The Best Appetite Stimulants For Your Dog

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
In this article, we will discuss not only the best appetite stimulants for dogs, but also discover the most common causes of appetite loss in dogs.

Dogs are massive food lovers. They are so passionate when it comes to eating, that they are ready to eat even the food that is bad for them.

Since dogs have so powerful noses, we cannot blame them for wanting a piece of everything.

Food begging is something that comes naturally for them and somehow you know that when you grab food there will be those big puppy eyes staring at you. But… What if a dog shows no interest in food?

Dogs May Refuse Food

If you offer your pooch safe human foods and he refuses, it usually means that that specific item isn’t interesting.

If it keeps repeating and you notice Fido refusing regular dog food that he adores, know that something is wrong.

If you notice this make sure that you contact your veterinarian (we will elaborate on this one further).

Experienced dog owners know that when a dog starts refusing food for some reason there are several things that you can try to get him to eat once again.

Sometimes dogs are just tired of identical and bland food and they need a new ingredient, or they may suffer from an underlying health issue.

So far the practice showed us that offering the best appetite stimulants for dogs gives long-lasting results.

Check below for the strongest appetite stimulants for dogs that actually work.

Best Appetite Stimulants for Dogs

Dogs can get their appetite back thanks to different stimulants that are effective.

The practice has shown that appetite stimulants can be both medicine based and medicine-free and lead to a positive outcome.

Below you will find appetite stimulants that actually work for dogs. Check them.

Pro tip: Before you make any changes to your dog’s diet, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian first.

1. Warm Food

Warm food brings new flavors. Dogs may get tired of identical food every day, especially if your dog is mostly on dry dog food.

Dogs love when there is a strong smell.

Commercial dog food is mostly dehydrated, while warm food is aromatic and might inspire your dog to taste it.

Quick tip: You can microwave it for 15 seconds and serve

Warm food should even interest the pickiest dogs about eating. For an affordable and simple food improvement, you can lure your dog with chicken, especially if it’s roasted.

2. Exercise

People can move their bowels with proper movement, and dogs are no exception. One of the best ways to boost a dog’s appetite is to maintain a regular level of exercise.

If you notice your dog refusing food but acting normal, you might want to try to increase exercise time.

If Fido continues eating normally after exercise time, he should be fine. Otherwise, you should contact your veterinarian.

Why is exercise effective Just like humans, when active dogs need food to recharge?

Here are some quick tips on how to get your dog to move more

  • Organize everyday training sessions
  • Increase exercise time
  • Think about a dog play buddy
  • Have longer walks before a meal (be careful with this one as you don’t want to let your dog eat a large amount of food after an intense workout, you want to avoid a bloat)
  • If your dog is a great swimmer, go near the water and let Fido swim
  • Organize a daily game of fetch

When your dog is playful and active, he will become hungry eventually. Exercise and proper nutrition are what keep your dog happy and healthy.

3. Herbs

Herbs are one of the best ways to naturally improve your dog’s appetite. Just like humans, dogs can have many benefits from herbs.

This is not to be mistaken for plants that may be dangerous for dogs.

Adding herbs to your dog’s diet is something that you can try before you reach for medications.

Talk with your veterinarian about how to apply herbs to your dog’s diet safely. Perfectly, you should add herbs to the dog’s food and mix it.

The most practical thing about herbs is that you add them to both dry and canned food.

Other herbs that are often recommended as appetite-stimulating and nutritious are:

  • Peppermint
  • Ffennel
  • Dill
  • Ginger
  • Alfalfa
  • Milk thistle
  • Dandelion
  • Celery seed
  • Chamomile

Don’t forget to just splash a little herb on the food. Don’t put too much.

Important: Before you apply herbs to your dog’s meal talk with your veterinarian for proper recommendations.

4. Essential Oils

Essential oils are often used as appetite stimulants for dogs. This is another remedy that should be first discussed with your veterinarian, so make sure that you do that.

Meanwhile, learn as much as possible about essential oils for dogs and know that rose and vetiver are commonly the first choices.

Increasing a dog’s appetite is much easier when there is the right kind of aroma around.

Pro tip: How to use essential oils to increase your dog’s appetite? Just apply a few drops on the dog’s collar.

Know that, just like in humans, different essential oils serve different purposes.

For example, if your dog struggles with digestive issues, go for oil that supports digestive health, like peppermint and ginger.

Citrus oils are often recommended for dogs but know that citrus oils are usually very toxic to pets.

Always, but always first discuss with your veterinarian about applying essential oils for the dog’s appetite.

5. Traditional Acupuncture

Could acupuncture be beneficial for dogs? It turns out that acupuncture is often used to treat dogs who suffer from arthritis and joint inflammation.

According to some, acupuncture in dogs is beneficial at all stages of life and is in general considered to be a safe and effective therapy.

In general, a minimum of three seasons is needed for measurable results.

It is confirmed in practice that acupuncture helped many dogs get their appetite back after just a few acupuncture sessions.

