Having a dog with cancer can be a heartbreaking and challenging experience. When your sick dog stops eating, maintaining their health becomes even more difficult. Just as in humans, cancer can lead to decreased appetite in dogs. Both humans and dogs battling cancer need to eat a nutritious diet to help fight the disease and to avoid malnutrition.
Increasing Your Dog's Appetite
Consult your veterinarian if you notice that your dog's appetite has changed. A dog with cancer may experience lack of appetite for a number of reasons. Vets are accustomed to the issues related to animals who have cancer and can give you the proper diagnosis and treatment plan.2
Make sure your dog with cancer is drinking water throughout the day. Dehydration can exacerbate the effects of cancer and lead to further decrease in appetite. You might try serving water at different temperatures and in different locations to stimulate more consumption.3
Change your dog's diet to help increase her appetite. A high-quality and nutritious diet is always important, but certain nutrients are more important when your dog is ill. Tumors can feed off of carbohydrates, a dog with cancer should eat a diet that's higher in fat and includes Omega 3 fatty acids and protein.
To keep your pet interested in eating, consider trying different flavors of canned food. Warming your dog's food might also make the meal more palatable. Consider offering smaller meals served more often--your dog may quickly lose interest in eating, and offering several meals a day may help him keep his intake levels where they need to be.
Finally, try different foods in different settings. Sometimes dogs associate eating with the pain of cancer, so a new experience can help ease their nerves.4
Consider how your dog's medications may be affecting his appetite. Dogs with cancer often lose weight due to decreased intake of calories and the metabolic effects of cancer. Tumors can make eating and digesting hard and painful. If your pet is on medication, that can also influence intake and digestion.
If you suspect that your dog's medications are affecting her appetite, talk to your vet about anti-nausea drugs. Alternately, your vet might prescribe other drugs to help with the problem. Keep in mind that most drugs have mixed success in stimulating appetite in dogs with cancer.5
Investigate alternative therapies for your favorite pet. Some holistic doctors believe that herbs and supplements can help pets recover quicker and regain their appetite and energy. Some commonly recommended herbs are Astragalus, Echinacea, Milk Thistle, and Selenium. Some supplements for dogs include these herbs. Other options include acupuncture and massage for pets. Your vet may be able to recommend an expert who specializes in alternative therapies for pets.