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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

Can I Increase My Dog's Appetite?

By Bridget Reed /

17
Jan

Most dogs are thrilled to chow down whenever they get the chance — in fact, you’ve probably experienced your dog stealing a snack they were never supposed to eat in the first place. But what can you do if your dog’s appetite suddenly disappears?

Fortunately, there are a few ways to improve your pup’s enthusiasm for mealtime. However, it’s important to think about the underlying cause before you start changing up your dog’s food. 

Depending on the circumstances, loss of appetite can indicate a temporary stomach bug, a stressful situation, or a more serious condition. Waiting to see if your dog’s appetite improves is usually a good idea, but if they’ve gone more than a day without eating, you should take them to the vet immediately.

We can’t always know what’s going on inside our dog’s head, but hopefully, this article will help you make an educated guess. With any luck, your dog will soon return to devouring their food as fast as usual.

Why Isn’t My Dog Eating?

Your dog can lose their appetite for quite a few reasons. Some of them are potentially dangerous, while others will pass naturally. Here are some of the most common explanations:

Illness

Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you when they’re feeling sick. However, one of the most common indicators is a sudden loss or decrease in appetite.

On its own, this symptom might clear up pretty fast. If your pup skips breakfast, but is back to their usual self by dinner, you probably don’t have to worry.

However, if your dog is experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, it’s very important to see a vet as soon as you can. They’ll be able to diagnose the issue and help you figure out a solution.

Stress and Upheaval

In some ways, dogs are very similar to humans. They deal with stressful situations in a variety of ways, some more healthy than others. In some cases, anxious dogs will stop eating until they feel more secure.

One of the most common causes of stress is travel. If you’ve just moved to a new home or are visiting a new place, don’t be too surprised if your dog has a reaction. They might take a while to get used to the new smells and sights.

Give them some time to adapt, but keep an eye out. Going more than a day or two without food can be dangerous to your pup’s health. 

To encourage your dog’s appetite, we recommend choosing a particularly tasty food, such as our Tender Morsels In Savory Sauce With Chicken & Beef Recipe. Our ingredients provide your dog a delicious meal that’s tough to resist, along with a shiny coat and plenty of energy to run and play.

Pain

Your dog might stop eating if they’re experiencing pain in their mouth. Dental issues can make chewing through kibble extremely difficult for a sensitive dog, so check your pup’s teeth if you’re concerned about their loss of appetite. 

If you can’t tell whether eating is causing them pain or not, it’s better to err on the safe side and call your vet.

Routine

Your dog might prefer eating at a specific time of day, or only when you’re around to keep them company.

While this can be inconvenient, there’s no reason to worry. As long as your dog is getting all the calories they need, they can stick to whatever eating habits they’re most comfortable with.

Diseases

Your dog might not be able to diagnose themselves, but they usually know when something’s wrong. If they lose interest in food out of nowhere, there could be a more serious problem brewing.

Health issues such as cancer, internal parasites, or infection can all prompt a loss in appetite. When they don’t seem to be getting better on their own, your first stop should be your vet. They’re equipped to deal with severe health issues, and know which treatments your dog may need to recover. 

How Can I Improve My Dog’s Appetite?

Fortunately, there are a few easy methods you can try to get your pup back to their usual eating habits. The list below should entice even the pickiest dog into trying a bite of food. If none of these work, your vet might have some prescription medication that will do the trick.

Heat

Sometimes the simplest way to make your dog’s food more appealing is increase the temperature. We don’t recommend putting food into the microwave, as it can lose nutrients with high heat, but adding warm water can increase the temperature and release savory smells. 

Adding Broth

If warming up your dog’s bowl isn’t helping, you can pour low-sodium chicken broth, beef broth, or tuna water over the meal. These will add more enticing scents to draw your dog in. 

Switch Up the Recipe

It’s possible your dog has just gotten tired of their usual chow. If that’s the case, we recommend experimenting with a few new kinds of food.

If they’ve been on a dry food diet, try some wet food — or vice versa. Consider a different primary protein, like turkey, salmon, or beef.

Keep in mind that commercial dog-food bags are designed to keep the food fresh. If using a plastic storage container, this may be the culprit. Oils from kibble can go rancid in the plastics and cause a yucky taste. 

At Optimeal® we have a range of different dog foods to accommodate all of your pup’s preferences. If you’d like to tempt your dog with something new, our Chicken & Lamb Recipe uses a delicious savory sauce that’s perfect for picky eaters.

Hand-Feeding

If your dog is feeling anxious or lonely, hand-feeding might help. While it’s not a practical long-term solution, it can really help your pup adjust to a new home, a stressful trip, or other situations they might be worried about.

Rotisserie Chicken

Offering your dog some rotisserie chicken is a great way to get them excited for mealtime again. Keep in mind, the skin and bones aren’t healthy for your pup, so be selective. 

Cut Back on Treats

If you’ve been sharing a lot of treats with your dog, try reducing the amount and seeing if that changes anything. Too many treats can fill up their stomach and cause a lack of appetite around mealtimes. Your dog might not be happy about the diet change at first, but they’ll be a lot more eager to gobble up dinner. 

Some dogs will also reject their “regular” food to see if you’ll entice them with treats instead, saving their appetite for the good stuff. 

Go For a Walk

If you have the time, try taking your dog for a brisk walk before you feed them. The movement will get their heart rate up and stimulate their appetite. Besides, food always tastes better after a little exercise.

Prescription Medication 

If nothing else works, your vet can often give your dog a prescription to improve their appetite. There are several medications that are frequently used for this purpose, including mirtazapine, meclizine, and CBD products. Your vet is the best resource on which one would be right for your dog.

Helping Your Dog Eat Right

There are a lot of reasons your dog might lose interest in their food bowl. While the causes range from mild to severe, it’s always a good idea to monitor the situation closely and make sure your pup isn’t missing too many meals.

Fortunately, it’s very possible to make a helping of dog food more appealing. When you’re not sure what the problem is, we recommend experimenting with different ways of feeding your dog until you find the method that’s right for them.

Eating right isn’t just a matter of eating enough — making sure your dog gets high-quality food is also critical. At Optimeal®, all of our recipes are optimized to provide your pup with the healthiest, most delicious options around. (It’s pretty hard to resist our Liver & Turkey Recipe, which features tender morsels to support your dog’s digestion and wellness!)

At the end of the day, we all want the best for our dogs, and that includes a great meal that leaves their tails wagging.

Sources:

6 Appetite Stimulants for Dogs | PetMD

Why Won't My Dog Eat? Learn About Reasons Why Your Dog Isn't Eating | American Kennel Club

Dog Not Eating? Possible Causes and Appetite Solutions | PetMD

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