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Tempting food for dog with poor appetite

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    Tempting food for dog with poor appetite

    My GSD dog is 9 years old and over the last week has gone off his food.
    His tummy has become slightly distended with fluid and his heart is not happy (I can't remember the technical term used by the vet).
    He has just started a course of his second type of heart tablets as the first type didn't seem to be helping - though they stopped him deteriorating as fast as he had been doing.
    The vet has taken blood and will run tests on it for his heart, liver and kidneys but we won't know the results until Friday.

    The questions I want to ask those of you with experience of this problem are about food for him, as he has gone off his food as a result of his illness.
    We have tried him with chicken, beef, and cat food and he has eaten every day, but will only eat the above once or twice before going off them.

    So here goes:

    How bad is liver for dogs? Can we feed it every day or is it too rich? Is calf liver or lamb liver best for dogs?

    What foods have you had success with when trying to tempt dogs who are off their food to eat?

    Many thanks for reading.

    Satin balls. There are a lot of variations on the recipe, but most dogs love them and if you make the balls small enough you can even "pill" them if you have to.


      Oh, sad. I have a cat with cancer, and lost a dog to heart failure over the winter, and it was a battle to get food into both.....and both were quite pudgy before getting ill!

      Try baby food....Gerber Stage One Chicken or Turkey is the best/healthiest, although your dog might like some of the other varieties like Beef Stew or something. It's expensive....almost $1.00 for a little thing of it....but it's never failed me and if your dog only has a few weeks left anyway...

      Again with the "if he's failing anyway" let him eat whatever the heck he wants. My Beagle stopped eating his dog food in his last few days, but was still thrilled to get any sort of table scraps that we were willing to give him, so we kept him fed that way. He would also eat the dog food if we handed it to him as a treat, but it got tedious feeding him just a few pellets at a time if he were willing to gobble down a McDonalds hamburger!

      Sorry that you're having such a rough time with your's so disheartening to see them wasting away.


        my 18 yo maltese has days she doesn't like to eat. I'm at the point now, it's quality not quantity. I'm not feeding her anymore to live a long and happy life.. she has had that. now, just feeding her to keep her happy. Somedays that's purina dry dog food (dont ask me how as she has no teeth) and somedays that's a roast beef from hardees. she gets to eat table scraps (she loves the fat off steak) and all the fun stuff she never got when she was younger.


          It's totally disgusting (and might put you off of YOUR food) but try green tripe. You can buy it canned - looks and smells pretty awful, but the dogs love it.


            Satin balls are very high in fat and may not be the best choice for a dog who is ill. I've had the best luck with chicken or beef with garlic powder added. As someone else suggested meat based baby foods are good. Liver is fairly rich and can cause diarrhea. I've also had good luck with small amounts of kidney or beef tongue, also with garlic powder added.
            I'm a second hand Vegan. Cows eat grass. I eat cows.


              Original Poster

              Originally posted by HorseBabble View Post
              Satin balls. There are a lot of variations on the recipe, but most dogs love them and if you make the balls small enough you can even "pill" them if you have to.

              HorseBabble can I ask a dumb question? do you need to cook the ground beef before adding it to the mix?

              GoForAGallop thank you so much for your advice, I'm so sorry for your losses too; yes it is hard and my eyes are all puffy from crying but this must be the price to pay for all the delight they give us over the years. I wish they lived as long as humans!

              bdj i must go and google green tripe-it sounds horrid, i thought the liver was quite yucky enough

              DandyMatiz 18 is a fantastic age, we are varying the food we offer to Joe, like you we're finding some days he will eat this and the next day we need to try other things. It's quite difficult to think up different things!

              Thank you everyone, for all your suggestions.


                Original Poster

                Originally posted by wireweiners View Post
                Satin balls are very high in fat and may not be the best choice for a dog who is ill. I've had the best luck with chicken or beef with garlic powder added. As someone else suggested meat based baby foods are good. Liver is fairly rich and can cause diarrhea. I've also had good luck with small amounts of kidney or beef tongue, also with garlic powder added.
                thanks, I nearly bought him some tongue today, I'll stop off for some tomorrow, and get some baby food.

