Enticing Appetite in Sick Dogs
When a dog is feeling under the weather, he may not want to eat. Of course, not eating depletes the energy reserves necessary to combat illness and makes the situation worse. In addition to following the treatment recommended by your veterinarian, you must do all you can to encourage his appetite.
If your dog has been vomiting or has diarrhea, follow your vet's advice. These conditions require special diets and feeding methods.
In general dogs respond to strong-smelling dog foods heated to room temperature or slightly above. Good choices are:
- Commercially prepared special diets prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Human baby foods (meat varieties).
- Chicken giblets, hearts and/or livers sauteed in a little olive oil with a clove or two of garlic. Chop finely.
- Broiled chicken. Shred into tiny pieces.
- Very thinly sliced steak microwaved for 3-4 seconds. Shred into strips.
- Nutri-Cal (high calorie nutrient paste).
Clean any nasal discharge from your dog's nose using a cotton ball and warm water. Dogs that can’t smell their food are less inclined to eat.
If you have a small dog, hold him on your lap in a quiet setting without distractions, such as other dogs. Put some of the food in your hand, on your finger or on a small spoon. Bring the food right under the dog's nose and lift your hand so that he will raise his head slightly. He should start to lick the food. After a few bites, put a little dish of the same food on your lap, pet him and talk to him, encouraging him to eat more.
If your dog is too large to hold, sit on the floor next to him and follow the same process as outlined above.
Once your dog has started eating with enthusiasm (it may take a day or two), gradually return to his normal food. You can mix dog treats into his food, decreasing the quantity over the next few days, until his diet is back to normal.
When a dog will not eat on its own, you may have to force feed him. Force feeding should be done under the advice and monitoring of your veterinarian, who will advise you regarding the diet to be administered.
If force feeding is unsuccessful, tube feeding may be required. However, expert administration is critical. Do not attempt to tube feed without the help of your veterinarian.