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It’s something we will encounter at least once in our lives as dog owners, and in my opinion (possibly because of a cultural heritage that associates food with comfort and love) it’s one of the most frustrating of all problems.

Our dog won’t eat.  What on earth do we do?

Thirty years ago, we didn’t have the Internet to consult, and one couldn’t find anything on the subject.  When I encountered issues, I relied on advice from fellow fanciers, the school of hard knocks, and always my veterinarian.  What follows was born of experience –  but first, a caveat.

No animal will willingly starve itself.

If your dog experiences a lack of appetite or a change in behavior that lasts for over a week, always have him or her seen by a vet. You need to rule out illness before embarking on solving a dog’s eating problem. My approach to such things is to first look for obvious, but often overlooked reasons (put another way, when hearing hoof beats, think horses not zebras). That’s why you want to check the dog for a bad tooth as this is often overlooked as a cause of an eating issue. Include the gums and throat while you’re at it.

I offer a second caveat: Eating problems can be complex, the diagnosis often difficult. The tips offered here are admittedly simplistic and you really should discuss them with your vet to see if any of them are a realistic remedy for your pet’s situation.

Let’s assume that you have a healthy dog, but he’s just not a good eater. Consider these potential reasons why that might be, and some solutions:

  • If you feed your dog treats during the day, stop. You want your dog hungry at meal times. If you have a show dog whom you bait, remember that bait should be offered in tiny pieces, it’s not meant to be dinner. When it comes to meals, put the dog’s food bowl on the floor, give her ten minutes to eat it, and if it isn’t touched after ten minutes, pick it up and put it away. Don’t feed her again until the next meal, and resist the temptation to give her treats. Do this for a whole week because what you’re doing here is behavior modification. Remember, a healthy dog won’t starve itself to death, but a stubborn, healthy dog could modify your behavior if you cave in; 
  • Change your dog food. It’s possible your dog has grown tired of, or never really liked what you’re feeding; 
  • On the other hand, if you change commercial pet foods frequently, stop. Frequent diet changes can create a finicky eater. The dog learns to “hold out” to see what will be offered next because just maybe, it might be better the next time. Why, it could be a side of beef!  When you find a nutritious diet that your dog will eat, stick with it. If you must change his diet, do it gradually over a two-week period. Add a small amount of the new kibble to the old food each day, and the next day, increase the amount of the new feed while decreasing the amount of the old. This gradual change will help prevent diarrhea, vomiting and finicky eating; 
  • As the old adage goes, a tired dog is a good dog. A tired dog can also be a hungrier dog, so step up the dog’s activity level if it’s not very active now. Play fetch, go for a walk, and even take a car trip to get the dog out.

With picky eaters, it’s especially important to feed a “super premium” brand of dog food. These foods cost more, but they’re made with better ingredients and are nutritionally dense. This means that your dog is actually eating less in quantity than he would of a cheaper brand bought at a super size stores (most of these foods have the nutritional value of bark), but because there are more “calories per cup” in a premium food, they’re actually getting more nutrition.  There are fabulous options in commercial dog foods these days, and a variety of comparison sites on the Internet to help you evaluate each brand. I’d encourage you to learn for yourself how to assess an ingredient panel, and learn what the importance is of, say, protein percentages, “grain-free,” the meaning of “by products” or what fish/chicken meal are.  Is corn a bad ingredient? Does your couch potato need kibble that is 26% protein?  The dog food market is highly competitive and not every ingredient is necessarily bad because you don’t understand what it is.  Become informed on how to read such a panel (visit http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/resourcesforyou/ucm047113.htm) and don’t always rely wholly on someone else’s review of a dog food, they may have a bias of which you don’t know.  Some different food comparison sites are: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com, http://www.dogfoodscoop.com and http://www.petfoodratings.org.

This next part is important: The single most natural way to increase a dog’s appetite is to warm their food because it increases the smell and makes it more appetizing. Also consider mixing the dog’s kibble with a small amount of canned dog food with a bit of water to make it enticing with “gravy.”  (this web site lists some canned dog food options: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/best-grain-free-dog-foods/best-grain-free-dog-foods-canned/)\

Some picky eaters get the appetite of a sumo wrestler when their diet is switched over to a BARF diet, an acronym for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones,orBiologically Appropriate Raw Food. Raw dog diets are controversial, but proponents of feeding raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables are zealous in their enthusiasm for the improvements they believe they see in their dogs.

Racing greyhounds and sled dogs have long eaten raw food diets, and extending that feeding method to the family dog is a more recent idea attributed to the Australian veterinarian, Ian Billinghurst. He believes that adult dogs thrive on a diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated.

BARF has its detractors, including some veterinarians and the FDA, and there are concerns over bacteria, which are easily addressed by a conscientious owner. Personally, I don’t care because I don’t have a “cookie cutter” approach to dog food.  My goal is to get food into a dog, and if that food is commercially made, or made in your kitchen,  what does it matter if the dog isn’t eating?  If you do decide to try the BARF route, check out this web site:  http://www.njboxers.com/top-50-barf-faqs-for-beginners.html#.VAX6D1YWFG4

Perhaps your dog has a health issue or is on a medication that makes him not want to eat. She’s under a vet’s care, but the task of getting nutrition into her still falls on you each and every day.

Now what?

You must understand that the less a dog eats, the less he wants to eat.  Exacerbating the situation is the dog who comes to associate food with nausea, and now you have a bigger problem, so the sooner you can get your dog to want to eat on his own, the better.

So much for the obvious.

I’ll start with the simplest remedies and work my way up to a radical solution that worked for one of my dogs. Let’s assume that your dog is on a high quality food but he’s still not eating. You may need to go to the next step: making dog food taste even better.

Don’t make these next foods a daily staple because the high sodium content of many of them would be contra-indicated for dogs in renal failure or with heart issues. These foods have been tried and tested by people in the dog fancy and are suggested only as a means to jump start the appetite in a sick or compromised dog: Weruva canned dog food (human grade), sardines, canned cat food, Gerber’s baby food (especially turkey or sweet potato), Braunschweiger, Limburger Cheese, broth, pureed liver, Dinty Moore Beef Stew, yogurt, cottage cheese/cream cheese, canned mackerel, scrambled eggs with cream cheese, chicken noodle soup – and even this one: hard-boiled eggs smashed up in French Vanilla yogurt, slightly warmed.

Sometimes, you may need to “jump start” an appetite with something so enticing, it’s irresistible. Here is the original recipe for “Satin Balls,” one of the most requested recipes on Wellpet, Showdogs-L, VetMed, and other popular e-mail lists for serious dog people:

10 pounds of cheap hamburger meat

1 large box of Total cereal

1 large box oatmeal

1 jar of wheat germ

1 1/4 cup veg oil

1 1/4 cup of unsulfured molasses

10 raw eggs and their shells

10 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together, much like you would a meatloaf. Divide the batch into 10-quart freezer bags and freeze. Thaw as needed and feed raw! (This is also a good way to put weight on a skinny dog, increase energy, and to alleviate itchy, flaky skin). This isn’t a substitute for meals, it’s meant only to whet a dog’s appetite. If the dog is eating this eagerly, start mixing it with kibble gradually. The idea is to wean the dog off the Satin Balls and onto kibble.

Next, I move on to “fixes” that come in a tube or pill. Remember, the point of these products is to stimulate an appetite. None are a long-term solution;

  • Re-Vita products that are said to be effective for problem appetites;
  • Pet-Tinic, is a liquid dietary supplement containing iron, copper and 5 essential vitamins. The palatable meat-flavored liquid is readily accepted, and one “tester” reported that it brought back her pet’s appetite almost immediately. Because of its contents, you’ll want to have your vet’s approval before using this;
  • Nutri-Cal,  pure nutrition that squeezes out of a tube like toothpaste. Dogs like its taste, and it’s a quick way to get nutrition into a dog;
  • When diluted with water, Dyne High Calorie Dietary Supplement (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=711)  can be used to combat dehydration and provide energy because each ounce provides approximately 150 calories containing vitamins and minerals that maintain constant therapeutic blood levels;
  • Energel, a nutritional supplement containing essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.

If none of these works, it’s time to revisit your vet for a prescription appetite stimulant.  Ask the doctor about:

  • Mirtazipine (Remeron);
  • Cyproheptadine, a relatively mild antihistamine, aka Periactin);
  • Diazepam (Valium);
  • Megesterol (Megace), a powerful appetite stimulant which may have, however, some undesirable effects including elevating blood sugar to unhealthy levels;
  • Stanozolol (Winsterol-V), a anabolic steroid with powerful appetite-stimulating and weight-gaining properties.

If none of the aforementioned tips work, this is where I get really serious because my own philosophy is that a lack of appetite is a lousy reason for a dog to die. What you’ll read next isn’t pleasant – but if you love your dog, you have to get nutrition into her.

As far as I know, there are four ways to do this when the dog can’t eat on his own:

  • Syringe food into the dog’s mouth;
  • Stuff food down the dog’s throat;
  • Hook the dog up to an IV;
  • Insert a stomach tube.

I’ve done all of them at one time or another. And they all stink, but they’re preferable to the alternative: A dog who wastes away and dies.

Syringing: You’ll need a couple of large syringes from your vet. Using canned food; determine the amount of food your dog needs to sustain his weight. Divide that amount in half, and spoon it into a blender (you and this blender will become inseparable over the coming days).  Add enough warm water to the food and blend it into a very fine puree. For each meal, gently syringe the puree into the side of the dog’s mouth.

Or, you can cut to the chase if the dog resists. Pry the dog’s mouth open and squeeze the syringe plunger down so that the food trickles to the side and back of the dog’s mouth. It takes a bit of time to get the hang of this since you don’t want the dog to aspirate food into his lungs. Speak to the dog soothingly and praise him when you’re done. Remember, it’s not the dog’s fault he’s unable to eat, and it’s only temporary until his appetite comes back.

