Encouraging Your Dog to Eat When Sick

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It is hard to watch your pup suffer from an illness or a disease or to simply know he is not feeling well. When your dog does not feel well, he may lose his 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 him to eat even small amounts to ensure his body is getting nutrition and calories to help him through the healing process. There are some tricks you can use and some different foods you can offer to entice your dog even when he is feeling so miserable he has no appetite.


Spice Things Up

With your regular dog food, you can add flavors and scents that your dog can recognize as delicious and enticing foods. If your dog seems interested in his kibble, you can add some chicken or beef broth to the kibble to increase the flavor and to the scent of food. Most likely, though, if your dog is ill, he is not going to be interested in his 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 can entice your dog's senses, possibly causing him to want to eat more.


Offer Variety

If a canned dog food still doesn't tempt your dog, you can try boiled chicken flavored with broth. Hand feeding your dog small pieces of boiled chicken may help to stimulate his appetite as well as provide him the comfort he needs while he is not feeling well. Other people foods your dog craves, such as soft fruits and vegetables or bland food such as rice with a broth might interest your dog. Keeping your dog's choices healthy, you can offer him table foods and include him in your meals to intrigue him. Dogs prefer a strong-smelling food and are enticed by meats and broths that smell delicious. Offering your dog fish, beef, chicken, fruits, or vegetables straight from your kitchen may peak his interest more than his regular kibble. Even a mere spoonful of peanut butter can provide calories, fat, and protein for your dog while he is sick.


Dinner for Two

When your dog is not feeling well, one trick that may work more than changing food is spending time with him. Hand feeding your dog, no matter the food, may provide him comfort. Rubbing his tummy and loving him could offer him love and support he needs to feel better. There are points in your dog's illness when you worry less about nutrition and more about ensuring your dog is getting calories. If your dog is at this point, offer him treats or cold cuts from your local deli. Even small amounts of food will provide sustenance and nutrition for your dog while his appetite is low and he is not feeling well.


Be Patient and Flexible

If your dog stops eating altogether and you cannot coax him to eat anything, call your vet for immediate care. If your dog stops drinking water and does not urinate for 12 hours, call your veterinarian for advice on next steps. Giving your dog broth, wet foods with added water, and even ice cubes to lick or chew on or frozen cubed broth can provide his body with liquids as well as additional calories.

When your dog is not feeling well, entice him with special foods he does not normally get to eat. You can also try to entice him to eat by hand feeding or feeding in places where he does not usually eat such as your bedroom or sitting on the couch with you. What's most important when your dog is not feeling well is to get something into his system and to ensure he is also hydrated. Your dog does not feel well, so have some patience with him. Keep trying small amounts to encourage him to eat, and call your veterinarian with any questions you have or if you feel there is nothing you can do to entice him.


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