How To Get A Sick Dog To Eat – Trusted Solutions

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Your dog is too sick and you don't know what to do to get him to eat? Or how to get him to eat? Read on and discover how to get your dog to eat.

As a dog owner, you know what it is not always cuddling and walking when it comes to having a dog.

Experienced dog owners know that dog ownership comes with many ups and downs that tend to be often emotional.

For example, no dog owner can easily handle seeing their dog being sick.

It is hard to watch your dog suffer from an illness or a specific disease, or simply to know that your Fido is not feeling his best.

When your dog feels sick, or when he is unwell, you can expect certain changes.

This means that you may see some symptoms, such as loss of appetite.

Missing a meal is always unusual to see in dogs because they are massive food lovers.

In most cases, missing a meal or eating less isn’t heavily alarming, but if it prolongs it can often turn into a life-threatening situation.

When your dog is sick, you should do your best to provide the right care.

This means providing the right veterinarian care and often encouraging your dog to eat.

Every veterinarian will tell you that you will have to be creative to get your dog to eat, no matter how small portions might be.

It’s crucial, just like with humans, to do your best to get the body needed nutrients and calories to get them through the healing process.

Is it difficult to get your dog to eat when he doesn’t feel like it? It is challenging, but not impossible. That being said, you should have enough patience and proper tricks to get your dog to eat.

Encouraging Your Dog to Eat When Sick

Dogs, just like humans, will lose their appetite when they are ill.

No matter how big the trouble might be, it will commonly affect their appetite.

It’s common for dogs not to eat when they feel sick. As mentioned earlier, one missed meal isn’t a big deal in most cases.

If you notice your dog eating grass when outside, something probably disturbed Fido’s stomach and by eating grass he is actually healing.

However, if food refusal isn’t a one-time thing, you may monitor your dog closer and do your best to determine the cause.

Why Does A Dog Lose Their Appetite?

Dogs can lose their appetite for many reasons.

Sometimes it’s an external factor, while sometimes it’s just a poor food choice.

You know how dogs enjoy long walks and sniffing around, especially if a trash can is around? This is usually the time when they will grab something from the ground and upset their stomach eventually.

In some cases, stomach disturbance is only food-related, illness-related, or expected after surgery.

Here are the most common reasons why dogs may lose their appetite:

  • Some kind of illness
  • Strong or mild infection
  • Disease
  • Surgery recovery
  • Aging
  • Stress-related condition
  • Mourning

When Should You Contact Your Vet?

When it comes to dog ownership, you should know that panicking is never beneficial.

This is why you should do your best to stay calm when you notice something unusual.

Then again, to notice something unusual you need to know your dog’s regular conditions, which is why you should monitor your dog on a daily level.

Knowing when you should contact your veterinarian and when you should wait is crucial.

If you notice your dog losing his appetite, but you also notice some of the following symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Gagging
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

In most cases, your veterinarian will schedule an emergency examination and certain testing.

Once the examination is completed, you should try to encourage your dog to eat. Here is how to do that. Keep on reading.

How Can I Encourage My Sick Dog To Eat?

If your dog just started refusing food for no specific reason, and he seems OK, you might add some diversity into the dog’s diet. This means that you should add flavors and scents that dogs may see as delicious.

Is your Fido a huge kibble lover in general, but refuses to eat the same food over and over again?

You may think about adding an egg, a spoon of olive oil, or boiled chicken to increase the flavor.

If he still refuses it, it should be an obvious sign that the issue is much higher than merely adding flavor to standard food.

Do you commonly serve your Fido dry food? If so, he might need canned wet food to boost his appetite.

Make dry food more appealing by warming it up a bit, or add boiled chicken, tuna, or cooked carrot – just make sure that you know which human foods are safe for your Fido, and which should be out of his reach.

If he still refuses it, you might want to think about out-of-box feeding options.

Give Your Dog A Small Treat

A nice treat should always help.

Dogs are known for being foodies, and a treat is something that usually motivates them to do anything.

Even the training process is much easier when there is an ice treat as a reward.

Try treating your dog with a treat that he usually doesn’t get.

You should think differently, and maybe treat him with a snack of human foods, such as carrot, a cucumber, or anything that your veterinarian recommends.

Always reward a nice behavior as long as it doesn’t disturb the dog’s health.

Add Broth To Dog’s Food

This is a simple, but so effective way to inspire your dog to eat. Dogs love delicious food that is packed with extra flavor.

If your Fido is already on high-quality food, a nice broth should only enhance both the smell and taste.

The warm broth should make food more delicious and easier to digest. If your dog isn’t used to broth then he should jump in to taste it. Dogs love new smells and tastes.

Hand-Feed Your Dog

So far you should know that dogs will try anything that comes from your hand. This is why hand-feeding is often recommended when dogs are sick.

