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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22584
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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I have a dog of 15 who seems to have gone off dog food. Can

Customer Question

I have a dog of 15 who seems to have gone off dog food. Can you suggest anything else I can give her
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.

Hello & welcome. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

How long has Bracken been off her food?

Does she ask for food but turn away? Or does she just have no interest?

Is she still drinking?

Any drooling, retching, gagging or vomiting?
Any diarrhea?
Belly pain or restlessness?

Though she is older and should be sensible, is there any chance she could have eaten something she should not have (ie bones, trash, toys, toxins, non-edible anything)?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No she has none of the above symptoms and has just been eating less - she seems not to want tinned dog food but has had some chicken. She is still drinking

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you, Linda.

The reason for my questions is that we can see dogs go off their food for a range of reasons. As I am sure you can appreciate, conditions that will induce nausea (even if not vomiting) will often be the trigger this type of appetite decline. As well, conditions that cause oral discomfort (most often dental disease but also oral masses or ulcerations in the upper GI and beyond) can cause dogs to become reluctant to eat despite wanting to do so. And in older dogs, we can have the extra complication of systemic diseases (ie pancreatitis, kidney or liver troubles, etc) cause nausea and again lead to a decline in appetite. So, there are a few considerations that we have to keep in the back our mind for wee Bracken if she is suddenly not keen to eat her familiar diet.

In regards to what we can offer her to tempt her to eat for us, the first step would be to try a light/easily digestible diet. Examples would be white rice with either boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk), meat baby food (do avoid the ones with garlic powder in the ingredients) or there are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used in cases of gastroenteritis (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity). The aim of these light diets are that they are easy on the compromised GI and tend to be better tolerated. So, if she does have a bit of GI upset, these can just lure to eat for us while it settles.

Further to this, for peace of mind in allaying any concerns that she may be being stoic for us and hiding an underlying nausea, you can try her on with an antacid. There are a number of antacids that are available over the counter and pet friendly. I would advise only treating with one, but the two I tend to recommend are Pepcid (More Info/Dose) or Zantac (More Info/Dose) .We tend to give these 30 minutes before offering food to give it time to be absorbed. Of course, you will want to double check with his vet if she does have any pre-existing conditions or is on any medication you haven't mentioned already.

Finally, in regards to diet options for animals who are eating poorly, we do have a few critical care diets that can be useful to get more nutrition in. Specifically, we tend to use Royal Canin Recovery (LINK) or Hill's A/D (LINK) Both are available OTC at you vet's and are critical care diets that is comes as a soft, palatable pate. They are calorically dense, so a little goes a long way nutrition-wise and this could just help get some more calories into her even if we can’t get a huge volume of food in. As well, there is a liquid diet called Clinicare Canine/Feline Liquid Diet (LINK)). It is actually by the same people who make Ensure, but is formulated to meet out pet's dietary needs. Your vet should be able to order it for you but it is available without a prescription. So, if there is a reason she cannot take a lot of food at one time (if something is compressing her stomach like an enlarged organ or mass) then this could also be useful. Furthermore, if she becomes resistant to eating, all of these can be used to syringe feed her to keep her from starving herself.

Overall, we do have to be vigilant if Bracken's appetite is on the decline. So, I would suggest the light diet options initially and an antacid if you think she may have some GI upset. If you do so and she doesn't settle or her appetite wanes any further, then you may want to consider following up with her vet to make sure there is nothing sinister brewing that would benefit from addressing quickly for her.

hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


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