Stuffing: This is my least favorite means of getting food into a dog because it’s messy and degrading.  In a nutshell, you make “food bombs” that are made narrow enough to slide down the back of the dog’s throat.  These “bombs” are a mixture of wet & dry food that’s been pureed into a texture that allows shaping. Some people get really good at doing this – and some dogs who just don’t eat well become so used to eating this way that they’ll stand calmly, lift up their little heads and open their mouths like guppies in anticipation for the next “bomb.”  Since all that matters is  getting nutrition into the dog, you do what works.

An IV hook up:  This is a “no brainer.” At this point, a dog is so ill that an IV is about the last resort. It is no substitute for the calories gotten from real food, but sometimes it acts like a Band-Aid until the dog is back on his feet and able to eat on his own;

Nasal Gastric Tube, Esophogostomy or BARD Stomach tube: Proverbially speaking, this is what separates the men from the boys. When I was faced with a dog whose heart medication caused anorexia but who was otherwise healthy, I had little choice but to pull out all the stops. Syringe feeding, food bombs – these were not long term solutions. Guided by my vet, we made a difficult but informed decision to insert a stomach tube. Mind you, at the time I believed it was only a short-term fix until my dog ate on his own.

The BARD system fits flush against the skin

The BARD system fits flush against the skin

The first tube we put in was an ugly, brown narrow hose that was SO long, it had to be wrapped around my dog’s mid section and secured in place with a lady’s tube top. I prepared my dog’s food as if I was going to syringe it into his mouth, only it was syringed into the tube that had been inserted into his stomach. In less than a week, the dog knew the sound of the blender, knew what was coming and would lie down on his side in preparation for his meal.

Each day before I approached the blender, I always offered my dog his meal in a bowl since it was my fondest desire that my dog eat like a dog.

After many weeks, however, I knew this wasn’t going to happen. Ever. At this point, my vet and I had a frank discussion about options and he mentioned a permanent tube that was inserted from the inside out.  The “Bard” is a gastronomy device made of silicon that was successfully used to feed disabled children but had never been used in canines.  My then 14-year-old Puli became the first dog in North America, if not the world,  to have the slick silicon “button” inserted. It fit flush against his stomach and a little “lid” flicked open like the flip-top portion of a tube of toothpaste. Compared to what I had been working with, it was a Porsche compared to a Model-T.  No ever knew it was there.

Because of the seemingly radical step I took to ensure my dog’s survival, it wasn’t something I discussed openly. We dog people can be a judgmental lot, and there are those who feel that if a dog can’t eat on his own,  he’s not meant to live. To them I say, “Phooey.”  My dog wanted to live, he wanted to survive and feel the hand of those who loved him rubbing his ears. But he just couldn’t eat.  His spirit was willing, and he would have done anything to please me, but this one thing he couldn’t do.  How was I to deny him the one thing I could do to help him?

The BARD enabled my dog to live a couple of more years. Feeding him took less than five minutes and afterwards, he would run with my other dogs, bark into the wind, enjoy the sun on his back and know that I adored him. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Update: In January, 2016, I was given some information that needs to be included here. A reader suggested that if  I mention Mirtazapine to stimulate a dog’s appetite. Her vet recommended  a 15mg. pill once every 12 hours for her husky-wolf mix that hadn’t eaten much in 2 weeks. Once the reader got the pill down her dog (with Nutri-Cal as a chaser), within 45 minutes the dog ate food she’d  refused just an hour before . She regained her appetite and ate as if she was making up for lost time. This certainly something to ask your veterinarian about. 

I’m hoping this has been some help, but if you are facing this right now, know that you’re not alone. Feeding issues very frustrating.  I can’t stress enough the importance of consulting your veterinarian, and I welcome your input if you have other suggestions on how to get a dog to eat.

{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

julie September 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Great information susi.

I admit I’ve become a fan of raw. I held out for a long time especially because it seemed that so many raw advocates attributed EVERYTHING to the raw diet. Heck to here them wax poetic you’d think that raw feeding would lower gas prices, solve global warming and bring peace to the middle east!

Well, I had a picky eater and a dog with some food sensitivities so I made the move about 2 years ago. My ‘picky’ eater has become a gluttonous little wench and my itchy boy now only has mild, seasonal itches. ……..I won’t go into the benefits I see for my own two dogs but it is a lovely thing to have my girl, over the top enthusiastic about meal time. Way better than having half eaten bowls of food taking up fridge space!

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Susi September 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Thanks, Julie, and I’m truly delighted that you found something that worked! It’s always good to hear from other folks who’ve faced the problem, and even better to hear what worked for them. I have no strong feelings one way or the other about feeding raw, and I’m puzzled by why it is such a contentious issue among dog people. If something works, why on earth wouldn’t you do it?

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julie September 2, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I certainly didn’t have the struggles you had susi, but I did have a male setter that had to be stuffed for most of his entire life. I vowed after that 15th point that I’d shoved the last bullet down his gullet………..I caved after he went 14 days without eating. I nor the vets ever did figure out what was wrong with him.

I also don’t understand the divide between raw and kibble feeders. Some raw proponents put off a, ‘you must really not love your dog’ vibe when talking to a kibble feeder. I know I’ve raised and finished many a champion on kibble. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to have so many vets assume that, as a raw feeder, I’m trying to poison my dog. I guess they see so many owners in their practice that don’t exhibit much common sense and they’re trying to protect the masses. It’s usually the same vets that don’t trust that an owner could possibly manage an intact b*tch and prevent an unplanned litter. When they find you own both sexes they look at you like your an irresponsible idiot and just shake their heads in disbelief.

But you’ve given some great tips for people that struggle with picky eaters!

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Susi September 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm

I categorically love my vets. They allow me to attend all my dogs’ procedures and surgeries ( I had to prove I wouldn’t faint, however), they trust me to do home care they would hesitate with anyone else, and once I got permission from the dog’s owners, they allowed to watch a necropsy. It was tough, but I made myself do it to better understand all sides of a situation including the vet’s perspective. I’m really glad I did it, but it was tough. They’ve never questioned my ability to have intact males and females at home, I suppose because I’ve never had an oops litter, though I’ve known it to happen to the best of us. Thanks for the compliment, if I can help someone avoid the anguish of a picky eater – mission accomplished.

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Charlee September 2, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Great compendium of facts and suggestions! Thanks!!

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Susi September 2, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Thanks, Charlee! It was time to update an article written 20+ years ago, and I’ll probably continue to tweak it as new medical options and pharmaceuticals become available.

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Pam Green November 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

The BARD implant tube sounds a lot like what I’ve heard of as PEG tube. And indeed this can work very well. I know of a dog with megaesophagus who lived 5 very happy years being fed this way. The original implant procedure is done under anesthesia, but later replacements (which are needed) are much simpler and don’t require general anesthesia

Another cause of not eating well would be any of a range of swallowing disorders. there’s a good video on canine swallowing disorders on youtubecreated by Dr Stanley Marks DVM at UC Davis , GI tract expert with great interest in such disorders.. megaesophagus would be included in this categoryAnother method to know for megaesophagus is use of the “Bailey Chair” which supports the dog in a position where his spine and espophagus are upright in a vertical position, thus gravity helps the pureed food move downwards.. One can find plans for building such a chair on the Web.

For drugs, also consider various anti-nausea medications if there is some hint that the dog might be feeling nauseated. Cerenia is good. Ondrasetron, used for chemotherapy nausea, used to be prohibitively expensive but now is cheap.
Marinol is a prescribable extract of marijuana and can stimulate appetite. But for those who live in states that allow Medical Marijuana or allow recreational use, you may consider baking some chocolate-less brownies or other edible form. Do not consider this as advice to break the laws of your state.

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Susi November 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Fabulous information, Pam, and I’m delighted you shared it here! Honestly, there isn’t a thing to add to such a helpful comment (well, maybe just to snicker at your marijuana tips, probably because I write from Colorado). Thank you for writing!

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Abby October 31, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Marijuana is toxic when ingested by dogs.

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David February 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm

That is 100% evil, lying BS Abby! Cannabis isn’t toxic in any way to anything. It’s the only plant in the world that you cannot and will not ever overdose on. No one ever has, NO ONE.

Jess July 8, 2016 at 7:44 pm

My dog had vomiting and seizures from scrounging up a dropped small nugget of marijuana david. Mind all of you i did not feed it to her before ya’ll start assuming the worst… Anything can be toxic in large amounts of course but one little nugget no bigger than you fingertip. just two hours later seizure, vomiting, uncontrolled diarrhea and became severly dehydrated. Only reason i knew it was marijuana is i found it in her vomit while inspecting it.. Abby speaks no lies. Tell my pocket and the 300 vet bill dogs can not become toxicosis from marijuana ingestion.

Colin March 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm

My dog was diagnosed with lymphoma two weeks ago. I was beyond devastated. I had made an appointment for her to begin chemotherapy for the following Monday. After some serious deliberation and contemplating everything I already knew about chemo,I knew there was no way I could expose my best friend to this poison. I researched cannabis treatments that may help. I found a company that provides high potency CBD(derived from cannabis)products for animals. I had pills and and a vial of oil delivered to my residence and began her treatment immediately. Before I began treatment, the lymph nodes below her jaw and on her hind legs were about the size of golf balls and her breathing had started to become labored. It’s now been just three days of treatment with the CBD oil and pills and her lymph nodes have shrunk significantly. Almost unnoticeable. She hasn’t had an episode of labored breathing in 2 days. It’s clearly too early to make any definitive claims but it has been extremely encouraging. Clearly not toxic for her though!

Sky Quarto April 14, 2017 at 9:39 am

Marijuana is NOT toxic to dogs ! Quit spreading g disinfo. It is important, however, to control dosages because too much won’t kill your dog but they will get VERY sick and lethargic for 2 days if overdosed. MANY dog magazines have covered use of weed for dogs, esp high CBD, low THC – and CBD oils that are legal in every state- for many conditions.

