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Minjoltr
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Location: Warwickshire, UK
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07-01-2010, 03:32 PM

My dog wants to eat but won't. How can we get food into him?

I think that's what it is, anyway. Apologies for the massive post, question at the bottom.

He's an 11 year-old Tibetan Terrier and he's not been eating properly recently, just picking a bit at his food. He was on some sort of Hills Senior mix, as recommended by the vet but we noticed he'd been eating less and starting to lose weight so she moved him onto Hills d/d prescription stuff, which he was all over for a day or two, then went off again. We took him back to the vet again and she recommended trying a mix of a Chappie wet dog food and the d/d dry stuff. Again, he lost interest in it. We tried giving him just the Chappie and he ate the chunks of meat out of it for a while but then went off it too so. Back to the vet for a fourth time and she told us to go for a few richer varieties of wet dog food (Caesar and some sort of premium, expensive, tasty stuff from Sainsbury's) which, again, he was keen on for a while but has now stopped eating. We tied sticking some into his mouth and that, again, got him interested for a while but now he just spits it out. He ate a whole dish of the stuff last night but then he threw a lot of it up and now he won't touch any of his food. He just looks at you like you've given him a particle accelerator and he doesn't know what to make of it. We gave him an apple earlier and, after initially rejecting it, he practically inhaled the entire thing. It seems that he wants to eat and really needs to eat but won't.

He's always been underweight, about 8kg, but he's always eaten properly and been healthy and bright and the vet's never shown any concern for it before. Now he's a bag of bones and weighs around 6kg. He just sits around all day and vibrates. He mooches from room to room but doesn't show interest in anything. He's too weak to even curl his little tail. It just droops along behind him. He can't sit down properly and whenever he goes to curl up, he just sort of collapses and pulls himself into a ball.

He was given a steroid injection about a week ago to stimulate his appetite but it doesn't seem to have done the trick. The vet said, on a visit a couple of days afterwards, that he might have a liver problem. He can't have a blood test yet because the steroids still in his system will give false positives so we've got to wait. He went in for some sort of bile-related test yesterday to determine whether or not is is actually his liver which is the problem and we're currently waiting for the results of that. They were supposed to come today but it's almost 4pm already so I'm not holding out too much hope that they'll be here before tomorrow.

I can't remember quite how long it is we've got to wait before he can have a proper blood test; either another week or another three weeks. I'm afraid he'll be too weak and too skinny by that point for anything to be of much help. He needs to start eating, whether he wants to or not.

So, the question: How do you make a dog eat? How do you make the food so irresistible that he can't refuse it or, failing that, how do you force it into him without him just spitting it out? Force-feeding my dog sounds like a mean thing to do but unless we get food into him somehow, we won't have any dog left before long.
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Meg
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07-01-2010, 03:59 PM
Hi Minjoltr and welcome .
You say...
How do you make a dog eat? How do you make the food so irresistible that he can't refuse it or, failing that, how do you force it into him without him just spitting it out? Force-feeding my dog sounds like a mean thing to do but unless we get food into him somehow, we won't have any dog left before long.
If a dog refuses to eat because it has a medical condition you can't make it eat. From the things you have told us I would guess this is the case with your little dog.

All you can do at this stage is to offer tiny tempting meals, maybe a little tinned salmon, chicken or scrambled egg (just a teaspoon full at a time) .

I recently lost a nine month old puppy with kidney failure, she wouldn't eat because the build up of toxins in her body made her feel sick .Following dialysis in a desperate attempt to help her and give her a chance (and with my vets approval ) I was syringe feeding her every two hours with Complan but it was no use....

I hope when the results come back that if your little dog does have a medical condition there is some medication to help him.
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Helena54
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07-01-2010, 04:22 PM
First of all, I'm so sorry, you're going through this with your poor dog, and it's not dissimilar to what I recently saw in my young puppy after her spey, when she got infected, and like you say, as I watched her, it was as if she wanted to eat but couldn't! Now whether that's because although they might feel hungry, their body is telling them, it's not a good idea coz of how sick they are, because I'm a great believer in the fact that if a dog's sick, then it just won't eat, no matter how much you try, and sometimes, out of the blue, whoaaa they come up to you as if you haven't fed them for a week, they're ravenously hungry, and they eat and you wonder what all the fuss was about, and then the next day, you're back to square one! Oh I've been here many a time believe me

When you say they can't do bloods because of the steroids, I'm questioning that, because one of my older dogs has lived on steroids his entire life, sometimes with a big jab of them and for now, one tablet every single day which has been the case for about 2 years now. They have done bloods on him numerous times, and one night at 11pm when I rushed him in there, they did bloods (he was ON steroids at the time) and told me he had an enlarged liver, so I'm questioning the fact that they can't do them. Another reason is, if ever they wanted to give him a nsaid tablet for pain relief such as Rimadyl, then they always say, they will have to wait 24 hours if he's had a steroid PILL, but if he's had the jab, then they tell me it's about 3/4 days, so why is yours that amount of time I wonder???? Yes, I agree, bloods could give a false reading blah, blah, blah, BUT, if my dog could show up an enlarged liver on his bloods when he had a steroid tablet that same day, then surely to God, if they did bloods, it might just show them something? I would insist on it if it were me, sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns, YOU are the client, you get what you ask for no matter what they say if you're the one paying and it's doing no harm to your dog!

