By Dr. Andrew Jones
What can you do to get your pet to start eating again? This can be a decrease in appetite, or it can be that your dog or cat completely stops eating. If this has persisted, then your pet may be lethargic, weak – although you should not wait this long for clinical signs to appear.
The causes are varied. They can include a sore tooth, to an abscess, to cancer. The important thing here is to get your dog or cat eating again before a 24 hour period of anorexia causes further illness. This is especially important for cats who can develop a condition called ‘Fatty Liver’ if they go for 48 hours or more without eating.
Here are some specific suggestions for you to consider:
SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN. If your pet is very lethargic, not eating or drinking, and becoming dehydrated then see your veterinarian immediately. Ideally you are treating your dog or cat for anorexia before they completely stop eating or drinking. Your veterinarian will perform additional diagnostic tests, and this may lead to force feeding your pet, or even placing in some type of feeding tube.
OFFER SOMETHING TASTY. Canned food is more nutritionally dense, and often more appealing. Your dog or cat will often respond much more favorably to a higher protein, sweet smelling canned food – especially fish flavored.
WARM IT UP, AND ADD FLAVOR. Dogs and sick cats often have a poorer sense of smell. I have had good luck getting them to eat by warming up the canned food, then making it a little more tasty by adding garlic powder, or beef or chicken oxo cubes.
DON’T FORGET YOUR VITAMINS. B-Vitamins are important for most of your pet’s cellular functions: for the brain, heart, muscles, most enzyme systems, and overall energy levels. These are given to most anorexic dogs and cats on IV at a Veterinary Clinic, and in some cases the B Vitamins may stimulate your pets appetite again. You can get Pediatric B Vitamins from a pharmacy for cats – get a B Vitamin complex liquid and dose similar to an equivalent size child.
FORCE FEED. You can purchase specific foods from your veterinarian which you can make into a canned gruel, such as Hills A/D diet. Using a syringe you can squirt small amounts of the food into your pet’s mouth. The average cat would consume 1 can/day – or 1 can per 10 lbs if you are calculating a dog dose. In force feeding it is better to feed frequent small amounts.
CATNIP. Appetite stimulant. In these cases you are just trying to get your dog or cat to start eating, regardless of the underlying cause. For cats, I have had luck using a the catnip herb – I have given it as a tincture to anorexic cats and had them eating soon.
CHAMOMILE OR PEPPERMINT. There are anti-vomiting herbs which can be given as a tea – at the very least this can re-hydrate your dog or cat. You can make a herbal tea of either herb – give 1 tablespoon per 10 lbs every 4-6 hours.
ALFALFA. For general anorexia not linked to any underlying cause, look at homeopathic alfalfa – you can give one 30C tab per 20 lbs 4 times daily.
Heal Your Pet At Home!
Dr Andrew Jones, DVM
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