Lynn September 3, 2014 at 7:33 am

Great article! Thank you for all the helpful hints. I made the switch to partial raw diet several years ago – feeding raw chicken drumsticks for breakfast and a premium kibble for dinner. I wanted to be sure my dogs would still eat kibble if we had to board them at a kennel and they wouldn’t have access to raw. The dogs gobble down the raw breakfast in seconds. Dinner – some of them eat it right away and some nibble at it periodically. Generally, they all eat everything during the course of the day. I don’t worry if they have left-over kibble, but if the dog refuses raw, that means something is wrong and it is time to see the vet.

I show my dogs and the combination of the raw chicken for breakfast, raw beef bones to chew on during the day and Taste of the Wild kibble in the evening keeps their teeth clean, breath fresh and their coats thick and shiny.

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Susi September 3, 2014 at 10:00 am

Thanks for writing, Lynn. It woulds like you have a reasonable strategy that’s the best of both worlds. Having heard this about sparking white teeth, I gave raw chicken wings a try several years ago but didn’t stick to it long enough to see the results friends were getting. I may try again in the future, but it was the wrong time to try something new.

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julie September 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

Lynn, you make a good point about planning for a boarding situation or an unexpected stay at the emergency hospital. In my case, rather than kibble, I use a dehydrated raw food (there are several but I feed honest kitchen). The lovely part about the dehydrated raw product is that a 10lb box (the size of a large shoebox) converts to 40lbs of food when re-hydrated. The small footprint that box takes up when traveling is a real bonus.

I also keep (not that I’m going all ‘prepper’ here!) at least 2 extra boxes on hand should there ever be an emergency. It’s much easier than trying to keep 80lbs of kibble around should so cal get rocked by a big earthquake!

I suspect that traveling to dog shows and ‘how will I feed raw’, is a speed bump for many that might be considering giving raw a try.

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Amy September 3, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Great info! But you forgot one method – competition! The first thing I do with an otherwise healthy picky eater is take them out of the crates I feed them in and feed them with another dog nearby. So far this has solved all my problems. They realize quickly that if they don’t eat, the other dog might eat their food. Obviously this has to be done carefully to avoid fighting but, so long as they’re healthy, it has always worked for me. Within a week I can transition them back to eating alone in their crate.

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Susi September 3, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Great point, Amy.

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julie September 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Amy, it never occurred to me that we all might have very different feeding methods. I’ve never had more than 5 dogs at a time and I’ve always just put the bowls down with about 10 feet between dogs. Everyone knows where ‘their spot’ is and I stand and supervise.

I’m guessing some people feed in kennel runs, ex pens or, like you crates……… we all do what works for us and our dogs with not only what we feed, but how we feed!

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Barb Bristol October 14, 2014 at 1:28 am

Great article! Many years ago, after moving to a new house one of my cats escaped and wasn’t found until a week or so later. She’d apparently gone hungry all that time and developed hepatic lipidosis – and was completely anorexic. My vet put a stomach tube in her – it sounds like the first one your dog had, but I don’t remember it being insanely long. Although we did have to bandage it to her body. But it was WONDERFUL!! Instead of fighting to try to syringe food in her mouth, she would lay on my lap and purr while I fed her. Fortunately, she started eating again in a couple of weeks and we were able to remove the tube. But I, also, would have a stomach tube put in any pet of mine in a heartbeat if it were needed.

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Susi October 14, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I appreciate the kind words, Barb! It’s good to know that the device works on cats, as well, and the more people that are aware of this option for our pets, the better! I couldn’t agree more with you that after fighting so long to get food into them, the stomach tube was downright liberating. You were lucky that your cat started to eat again; it was something for which we hoped, but it never happened – at that was ok. My dog had quality of life, I enjoyed his companionship for a little while longer – it was all good.

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Kate Peterson March 5, 2015 at 5:43 pm

I just had a tube put in my pet Molly yesterday. It was a hard step for us. At first it seemed Frankenstein-like. I too had to reject the idea that if my pet didn’t want to eat that it meant she wanted to die. She was sick at the time and was dehydrated. After she was given fluids I could take one look at her eyes and know that she didn’t want to die, but just didn’t want to eat. I am hopeful she will eat again. She is now drinking on her own when a few days ago water repelled her. I am just writing this so others in the same situation know that putting a tube in your pet is NOT forcing them to live past their expiration date. Look at your beloved pet and if they seem to want their lives but won’t eat and many days have gone by, a tube can be an option that is both humane and may prolog your pet’s singular and most valuable life.

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Susi March 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm

I congratulate you on making a tough decision, Kate, and from the bottom of my heart, I hope the procedure gives Molly the extra time that we got with our dog. No one knows our dogs like we do, and they rely on us sometimes to have “other-worldly” insight to do the right thing. Please stay in touch and let me know how things go for her?

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mg September 24, 2015 at 10:05 pm

My dog weighs 4.6 pounds it is a Russian Toy Terrier with heart disease, we just found out, she is about 10 years old, after the ER and being poked prodded and being put on 3 medications for her condition, she will not eat!! Turns away disinterested, I tried homemade food and store bought soft food and nothing. I thank you for submitting your information, I will be trying the syringe feeding style, it is going to be difficult to shove food down her throat because she is a very small breed and I dont want to aggravate her condition, if you have uggestions for a dog who is a heart patient I welcome the information.

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Susi September 24, 2015 at 10:52 pm

I really do feel for you, mg, a dog that won’t eat is so disheartening. I’m not sure what I can suggest beyond what I’ve already written, though I would become VERY good friends with your veterinarian. There ARE medications that can help with appetite, and, of course, for her heart condition, and I would ask the vet about them. It occurs to me that given her size, you might ask the vet about tube feeding her, but this must be done very, very VERY VERY carefully in an older dog because if the tube is inserted incorrectly, it can create problems that could ultimate cause her to be extremely ill, if not kill her. I think I would rather use a stomach tube, to be honest with you. Please stay in touch and let me know how things go, and I’ll keep thinking about what else might work for her.

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mg September 25, 2015 at 3:09 pm

thank you Susi very much, she is on heart medication, 3 different kind!! It’s a lot, and I’m thinking that it might be the cause of appetite loss, but thank you for the suggestion that there is medication to alter appetite, I will look into it!! Best!!

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Wendy Cain December 5, 2017 at 7:15 am

Our little chi, Juanita, who is 12, is also on heart meds & the same thing has happened to her. She has no appetite & our vet says that the appetite meds are not good for her heart. I am at wit’s end worrying about her. She also wants to live, just has no appetite. Food doesn’t interest her whether I heat it up or put it into a food processor. I will check with our vet to see what he says about the BARD.

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Susi December 5, 2017 at 8:45 am

Please keep me informed, Wendy, and don’t be daunted if your vet dismisses the idea of the BARD. It saved my dog’s life who, like Juanita, wanted to live, he just didn’t want to eat.

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Kim October 6, 2015 at 9:57 am

Thanks for all the helpful tips everyone! We got a new 7 yr old male foster Shiba Inu this weekend named Walter Cronkite. He is the saddest dog I have ever seen. =( Our rescue pulled 6 dogs from a puppy mill owner who ended up in the hospital. No one was taking care of these dogs. 2 of the 7 that were in outside pens had already died from dehydration by the time we were notified they had been abandoned out there. Poor Walter was living inside the house in absolute filth. He seems to have lost his will to live. I suspect severe trauma, abuse, and or neglect. He refuses to eat or drink, and his teeth are in really bad shape so we have been pressure feeding him. I hold him in my lap and push a couple of bites past his teeth to get him interested and then I’ve been feeding him lumps of food out of my hand. I’m feeding him a combo of Nature’s Choice dry food soaked in water, Grandma’s Homestyle Stew wet food, boiled chicken, and rice. I just rub the food on his mouth until he keeps eating. I’ve also been spoon feeding when he will let me. At this point we have to give him water through a syringe an ounce at at time because he won’t drink anything. I’ve also been giving him vita-gel supplements in the hopes that we can get enough nutrients into him to kick start his appetite. He hardly moves at all, but he does seem to be getting more interested in watching what’s going on around him. Vet is doing blood work to rule out any unusual illnesses, but so far parasite free. He is just super skinny and lethargic and terrified of absolutely everything. Vet says we shouldn’t do anything about his teeth until he is a little healthier and more settled. I spend a lot of time just holding him in my lap and talking to him. Walter just lays there and doesn’t move at all. When I take him out in the yard he hides in my plants. We have 3 of our own Shibas who seem very concerned about their new friend. Our pack leader male Shiba keeps going in Walter’s crate and licking his face. Our younger male Shiba keeps going in and checking on him too. Poor poor baby. I would appreciate any tips or advice on how to get him to want to live again. This is our 16th foster Shiba, but I have never had one this wretched before. Usually just being around our fat happy Shibas in a safe food filled environment works wonders, but not so much in this case.

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Susi October 6, 2015 at 10:18 am

Kim, I can only give you my own opinion, and absolutely welcome insights from other readers, but you absolutely have to rule anything medically wrong with Walter Cronkite which you’re doing. Pain, and just feeling lousy, will impact a dog’s appetite. Once any medical issues are resolved or ruled out, I think it will simply take time. Walter has been traumatized, and in my view, he needs to be convinced that his horrid life is behind him, and that will take time. The other dogs will help, I bet. You must, of course, get food into him, and I don’t think I left anything out of the article insofar as suggestions go. Make a list of the different options I mentioned and go down the list until he shows even the tiniest interest in one of them. One other thought: I just read another account that sounded a little like yours, only the dog was a Poodle. Nothing worked for this dog until they took her out to hunt birds with other Poodles (they are retrievers, first and foremost). They thought it would be good for her just to get out in nature never dreaming she’d show any interest in birds. As the story goes, it was as if a switch went off in her brain and she became a different dog. I suspect Walter is more traumatized than the Poodle was, though she did sound in sorry shape, but I wonder if taking Walter and the other Shibas into the woods, prairie, or whatever you have near you is worth a shot? Your yard is filled with the smells of your dogs and isn’t “neutral.” Perhaps a place that has unique, “wild” smells might trigger Walter’s “breed memory?” Please keep me up to date with how things go with Walter, I’m keenly interested.

