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What is Loss of Appetite?

Loss of appetite “anorexia” in dogs is a symptom that can be indicative of a variety of possible underlying problems. The underlying cause could range from a minor stressor to a life-threatening illness. A pet choosing to eat little or no food as the result of an upset stomach or stress may begin eating again within 24 hours. However, loss of appetite for longer than 1-2 days can be a sign of medical emergency and should not go untreated.

Refusing to eat more than two meals is uncommon for most dogs. Loss of appetite is a serious indicator of an underlying illness, which can vary from depression to cancer. if you notice a change in your dog's eating habits, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian immediately. It is especially important to respond quickly to a refusal to eat in dogs that are usual "chow hounds."

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Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 11 quotes ranging from $500 - $8,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Loss of Appetite in Dogs

Symptoms of loss of appetite in dogs include:

  • Eating less food than normal
  • Refusing to eat food
  • Refusing to eat treats
  • Lack of interest in food
  • Trying to eat but unable
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Vomiting
Types
  • Pseudo-anorexia

    – The pet wants to eat, however cannot due to a physical problem.

  • True anorexia

    – The pet has no desire to eat.

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Causes of Loss of Appetite in Dogs

A variety of issues can cause loss of appetite in dogs:

Psychological Causes of Anorexia

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Undesirable food
  • Environmental change
  • Dietary change
  • Change in daily routine

Physical Causes of Anorexia

  • Medication
  • Infection (bacterial, viral, parasitic)
  • Cancer
  • Pain
  • Toxin exposure
  • Dental problems
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Gastrointestinal disease or blockage
  • Endocrine disorder
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Respiratory illness
  • Neurological disease
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Diagnosis of Loss of Appetite in Dogs

It is important to note whether any environmental or dietary changes have occurred that may be causing the loss of appetite in your pet. Possible stressors could include moving to a new home, having house guests for a visit, a family member leaving for a period of time, getting a new pet, loud noises (fireworks, gunshots, thunder) or change in diet.

If your pet is demonstrating loss of appetite, you may want to try feeding a bland diet (boiled chicken breast and white rice) and see if the appetite returns. If you have changed diets recently, try going back to the old diet or add a bit of low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth to stimulate appetite. Monitor your pet for 24 hours and if low appetite continues or if you notice the pet is not having bowel movements or is having diarrhea and/or vomiting, visit the veterinarian for an examination.

The veterinarian will want to know when the loss of appetite began, and whether your pet tries to eat but can’t or doesn’t try at all. Any recent changes to the diet or environment can be important information.

The physical examination will include an examination of the mouth, teeth and throat and abdominal palpitation for possible pain or masses. Laboratory diagnostics may include blood testing to detect any abnormalities in liver, kidney, and other organ function. A fecal exam can detect the presence of intestinal parasites. Radiographs will aid in visualization of any abdominal or chest abnormalities. Endoscopy can be used to help visualize the condition of the throat, stomach lining and upper small intestine.

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Treatment of Loss of Appetite in Dogs

You can attempt to stimulate appetite at home by warming the pet’s food slightly or adding warm water to kibble (increasing smell and palatability). Be very certain that the food is not too hot and stir microwaved food well to distribute heat evenly after warming. You may also try adding canned food or low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth) to kibble. A pet may respond to hand feeding with fingers or a spoon better than eating from a bowl.

If the pet refuses to eat after a 24-hour period, veterinary treatment will be necessary.

Supportive Care

If the pet has not eaten in a few days, intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy will rehydrate the pet and provide electrolytes. Syringe feeding or a feeding tube may be required for pets who haven’t eaten in 2-3 days. An appetite stimulant such as mirtazapine or cyproheptadine can aid in boosting appetite.

Treatment of the Underlying Issue

Once the condition that is causing the loss of appetite is identified, proper treatment of the condition will be initiated. This may involve oral medications, dental procedure and/or surgery.

Refeeding

Once the pet is stabilized, a refeeding plan will be put into place. Normally, a bland diet will be offered for 2-3 days with small portions given frequently throughout the day. The diet will then transition to a regular diet gradually over one week.

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Recovery of Loss of Appetite in Dogs

Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions on refeeding and diet management carefully. The gastrointestinal tract is often sensitive after periods of not eating and your veterinarian’s dietary instructions will address this. Let your veterinarian know if appetite is not considerably improved within 1-2 days after release and monitor bowel movements and behavior carefully.

Recovery from anorexia depends on the ability to detect and treat the underlying cause quickly. Prognosis is normally good with early detection and pets can regain appetite in a day or two after the underlying cause is addressed.

