Whether your friend is big or small, canine or feline, loss of appetite is a big concern. Besides worrying, what can be done when your pet won't eat? When your little one turns away from a meal or is barely eating, it's time to do a little investigative work. Some common causes for lack of appetite include a change in environment, dental problems, or parasite.
The Stress of Moving
If you've ever moved from one home to another, you know how stressful it can be. Imagine how the process can affect your pet. Cats, in particular, become extremely attached to their domains, so a move can just about turn their world upside down. And we all know dogs are very territorial. Would you feel like eating if everything was "taken" away from you?
When settling in after a major move, there are some things you can do to help your pet adjust. It's important to get them back on track with their eating, so they can feel right at home. Dogs can be creatures of habit, so try to set out their food and water in the "same place" as the old house. That means if they ate in the kitchen before, be sure to place their bowls in the kitchen at the new house. With cats, you can provide small, frequent meals. Also, consider hiding pieces of dry food around the house to encourage their natural predatory instincts. All in all, patience is key when adjusting to life after a move. It may take several days or even weeks for your pet's appetite to return.
If you've ever experienced a toothache, you know what a pain it can be. You don't feel like doing much of anything, let alone eat, and you just want the pain to go away! If your pet is having dental issues, there are a few things you might notice. With dogs, they may drop the food they are trying to eat, or they'll eat slowly, or on one side. They might also have bad breath (beyond normal doggie breath, that is)! Likewise, check for drooling, bleeding or swelling deep under the gums or high up under the lips. With cats, the symptoms of dental problems and gum disease are mostly the same. Your cat may have difficulty closing his or her mouth and you might see yellow or brown spots on the teeth, down along the gumline.
Another explanation for appetite loss could be parasites. If your dog is infected with parasites, not to worry. This is an easily treatable condition that your vet can promptly address. With an intestinal parasitic infection like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, your dog will lose his or her appetite. While there are some parasitic infections like tapeworms that would cause a dog's appetite to increase, the culprits mentioned would cause a dog to be less interested in food. They also rob your dog of important nutrients, cause vomiting and diarrhea, and can result in anemia or even death.
Cats can also lose their appetite from a parasitic infection. They can experience infections from the roundworms and hookworms the same as dogs. Roundworms can eventually lead to pneumonia in cats if it travels to the lungs. Cats can get hookworms from eating feces or rodents. This is something to think about the next time your feline friend brings you a "gift". They can also be diagnosed with a rickettsia infection. These microscopic parasites can cause a cat to experience appetite loss, weight loss, even depression. Sometimes, jaundice is associated with this condition. Your veterinarian can determine the presence of rickettsia through examination of a series of blood samples. It can be a series because it seems rickettsia likes to "hide" in the bloodstream, making it difficult to detect on one go-round. Being around other cats could also cause your cat to get stomach worms. If they come in contact with an infected cat's vomit, they can contract this parasitic infection. The same is true for a giardia intestinal parasitic infection, which is transmittable through cat feces. Giardia also causes a cat to lose their appetite.
So, whenever man's best friend won't eat, or your feline sidekick suddenly turns his nose up at dinner, you'll want to investigate. All in all, getting your little one to the vet for prompt medical treatment should have Fido or Fluffy chowing down in no time!