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Kim October 6, 2015 at 12:25 pm

That’s an excellent suggestion. He will eat and drink if you politely insist, but not on his own effort. I could tell he was really, really thirst when we started syringe watering him, which made me super sad for him. Too scared to live. I will try taking him to the park in our neighborhood with our older Shiba to see if being outside helps. We actually have two yards. The dog’s yard out back and the courtyard which is filled with plants. We don’t really let our dogs out in the courtyard because they like to eat Hosta ( i know!! we had an episode of puking depressed Shibas because they were nibbling my plants, lesson learned) so I figured he might be less intimidated in the courtyard. He is terrified of pretty much everything. Movement, noises, touching him, food, water, the yard, the wind. I’ve cried 3 times since we got him on Saturday. The good news is that these 6 dogs were the very last ones pulled from this puppy mill, and he’s out of business now.

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Susi October 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Kim, I’d honestly go someplace more neutral than a park, and more “wild” like open space, the woods, a beach – that sort of thing. Walter is probably suffering from PTSD as well as dealing with an overload of sensations bombarding him after having been holed up as long as he was. He will probably always be damaged, but with a tremendous amount of patience, kindness and consistency, I believe he’ll come through.

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Kim October 14, 2015 at 2:56 pm

So we had to take Walter back to the vet yesterday. He stopped eating over the weekend and started throwing up and having diarrhea. They tried to take a fecal sample and there was not feces. But there were tape worms! Super glad I wasn’t there to see the inch long worms they discovered. bleh! So now we are in process of de-worming him and watching for straining poops or pooped out “worm balls”. Vet said he should feel a lot better in a few days. On a side note, I discovered feeding him warm chicken broth through a syringe has been great for keeping him hydrated. Also I spent a lot of time thinking about what might trigger a Shiba Inu’s breed memory. I tried taking him outside of town to an empty field. He just sat there hunkered up and terrified until I put him back in the car. Then I thought about what makes my wild at heart 10 year old Shiba the happiest. Escaping and getting into mischief. So I left Walter’s kennel door open halfway one morning when I went to work and left some things for him to get into. I little bag with some dog food in it. A half covered water bowl. A squeaky toy sticking out from the couch cushion. At first when I got home at lunch I was disappointed to see him still in his crate and nothing looked disturbed. Then I realized his crate door was all the way open, and he had gotten his tube of vitamin gel off of the coffee table and played with it some. YAY! My next step was to leave his kennel door open and the back door open. I have to say after 5 days of doing this, he has started coming and going (with MUCH nervousness) in and out of the back yard on his own. A couple of times I have stepped out of the room and then found him up on the couch when I came back. I think allowing him options and the ability to make choices about where he can go has improved his morale. He is still terribly sad and scared, but I’m hoping getting him tape worm free will help. Also we had to pull two more Shibas from our local humane society because their own committed suicide and the kids dumped 5 of his 7 dogs at the kill shelter. =( So now we have Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and Connie Chung the Shiba 20/20 crew. More updates to come!

Kim October 26, 2015 at 11:22 am

Susi,

Walter is doing great! He is eating normal food portions for his ideal weight twice a day. We still have to coax and spoon feed some, but he is eating under his own power often enough to be very encouraging. I’ve been feeding him dry dog food soaked in water with part of a can of tasty wet food mixed in to make a gravy. Then I feed him a little bite of cheese or bacon to get him excited. At least twice during feeding him I will have to direct his attention back to his food using either a spoon or another bite of cheese. Then when he is really done eating, I give him another little bite of cheese as a reward. That way he gets constant positive rewards for eating. He is going out on his own, and I only have to carry him inside about half the time now. He has explored the house twice on his own. He even took a group nap with me and the other dogs Sunday. I had a friend come over Friday night to hang out, and he came right up to her (well arms length away) and let her scratch his nose. Then he followed her to the back of the house when she went to see our new headboard. We will keep working with him and loving on him until he gets back to doge. My plan is to build up trust with other people to help transition him. We will introduce him to as many “safe” people as possible in our house. Then I’ll start taking him with me in the car to run errands. The next step is to take him on outings to safe peoples’ houses for visits with adults, then other dogs, and maybe even some kiddos. That way he gets used to other people handling him and giving him lovin. So when he goes to his new people in a new house it will at least be a familiar concept to him. Our very first foster dog Momo was in pretty bad shape when we got her 4 years ago. She lived with us for 8 months before she was healthy enough to go to a new home, and she transitioned flawlessly. The dog after her Dr. Roxo was with us for 9 months because of an almost deadly case of heartworms that we treated for 6 months followed by some intense training to overcome his almost feral nature. He also transitioned well. I think he will be fine going to a new home once he’s ready. We will just be extra super picky about which family we send him to. =D I appreciate ALL of your helpful advice and encouragement!!! Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the crisis which makes planning and problem solving more difficult. You have been SOOO helpful and kind. I’ll send email updates about Walter to you from now on!

Kim

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Susi October 26, 2015 at 11:36 am

Thanks for the update, Kim. I know I’m not alone in following Walter’s case, and YOU, m’dear, are one amazing person. Your kindness, patience, and creativity in working with Walter (and the other dogs who’ve been lucky enough to cross your path) makes me feel there’s still hope for the human race. In the course of research, I come across gut wrenching stories and pictures that are enough to make one utterly despondent (it’s either that, or form a very tough hide). I’ve been touched by your warmth and caring for this dog, and I have to think there’s a special place in heaven for folks like you. Please stay in touch? And well done, you. Well done.

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Esther November 22, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Our 6 year old Shih-Tzu was diagnosed with kidney disease in July and not given a good prognosis. Since then we have had ups and downs with her refusal to eat, diarrhea and throwing up. For the past week and half she hasn’t eaten more than a cup of food — I have tried about every can of food out there (healthy and not so healthy), I make her chicken, ground beef, pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, rice —-sometimes she will eat the chicken especially, sometimes not. The last 11 days she barely eats anything (even her treats). I know from everything the vet has said and all I have read (I go online to every site I can find about it) that this disease causes nausea because of the acid in her system and eventually she will just stop eating. But I just don’t see that she’s ready for that – she still wags that tail when I come home (my husband is with her all day every day), she hasn’t had any throwing up or diarrhea for about 3 weeks, and wants to go walking, just can’t go very far because she obviously has no energy & even tries to play with her favorite ball once in a while. She is on Benazepril & Losartin Potassium daily & Flomatidine. She has been taking Cerenia for a week and previously tried Mirtazipine – neither of these seem to work. I am taking her to vet tomorrow again to see if there’s anything else we can do – she has already lost 3 pounds and I’m sure has lost more in the last 2 weeks. I just want to find out if you have any suggestions since we know it’s the kd causing this. Thanks for your help.

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Susi November 22, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Oh Esther, you poor thing. I feel terrible for what you and your dog have been going through. I very much appreciate the vote of confidence you have in my being able to suggest anything you haven’t already tried, but I’m not a veterinarian. That said, I think you’re wise to keep searching for alternative opinions. There are a couple of on-line web site you might consider. http://www.petmd.com/ is one, but I might start by subscribing to the VETMED List which I know has veterinarians and medical professional occasionally reading it. Go to this link (http://apple.ease.lsoft.com/scripts/wa-PLUTO.exe?INDEX&X=OC31BED6560D0536E65&Y=szeremy%40mho.net) and you’ll find VetMed alphabetically. I think you can subscribe from there. Failing that, I would strongly urge you to ask your vet about inserting a BARD system in your dog. If her tail is wagging, she has a will to live, it seems to me. She just needs help eating, and a stomach tube would improve her chances. Please stay in touch and let me know how things go?

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stasia January 4, 2016 at 9:48 pm

My 13 yr. old, 18 lb., mixed breed beagle, Charlie, was diagnosed with kidney disease Sept. 28, 2015. I immediately began gradually switching over to Hill’s prescription KD canned food and that was when Charlie stopped eating altogether. For three weeks, I tried everything I could to get him to eat. Then my sister, who is a cat lover, suggested “assisted feeding” and sub-cutaneous fluids. I started using the food processor to puree the canned KD, warm it up in the microwave, and added instant potato flakes to get it just the right consistency. Then, four times a day, I position my Charlie between my legs and put the food into his mouth. After a few weeks of this, Charlie started to eat treats and human food, but he still would not eat the KD on his own. So, I continue feeding him this way. I keep track of his weight and behavior in a daily journal so I will be able to see when changed occur. Charlie also is on Ondansetron (RX) for nausea and Omeprazole (OTC) for acid. He is happy and frisky and his numbers just came back from the vet today and the kidney disease is not progressing. I also give him 200 cc fluid sub-cutaneous every other day and the hydration seems to be helping, too. It takes careful scheduling to do such intense care, but I am going to do it as long as Charlie is enjoying life.

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Susi January 4, 2016 at 10:23 pm

Thank you for sharing your encouraging experience, Stasia. Feeding problems are gut wrenching, and the more helpful information we can share with each other, the better. I’m so pleased that Charlie is holding his own.

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Stasia April 27, 2016 at 8:59 pm

Update on my Charlie…He continues to need assisted feeding of KD wet dog food for kidney disease, but will now drink water on his own and will even eat some other food by himself. He has gained a few pounds since 9-2015 and his numbers match his January numbers (BUN, creatinine). I do wish he would eat by himself. I am going away in July and cannot think of anyone who would do what I do to keep my happy, active dog alive while I am gone. And he is not able to join me on my trip, unfortunately. I guess I could try an appetite stimulant, but am afraid to add anything new to the mix. I believe he would starve himself to death if I did not assist feed him! Silly Charlie!

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Susi April 29, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Progress by inches, Stasia. Keeping fluids is greatly important, as is gaining even a couple of pounds, so you seem to be on the right track. It’s possible that you might consider trying some behavior modification to see if at this point, his not eating has become a learned behavior, and not just a clinical problem. Is there any high value food he prizes, even in a tiny morsel size? Sirloin? Stinky cheese? Cat food? See if there’s anything he’ll lick off your finger in a small (tiny, really) amount. If you can find something in which he expresses even a little interest, you can build on that, but you have to be clever about it.

