While most dogs "wolf" down their food, there are those who are finicky and picky eaters. Some are just hard keepers, difficult to keep weight on. Dogs recuperating from illness may not have much appetite, but need to eat to gain strength. For those who don't want to go the pharmaceutical route, a natural appetite stimulant gets Fido eating and staying healthy. If a dog with a normally robust appetite stops eating, check with the vet to diagnose the problem.
Some dogs just don't like to eat alone. They may follow their owner or caretaker around rather than eat. Just keeping a dog company while it eats can stimulate appetite. Portioning out the dog's daily food rather than feeding all at once may help fussy eaters.
The ancient Chinese art of acupuncture is gaining acceptance in the world of conventional veterinary medicine, and among the many conditions it can help is lack of appetite. Veterinary practitioners place the acupuncture needles in the parts of the dog's body that correspond to the ailment being treated. The tiny needles do not hurt the dog, although the procedure might not be advisable for very nervous animals. Several sessions are generally needed to see results.
Dogs do best on high-quality diets designed specifically for them. However, dogs recuperating from illness may lack appetite, and for short periods of time giving baby food, cooked chicken, or broth can get them back on the road to a healthy appetite.
Gastric reflux may cause difficulties with appetite. Only a veterinarian can make a definite diagnosis, done by conducting an esophagoscopy, or internal examination of the esophagus. If a dog suffers from gastric reflux, putting the food dish on a raised platform, such as a stool or box, may help with the condition and make eating more comfortable. Dietary changes, such as a low-protein, low-fat diet, are part of treatment.
Many of the herbs used to stimulate human appetite are suitable for use in dogs. Among them is dandelion--the same yellow flower sprouting all over suburban lawns. It's available in capsule form at health food stores, and can be mixed with food or wrapped in cheese as a treat. Other herbs that aid digestion are chamomile, celery seed and milk thistle. Check with the vet before giving herbs to a sick animal.
The B vitamins are natural appetite stimulants and are available over the counter. Brewers yeast is a good source of B vitamins, and the tablets can be given as a treat. It is also available as a powder that can be sprinkled on food. Pet stores offer all-around supplements for dogs that ensure they are getting sufficient vitamins and minerals even if they lack appetite.