Loss of Appetite in Dogs, How to make a Dog Eat and Appetite Stimulants for Dogs

Loss of appetite in dogs

Poor eating habits are as common in dogs as they are in human beings. Dogs and cats can display finicky eating due to specific food preferences or where there are minor behavioral changes. Loss of appetite in dogs may also be caused by some simple factors affecting it directly. These tend to last only a while and with time the dog will be back to feeding properly. There, however, are some major diseases that could lead to suppressed appetites. These make your pet to eat less and be more selective in what they feed on. We discuss these and various ways on how to make a dog eat, natural remedies for the loss of appetite as well as various appetite stimulants for dogs.

Common Causes of Loss of Appetite in Dogs

There are some simple occurrences in a dog’s life that may see it suffer a loss of appetite. In most cases, the effect is not long lasting and the dog will be back to normal feeding within no time.

After Vaccination or Administration of Medication

While vaccinations help in protecting dogs from many contagious diseases, they have a downside to them. They tend to have adverse but temporary negative effects on your pet. A temporary loss of appetite in dogs is one of them. This only lasts for a short while though.

In the same way, some medication comes with the loss of appetite as a side effect. Dogs on antibiotics have been observed to suffer reduced appetite.

Change of Environment

When you are traveling with your pet, your dog may suffer motion sickness. They could also be uncomfortable or nervous about the new surroundings leading to reduced appetite. The same applies to move to new locations. It will take the dog some time to get used to the new environment. If the dog’s appetite was okay days leading to moving and seems non-existent upon the change, unfamiliarity could be the cause.

Attention Seeking

Dogs love attention. If they notice that more of it is showered upon them whenever they refuse to eat, they may become picky and refrain from eating. Instead of hand feeding them or pampering them once they fail to eat, you may want to refrain from it to see correct this attention seeking behavior.

Psychological Problems

Pets tend to get stressed, anxious and fearful at times. These problems could see them suffer the loss of appetite in dogs.

Medical Causes of Loss of Appetite in Dogs

While it is not always that loss of appetite may be indicative of serious medical attention, it is important to keep a close look at your pet. Where you cannot point out the cause of decreased appetite, visit your veterinarian immediately as it could be caused by any of the following medical conditions.

Gastrointestinal Upset

Gastrointestinal upsets may lead to loss of appetite in dogs. Various factors may lead to this such as dietary indiscretion where your dog consumes inedible material and garbage. Another cause would be parasitic invasions in the intestines, inflammatory bowel syndrome and infections. Problems with the pancreas could also cause upsets and see your dog suffer a loss of appetite.

Dental Problems

Dental problems see your dog experience pain. The pain is likely to increase any time the dog tries to feed. This may see it suppress its urge to feed or have a preference for soft and semi-solid foods until the dental issue is resolved.

Metabolic Diseases

Problems with metabolic functions in the body will see your dog suffer suppressed appetite. These include liver and kidney diseases.

Cancer and other Diseases

Cancer in dogs could see them experience a reduced appetite. Those undergoing chemotherapy have been known to suffer an unsettled stomach. Additionally, glandular diseases such as hypothyroidism, a serious illness like heart disease, unmanaged diabetes, fungal, viral and bacterial infections could lead to a loss of appetite. Other illnesses that could be responsible for the same include infections in the eyes, ears, bladder and respiratory system.

Loss of Appetite in Dogs during Summer

During summer, dogs are less active due to the scolding temperatures. As a result, you may notice a significant switch in the amount of food your pet consumes. While this may be interpreted as a loss of appetite during the season, it is simply caused by decreased dietary needs.

In case you are concerned about their feeding and would want some remedies to it, you could make your dog eat more by spicing up their usual food using pieces of boiled chicken. Also, ensure there is a constant supply of water to keep the dog well hydrated and boost their appetite.

Loss of Appetite and lethargy or Vomiting in Dogs

A dog that refuses to eat and exhibit additional symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or lethargy could be suffering serious health conditions. Any time these are noticed, a prompt visit to the veterinarian should follow. This will help diagnose what illness the dog of suffering from for immediate and timely intervention.

Loss of Appetite in Dogs Treatment and Remedies

Loss of appetite in dogs requires timely intervention to prevent the dog from losing weight. It will also ensure that the dog has a constant supply of nutrients necessary to provide it with energy. Treatment for loss of appetite may include employing natural home remedies or administering appetite stimulants for dogs. These are discussed in details below.

1.      Changing Feeding Location

Just like humans, how, where and when food is presented matter a lot to your dog. The scent and visual appeal can help stimulate your pet’s urge to eat back to normal. Some simple interventions you can make to act as appetite for dogs include:

2.      Break the Monotony

At times, dogs that happen to be picky eaters when food is served in the same dish and same place. Try serving him at a different place and using a different bowl and see if it helps.

3.      Serving Time Adjustment

Some pets feed best in the morning while others do at night. There are those that will feed best on their own while others will be at their best if you kept them company. Mastering when and what serves them best can help stimulate their appetite.

4.      Exercise

Dogs have been known to exhibit increased appetite after durations of physical activity. Try to engage your pooch in play using a fetching ball, simple trips, walk in the park or playing with a toy. Feed him after the exercise.

How to Get a Dog to Eat

If the above changes do not yield, it is time to do more. Whatever the reason it is that is causing your dog not to eat, its body still requires nutrients for it to remain healthy. Nutritional deficiency will lead to ill health or a worsening of the conditions they may be suffering from. There are a number of things you can do to help it. Before opting for appetite stimulants, try and see if the interventions below will make your dog eat.

  1. To start with, you need to encourage the dog to eat. You can do this by feeding your pet canned food using your hands. A premium gourmet brand should be okay for them. A nutritionally adequate diet offered by hand will make your dog feel pampered and this could make it eat.
  2. If the first step above does not make your dog eat, you might need to try and feed them on a liquefied diet. This can be done using a turkey baster or a syringe for dogs that won’t drink up. Liquid and semi-liquid diets are readily available in pet stores. You could also blend homemade food to attain the same.
  3. In case you are using new food, you could make your dog eat by dripping meat or bone broth on it to add some flavor. Making your dog eat and drink broth can help solve dehydration and supply necessary nutrients for your appetite suppressed dog.
  4. While trying various options on how to make a dog eat, never try to force feed him irrespective of how long they have stayed without eating. Doing so may see your get bitten by your dog.

Appetite Stimulant for Dogs

Where all else fails, you may opt for appetite stimulants for dogs. These could be natural or in product form.


Mirtazapine is a widely used appetite stimulant for pets. It is beneficial for pets suffering a loss of appetite due to renal failure, stomach ailments and dogs undergoing chemotherapy. The drug is available on prescription.

This medicine should not be used together with other antidepressants. Some of the known side effects of mirtazapine include dilated pupils, increased heart rate, fever, high blood pressure, difficulty in breathing and hyperactivity.


In case you are looking for natural remedies for loss of appetite in dogs, adding some herbs to their food can help stimulate their appetite. Try sprinkling dried fennel, peppermint, ginseng or alfalfa on their food for a boost in their feeding.  Celery seed, chamomile, and milk thistle also aid in digestion and could help your dog feel better.