When I had to leave town during the time my dog was on a stomach tube, I hired a vet tech to house sit and feed my dogs, including him. Can you approach the vet techs at your vet’s office to see if they’d like to make a little extra money by house sitting a dog with special needs?

Thanks for keeping me updated. I really do think about the folks who’ve written to me about this challenge, and I’ve wondered how Charlie is faring.

Nancy July 3, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Did you use the original flavor of Hill’s canned KD or the chicken vegetable stew? I have a terrier mix who had to have a kidney removed last September and we are going through the same kind of thing where he refuses to eat. Initially he did well with KD food and then starting turning his nose up to this food. I then started feeding his a homemade recipe of boiled chicken, rice and sweet potatoes. After a while, he started refusing that also. He is on Mirttazapine for appetite and Omeprazole for nauseau as well as Amlodipine and Benzapril for blood pressure.
I am going to see if there is any way that I can make this work.

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Dan Reyes November 30, 2015 at 8:15 am

Thank you so much for the valuable info susie.My beloved rocky is a great dog but never really developed an appetite for his food or any food for that matter until i followed your remedies and decided to stop changing his dog food so frequently and just decided to go with a high protein,high quality grain free food and incorporate it with your ten minute food removal remedy.You are so right;a dog will never willingly starve itself unless it is stricken with health issues. Today,my rocky is a super healthy,highly active and happy Rottweiler who enjoys his life.Thank you susie!!
Dan,La Feria,TX.

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Susi November 30, 2015 at 9:12 am

Dan, you’ve made my day, if not my month! It’s an absolute honor to hear back from someone that something I wrote worked for them. I’m delighted for Rocky, and delighted for you (eating problems, pardon my French, suck). Thank you for taking the time to let me know. Your note puts an extra spring in my step today. – Susi

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Karen December 4, 2015 at 5:01 am

This has been the most real sounding article I have read thus far. My happy healthy dog stopped eating his dog food about a month ago, and it has been a rocky road. He always ate with gusto (high quality dry)…he would make me smile because he would wag his tail while he ate. For a short time a DIY diet worked…he perked up for a week, then again declined. Now I can barely get him to eat a turkey burger. He has lost weight, but will drink COLD water. We have treated him for lymes, but had to stop because of the weight loss. His blood ‘looks good’ to the vets. Yet he is wasting away. I am going to call the vet tonight (we have another scheduled consultation), and will discuss some of the things you wrote about. (he is a retriever /akita age 11)

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Susi December 4, 2015 at 9:41 am

I appreciate the kind words, Karen, though I’m always sorry that it’s been read because of an eating problem at home; it’s gut wrenching problem to have for an owner. No dog quits eating for no apparent reason, and though his blood work may look fine, clearly something is going on. If I can bore you with an anecdote? One day, one of my other dogs barked, not an “event” in and of itself. She was barking with the other dogs, tail wagging and excited. But something about her bark sounded “off” to me. It was a seemingly ridiculous thing to bring up to a vet, but I mentioned it, and from there, it was off to the races. We did blood work, physical exam and an ultrasound, but the doctors could find nothing. God love ’em, but they trusted my input because we had a strong “patient/doctor” history. For the next year, I watched my dog, but mostly I listened to her bark, and it continued to sound odd to me. And then one day, she presented a symptom the doctors COULD see: a lump in her neck. Long story short, she had an extremely rare form of cancer in the salivary gland which ultimately killed her. My point is that as our dogs’ owners, we KNOW when something isn’t right, even it’s a little thing like a bark. You are your dog’s only advocate, trust your instincts. Some of what I discussed in the article is radical stuff to a traditional vet who may not be inclined to think outside the box, but I stand by what I wrote. Good luck with your vet, please, Karen, let me know how things go?

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c johnston December 30, 2015 at 11:08 pm

I found a lovely little dog from a rescue society .My previous dogs were all purebred and lived long happy lives .I had 6 of them in 50 years .I had this little fellow for a year then put him in a good kennels while I went on holiday .he did not eat for a week and wound up at the vets getting IV treatment .I was told it was separation anxiety which I honestly did not know he had.Even now I have owned him for 6 years and he still cant bear it if I am away fir more than 1 day .Luckily for him I am too ill to travel anymore so he will not suffer .But I thought it worth mentioning that this type of behaviour can come as a complete surprise.BTW I dont know his full history just suffice that he had 4 or 5 owners in his first 6 months of life .Still,he has me now.

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Susi December 30, 2015 at 11:14 pm

All information is immensely helpful, so I appreciate the time you took to share your experience! Separation anxiety will certainly disrupt a dog’s eating patterns, and addressing that behavior is a whole ‘nuther topic. Your little guy is lucky to have you!

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Lynn Price January 28, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Hi Suzi:
I wanted to give you and your readers one additional piece of information about stimulating a dog’s appetite. My vet recommended Mirtazapine, 15mg, 1 pill once every 12 hours. I have a husky wolf mix and she’s not been eating hardly anything for 2 weeks. I have tried everything you listed and more. Once we got the pill down her (with Nutri-Cal as a chaser), within 45 minutes I could feed her items she had just turned up her nose at just an hour before (like the satin balls). She really had an appetite and ate like she was making up for lost food. It was a miracle! Hope this helps someone! Lynn

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Susi January 28, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Hi Lynn, thank you for this!!!! The more information, the better. I think I’ll edit the original article to include this new information, Lynn, thank you!

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Lynn Price January 29, 2016 at 8:09 am

You are welcome and thank you for providing all of this wonderful information. It was a real blessing to find it!

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Kathy White January 31, 2016 at 8:29 pm

My 8 year old Cocker stopped eating one day we tried every thing and she would not eat. Our vet ran lots of tests and found nothing so we tried force feeding with a syringe for a week and meds to stimulate her. Still nothing she would not eat. He then said its been a week and nothing is working you need to take her to some where that can run better tests. We took her to Texas A & M University Vetraniary Medical School the best bets in Texas. Well 1 week and $5,000.00 latter we have a feeding tube and a School full of Vets shaking their heads and no answers!! She will still not even touch food. So we are at a loss, they are waiting for a couple of biopsy results if negative we have no idea what to do.

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Susi January 31, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Kathy, you poor thing, I’m so sorry. One day, you may get your answer, but until then, you have to keep her alive – there are worse things than a feeding tube. As I wrote in my article, food never passed my Puli’s lips again after he refused to eat on his own. He had a fine quality of life, enjoyed our love, the companionship of the other dogs, the sun on his back. Was it ideal? Not for me only because I had to puree his dog food, but HE never missed a beat. Let me know the results of the biopsy?

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Darla February 2, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Hi Susi –

Sounds like you have dealt with what I deal with every day. I have a 4 lb Maltese Bichon that has been an excessively picky eater since I got her at 8 weeks. I spent hundreds at the pet food stores trying to find a food she’d eat. I ended up with a canned food mixed with water and turned into a thin gruel. That worked for a while. Then I started soaking dry kibble in water or broth and blend it down. Then over the week thin it out to a gruel and she’d lick it up. Then suddenly in November of 2014 she stopped eating either. So now I have to force feed her – when I can catch her. She’s a skittish little thing that doesn’t like to be handled. She has her chews she likes (chicken breast strips and Nylabone healthy edibles) but she has never been a food based dog. She does her digging to “bury” her treats and then runs and hides under the bed. I’ve often wondered if there was a tube or something. I’ve done the syringe and she fights hard with that.
Thanks for the info!

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Susi February 2, 2016 at 5:53 pm

Darla, you poor thing. Eating problems are the worst, and I feel for you. I’m not sure when you read the article, but a reader offered a tip the other day that I added at the very end of the piece, a drug this reader said worked miracles, so look for it and consider mentioning to your vet if you missed it earlier. Let me know how things go!

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Susanne February 28, 2016 at 2:42 pm

We are at the same point, Kathy is.
Our 10 year old mix bred Katie was a big eater and
stopped a few weeks ago. And the Mirtazapine does not help at all. She also is on Metronidazole, but not sure, if we dhould continue….did not help either. Nor did the sulcrafate. Or the anti nausea medication.
We already spent a few thousands without results.

Next is sonogram and possibly exploratory surgery.
We have been at the Univerty Clinic in Madison and may go back ….but they have no answers so far either.
Her B12 is a little low, they said it could be a result of the starvation.

At times, she seems normal, wants to run and even play and other times she seems depressed.

She also has vomitted a few times and has ver loose stool, if there is any stool at all. The last 2 weeks, she pooped once.

I bought every food under the sun, cooked, used the syringe (she manages to let fluids and anything tun out the cheeks). Sometimes, she takes a bite of something new. But then would not touch it again. She will get a nasal tube. She get sc fluids every few days.

Where do we go from here? We are at a loss and just want to know, what is wrong…

We are devasted. She means so much too us, no words can express. So very sad.

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Susi February 29, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Susanne, your note breaks my heart. I urge you to ask your vet about the stomach tube of which I wrote about in the article. It’s not awful, truly it’s not, and until they figure out why “Katie” won’t eat, you need to get calories into her or you’ll lose her. Clearly something is going on, but time isn’t on your side for every day that passes without her getting nutrition. Please keep me informed, I’m truly pulling for both of you.

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Mpho Mogodiri April 29, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Benzo is 7months old he was not eating and drinking. I took him to a clinic and the doctor gave him injection and some medicine as he was vomiting. Now l am worried because he doesnt eat no drinking .Pls help my dog l am so worried

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Susi April 29, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Mpho, what was the injection for? Did the vet do any blood work? Take any x-rays or an ultra sound? There’s a reason that Benzo is vomiting and they need to find out what it is. More than anything, he HAS to stay hydrated, and if that means getting him to suck on ice cubes, dribbling water down his throat, IV fluids – whatever it takes, it’s hugely important that he keeps fluids in his body. Understand that I’m not a vet, but you might think about getting another vet’s opinion. Let me know what happens?

