Anorexia or Under-Eating In Dogs

By Valdette Muller| November 28, 2017 | Blog


This is a very real and a complex problem that some dog owners face.

There are a number of eating disorders affecting dogs, including overeating, under-eating, Pica, Scoffing or blotting and Coprophagia or faeces eating.

If you have a dog that has any of these eating disorders the hardest part is figuring out where it came from in the first place.

What happens when your pet stops eating or struggles to keep food down?

However unusual it may seem, it is actually normal for your dog to skip meals once in a while, but it is bad news when your dog stops eating entirely.

We are familiar with the human version of anorexia, which is classified as an eating disorder with a mental or psychological component tied to it.

Anorexia in pets is quite different to that of a human. Rather than being just a mental or psychological disease, anorexia in pets can also be a clinical sign of something going on with in the body or in their environment.

If your pet stops eating entirely, you need to see a vet immediately! We as humans can go long without food, up to several days at least before negative effects start showing, but most pets such as smaller dogs and cats can suffer the most serious of health problems from just 24 hours without food.

Whats causes Anorexia in pets?

There are 2 types of pet anorexia which can contribute to health problems:

Pseudo-anorexia: Which means the dog is hungry but cannot eat the food because of discomfort or pain it experiences when eating the food. This includes difficulty swallowing or chewing the food, an obstruction within their digestive tract, an illness or infection, or an allergic reaction to the food causing more discomfort..

True anorexia: It could be the result of a psychological problem, such as stress or changes in routine, environment or diet overpowering their desire for food.

Other causes can be linked to:

  • Old age
  • Cardiac (heart) failure
  • Toxicities and drugs
  • A growth within the stomach
  • Parasites (worms absorbing the food and nutrients within the stomach)

Worms: Symptoms of worms in dogs can be dramatic and can be the most common reason for a dog’s eating disorder. A wide range of signs of worms in dogs can include:

  • a ravenous appetite in a dog yet they are not putting on weight.
  • Drastic weight loss.
  • Gastro-intestinal upsets such as vomiting or diarrhoea.

What should you do if you suspect a problem?

First things first, take your dog to see a vet! This way you can get your dog physically examined to confirm the signs of worm activity and get your pet treated.

Your vet will be paying close attention to your pet’s mouth, teeth, nose, lymph nodes, and GI tract. There may have to be X-rays involved, blood work or possibly an endoscopy.

Make sure to identify the reason for your dog’s lack of appetite, whether it is a physical or psychological one.

Treatment for Anorexia in pets.

Acana_Free-Run_DuckThis will all depend on the diagnosis from the vet. If the cause is due to a medical condition, the condition must be treated first.

You can try things at home to make meal times better for your under-weight dog:

  • Feed them a meal of boiled chicken and rice on top of their dry food, or pour warm water on to the dry food to make it softer to eat. Serve the food warm as this helps bring out a pleasant flavour and smell.
  • In the first week of recovery, serve your dog smaller amounts. If you feed your dog too much too quickly, your dog may become sick and throw up the food, from not being used to a proper meal in days.
  • If your dog has food allergies, make sure to choose the best food for allergy sensitive dogs. ACANA Singles Free Run Duck Dog Food and Royal Canin Maxi Digestive Care are some of the hypoallergenic dog foods for adult dogs that Shinga Pet has to offer.

Please remember the longer your pet goes without eating, the less they are likely to want to eat, this poses a greater and serious risk to their health.

If your pet continues resisting food, get your dog to a vet right away!


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