If your dog is sick and refusing to eat, try these 9 appetite-boosting methods

Watching your dog refuse to eat can be heartbreaking, especially when they’re feeling unwell.

It’s a tricky situation that calls for a little creativity and a lot of patience.

Your goal is to tempt your furry friend back to their food bowl, all while ensuring they’re getting the nutrients they need to bounce back.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but thankfully there are various methods you can try.

And, as a fellow dog parent, I’ve got some tried-and-tested tricks up my sleeve.

So here are 9 appetite-boosting strategies that might just do the trick when your pooch is feeling under the weather.

1) Home-cooked meals

When your dog is sick and refusing to eat, sometimes the smell and taste of their regular kibble just won’t cut it.

It’s here that you might need to explore the realm of home-cooked meals.

Home-cooked meals have a unique aroma and taste that can stimulate your dog’s appetite.

It’s similar to how we humans would always prefer a home-cooked meal over a fast food option.

Just as we enjoy variety in our diet, so do our furry friends.

Introducing something different can sometimes be all it takes to get your dog interested in food again.

Remember, you’re not trying to become a canine chef overnight.

Even simple recipes with ingredients like boiled chicken, rice, and veggies can work wonders.

But don’t be discouraged if the first recipe doesn’t spark their interest.

The key is to keep trying different meals until you find one that does.

2) The power of gravy

I remember when my own dog, Monty, went through a phase of not eating.

He was recovering from an illness and just didn’t seem to have an appetite.

In my desperation to get him eating again, I decided to try a trick I’d heard about from a fellow dog owner – gravy.

Now, I don’t mean the kind of gravy we humans pour over our Sunday roast.

I’m talking about specially formulated dog-friendly gravy that you can find at most pet stores.

I was a bit skeptical at first, but the results were amazing.

Just a small drizzle of this gravy over Monty’s usual food, and he was suddenly back at his bowl, eating with enthusiasm.

The rich smell and taste seemed to appeal to him and it was a relief to see him eating again.

It was as if the gravy gave his regular food a new lease of life.

So if your dog is refusing to eat, it might be worth giving this method a try.

Just remember, moderation is key.

Too much gravy isn’t good for your dog’s health in the long run, but in small amounts, it can be a real game-changer.

3) High-protein foods

Proteins are the building blocks of life.

They’re vital for growth, repair, and maintaining good health.

And for dogs, a high-protein diet can be particularly beneficial.

Dogs, especially those in recovery, need a diet rich in proteins to help them regain strength and vitality.

Foods like chicken, turkey, and fish are great sources of protein and can be easily incorporated into your dog’s meals.

Interestingly, dogs have about 1,700 taste buds compared to humans who have around 9,000.

Despite having fewer taste buds, dogs have an incredible sense of smell which plays a crucial role in determining what they find appetizing.

This is why introducing high-protein foods can be effective.

Not only are they nutritionally beneficial but their distinct smell can also make them more appealing to your dog.

4) Regular meal times

Just like us, dogs thrive on routine.

They are creatures of habit and often rely on the predictability of their daily schedule.

This is why sticking to regular meal times can be beneficial when your dog is refusing to eat.

Even if they don’t eat much during mealtime, maintaining a consistent feeding schedule can help regulate their appetite and body clock.

It’s a bit like how we humans feel hungry around our usual lunch or dinner time.

Our bodies are conditioned to expect food around these hours. The same applies to our furry friends.

So, even if your dog isn’t eating as much as they usually do, try not to deviate from their normal feeding routine.

They might not eat much in the beginning, but over time, these regular meal times can encourage them to start eating again.

5) Trying wet food

If your dog is refusing to eat their usual dry kibble, it might be worth introducing them to wet food.

Wet food is typically more flavorful and has a stronger aroma than dry food.

The texture can also be more appealing for dogs who are feeling unwell or have dental issues.

Plus, it’s a great way to ensure your dog stays hydrated, especially if they’re not drinking enough water.

When I first introduced my dog to wet food, it was like a switch had been flipped.

The different texture and taste seemed to pique his interest and before I knew it, his bowl was clean.

Just remember to transition slowly.

A sudden change in diet can sometimes upset your dog’s stomach.

Start by mixing a little wet food into their dry kibble and gradually increase the amount over time.

6) Quality time and encouragement

Sometimes, the best medicine for a dog refusing to eat is a little extra TLC.

When your dog is feeling under the weather, they might need more than just a change in diet.

They might need reassurance, comfort, and a little encouragement from their favorite human – you.

Spending quality time with your dog can boost their spirits and stimulate their appetite.

Simple things like petting them while they eat or hand-feeding them can make a huge difference.

I’ve found that sitting with my dog during meal times, gently encouraging him, can often coax him into eating, even when he’s not feeling his best.

Your dog looks to you for comfort and security.

In times of illness, your presence and encouragement can be just as important as any dietary changes.

7) Food toppers

I’ll admit, there was a time when I felt completely helpless.

My dog was recovering from an illness and he had lost all interest in food.

I tried everything – switching to wet food, introducing home-cooked meals, but nothing seemed to work.

Then, I discovered food toppers – a simple yet effective solution.

Food toppers are additives that you can sprinkle or mix into your dog’s regular food to enhance the flavor and make it more appetizing.

They come in a variety of flavors and are usually a hit with picky eaters.

The moment I mixed in a little food topper into my dog’s meal, I could see a change.

He sniffed around, took a few tentative bites, and then started eating with gusto.

It was such a relief to see him enjoying his food again.

Of course, like all things, food toppers should be used in moderation and not as a substitute for balanced meals.

But they can be a great tool for stimulating your dog’s appetite when nothing else seems to work.

8) Adequate hydration

Hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining your dog’s health and appetite.

When a dog is not feeling well, they might not drink enough water, which can lead to dehydration.

This can further worsen their condition and decrease their appetite.

Providing your dog with fresh water at all times is essential.

In some cases, you might need to encourage them to drink.

One way to do this is by adding a bit of low-sodium broth to their water.

The added flavor can often entice them to drink more.

Another option is to offer them ice cubes or make homemade popsicles using pet-friendly ingredients.

Not only will this help keep them hydrated, it also provides a fun and refreshing treat.

9) Consulting with a vet

If your dog is persistently refusing to eat, the most important step is to consult with a vet.

They are the best source of advice when it comes to understanding why your dog may be off their food and how best to address it.

They can provide tailored advice based on your dog’s specific needs and condition.

While the tips shared in this article can be helpful, they should never replace professional veterinary advice.

Your vet knows your dog’s health history and will be able to guide you through this challenging time.

It’s all about patience and love

Navigating the path of a sick dog refusing to eat can be a heart-wrenching experience.

Amidst the worry and the helplessness, it’s crucial to remember that every dog is unique and responds differently.

Whether it’s trying out home-cooked meals, introducing food toppers, or maintaining regular meal times, the key is patience and perseverance.

It’s about trying different methods until you find the one that works for your furry friend.

But beyond all these methods, there lies an irreplaceable element – love.

The bond we share with our dogs is profound and they often rely on our presence and comfort, especially when they’re not feeling their best.

As the renowned dog trainer Cesar Millan once said, “Dogs don’t rationalize. They don’t hold anything against a person. They don’t see the outside of a human but the inside of a human.”

In times of distress, your dog looks to you for reassurance.

Your love, patience, and dedication can often be the most potent appetite booster.

Dania Aziz

Dania Aziz

"A spirited lifestyle and love advocate, who loves to explore the two to help herself and others discover what they are really searching for."

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

The latest articles and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

Scroll to Top