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Mpho Mogodiri April 29, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Susi thanx for that but the vet did not do any ultra sound or x ray he gave some injections to use at home.He said Benzo is suffering from cat flu thats he injected Benzo .

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Susi April 29, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Cat flu? Far be it for me to second guess a vet, but if Benzo is still vomiting even after the injection, I’d get another opinion.

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Mpho Mogodiri April 29, 2016 at 11:53 pm

He is not vomiting anymore Susi he just cant eat and drink He is not playing like he use to do

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Mpho Mogodiri April 29, 2016 at 11:58 pm

He is not vomiting anymore Susi he just cant eat and drink He is not playing like he use to do .He also not barking anymore

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Mpho Mogodiri May 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Benzo was alive and kicking this Morning but now he has dropped again no eating and drinking and sleeping a lot

Susi May 1, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Mpho, please get another vet to see Benzo?

Laura May 13, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Mirtazapine worked for my 15 yr old doxie, Jersey. He threw up a couple times, then stopped eating all but a bite or two of things. I’ve gone from one dog food to another, then chicken/rice and other foods that were suppose to be easy on the stomach and this medicine got him to eat!# Three weeks of concern…prayers… two visits to the vet for iv fluids and ex rays to the tune of $600.00!!! Gotta love-um! Thanks for this website to help everyone.

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Susi May 13, 2016 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Laura. I agree that Mirtazapine can be a magic bullet for many dogs, and I’m delighted that you found it, and that you’re shared your experience here. A dog that doesn’t eat is such a worry to the people who love him or her.

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Adrian Fox June 22, 2016 at 5:50 am

I know this is an old thread but can anyone still help me? We have a very sick and old hunting dog (13 years) who has congestive heart failure. He was coughing continuously and the vet gave him some heart tablets and a diuretic which helped a lot initially. He gradually got some of his appetite back and had some tuna, soft dog food and seemed to be getting better.
But for the past week or longer he has refused to eat anything, not even the pieces of best liver we used to get the tablets into him. He spends all the day wandering around the garden lying under various trees and bushes, and has disappeared during the night for hours, coming back to sleep on the sofa.
We realise he is probably dying but he is now looking like a skeleton, especially his rear end. He drinks quite a lot, especially from buckets and the stream outside. He reacts to being caressed and doesn’t appear to be in actual ‘pain’.
But he IS starving himself to death and is wasting away.
Should we simply get the vet to administer an injection or is there anything else we could try to get him eating again. Since he stopped eating he no longer coughs or dry vomits, so perhaps he has conditioned himself into believing that eating makes him ill.
What to do?

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Susi June 22, 2016 at 10:04 am

My heart breaks for you, Adrian, and I would urge you to get the dog back to the vet for a number of reasons. If he’s been drinking from outside sources of water, you want to rule out giardia as a complication to his health issues. A simple fecal test, I think, should be able to determine this. I would also follow up on his heart failure to make sure the drugs are pulling as much fluid away from the heart as is needed. There are also medications that can help stimulate his appetite (please read through all the comments to this article because I seem to recall one or two people having mentioned particular medications). I’ve laid out my best solutions in the article and that hasn’t changed. There is the stomach tube option which you might want to discuss with your vet to see if your old boy is a good candidate. Please let me know how things go for you? I do think a vet visit is in order, and if the one you have shrugs and dismisses the dog as old, I’d consider getting a second opinion. Old does not mean suffering is a given when something else might be able to help.

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Liz July 30, 2016 at 8:00 pm

Hello, I know this thread is from a while ago but I was curious if I could get some advice. We have a 2.5 year old Shih Tzu named Gizmo, who got into a decent amount of chocolate two weeks ago. We took him to the vet to get his stomach cleared and when he got back he has completely snubbed food and water. Over the past two weeks we have had multiple vet visits to inject saline into the side of him and even an ultrasound and nothing has come up. As these past two weeks have rolled on, he has eaten a couple treats and starts to drink more which is good, but thats about it, we have tried 10+ different brands of canned and dry dog food and he keeps refusing it, we have tried appetite stimulants. We feel like we are running out of time to help him and he has lost his will to live even though he is only 2.5 years old, we are out of ideas and do not know what to do.

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Susi September 8, 2016 at 10:07 am

My profuse apologies, Liz, for such a late response. I just now saw your note which somehow was trapped in a spam folder. Please tell me that Gizmo is doing all right and where things stand with him?

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Frances lester August 27, 2016 at 9:11 am

My standard poodle only eats when:
I feed him his kibble when we are outside playing,
And I hand feed him at night ( wet and dry ) while watching television or reading.
Yes, he is spoiled but he would not eat anything until I started feeding him like this. He is thin but very healthy and energetic. He runs, hard, about two hours a day and walks for another hour or so. It is a lot of work but, of course, he is worth it.
Conclusion: hand feeding works. He will eat any kibble when hand fed by anyone. Why? Only the shadow know for sure.

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Susi August 27, 2016 at 9:45 am

Frances, at the end of the day, what most of us with problem eater probably most care about is getting food into our dogs. Hand feeding isn’t for everyone, but if you’re willing, have the time, and it’s working, I guess you stick to what you know will work. Continued good luck to you and your Poodle!

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Sam September 14, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Hi there,
We have a 7 year old Labrador who has completely stopped eating and has been “stuffed” fed for for the last week. The vet has tried steroids and Taz (the lab) has been scanned and X-rated to no avail. He is still able to drink water but doesn’t take anything else willingly. The vet has advised that we put him to sleep this week because he says that he suspects a neurological condition. Taz still loves going for walks and fetching stones from the sea- he is completely himself when we are out, apart from losing so much weight. At home he is “depressed” and fatigued.
A bit of background- we lost the more dominant lab in the family to old age a few months ago and soon after this, Taz was castrated.
We are desperate to try anything that isn’t cruel.

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Susi September 14, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Sam, I’m so sorry to hear this. There are a few things I’d try before putting down a 7 year old Lab, but understand that I am very stubborn and unwilling to lose a dog without a fight. If he’s himself when you’re at his favorite places away from the house, have you considered feeding him at those places, or at a minimum, taking high calorie treats to give him at those places? If he comes to associate food with his favorite spots, perhaps he’ll start eating again. Right now, I wonder if home doesn’t remind him of his loss….Did Taz and your old dog have “friends” with whom they played? Perhaps arranging a “play date” at home with an old friend is worth trying? Another thought is to bring in a new dog to the house as a new house mate? The thing about not eating is that after a while, a dog seems to lose his appetite, and jumpstarting it seems crucial to me. I’m also really suspicious that Taz acts himself away from the house. Please understand that I’m not a vet, I’m not even remotely medically trained, and far be it for me to second guess a vet, but I’d be tempted to get a second opinion before going so far as to put a dog down. At this point, I don’t anything you can do to get food into him would be cruel if it buys Taz more time until this is figured out. Please stay in touch, I want to know how things go with you both.

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Sally October 28, 2016 at 11:34 am

I am so glad to have found this site! Thank you all for the empathy, love and kindness you give to your sweet animals and so freely share with others! I have a 15 month old Maltese, Heidi who won’t eat on her own. I should have known something was wrong when we got her, the breeder was feeding her honey water from a bottle. I initially thought that she was probably prone to hypoglycemia because she was only 1lb 14oz. Once I got her home, she wouldn’t eat on her own! I didn’t have time then to try a bunch of things because she was so tiny so I blended a very good grade of puppy food and fed her with a syringe 4 times a day. She gained weight well. Over time I kept trying to feed her small amounts of food – canned, soft, dry kibble, everything and anything to no avail. Even though I was feeding her I could still feel the bones at her tail area. I was so worried! In my search I found a product called “Mass weight gainer for dogs” at Amazon. It worked wonders and fast! I mixed it in with the food I was blending. A couple of weeks ago I decided to try to get her to eat on her own. I went the tough love route (I don’t recommend it). I simple stopped feeding her and offered her everything and anything to eat. She would not eat…period!! She lost over a lb. Finally I became frantic! I also should mention that she has been to the vet all through this process and she said it was behavioral. Well, maybe it is but I cannot sit back and watch my little girl lose so much weight, lose her energy and mope around. Today I did something new. I have canned dog food called “Recover” that can only be bought at the vets. They use it to quickly recover fading animals. It comes for cats also. Anyway, I put some on a plate, sat Heidi on the table (to keep her attention) and picked up a piece and put it on the table in front of her – she ate it!!! I did this with piece after piece. She ate the whole plate of recover. I am sooo happy. So, I found out that when weaning a dog from hand feeding, do it slowly. They are used to your attention. Another problem I became aware of is that we got a new puppy a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure that affected Heidi negatively. I used to hold Heidi for about an hour in my chair after I fed her. Once I stopped feeding her I also stopped holding her. So, the combination of many things affected her. I have a new awareness of what she needs and have figured out how to get her to eat while at the same time weaning her. I hope it progresses wonderfully. Thank you for this site again!!

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Jaime November 13, 2016 at 4:58 pm

I have an orphaned singleton puppy (4 weeks old) who experienced a head trauma. He has been seen by the vet on multiple occasions and we are in constant contact with the vet. However, I am very concerned about his lack of desire to eat on his own. We (the vet & I) have been syringe feeding him A&D prescription diet food mixed with a little water. He does fine with this, but will NOT eat on his own. This has been going on for about two weeks. If he isn’t fed by hand, he simply will not eat. At the suggestion of the vet, a few days ago, I fed him in the morning and then did not feed him again all day, but left a dish of food with him at all times to see if he would take interest when he got “really hungry”. Unfortunately, he showed zero interest and was a tad dehydrated by the end of the day! He also has a very hard time getting around and seems to have problems with his back legs. The vet tells me not to worry that because of the head injury that he is just “a little slower developing” and will catch up. But in two weeks we have made very little progress in that area either. I am just feeling very frustrated and concerned about this puppy (who spends 24 hrs a day with me and has become more like a child to me). It seems as if he has a “failure to thrive” type problem, but I can’t find anyone to help me understand how to help him! I would welcome any advice you can give! Thanks

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Susi November 13, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Jaime, I’m heartsick at the issues you’re encountering with this little guy. Please know that I have no medical training whatsoever, and yend to defer to trained veterinarians, but would a second opinion hurt with this pup’s prognosis? That said, if indeed this young fella can be expected to catch up, I would imagine that keeping him hydrated and ensuring that he gets enough daily calories until that day happens is paramount. Have you considered tube feeding him? It sounds daunting, but if I can tube feed a three month old puppy, you can do a younger one. You’ll have a different set of issues when he’s older and has “turned the corner,” but for now, fighting against that “failure to thrive” is critical. If tube feeding isn’t an option, I would say that you keep doing what works for him, and when he’s at a good weight and seems to have gotten back on track, you tackle retraining him. Please let me know when you get there? You are a saint to have given this little soul a chance.

