Appetite Loss in Dogs in Foster Homes: Reasons, Treatment, and More Making Sure the Dog Youโ€™ve Fostered Gets the Nutrition They Deserve

BY | January 04 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
Appetite Loss in Dogs in Foster Homes: Reasons, Treatment, and More

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Want to learn more about appetite loss in dogs? This blog will discuss the reasons, signs, and more.

Have you recently opened your home to a cute little furball who was unfortunately homeless? Perhaps the previous parents couldn’t take care of the dog’s medical treatment, unwanted behavior, expenses, etc. 

Either way, research suggests that approximately 22% of adopted dogs get sent back within three months. Some of them get fostered by lovely families until the pup finds a forever home. 

But being a dog’s foster parent will be a challenge. For instance, you might try to make them feel less lonely and scared, but they still won’t trust you. Moreover, some dogs in foster homes lose their appetite because they are apprehensive about their surroundings.

In this blog, we will discuss why that happens and ways to stimulate their appetite.

Why Would a Foster Dog Stop Eating?

As mentioned, fostering can be challenging if you aren’t ready. You won’t be able to provide the physical and emotional support needed. Even if you’re fostering for a few days or weeks, you must give 100% attention to the munchkin. Otherwise, they’ll feel depressed and abandoned. 

Unfortunately, a dog might stop eating if they feel abandoned by their family. The one you foster will probably go through the same thing. Poor appetite can be a side effect of the furbaby being too stressed and lonely. 

Sometimes, they are too accustomed to eating a different diet than what you’re giving them. For instance, if they’ve survived on a salmon and rice meal in their previous home, then they might not like other flavors. Yes, dogs will stop eating if there’s a change in the food bowl, location, and type of food. 

They won’t eat if there’s a change in the environment and people around them. Even underlying medical conditions like dental decay, gastric problems, cancer, etc., can lead to appetite issues. 

Signs of Appetite Loss 

As a temporary dog parent, you should look for the following signs to understand whether the dog has appetite issues: 

  • Not eating or wanting food for two consecutive days 

  • Pain while chewing or swallowing 

  • Sudden vomiting after eating 

  • Distention of the abdomen 

Sometimes, dehydration also decreases appetite and leads to weight loss. In that case, the vet will give the pooch subcutaneous fluids to make them feel better.

Let’s say you take the dog to a local veterinarian when you see these signs. The vet will run some tests to determine the underlying cause. But what happens when reports suggest that the dog has lost appetite due to medical conditions like Cushing’s disease or heart problems? 

In that case, the vet will prescribe an appetite stimulator for dogs to start the treatment. These are antihistamine medications that aid in the treatment of appetite loss and allergies while increasing serotonin production. 

Understanding The Use of Appetite Stimulants for Dogs

You’ll find two types of appetite stimulants: over-the-counter and prescribed. Technically, these prescribed medicines are the most effective if the dog has any medical issues. Examples include cancer, cardiovascular issues, genetic disorders, chronic kidney disease, etc. 

On the other hand, over-the-counter stimulants can come in handy if the pup’s a picky eater or is sad about environmental changes. These non-prescription drugs come in liquid, gel, or tablet form. They have an enticing taste and smell that can encourage the furball to eat. Moreover, some stimulants might have minerals and vitamins to provide the furball with essential nutrients.

According to Dr. Mich Chen, former Associate Veterinarian at VCA Antech, there’s also a new way of administering appetite stimulants to dogs. You rub the ointment near the dog’s ear with a carrier solvent. The skin will then absorb it and eventually increase appetite. 

Overall, these can stimulate brain receptors in the hypothalamus to help improve appetite. However, it’s best to avoid these medications unless they are absolutely necessary. That’s because overuse of these drugs can increase urination, gas, drooling, vomiting, nausea, gastrointestinal issues, etc.

Can You Naturally Stimulate a Dog’s Appetite?

The dog you foster might not feel safe in your home because it’s a new environment for them. That’s why you need to trick them into thinking they’re safe and loved. Keeping them in a positive mindset might help. 

Other than that, you can follow these unique tips to stimulate the furball’s appetite: 

  • Warm the food and put some yummy treats on it.

  • Try cuddling and hand-feeding the foster pup. 

  • Give them extra healthy treats, but in moderation.

  • Change their playtime and feeding routine.

  • Continuously reward them for good behavior.

  • Ensure they get enough exercise every day.

In conclusion, it’s normal for dogs to have little to no appetite after they become homeless. Sometimes, it can be because of underlying health conditions. But as a foster parent, you need to ensure they get enough nutrition. You can either use emotional tactics or appetite stimulants for that.

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