Pro tip: Make sure that you find an acupuncturist that has long and tested experience with acupuncture for dogs.

Moreover, more difficult cases are usually treated with specific medications, such as:

1. Meclizine

Meclizine is an antihistamine that is prescribed not only for the poor appetite but for motion sickness as well.

This drug can come only through prescription. You should know that some side effects are possible with this medicine, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How Long Does It Take For Meclizine To Stimulate Appetite In A Dog?

Meclizine is a medicine that can be given to your dog only through prescription. For meclizine to start working it is usually needed between one to two hours.

2. Mirtazapine

Mirtazapine is the option when anything else stops working, especially natural options. This is a common drug prescribed to dogs with other severe problems, than just low appetite.

How does Mirtazapine works? Mitrazapine attacks the central nervous system by increasing serotonin levels, and that’s the main reason why it shouldn’t be given to dogs who are on SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

How Long Does It Take For MirtazapineTo Stimulate Appetite In A Dog?

With this medicine, you will have to show some patience. Another medicine that can be used only through prescription.

For this medicine to start working you should wait for a day to two days. For two days maximum, you should notice clinical signs.

3. Ghrelin Receptor Agonist

This agonist is one of the newest medicaments on the market with a primary function to make the dog feel hungry.

Ghrelin Receptor Agonist binds to ghrelin receptors and sends unique signals to the brain to cause the ‘hungry’ feeling.

4. CBD Products

Last but not least, CBD (cannabidiol) is available for those living in the States.

CBD products are manufactured for pets specially and they made quite a boom onto the veterinary scene.

Many benefits include reduction of diverse pain and increased appetite. Make sure to ask your veterinarian for product recommendations.

So, if you’re asking yourself still if appetite stimulants work for dogs, the answer is yes.

Still, you need to find what works for your dog’s condition the best and you need to do it in consultancy with your vet. Always consult with your veterinarian.

Now, that you know what appetite stimulants are the most effective ones, let’s see what are the common causes of appetite loss in dogs.

What Causes Loss of Appetite in Dogs

It is hard to believe, but dogs can actually refuse food even for days.

The number of factors for this refusal is diverse and may vary from time to time.

If a dog refuses food for a short period of time, to skip a meal or two, and these short periods of fasting in dogs are usually related to a minor illness, anxiety, or even a bad meal.

These short periods of fasting are related to dogs’ connection with wolves. Wild animals, including wolves, tend to fast when they don’t feel good.

Benefits are seen in removing unwanted diseases, viruses, and any form of harmful substance.

Next, long periods of food are a sign of serious underlying issues. The important thing is not to overreact at a first skipped meal. Estimate your dog’s daily food intake first.

Don’t hit the panic button yet if it seems that your dog isn’t eating enough. However, if your dog hasn’t eaten in more than two days it’s time to hit that panic button and rush to the vet.

Causes of Loss of Appetite in Dogs

A veterinarian is the only one that can confirm if your dog is sick or not, therefore until the vet says the true cause of your dog’s appetite you can’t know it for sure.

So, before you find the perfect food stimulants, make sure to determine the cause, and there can be several reasons that may be more or less serious.

A dog can stop eating due to various reasons, and below you will find less severe and really severe reasons behind this behavior.

Mild Reasons On Why Dogs Might Refuse Food:

  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Eating forbidden food
  • Picky eater

Mild Reasons On Why Dogs Might Refuse Food:

  • Preferring human food
  • Pain
  • Kidney issues
  • Liver issues
  • Stress
  • Bacterial infections
  • Digestive issues
  • Illness that may lead to a fatal outcome, like diabetes, cancer, or renal failure

As you can see, the reasons are many and each one is treated with a custom approach and solution.

You need to be well aware of the fact that even minor symptoms can lead to serious problems if not treated on time.

When Should I Call My Vet?

Monitor your dog’s daily food intake. This way you will know exactly how much he ate.

Once you are sure that your dog skipped more than one meal, record it and mention it to your vet.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog contact your veterinarian as soon as possible:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Significant weight loss
  • Strange behavioral changes

What can your veterinarian do To determine the cause, and set the diagnosis your veterinarian will likely conduct the following:

  • Your vet will take a stool sample
  • Ultrasound will be conducted
  • Blood work will be included

What Can I Give My Dog With No Appetite?

When a dog refuses to eat for a longer period and it affects his health big time, his health is jeopardized.

Without consuming enough calories dog is not capable of maintaining a healthy weight.

In these cases, the veterinarian will prescribe appetite stimulants to increase appetite and to get needed nutritional support.

Appetite stimulants can include pharmaceutical, natural, and holistic options.

When it comes to natural appetite stimulants the first choice is usually raw food with some fresh ingredients to spark that appetite – this should be done once you consult with your vet.

What Should I Feed My Dog With No Appetite?

Start with a familiar taste.

If your dog refuses canned or dry food, try to serve him cooked boneless chicken first.

In general, dogs should immediately go after cooked meat, plus it’s good for their stomachs.

Do not put any seasoning on it, especially avoid salt or anything spicy. Shredded chicken is easy to serve, and easier to digest.

