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3 min read

Encouraging Your Dog to Eat When Sick


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You don't have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.

It is hard to watch your pup suffer from an illness or a disease or to simply know they are not feeling well. When your dog is unwell, they may lose their appetite. However, not eating for more than a day or two can cause other illnesses that could become life-threatening. 

When your dog is sick, there are ways you can encourage them to eat even small amounts to ensure their body is getting nutrition and calories to help them through the healing process. There are some tricks you can use and some different foods you can offer to entice your dog even when they are feeling so miserable they have no appetite.

How can I encourage my sick dog to eat?

With your pup's regular dog food, you can add flavors and scents that your dog recognizes as delicious and enticing. If your dog seems interested in kibble, add chicken or beef broth to it to increase the flavor and scent. Most likely, though, if your dog is ill, they are not going to be interested in their regular food. 

Instead of the normal dry food, start by enticing your dog with canned wet food. You can make this food more appealing by warming it up and adding extra water to increase your dog's level of hydration. Adding boiled chicken or tuna or other strong-smelling fish in small quantities can entice your dog's senses, possibly encouraging them to want to eat more.

Offer your dog variety

If canned dog food still doesn't tempt your dog, try boiled chicken flavored with broth. Hand feeding your dog small pieces of boiled chicken may help to stimulate the appetite as well as provide them with the comfort they need while not feeling well. Soft fruits and vegetables or bland food such as rice with a broth might interest your dog. Just be careful not to give them too much if they are not used to human food.

Keeping your dog's choices healthy, offer table foods and include them in your mealtime to intrigue them. Dogs are interested in the aroma of strong-smelling food and are enticed by meats and broths that smell delicious. Offering your dog a small bite of fish, beef, chicken, fruits, or vegetables straight from your kitchen may pique their interest more than regular kibble. Even a mere spoonful of dog-safe peanut butter can provide calories, fat, and protein for your dog while they are sick.

Refusing to eat can be a symptom of a serious condition.

Invest in pet insurance before your dog gets sick to save thousands of dollars per year on vet care costs.

Try baby food

Veterinarians sometimes use baby food as a way to coax a canine patient to eat a small meal when in hospital care. This mild and healthy food is easily digested and is palatable to dogs. Try giving your sick pooch a small portion as a way to stimulate the appetite.

Flavors to try are chicken, beef, sweet potato, banana, and carrot. While not a good idea to feed your dog too much baby food, using it as a way to motivate them to eat is fine. Sometimes just a taste will do. Add a teaspoon to kibble or top a meal of canned dog food with a dollop of baby food to get your dog interested in eating again.

Consult the veterinarian

Giving your dog broth, wet food with added water, and even ice chips to lick or chew on (appropriately sized according to your dog's breed to avoid choking) can provide liquids and additional calories.

If your dog stops eating altogether and you cannot coax them to sample anything, call your vet for immediate care. If your dog stops drinking water and does not urinate for 12 hours, a visit to the clinic is critical. 

There may be a serious underlying illness preventing the return of your pup's appetite. Do what you can to encourage your dog to eat, but never let the lack of appetite go on for too long. Consult the vet for peace of mind and to solve the mystery behind the unwillingness to eat.

A loss of appetite could be a symptom of a serious medical condition. If you suspect your dog is ill, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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