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Dogs/Loss of Appetite


Hello and thank you for taking the time to read this. I have a female Shih Tzu mix, about eight years old, that we're having some problems with. She seems to have lost her appetite. Her regular diet is a cup of dry and a little ceasers meal per day. We normally give her two beggin strips at bedtime and every once in a while she'll get a piece of hotdog or turkey. But for about a week or so we're lucky to get her to eat 1/4 of her wet food and nothing else. Some days she doesn't eat at all. She'll take the treats and it looks like she's going to eat it and then spits it out. She doesn't act like she's in pain and we can't see anything wrong with her teeth. She hasn't had any noticeable weight loss, but she's not very active either. Though that isn't new. We did lose our other dog about a month ago due to a very aggressive Mast Cell Tumor. She did become even more attached to my father after that and seems to have separation anxiety when he leaves without her even when there is other people with her. But I would've thought that if she were to lose her appetite due to depression after losing our other dog it would've happened then, and not weeks after. The only thing it seems to link up to was my father had been extremely sick and unable to get out of bed for days. She wouldn't leave his side. But he's been better and she still won't eat. There's been no change in the type of food and she hasn't been getting extra food from other sources. She's had seizures since we got her a few years ago, but they're rare and haven't been happening more than usual. Though she has been getting sick. She vomits, and since she doesn't eat very much it's yellow foam. And I'm not sure if it could have anything to do with it, she has had a couple visits with a new dog. Because she has a strong reaction when my father leaves he has taken her with him to his friend's house. He has an older basset that gets along well with her, and since the recent loss of our male we thought it would be good for her. Do you possibly have any suggestions on what we can do to help her eat? While she's still at a healthy weight and doesn't seem any more tired than usual, I would like to make sure she stays healthy. I'm sorry if I just seem paranoid. And with the multiple visits, tests and then the euthanasia and cremation (he was my mom's dog and she passed away in July so we're taking him back to her) money is tight and we can't bring her to the vet right now. Again, I'd like to thank you for your time.


Hi Faye,

I've read your message, and understand your concerns.

First, it's really hard to tell when a dog is in pain. Dogs  have developed a survival skill of not showing pain. Your dog not showing pain, doesn't mean that she isn't in pain. Your best bet for getting to the bottom of whatever might be the problem, is to have your dog examined by your veterinarian. A healthy dog will not starve itself. If she won't eat, there may be a problem.

If your dog is healthy enough to get a little extra daily exercise in the form of an extra brisk walk or two,  that would be a really good way of helping her appetite! If it's warm where you are, walk your dog in the coolest parts of the day, early mornings or late afternoon/early evenings. If your dog isn't used to going on walks, build up the distance you go over a period of about a week. If your dog is still depressed over the loss of your other dog, exercise can help. Just as in people, exercise releases endorphins which help you, or your dog feel better.  

Dogs who are fed too much can become picky about their meals. If your dog could stand to lose a little weight, look at how much youíre feeding, both at mealtime and in between, to see if the problem isnít related to too many snacks and treats. Try reducing the amount you feed by 10% at a time to see if you can get your dog to begin to slowly lose weight, along with being hungrier at mealtime.

Some dogs get a stomach ache if their stomachs are empty for too long. This can lead to vomiting of yellow liquid in the early morning hours, often accompanied by nausea and lack of appetite. If this is the case, try feeding your dog a late-night snack before you go to bed. Maybe try something milder than Beggin Strips at bedtime. Do you think your dog would eat instant oatmeal? Give her about two tablespoons, you can save the rest to give the next few nights. Another mild food to try at bedtime is low fat cottage cheese. Sometimes a vet will prescribe an over the counter antacid, such as Pecid AC. Speak to your vet about this, and get the correct dose.

If your dog eats reluctantly, try switching brands of food and protein sources to see if she gets more excited when you feed something different. You can also try adding various fresh foods and flavorings to her meals, such as:
Meat - chicken hearts and gizzards are usually very inexpensive and are easy to broil. Most dogs LOVE them! It's a very healthy treat!
Eggs - hard boiled mixes well into a dog's foo
Lowfat cottage cheese or yogurt
Low sodium gravy, etc.
These foods can help make her look forward to meals; there is nothing wrong with that! Unless you have a healthy dog who is picky about everything, then that would indicating a training problem, there's no harm in feeding dogs foods they enjoy rather than trying to force them to eat foods they clearly dislike.

I hope I've been a help. Feel free to get back to me if I can be of further assistance.



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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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