-nausea medications that may stimulate appetite. Forcing your dog to eat, however, may not be the answer, and you may need to deal with other symptoms first. Consult your veterinarian for any loss of appetite that persists for more than a couple of days.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.