It serves as a great way to comfort your dog and encourage him to eat. It may take some time to feed him, but it should help you get your Fido to eat.

Hand-feeding should last for a day, or two, and your dog should approach his bowl afterward.

In the best-case scenario, your Fido should start eating from his bowl, after hand-feeding him for only a few minutes.

What About Baby Food?

It’s not unusual for veterinarians to recommend baby food to push dogs to eat. These are commonly small portions and are usually served when in-hospital care.

Why baby food is an option? Baby food is healthy and usually contains all the ingredients that are dog-safe. This food is also soft and easy to digest.

Try to serve it to your dog in small portions as a way to stimulate the appetite.

Focus on flavors such as chicken, beet, sweet potato, banana, and carrot. Make sure that you are overdue with any of the listed foods because after all, this is what humans mostly eat.

When it comes to serving your dog baby food, use it as a small portion, just as a tool to motivate your dog to eat.

Should You Let Your Dog Eat Grass?

If you notice your dog eating grass, you should let him.

Eating grass is something that is a common solution in the canine world when their stomach is upset.

All in all, eating grass may sound and appear unusual to us, but for dogs, it’s a very effective way to boost their health.

Whenever your dog feels as if he is about to vomit, he will run to eat grass.

If you notice some grass-eating, make sure that your dog is well-hydrated.

Also, if you notice your dog eating grass and vomiting more than twice, make sure that you contact your veterinarian.

Foods To Give Your Dog When He’s Sick

When your dog’s stomach is upset, certain food can help him feel better.

Feeding a balanced diet is always the best way to keep a dog’s gut strong and healthy.

Still, intestinal discomfort can happen due to many factors, which is why you should rely on food to boost your dog’s health. So far, it’s clear that feeding a sick dog is challenging.

After all, when sick dogs have to deal with so many issues including upset stomach, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and even vomiting.

Once your veterinarian has ruled out serious disease, you might think about providing additional nutrition to keep your Fido healthy.

  • Chicken and rice. If you have ever checked dog food labels, you have noticed that almost every brand contains rice and chicken. Both chicken and rice are something that goes easy on a dog’s stomach. Boil chicken and rice and serve it to your dog. For a more smooth taste, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Always cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Pumpkin. Pumpkin comes with many perks that your Fido can benefit from. Next to sweet potato, pumpkin is food that is rich in fiber and as such regulates a dog’s digestive symptoms. You can serve it in many ways, cooker or peeled and benefits will always be there. Always serve it unsalted and unseasoned.
  • Bone broth. Bone broth is a liquid meal that can support a dog’s stomach when upset. This is easy to make and quick to serve. You can add it to dry food, microwave it, or even freeze and use it on-demand. Make sure that you remove all the bones from the broth before serving.

Always Consult Your Veterinarian

When it comes to proper dog ownership, nothing beats a great veterinarian.

Whenever you notice unusual behavior in your dog or he starts acting unusual, make sure that you contact your veterinarian on time.

Your veterinarian will do a proper examination, ask you a lot of questions and provide the right guidance.

If you want to minimize vet expenses, you should always think about the best pet insurance.

Having a backup finance-wise will make dog ownership a more of a smooth process and obligation.

Don’t Forget About The Water

When a dog starts refusing the food, dow owners tend to focus on food intake. This is an expected and normal move, but you shouldn’t ignore water intake.

Dogs should always have clear access to clean and fresh water. To stay hydrated, dogs need to take enough water.

Dogs can go a long time without food, but when it comes to water they are more demanding. Even when your dog is ill, your vet will ask you if he is drinking water.

If your dog refuses water it should be clear that something is wrong health-wise.

If you notice your dog not drinking water or eating for 48 hours or more, get your dog proper medical attention.

Can You Encourage Water Intake?

Simply said, yes. You will have to be a little creative, but you can motivate your dog to take an extra sip.

Try the following tricks to get your dog to drink water:

  • Dogs will usually take an ice cube to lick it
  • In the summertime, use cucumber to make cucumber-ice-cubes for ultimate refreshment
  • Offer your Fido water on your fingers
  • Add ice to dog’s bowl for fresher liquid
  • If your veterinarian recommends it provides the right medicine, such as Pedialyte

In the meantime, make sure that you know how to recognize signs of dehydration, such as:

  • Panting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry nose
  • Dry-looking eyes
  • Dry gums
  • Sticky gums
  • Lethargy
  • Noticeable loss of skin elasticity

If you notice any sign of dehydration, make sure that you reach out to your veterinarian.

The Bottom Line

In most cases, a loss of appetite is a mild symptom and can be fixed by nutritional adjustment. However, in some rare cases, appetite loss can be a symptom of a serious medical condition, which is why a full veterinarian examination is a must.

Always consult your vet on why your dog isn’t willing to eat and provide the best care possible.