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Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 11 quotes ranging from $500 - $8,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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Loss of Appetite Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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australian/german shepherd

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting Loss Of Appetite Dehydrated

My puppy hasn't ate in 4 days she has been vomiting and is dehydrated I have been giving her Pedialyte with a syringe and shots of water in the back of her neck and amoxicillin with a syringe but she's getting worse not better she isn't using the bathroom and just lays in the same spot

Nov. 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

This is very concerning. She needs to see a vet urgently. 4 days is far too long to not eat, even with the supportive care you have been providing. We need to establish the underlying cause e.g. a foreign body, particularly virus etc. and address it. At this age, such extreme lethargy indicates serious illness. It is not advised to inject water under the skin, subcutaneous fluids should consist of sterile 0.9% saline and similar products.

Nov. 23, 2020

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Beagle

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating, Not Pooping, Lethargic, Weak

I have done all of these tests and now they are thinking addisons are there any other possibilities?

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without being able to see the test results, unfortunately, I"m not sure what else might be going on. Those signs are vague signs that can occur with many illnesses, and your veterinarian may need to do some testing to pinpoint what is wrong with your dog. Addison's is one possibility, and if they think that may be the cause, that is quite treatable, and it would make sense to follow their advice on testing or treatment. I hope that all goes well and he/she feels better soon.

Oct. 4, 2020

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German Shepherd

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Three months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Anorexia And Constipation

He is eating since yesterdayand is weak

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. We get very concerned in puppies about parasites and infectious diseases like Parvo virus. If he is not eating, is straining to defecate, and is weak, he needs to see a veterinarian right away. They will be able to examine him, see what might be going on, and get treatment for him. I hope that he is okay.

Oct. 5, 2020

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Shitz su

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing, Sneezing And No Appetite

Seems to have a cold what can I give my pet? He’s no eating and when he does he has very loose bowel

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in response, there is a delay in receiving these emails sometimes. Dogs do not get colds the way that people do, and the signs that you are describing are concerning, as he sounds sick. He may have an infection or a growth in his nasal passages that needs attention. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, so they can examine him and see what might be causing this problem for him. I hope that all goes well for him.

Oct. 6, 2020

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Chihuahua

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6 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Apetite Throwing Up White Foam Not Active

What could it be? What do I do

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry for the delay in answering, this platform is not set up for urgent responses. Puppies are prone to parasites and infectious disease like Parvo virus. If your pup is vomiting, not eating, and is lethargic, he needs to see a veterinarian right away. They will be able to examine him and see what might be going on, and get treatment for him. I hope that he is okay.

Oct. 7, 2020

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duchess

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Chiweenie

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up

my dog usually goes to her bowl when i feed her now she won't and i am concerned she has not been to a vet in a long time my mom won't take her how can i get her to eat she also walks slow and she runs into things what can i do i don't know how old she is

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Bonbon

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Aspin

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite

My dog hasn't been eating for 5 days now. He vomit water for just 1 day and we keep him hydrated through syringe. He doesn't want to eat and drink water at all. At first i thought it's because he didn't like the food but we tried everything still he didn't liked it. And my problem is he is getting thinner and thinner :(

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Carpio "Pio"

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Aspin

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6 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite, Fever, Vomiting

We have a suspicion that our dog is experiencing Iron Toxicity, based on my research it is not really good for any dogs to ingest high number of iron and it can cause death. I'm writing this to ask if my beloved dog can really make it, I believe he ingested high number of iron from our rusty stove. I don't want him to die and we haven't seen a vet to ask for medication'cause we can't pay for the expenses (because my father is also ill and should be treated). 4 days ago he started to loss his appetite then 2 days after he vomited and poop (which is very fishy), he really loss weight and just drinking water. We're just giving him nutrients through syringe.

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Mika

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Mixed

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite
Wobbly
Loss Of Thirst

My dog is 13 years old, mixed breed. Last night I noticed that she wasn't her usual perky self and she was pretty wobbly while walking. A few minutes later she threw up thick, foamy yellowish-white bile. She stopped wobbling after that but she was still lethargic, so I took her to the vet, he gave her an anti-vomiting shot and said she didn't have a fever and to come back if she keeps vomiting despite the shot. She drank some water when we came back home, but now it's 12 p.m. the next day and she now won't drink or eat (neither dry food nor roast beef or some chicken, which she never says no to) and is still lethargic. Does that sound like something serious? She's breathing normally, nothing is yellow and she still wags her tail at me while lying down.

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Natalie

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Lab mix

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Loss Of Appetite
Not Drinking
Breaths Faster At Rest

My dog Natalie has stopped eating and drinking water for the last four days. She's been breathing very heavily and is very lethargic and hot in temperature. We took her into the vet to see if they could diagnose what was wrong with her, but with all the tests done, they determined nothing was wrong with her. They didn't give us any antibiotics, they just sent us home. I don't know what our next step should be...please help.

Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 11 quotes ranging from $500 - $8,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Nutramax Proviable DC Supplement

Probiotic for dogs and cats

Shop now
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