If you've had a dog long enough, you know that a happy pooch is one that loves to eat. Normally, I can't tear my pup away from the dog bowl! With that said, it's very obvious if your dog isn't feeling like itself. Not eating? Food aversion? In these situations, there are various dog appetite stimulants that can help get your pup back on the path to healthy eating.
However, you don't need to panic just yet. A day or two of missed meals is normal and likely means your furry friend is trying to recover from a mild ailment. Be aware that if your dog misses meals for more than two days, it's best to see a vet because it may be a more serious condition that needs to be treated by a professional.
Why Does My Dog Eat So Little?
There are many reasons why your dog may be shying away from the dog bowl. And it doesn't have to be serious; with a little time and some changes to their diet, food aversion will usually go away naturally. Here are some reasons why your dog may not have an appetite:
Upset Stomach or Nausea
This is the most common reason for a low appetite. Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and they explore with their noses and mouths. As a result, many things that shouldn't go into their mouths (and stomachs!) do. This introduces harmful germs and bacteria into their bodies, which can cause an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Some dogs are simply pickier eaters than others. Perhaps they're just getting tired of the same food every day, or they acquired a taste for human food (oops!), but a dog's food preferences can change. As dogs get older, their diet can change as well; the same ol' kibble just won't do it for them anymore.
If your dog is dehydrated, this will take precedence over its appetite. Water is just as essential as food, so make sure you top off their water bowl every day. Especially during hot summer days, keep an eye out for these symptoms:
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Dry gums
- Dry nose
Lack of Exercise
Dogs need exercise. Whether it's a daily walk or time at a dog park, they need to get those paws moving. If they don't get exercise, their body may not feel the need to eat.
We all know what it's like to have a cavity or canker sore. There's constant throbbing, and it hurts to chew. This can also happen to your dog. If they have dental issues, they may not eat because it hurts to chew hard kibble.
If your dog has persistent dental problems, a trip to the vet is likely in order. The veterinarian will help you assess the issue for a proper diagnosis and potential treatment options.
Stress can greatly influence a dog's diet. If a dog's routine is altered or they undergo a big change, this can affect their appetite because they're not comfortable with the new conditions yet. This can be a move to a new location, an adjustment to when they wake up or go on a walk, or new owners.
Changes To Diet
Dogs need time to adjust to a new food or change in diet. Perhaps you're switching from dry kibble to a raw diet or just buying a new brand of dog food — whatever it is, your dog needs to get used to it. This transitional period can cause a few days or a week of low appetite.
Some medications have a side effect of reduced or low appetite. Double-check with your vet if the medications you're giving your dog will affect their eating.
The worst-case scenario is that your dog is suffering from a more serious illness, such as diabetes, kidney issues, or intestinal worms. Illnesses will usually cause a prolonged period of food aversion. In this case, bring your dog to the vet so they can receive the proper treatment.
Treatment Options for Dogs with Low Appetites
Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options for your sick or stressed-out pup. Sometimes it's as simple as changing their diet, but for more serious cases, you may want to consider appetite stimulants.
Holistic appetite stimulants:
- Acupuncture: Yes, pets can get acupuncture too! It can help reduce inflammation, pain, and upset stomach. Just make sure you go to a professional veterinary acupuncturist.
- CBD: CBD is great for reducing discomfort and increasing appetite — but more on this later (there's a whole section below!)
Pharmaceutical appetite stimulants (prescribed by a vet):
- Mirtazapine: The most common appetite stimulant; used to increase appetite as well as serotonin levels.
- Ghrelin Receptor Agonist: Utilizes a protein that increases appetite by stimulating the growth hormones in your dog.
Natural Ways to Stimulate Your Dog's Appetite
For mild or temporary cases of food aversion, natural solutions are the best! It's easier than you think to get your dog chowing down again, and most of the time, you can do it right at home.
Mix in Tasty Food
Mix in the good stuff. You know what I'm talking about — chicken, beef, maybe a little bacon. Rotisserie chicken is a popular choice because it's tasty and aromatic; however, make sure you remove the skin and bones first. No matter what meat you add, if it's warm and smells great, your pup won't be able to resist.
Sometimes your dog just needs a helping hand. If they aren't going to their food, bring it to their nose and mouth. Most of the time, if they get a whiff of meat, their appetite will get going again.
If you think dental issues are the reason why they're not eating, switch to soft foods like ground chicken, mashed carrots, or even baby food.
Exercise will help dogs work up an appetite. As they exercise more, their bodies will crave food to use as energy. Try taking your dog on a long walk and see how their appetite improves.
Vitamin B is essential for healthy digestion. Too little vitamin B can cause poor digestion, and as a result, low appetite. Beef, turkey, and chicken are all high in vitamin B, so adding those can solve the problem, or you can supplement their food with vitamin B treats.
Herbs & Spices
Certain herbs and spices can help stimulate your dog's appetite. Just chop them up and add a dash to your dog's food. Some safe and nutritious herbs include fennel, dill, ginger (small doses), and dandelion.
Can I Give My Dog CBD as an Appetite Stimulant?
Yes! CBD works wonderfully as an appetite stimulant for dogs. Recently, there has been a boom in broad-spectrum CBD for dogs, such as CBD oil for dogs and treats, so finding the right product for your ailing dog is easy. CBD products can be found online (like here at HolistaPet!) or even at your local pet store.
What Are the Benefits of CBD for Dogs?
CBD has various benefits for dogs, including easing discomfort, helping with nervousness, and boosting appetite. Additionally, CBD can help your dog's overall well-being by supporting its endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Just like humans, dogs have an ECS as well, and CBD interacts with their bodies in much the same way as it does with ours. Essentially, the ECS helps cells communicate and is responsible for regulating many functions in a dog's body, such as their sleep, mood, brain, and immune system.
Does CBD Have Any Side Effects on Dogs?
There are a few potential side effects of CBD you should be aware of before giving it to your furry friend. The side effects may include:
- Dry mouth: CBD can affect saliva production, making your pup extra thirsty so make sure you have a full water bowl ready.
- Lower blood pressure: High doses of CBD can result in a temporary drop in blood pressure, which can cause light-headedness.
- Drowsiness: The calming effects of CBD may cause drowsiness (which might be good if you have an energetic pup).
Inhibition of drug metabolism: High doses of CBD can temporarily stop the production of certain liver enzymes, which could interfere with the metabolism of certain drugs. Consult with your vet to confirm that CBD won't affect any other drugs your dog is taking.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog?
This depends on you and your dog! The right amount of CBD varies depending on a dog's age, size, and purpose for taking CBD, so it's hard to pinpoint an exact dosage.
However, here at HolistaPet, we have a handy tool to help you calculate the optimal CBD dosage for your pet! Check it out here: CBD Dosage Chart for Dogs & Cats
Final Thoughts - Dog Appetite Stimulant
So your dog missed a meal or two, don't fret! Try to understand your dog first — did they eat something off the ground on a walk? Did they just move to a new home or apartment?
There are many normal reasons for dogs to lose their appetite: an upset stomach, stress, or even just getting used to new food. Lucky for you, there are also many simple, natural solutions that can be implemented right at home. The right dog appetite stimulant can get your pup back to cleaning out that dog bowl in 30 seconds flat!