                If we can keep his strength up for a while to give the vets a chance to get his tablets right...well we can only try!


                  ask your vet for ciproheptadine.
                  my dog has diagnosed anorexia, and takes cipro 2x daily so he'll eat. we tried everything under the sun to get him to eat without luck before turning to meds. they really do help though!
                  chaque pas est fait ensemble


                    when my dog has tummy problems, the vet has me cook chicken in water, then remove the bones and cook some rice in the water and give her boiled chicken and rice basically. she's never failed to eat it. .. and thus far we've not had to turn to meds. she's 16 now and I'm not sure how much longer she has, her kidneys are slowly failing, not much we can or will do about it at her age. She's on a special low protien/low salt diet and she -hates- it. Good luck. . it's hard trying to tempt them when they feel bad. =(


                      so sorry about your dog. best wishes to you both as you await bloodwork and more news.

                      Couple of other things you might try are
                      small tidbits of something REALLY tasty, vs. a whole serving... sometimes a few tasty nibbles gets them more engaged with eating a little serving of food just after the tasty appetizer

                      try a little tuna fish from the can. Some dogs do not care for it but I have also known some elderly and otherwise very picky eaters to perk up due to the very strong taste and smell

                      lightly cooked scrambled eggs (just eggs) are sometimes a tempting and fairly easily digested meal

                      cottage cheese is another supplemental food that will sometimes be appealing to dogs and cats when they are not feeling well

                      my final one would be based on the assumption that there are no issues with overall immune system, but raw food can be hugely tempting for them. not sure if you can obtain commercially made raw food where you are? there are a lot of great resources out there on line, as well. I had enormous success with a cat who would just not eat due to how poorly she felt, using a simple raw food diet for a short period of time.

                      best of luck


                        Originally posted by wireweiners View Post
                        As someone else suggested meat based baby foods are good. Liver is fairly rich and can cause diarrhea.
                        Agreed. 1-2 oz daily of liver or other organ meat for a 50# dog.

                        Vegetables are good too. Squash is a favourite of my geriatric non-eater. I cut it into chunks then shred it in the food processor.

                        and sardines, just get the ones in water, not mustard.


                          My dogs will do ANYTHING for a can of sardines in olive oil. You might offer some to your old guy.
                          I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


                            Original Poster

                            Thank you so much for your suggestions. I have my shopping list ready now for tomorrow, I'm happier now I have other food ideas to try him with.

                            Massive thanks.


                              Originally posted by Alexie View Post
                              HorseBabble can I ask a dumb question? do you need to cook the ground beef before adding it to the mix?
                              Nope. Leave it raw. Another big seller for my geriatric canines was canned salmon.


                                My Siberian Husky would only eat mashed potatoes when he would go on his little hunger strikes. I don't know why, but it was the ONLY thing he would eat. I bought packages of butter flavored instant mashed potatoes and just cooked them in the microwave. He would lick the bowl and beg for
                                Rhode Islands are red;
                                North Hollands are blue.
                                Sorry my thoroughbreds
                                Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :


                                  Oh, one last suggestion: warm his food. It will smell stronger and that may help.


                                    I lost my 7 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback to Lymphoma this spring. I had a devil of a time getting him to eat towards the end. At first canned dog food did the trick then that didnt' work anymore. He really loved it when I made him chicken in the crockpot. I would buy chicken quarters at the store & cook them broth in a crock pot ever day, then serve it mixed with brown rice. He also liked scrambled eggs & pizza (not . Something else to consider..sometimes they don't eat because they're nauseous. My vet had me give my dog generic pepcid 2x daily which really seemed to help with his appetite.
                                    "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville


                                      Just try anything and everything. Like someone else suggested, a few bites offered often might be the trick to keeping his weight up until you can get his lab results back. Jingles for your beloved dog, and I hope he feels betters soon.


                                        I have personally found that with older failing pets that when they stop eating is the big sign that it is time to let them go. Every time I've gone down the road of enticing one to eat each day with some new food I've regretted at the end that I didn't euthanize sooner. So sorry...