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Christine fulmer December 18, 2016 at 10:21 am

Dear susi, I have a 12 year old diabetic Westie. He has been through a lot, he was diagnosed with a tumor on his adrenal gland. No one in our area would operated, finally found a surgeon a couple of hours away. He had the surgery, he recovered ok but had an infection in his incision. The surgery vet kept him six days – the infection is almost cleared up. He has quit eating, now has a feeding tube plus his diabetis is out of control. He was slightly interested in pill pockets plus a couple of treats , now does not want anything to eat. I have him at the vet several times a week have spent at least 15 thousand , can’t afford too much more. Can’t you help

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Susi January 31, 2017 at 10:42 am

Christine, I apologize for the delay in my response – we had a death in the family around the same time that you wrote. I’m so very sorry to hear about your Westie’s issue and write to inquire how he’s doing? My best ideas went into the article, so I’m not sure what more I can suggest beyond the BARD system. Please let me know of his progress?

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Amy February 28, 2017 at 10:02 pm

THIS IS SO VALIDATING! Sassy is my beloved rat terrier of 13 1/2 years who stopped eating a couple of weeks ago and may have been coming down with doggy dementia for several months. (I now realize she seems to have forgotten how to hold treats, had stopped responding when called sometimes despite no hearing problem, and seemed confused in other ways.) Vet visits showed nothing but sluggish kidneys. Started her on selegline (Anipryl) and wonder of wonders, she is perking up! But heartbreakingly, she stopped eating. I discovered that I could feed her like a baby bird with peanut butter mixed with dog food, but wondered if this is completely insane. She is otherwise perky and happy for an elder….more and more as the cognition improves. So THANK YOU SUSI. We’re gonna keep it up for awhile and see what happens!!! I cannot say how much I appreciate your site and all these posts!!!

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Tracy March 22, 2017 at 8:44 pm

Dear Susi,

Hopefully you are still available. I know this article is old. However, after many nights googling info re: my 8 mo. old Maltese/Yorkie mix puppy’s terrible eating habits, I finally found this! He doesn’t like to eat unless we hand feed him or syringe baby food. We’ve tried so many things – drizzling honey or nutri-cal onto his food-he will only lick it off and leave the food. One day he ate eggs, the next he hated them. One day he ate broccoli, the next he didn’t. We tried Royal Canin appetite stimulant food-he liked it once, then never again. He liked dry food at first, now won’t touch it. He’s about 4 lbs. He loves to either lick food or chew on dog treats–and he’s very picky about those, as well. Only jerky type treats. And, he only likes to eat while sitting on top of one of us in the family. So, basically, he only likes to eat at night……Tried the not feeding, taking the bowl away thing but—sugar dropped and had to syringe feed and give the vitamins and gatorade. I ordered the Dyne tonight. (Thinking I should add that we got him from a puppy store that basically fooled us into thinking they were a private breeder and once we saw him, fell in love. He was 3 months old and was basically sick from day one. Pneumonia first week and did not recover for at least 2 months. We were doing Nebulizer treatments three times a day for quite a long time. He is pretty healthy now aside from his still unhealthy appetite!)

Please let me know what you think….Thanks Tracy

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Susi March 22, 2017 at 9:02 pm

I’m still here, Tracy, but I’m not sure what you’re asking. Are you asking me what I think of Dyne, or what I think of your dog’s appetite? I have no experience with Dyne, and I shared in the article my opinion about fussy eaters. I still think we teach dogs how to eat – and how not to. Am I on the right track?

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Tracy March 24, 2017 at 6:32 am

Thank you, Susi. I am asking your opinion of how to get him to eat. LOL. Wondering if you have heard of or have any experience with puppies who only like to lick food….

Thank you, again!

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Brandy May 21, 2017 at 4:02 am

My 11+ yr old Wheaton Scotty had severe allergies that caused an infection. She got antibiotics but will not eat for about 14 days now. I have gotten her to eat on and off but today she just refuses everything. Poor thing, her stomach is just rumbling. She is on an anti nausea syrup and let’s me give it to her with no problems. I feel part of her nausea is from an empty stomach so am desperately trying to get her to eat. She does drink water, thank God. I found your article and started syringe feeding at 4 am. I just gave her some milk and she’s sleeping. Next I will try blending canned food with it. Going to take a catnap now. Thanks for the suggestions and wish us luck. ❤

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Susi May 21, 2017 at 9:41 am

You indeed have my best wishes for good luck AND the guidance of a gifted vet. Let me know how things go, Brandy?

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Jen O July 30, 2017 at 9:16 pm

Thank you!
We are feeling so very much alone right now because our little girl came to us as a stray. She started exhibiting random throwing up (pure bile) within a month of adopting her. We started a routine of pepcid and changed her routine to 3 smaller meals a day. Then in dec. she had a distended stomach and we rushed her to the doggy ER. It resolved on its own, she had a buildup of stomach acid. We have been on Rx Royal Canin low fat gastorintestinal diet, switched to half a zantac, no excess treats (maybe an ice cube or frozen blueberry a day), no human food, then she stopped eating her rx diet. Dr Jen switched us to RX Hills Science Diet: Z/D and again we’ve kept strict to this diet too and she has begun not eating again. We are calling them tomorrow, because our normal tricks aren’t working – the water, warmed unsalted chicken stock, sugar free applesauce, pumpkin puree…. had to resort to boiling a chicken breast with some rice to get her to eat something solid today. And this came to a head this weekend when she was the most active, running and playing and being a happy girl.
Thank you so much for all of this knowledge you shared. I hope we can get our girl eating again and get her tummy issues under control.

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Susi July 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm

Jen, I feel for you in a way that no one can understand unless they’ve been where you’ve been. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating, worrisome, and its own little private hell. Please let me know how your girl does? I’m not sure I mentioned it in the article written so long ago, but consider a BARF diet (yes, I know, a charming acronym – it stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. Many dogs thrive on it when all else fails. There are tons of sites on the Internet dealing with this, and these days, you can even buy a commercially produced BARF diet (though it defeats the original idea). Here’s a good place to start: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/raw-dog-food-dietary-concerns-benefits-and-risks#1

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Jen O July 31, 2017 at 6:08 am

Thank you Susi! And yes your article did mention the BARF diet (that acronym though lol). We are talking with the vet today, because the Hills has been great – hardly any flare up with her stomach acid comparitvely to the other foods we’ve tried. Oh and if anyone does ask we did the food down for so long and when not eaten put away…. never doing that again with her – it was the most horredendous experience because she would only eat a bite or two a day then she’d have a flare up and I’m not going to bother putting her through that again.
I will most definetly let you know how she does and what our game plan is.
Thank you for all of us!
Including Abby our little Alaskan Klee Kai, Germen Shepherd mix.

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Jen O August 24, 2017 at 11:20 am

Hi Susi,

I wanted to give you an update on Abby. We spoke with her vet – and they agreed they didn’t want to move her off of the hills rx z/d diet as she has been doing so well on it. So instead we cut her dry food by 10%, so she gets 1/2 cup in the morning and evening and 1/4 cup at lunch. Then for each meal she gets a warmed up gravy made from a tablespoon of the wet hills rx z/d diet mixed with water then that is stirred up in her bowl with her dry food. She is so excited to eat now. She waits at the edge of the kitchen rather impatiently for her meals, today she even yelped at me because I was taking to long making her lunch. And this actually has been working so well that like I said prior we had to cut her dry food by 10% because she put on too much weight for her frame, and needed to get her back down to her ideal weight in a healthy manner (took quite a bit of mixing and measuring with the vet to get the right portions down) but we are back on track.

Thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us and helping us be strong. Knowing we weren’t alone with our difficult eater really helped us persevere though the touch times. And she is back to her old silly self – playing and bring her toys on walks.

Jen, Greg, & Abby

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Susi August 27, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Jen, I’m beyond pleased to hear of Abby’s progress! Well done, Abby, and well done you for sticking with her and not giving us. You’ve actually made my day, I’m so pleased (and smiling widely!). Thank you for the update!

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Michelle August 27, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Thank you for all the great stories and ideas. I have a 13 year old shepherd mix that has slightly elevated liver enzymes and lumbar sacral issues. Been going to the vet and working on pain management and getting enzymes under control but it has been a challenging ordeal because she is also wasting and a very picky eater. Some days she eats ok, but most days not much at all. She has always been a very lean but muscular dog that is just too skinny. I think I’ve gotten more ideas here than all the vet appointments. We need to increase her appetite, get her to gain some weight and maintain it but also need her to eat what is good for her. We thought we had found something good that she liked, but that ended shortly after I made a large purchase. Just today got her to eat some avocado, some chicken freshpet topped with Turkey baby food and half a can of Moms chicken pot pie, which is much better then yesterday which was almost nothing and had me in 😢. Your post gave me the idea for the baby food.

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Susi August 27, 2017 at 8:04 pm

Michele, thanks for writing! I’m delighted if ANYTHING suggested in the article helps your dog, and it might be baby food today, and something else tomorrow (it’s maddening). Be sure to read the other comments to the article, others have suggested ideas that might help for when the baby food gets “old.” Please let me know how things go?