Re: the food. Your dog knows best, like I said earlier, and if you can't bear to wait until he tells you, or if he's not telling you at least once during a day or two, then a tin of pilchards is good, mashed potato with fish still warm, scrambled eggs still warm, if you can afford it, go and buy a cooked chicken from Sainsbury's or Tesco and rip up some of that, that's usually worked for me in the past! It's the SMELL you have to concentrate on, that always comes first in a dog's mind, then they go for the texture, so don't worry about that cardboard hard kibble for now, stick to something enticing and easy to digest, it's not as if he's a puppy and you've got to sustain growth, you need to tempt him to eat, but one thing I can most definitely tell you is, no cannot force him I'm afraid! Take a horse to water and all that!

Good luck and please let us know what is working for him, and get those bloods done, if it's 3 days or more you should be fine imo!
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ClaireandDaisy
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07-01-2010, 05:01 PM
You can try these - all have worked at some point for me -

giving the dog a very small amount of food
warming the food (brings out the scent
pretending it`s your food (put on a plate)
adding a tasty topping. (Butchers Tripe mix is excellent - very smelly!)
trying soft food - scrambled egg, tuna, whatever,
feeding the dog with another dog in the room (!)

If your dog is not lactose intolerant, you can give milk & water - I warm it slightly.
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Labman
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07-01-2010, 05:56 PM
It may be time to check with another vet. A more tempting food may help keep him going a little longer, but you must find out why he isn't eating and cure the problem.
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Helena54
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07-01-2010, 06:01 PM
Claire and Daisy has hit on a very good point there, put only a tiny amount of food on say a side plate, because if you put the whole amount in the bowl, a dog with no appetite is going to get phased by that, and of course, you shouldn't be even feeding a large amount the way things are, so just a small handful on a small human plate, with the food warmed should work wonders, I hope!
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JoedeeUK
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07-01-2010, 06:20 PM
I always give B Sorb to encourage dogs to eat. A friend had a young Great Dane that refused to eat & despite various treatments from the vet still wouldn't eat, she gave her 5 mls of B Sorb four times a day & she started eating after a day & never looked back, she would even ask for the B Sorb as it's very palatable & being a liquid can be syringed into the mouth in small doses

Has the vet checked his mouth & throat ?
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Thalice
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07-01-2010, 06:27 PM
I too would be considering a second opinion.

Back to basics - checking temperature, full bloods and urine analysis.

Have his teeth been checked - the poor dog sounds hungry but unable to eat - however tempting the food, he couldnt eat if it hurts to do so.

My fave recipe is chicken slurry. Boil up a couple of chicken pieces in copious amounts of stock until the meat drops off the bone. Pick out all bones and put the rest in a blender until you have a thick soup. This can be lapped rather than chewed. You can add in blended cooked rice/pasta/veggies.

Hope something is resolved soon.

Thalices Mum
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Brundog
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07-01-2010, 06:29 PM
I am quite surprised that your vet has suggested all these food changes yet not drawn any bloods etc inititally to test for liver and kidney functions etc?? seems a bit of a long drawn out process, at the expense of your dogs health.

I wouldnt be entirely happy with that.

I really hope that your dog starts eating soon, and that you get to the bottom of it all.

I second the lovely smelly food and something soft that doesnt require too much chewing etc !
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Minjoltr
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11-01-2010, 05:58 PM
The original test was for liver function, which the steroids would have messed up.

Following a blood test, we now know that the problem is with his kidneys. We don't yet know whether they're failing naturally or because he's eaten something like ethylene glycol (which isn't present in anything he's had contact with) but he's been at the vet's for the last three days on an IV. They're flushing his kidneys and giving him nutrients and he's being syringe fed as well.
We've been told he seems to be improving but we're not sure if that's entirely correct because he made such a nuisance of himself on Friday that they gave him Valium to calm him down. He seems more settled now but that might just be because of the drugs, rather than any actual improvement in his condition.
They've not failed completely yet though so there is some hope.
He had more blood tests done earlier today and they seem to indicate that his kidneys are improving but he's picked up some sort of infection.

At least now we know what's wrong and that we can do something.
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