Anorexia (Loss of Appetite) in Dogs

Anorexia also known as loss of appetite is the most common clinical sign seen in cats. It is described as a situation in which a pet is either unable to eat, does not want to eat or loses appetite.

Loss of appetite, if it occurs for less than 24 hours could be temporary and momentary, but if it proceeds beyond 1 day, it is a sign of an underlying disease or condition. There are numerous factors which can cause this symptom. Mild infections, stress, wounds and injury, trauma, severe diseases affecting liver, kidneys, digestive system, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart, neurological, eyes, mouth, stomach, skin, poisoning, reactions to known medications, hormonal changes, environmental changes.

Commonly seen symptoms include Weight loss, depression, pain, weakness, respiratory problems, behavioral changes.

If you observe anorexia, please contact your veterinarian immediately. If not treated, this could have severe consequences, seizures, extreme weakness and will also compromise the immunity system making the pet prone to secondary diseases.


There are numerous causes for Anorexia.
› Digestive diseases
› Gastrointestinal diseases
› Fungal infections
› Bacterial infections
› Viral infections
› Parasitic infections
› Hormonal changes
› Inflammation of kidney, liver, brain, heart, pancreas
› Mouth diseases such as Gingivitis, Periodontitis, Stomatitis
› Eye diseases such as conjunctivitis, uveitis, glaucoma
› Respiratory diseases which affects throat, thorax, pharynx, esophagus
› Poisoning and toxicity (known hazardous chemicals)
› Reactions to known drugs and medications
› Stress
› Trauma
› Environmental factors
› Unknown reasons (Idiopathic)
› Foreign body obstruction
› Blood diseases such as Anemia, Immune mediated hemolytic anemia, Polycythemia
› Tumors
› Cancer affecting single of multiple parts of the body
› Injury and wounds

Clinical Signs & Symptoms

Loss of appetite is usually seen in kidney related problems. It is also one of the first clinical sign seen in other diseases.

Common symptoms seen are:
› Abdominal Distension (swelling)
› Pyrexia(fever)
› Jaundice
› Dyspnea (Trouble Breathing)
› Tachypnea (Rapid Breathing Rate)
› Tachycardia (rapid heart-rate)
› Arrhythmia (Irregular heartbeat)
› Diarrhea (Loose stools)
› Vomiting
› weakness
› weight Loss
› Lethargy
› Abscess
› Behavioral changes
› Ptyalism (Hyper-salivation or Drooling)


Veterinarians will require a complete history of your dog which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done with a combination of tests. These include routine lab examinations and special tests. They are:

› Physical examination
› Complete Blood Count (CBC)
› Biochemical profile
› Urinalysis
› Abdominal Radiograph (X-rays)
› Abdominal Ultrasound
› Chest Radiograph (X-ray)

Depending on the underlying cause of anorexia, further tests will be performed.


Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Medications will vary accordingly.
› Removal of any and all foreign objects from the mouth
› Medications for any wounds, cuts
› Medications for Oral tumors
› IV Fluids (in severe cases)
› Fluid therapy (in-case of severe dehydration)
› De-worming drugs (for parasitic infections)
› Antibiotic medications
› Anti-inflammatory medications

Veterinarians will then focus on dietary changes, giving a well balanced, healthy, nutritious diet.


There are numerous factors which can cause a sudden reluctance to eat food. Treatment of conditions or diseases which are causing it needs to be started immediately to avoid complications.

Home Care

Home care should aim at improving the condition. Treatments can take a few days to weeks, depending on the severity. If you observe any behavioral changes, or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian.

› It is mandatory to provide a stress-free environment for your dog. Keep water and food bowls within reach. Avoid physical activity. Keep your dogs away from any noise and commotions.
› You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicine as directed by your veterinarian.
› Do NOT travel with your dog.
› Do NOT allow your dog to roam freely. This works two ways, firstly if the dog is infected, it greatly reduces the chances of risk of exposure to other pets and humans and secondly in-case of a healthy pet, it reduces the chances of contracting the infection.
› Use of environmental disinfectants is recommended. Prompt disposal of any and all materials after use is suggested.
› Routine and regular checkups to access the progress, further tests may be advised this includes Liver and kidney function tests, blood tests. Monitor and administer all medications as directed by your veterinarian and complete the dosage.
› Dietary changes to warm, moist food. Avoid feeding meat, uncooked foods, chew-able foods.
› Medication will be given to reduce and stop vomiting and diarrhea.

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