As lean meat, it offers essential vitamins, minerals, and fats.

If the chicken doesn’t work, see with your vet what should be your next step.

Is there a Vitamine to Increase a Dog’s Appetite

Long story short, YES! Vitamin supplements can be extremely effective for dogs.

You can start with vitamin B or even multivitamins, but you should consult with your vet first and act upon it. However, for more severe conditions, medicines are usually prescribed.

Should Puppies Consume Vitamins For Appetite?

As a general rule, you are not advised to make any changes to the dog’s diet without consulting your veterinarian first. This especially applies when you have a puppy.

Puppies are growing and they are sensitive to many internal and external factors, so keeping them safe should be imperative.

If you have any concerns regarding your puppy’s diet make sure that you talk with your veterinarian first.

Commonly, veterinarians will advise you to mix plain boiled white rice or rice water with their meals, or some boneless and shredded chicken.

It is also important that chicken is skinless and with no seasoning. You are still not sure if puppies should consume vitamins for appetite?

Unless your veterinarian tells you otherwise the answer is no. Dogs of all ages should get needed nutrients and vitamin supplements from commercial food.

This is why you should know how to read pet food labels so you can choose the food that is the best fit for your dog based on Fido’s:

  • Age
  • Size
  • Weight
  • Activity level

Dogs fed on a homemade diet may require supplements to get enough vitamins and minerals – again, this is something that can be conducted only with your veterinarians’ support.

Appetite Stimulants For Dogs With Kidney Disease

Just like humans, dogs do get sick and may suffer from mild to some really serious conditions.

Some conditions are rare while some are commonly seen in dogs, such as kidney disease.

Some of the early signs of kidney disease in dogs may include:

  • Subtle weight loss
  • Urinating more often
  • Peeing more often
  • Drinking a lot more water

Also, one of the worrying signs may be peeing on the floor, or just asking to go out more.

If your dog is always thirsty, you may monitor him closely and contact your veterinarian.

The best way to help a dog with kidney disease is to prevent it or at least diagnose it at an early stage.

Dogs with chronic kidney disease tend to have a poor appetite, which is why keeping their nutrients in order is so important.

Commonly used appetite stimulants in dogs with kidney disease are mirtazapine and ghrelin agonist capromorelin.

As expected, these medications can be applied only with your vet’s prescription and regular check-ups at the vet.

How kidney disease affects dogs?

  • This leads to poor appetite
  • Weight loss is noticeable
  • Muscle mass loss is present
  • Mild to strong appetite loss

At every visit to the vet’s you can expect a nutritional assessment that usually includes:

  • Diet history
  • Calorie intake
  • Bodyweight
  • Body condition score
  • Muscle mass score

These indicators will show if a dog is really benefiting from a certain treatment or not.

Appetite Stimulants For Dogs Conclusion

Appetite stimulants for dogs are a valuable tool if your dog experiences a sudden loss of appetite.

Because your dog’s good appetite is crucial for your dog’s health and overall dog’s well-being, appetite is a sure and helpful indicator of your pet’s health.

Try some simple tricks to get your dog to eat, use treats or try another food.

If that doesn’t work make sure to talk to your vet about different options to encourage your dogs to eat.

After all, what we don’t see in our dog’s nutritional habits is seen in the long run, and has a long-lasting impact. Therefore, it’s imperative to ensure that your dog is getting the best possible supervision regarding nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions On Appetite Stimulants For Dogs

Now, let’s check what are the most common dog owners’ concerns when it comes to appetite stimulants for dogs.

1. What Is A Natural Appetite Stimulant For Dogs?

Herbs are commonly recommended as a natural appetite stimulant for dogs.

They are usually effective as an addition to a dog’s food, but never serve any food to your dog before you discuss that with your veterinarian first.

2. Should I Force Feed My Dog If He Won’t Eat?

Force-feeding your dog should not be a normal occurrence. This is something that is reserved for moments when your dog refuses food.

Your vet will most likely recommend you to force-feed your dog if it has been more than 48 hours since your dog ate.

This should be done only after your veterinarian has examined your dog and determined that force-feeding was okay.

If you do not know how to force-feed your dog safely, discuss it with your vet first.

3. Are Appetite Stimulants Safe For Dogs?

Some stimulants are completely safe, while some should be supervised by your veterinarian.

Once you get a prescription make sure that you follow through and provide regular vet check-ups.

4. What Can I Do About My Puppy That Has No Appetite?

If you notice your puppy eating less, or continually losing interest in food take your pooch to the vet.

In most cases, your vet will recommend feeding a bland diet, such as boiled chicken breast and white rice.

Some vegetables may be added to increase appetite. You can also expect regular check-ups.

5. How Do Appetite Stimulants Work In Dogs?

Every medicine works differently. What is common to most of them is that they usually provide a positive effect in a matter of a few hours or a few days.

For example, a ghrelin receptor agonist works by binding to ghrelin receptors and after that signals the brain to cause the dog to feel hungry.