How do you make dogs eat when they are sick? What to Know

Is your dog refusing their food?

If your dog has refused food for a long period of time, or if they have a health condition that suppresses appetite, your vet can prescribe or recommend a medicinal appetite stimulant. There are stimulants that reduce nausea and others that mimic the hormone that makes your dog hungry. This method will require you and your vet to first know why your dog isn’t eating so you can get the correct stimulant.

Force-feeding via a syringe is a more drastic measure, so you should do this only if other methods haven’t worked. If your dog hasn’t eaten in two days, you can try using a syringe to feed your dog liquids like broth or watered down wet food. If your vet has recommended medication for your dog, you could try feeding medicine to your dog using a syringe as well as food.

We recommend speaking to a vet before attempting this as syringe feeding needs to be done correctly to avoid negative health effects on your pet.

Do Sick Dogs Lose Their Sense of Smell?

Smell is the most powerful of a dog’s senses and a variety of factors can influence it. Allergies and infections can affect the sense of smell, as can old age. If the dog’s nose is dry, that can also decrease the sense of smell. Illness on its own doesn’t necessarily affect it, however.

When the issue gets serious

There comes a point when it becomes important to help a sick dog to eat. Maybe you have tried all the methods mentioned above, and for no clear medical reason, your pet is still refusing to eat from their bowl.

In this case, it could be time to intervene and reintroduce them to food to boost their energy levels.

One way to achieve this is to use a syringe. You fill this with a watered-down version of wet dog food or liquidised treats. Cooled vegetable soup or a meat broth is an option too. You could then gently introduce this food to the dogs mouth.

It is important to use this method of feeding a dog under medical advice if possible. Your vet can explain the best way to feed your dog with a syringe and can confirm it’s a wise course of action. It is sometimes a method a vet would suggest when a dog has problems with their teeth or sores on the roof of their mouth, for example.

Also, keep in mind that being heavy-handed or forceful with a syringe can cause your pet distress or even lead to a choking hazard for a poorly pooch.

How to Feed a Sick Dog

A temporary loss of appetite in your dog is not something to become immediately concerned about. Just like humans, sometimes dogs don’t feel hungry or are stressed and don’t want to eat. Diarrhea, vomiting, and a decreased appetite can make it challenging to ensure your dog is getting the right nutrients.