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What is Hyporexia?

Hyporexia in dogs can be caused by an actual medical condition of major concern or may be from something minor.  If your dog seems to be a picky eater, is not very interested in food, and it goes on for several days or longer, he may have this condition.  Your veterinarian will need to try and diagnose a cause in order to treat it properly.  If she cannot find an exact cause, she will offer symptomatic treatment to try and give your dog what he needs to get his appetite back to normal.  If his hyporexia is treated in an appropriate time frame, his prognosis of recovery is good.

Hyporexia is known as a decreased appetite in your dog that goes on for more than a couple days.  If your dog is experiencing this, go see your veterinarian for an evaluation.

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Symptoms of Hyporexia in Dogs

Symptoms of hyporexia may include:

  • Being a ‘picky’ or ‘finicky’ eater
  • Skips meals
  • Underweight
  • Anorexia of acute onset

Types

If your dog occasionally skips a meal and you think he has hyporexia, there are other considerations to take into account.  Maybe he had a lot of snacks that day, maybe someone gave him some table scraps, maybe his appetite is just a little off; as long as he returns to his normal eating schedule the next day there is nothing to be concerned about.  

Hyporexia needs to be differentiated from anorexia.  The difference: hyporexia is a decreased appetite while anorexia is no eating whatsoever.  It can happen acutely or it can slowly develop over a longer period of a couple days.

Causes of Hyporexia in Dogs

Onset of hyporexia can be caused by a variety of ailments.  Stress, nausea, dental issues, pancreatic problems, gastrointestinal, kidney, and liver disease can all account for a change in eating habits.  Certain medications your dog may be taking can lead to your dog not having a normal appetite.  If the decreased appetite occurs for more than one day, it is recommended you have your dog evaluated by his veterinarian.

Diagnosis of Hyporexia in Dogs

Your veterinarian will begin by performing a full physical exam on your dog.  While the issue may be with his appetite, she will want to check for a possible cause.  She will also collect a verbal history from you.  She will want to know when it started, it if has been progressing, if it is constant or intermittent, and similar questions.  

When it comes to trying to diagnose a cause, lab work and imaging will be performed for more information in regards to your dog’s condition.  Blood work will consist of a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel for basic information on how your dog’s internal organs are functioning.  If the blood work comes back with abnormal levels, it could be a possible cause for his lack of appetite.  If your dog has other symptoms in addition to the decreased appetite, additional blood work may be suggested in order to rule out causes.  For example, your veterinarian may suggest a pancreatic test to allow her to rule pancreatitis out as a cause.  Your veterinarian may also want to run a urinalysis to check for any signs of kidney or bladder issues.  The discomfort from ailments affecting the urinary system can be a cause for the hyporexia. 

Radiographs of the gastrointestinal tract are a good way to check for a blockage or abnormality that may be causing his decreased appetite.  Images of his esophagus, stomach and intestinal tract will allow the veterinarian to check for any obvious cause of his condition.  If there is an abnormal area on the imaging, it could be the cause of his decreased appetite.

The diagnostic lab work, imaging, and history of your dog’s condition should help the veterinarian come to her diagnosis.  If she is still unsure, there are additional, more specific tests she may suggest depending on your dog’s individual case.

Treatment of Hyporexia in Dogs

Finding the cause of your dog’s decreased appetite is ideal in order to properly treat his hyporexia.  Your veterinarian will prescribe medications and treatments to treat the specific condition your dog is experiencing.  

If a cause cannot be specifically determined, your veterinarian will treat his hyporexia symptomatically.  She will likely prescribe a food with high palatability in order to get him interested in food again.  There are medications to increase his appetite she can prescribe if she feels it is necessary for your dog.  She may offer your dog subcutaneous fluids; this can help with any degree of dehydration as well as just simply helping your dog feel better.  She may also prescribe a probiotic for you to sprinkle on your dog’s food to increase his interest as well as ensure his gastrointestinal flora is healthy.  

Treatment options will vary depending what symptoms your dog is experiencing.  There is a wide variety of options she can choose as there is no exact treatment plan.  If she cannot determine the exact cause of your dog’s onset of hyporexia, she may need to offer treatment then see how he responds.  If it does not help, then she will try another option.  Trial and error is sometimes the only way to treat dogs in cases like this.

Recovery of Hyporexia in Dogs

Once you find something to entice your dog to eat again, his appetite should pick up and return to normal in a short period of time.  If there is an underlying cause to his hyporexia and it is treated properly, your dog should make a full recovery.  Prognosis of recovery from hyporexia is good as long as it is addressed shortly after onset.