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Tamara September 3, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Thanks so much for the article. My Leilani is a picky eater chihuahua. I do not change her food often and she has no medical reason to lack an appetite. IAs she is getting older it takes her longer to get started and finished eating. I feed her by spoon when she doesn’t eat on her own. Next week I am determined to try your suggestion of putting the food out and then picking it up until the next meal. Thanks for your way of thinking and especially the thought that sometimes others can be so judgmental about an owner (in my household Leilani knows me as Mama, not owner), getting their dog (baby) to eat. I’d never put my baby down for being a difficult eater.

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Susi September 5, 2017 at 5:15 pm

Please let me know how Leilani is doing?

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Sandra October 26, 2017 at 8:14 pm

I am so very sorry to learn how wide spread this occurrence of our beloved companions not eating, and the root cause being unknown, (and also so happy to learn, we are not alone). Our 6 year old Golden Retriever one evening stopped about half-way through his dinner and walked away. That was 14 days ago. He was slightly over weight (by 7 pounds), but still, he has lost 5 pounds and nothing seems to be helping for longer than 12 hours (with no repeating).

So much of some of the other postings sound all to familiar to what is happening now. I keep hoping that he will take a nap, or that we’ll fall asleep one night and the next morning he will be better.

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Susi December 5, 2017 at 8:45 am

Sandra, how are things going with your Golden?

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Kelli B. December 27, 2017 at 8:28 pm

I just stumbled upon this very informative article. My 2 year old female German Shepherd, Kody, is recovering from Leptospirosis. A week in ICU and multiple dialysis treatments and surgery to put an esophageal tube in, she finally turned the corner and started to recover. Over 14K in medical bills, but worth every dime. I brought her home with the feeding tube, and after 4 days, she was eating enough chicken/canned food/liverwurst that the Vet took it out. She will not eat much now, and I can only get her to eat cooked chicken, liverwurst, and a little cooked cube steak. We have tried raw food, been to the holistic pet store and tried at least 15 different types of foods, and she has NO interest in anything. She won’t eat dry kibble or canned food of any kind. I have tried everything over the last ten days since she has been home from the hospital. Eggs? no. Pumpkin? no. Yogurt? no. She has lost all interest in treats, and bones that she LOVED before she was sick. I just don’t know what to do. She is defiantly not wearing enough for a dog her size. Any advice? Thank You! And yes, we have been back to the vet and she is doing fine medically – numbers are improving, and she is recovering nicely. His advice just keep feeding her small amounts of chicken every other hour – but how long can I do this for?

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Susi December 27, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Kelli, the prudent thing for me to advise is to listen to your veterinarian, but I would personally add that you should listen to your instincts, as well. Kody may have come to associate eating with feeling poorly, or his medication may be suppressing his appetite. I’d continue to feed her every hour of anything she’ll eat until she learns that eating isn’t so bad, but I’d certainly ask her vet about long terms plans for her if she doesn’t start eating more, and that include mentioning the BARD system I wrote about in the article. Meanwhile, think outside the box of things she’d eat that pack a lot of calories in small amounts: A vanilla milkshake, tripe (dogs love the stuff), mackerel, macaroni and cheese, and so on. She needs calories right now, it seems to me, and perhaps in time, you’ll encounter a different problem: She won’t eat anything BUT human food. One issue at a time. Always check with your veterinarian, and please do let me know how things go?

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Jo Walters February 15, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Hi I have a lab who was diagnosed with lymphoma just after Christmas. He started the Madison Wisconsin protocol of chemo five weeks ago. He was eating pretty well throughout but the last week he hasn’t eaten much. I am concerned that he won’t maintain the weight he needs for the chemo. We started him on mirtazapine last night after speaking to the vet. This doesnt really seem to done much so far. Would you expect it to be working by now if it’s going to? He went out for a walk today and a fair bit of energy. Any advice or thoughts would be much appreciated!

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Susi February 28, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Apologies for the late reply, Jo. One more victim of the stomach bug that’s been going around here. As much as I want to give you sound advice regarding the mirtazapine, it would be wrong because I’m not a vet, or even a trained vet tech. I did do a wee bit of investigation and it seems to be that mirtazapine is entirely appropriate to use in your Lab’s case because while increases serotonin levels in a dog’s brain, it counteracts the effect in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. In the comments section of one site I visited, a writer reported that it took about an hour after administering the drug for their dog to get an appetite. Have you found this to be the case? That said, I’d continue to offer highly palatable meals – and honestly, I offered my best suggestions in the article, though I might add a steamed sweet potato (or Evanger’s canned Sweet Potato) as I’ve noticed my own dogs seems to go wild for it. Please let me know how things are going?

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Sweetz May 17, 2018 at 3:17 pm

My female Miniature Poodle started refusing food since she was almost 4 months old for reasons unknown. She’d eat if I sat her on my lap and hand fed her. She has never had kibble since being weaned…I have always cooked for her daily. These are the things that she never turns down:
1/2 Cup Raw Milk (goat or cow)…because it is RAW, she has no gas or runs
2 oz Raw Cheese
Fried Calves Liver (once a week) even though she’d eat it more, but too much Vit A
Fried Chicken thighs with skin (after first removing and saving the bones to make broth)
Gerber Toddler meat sticks (wont eat the other baby foods)
Raw asparagus and carrots (but only if I hold it and let her eat like Bugs Bunny)
Cheese burger…but only if it is MINE
Garlic Fries w/o the Ranch or salt…cooked in Coconut Oil
Any kind of dry human cereal (but NO Bran’s or sugary cereal which will give loose stools)
Pumpkin
Coconut Oil by the teaspoonful
Subway beef sandwhiches (yeah I know, but she does not eat the bread)
Tri Tip steak cooked med-rare and properly seasoned lol!
Organic Grassfed Bully sticks (keeps her teeth clean and she eats them at bed time)
Ground Grassfed Organic Beef (raw)
Home made Bone Broth
Raw Keifer…but won’t eat yogurt
Anything she sees me eating (except any kind of fish and eggs, go figure)

She poops once every two days (very light eater)…drinks plenty of water especially after running like her hair is on fire. Will not touch kibble or dog “treats” including anything canned. These are the things that keep her alive and super active after trying everything else known to man. She is now 7months old, and while very lean, is healthy…I think she is just picky and knows that I will give her what she wants because I am whipped. Maybe someone here can try these items because most of it packs the nutrition (except the fries)…which is the point.

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Susi May 17, 2018 at 6:56 pm

Thank you so much, Sweetz, for sharing your ideas here. We all know how frustrating and worrisome it is when our beloved dogs don’t eat. The more suggestions we can all share with each other, the better!

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Michelle October 31, 2018 at 6:27 pm

I just wanted to say how incredibly helpful this article was to me as I tried to navigate my beloved dog through his last days, starting with him not eating. Syringe feeding worked well for a while and he would drink it like a bottle. Thank you so much for helping me come to the decision to do that, it made all the difference to me feeling that I was doing my absolute best for him while I could.

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Susi November 1, 2018 at 9:59 am

Michelle, you’ve made my day (and probably the month, as well). Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me during what has to be a difficult time for you. I’m more sorry than I can say that you’re having to go through this, but dog people know that it’s inevitable, and the worst part of giving our hearts to a dog. I’m gratified that you were able to use something from the article that was helpful. Good luck to you and your boy, I’m thinking of you both.

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Susi February 11, 2016 at 1:43 pm

I have no dog in this fight, David, but your statement isn’t true. Every poison hot line we checked indicates that the level of toxicity of cannabis to dogs is moderate to severe.

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Susi March 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Colin, I’m so glad you wrote to share your experience. The veterinarian community is starting to seriously explore the use of cannabis when it comes to canine health and recovery. Let us know how things go?

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Susi October 14, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Oh Kim, I’m SO pleased to hear from you, and especially to hear a positive progress report. You are a doll to work with Walter with such love and patience, you really are. AND, you are brilliant to have thought of a way to bring Walter out of his shell. I think you are spot on insofar as what would appeal to him (little safe ways of being naughty) – I love that you’ve tapped into his breed DNA, so to speak, to come up with what sounds like a really promising plan. As for the worms – UGH. I don’t do worms. I’ve watched all manner of surgical procedures – even watched an autopsy, but I think worms are beyond my gag reflex. Please keep me apprised of his progress, and if it’s not too much trouble, send a picture of Walter?

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Kim October 20, 2015 at 11:40 am

Susi,

I am so pleased with Walter’s progress. Just goes to show if they won’t eat, there is probably something wrong that you’re not catching. He is up to 1 to 1 1/2 cans of wet food a day. I have also been leaving a plate of water soaked dry food in his kennel over night in case he decides to sneak a snack in when no one is looking. I also figured out the flatter the surface, the more likely he is to eat on his own. I guess he is just so terrified of not being able to see what’s going on around him that he won’t eat out of anything deep enough that requires him to put his nose down in it. We are still having issues with him not wanting to drink water. The good and bad news is that he is now strong enough to fight us when we use the water syringe. lol Also I sent some pictures so you can see his sad sad little face!

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Susi October 20, 2015 at 12:05 pm

This is wonderful news, Kim! You’ve made such progress with him and it’s all to your efforts. It was pretty clever of you to figure out that “flatter is better,” (I once had a dog terrified of round bowls.Square bowls, not problem. Go figure). Consider flavoring the water ever so slightly with no-sodium broth. Try ice cubes, or put biscuits and treats in a small bowl filled with water, then freeze. Perhaps to get to the goodies, he’ll lick away the ice. You are right about his face. There is something in his eyes that speaks to a life of hardship, but every day, you’re teaching him to trust. I don’t mean to sound patronizing, but I’m so proud of you – or maybe I’m just proud of the human race when I read about what you’ve been trying to do. I confess I am worried about the day Walter gets his forever home (you said he’s a foster?). I worry about one more change in his life, but by then, perhaps he’ll be a different, more confident dog. Thank you for keeping me in the loop, Kim. I find myself thinking about you both. Stay in touch?

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