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How do I increase my dogs appetite? I have 2...

Resolved • Response time 1 minute

18 Sep 2021

How do I increase my dogs appetite? I have 2 GSDs. 5years and 3 years old and both are very fussy eaters. I've tried changing their diets and noticed that for the first few days of changing their diet, they eat well and then again they fuss around (almost like they get bored of eating the same food). Is there a hunger stimulant that can be given?
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18 Sep 2021

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Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

Hello, this is Dr. Erin.  I am a licensed Veterinarian with over 20 years of experience.  You may see a phone call request that is automatically generated by the website. If you prefer, select the phone call option for an additional fee.  You may ignore the request, and we will continue the chat via text. I may need to respond with several follow up questions so I can best help you.

Veterinary Practice Laws in my state only allow me to provide general advice regarding your pet’s health condition. I cannot provide a diagnosis or prescribe medications without performing an in- person physical exam on your pet.  I will help you decide if the problem with your pet is something you can manage at home, or if additional diagnostic testing or treatment needs to be performed by a veterinarian.

It takes a little time to write my answers to you, so please be patient as I may be writing a message to you or another concerned pet owner.

May I ask what you are currently feeding?  How many times per day?

WHat is the current weight of your dogs?

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
I feed them twice a day (morning and night), mainly rice and boiled chicken. They don't like cooked vegetables but they do eat raw vegetables. I feed them a few pieces of fruits, veggies and boiled egg sometime post noon-ish since I feel the 12hr gap is too long. I have tried feeding them smaller amounts 3 times a day, but they don't eat and I feel probably they understand it's the same food 3 times and hence detest it. So I switched to 2 meals and snack in between
My boy is 3 yrs old and weighs 21kgs and my girl is 5 yrs old and weighs 23kg (Both GSDs). Active otherwise
18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
By the way, thanks for taking up my question today, Dr. Erin. Hope you can help with some good suggestions :)
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

I see that you are writing from India… I am not sure if you are able to get the same items that we can in the US.  One thing to consider is are your dogs:  Normal Weight?  Overweight?  Underweight?

In German SHepherds, it is really a very good idea to keep them on the border of underweight to normal weight as they tens to really suffer from the effects of hip disease and arthritis later in life.  Keeping them light will minimize stress on the joints and has shown to improve overall quality and duration of life in large dogs.

The home cooked diet or rice and chicken may be missing some important “micro-nutrition” that may be responsible for problems down the road.    There is a good resource Called www.balance it.com that can help design a more balanced home cooked meal including supplements.

Reducing feeding to once a day will alllow dogs to actually GET HUNGRY between meals and they may be more likely to show interest in the food with the longer fast in between.

There IS a medication to increase appetite - but that’s reserved for ill pets who have poor appetite - it is called ENTYCE

Using flavor enhancing toppers on meals can also help - chicken broth, some tomato sauce, small amount of crumbled Parmesan cheese, cinnamon powder, or anything that has a lot of aroma/flavor may encourage dogs to go back to the bowl.

And, some dogs are just meant to be lean, and Just eat enough to sustain themselves.

If they have not been checked by your vet for parasites, consider that too.

I hope I have offered some useful suggestions.

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Thank you doctor. Those are helpful. They are pretty much on a one-time meal a day, coz though I keep food out for them 2ce, they properly eat only 1 of the meal. The other meal is wasted. But I just feel that 1 meal in 24hrs is too less. Sometimes, they starve so much that they end up puking due to gastritis :( I do resort to force-feeding them since I don't want them to puke every day. I notice that there are days when they are hungry, they go to their bowls, sniff the food and then just turn around and walk off! I hear their tummy growl in hunger, but they don't eat. That's what worries me everytime.
I did try meal enhancers which worked for a few months, but we got right back to square 1. Hahaha
18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
their meal does include chicken broth, a tad of tumeric powder and small amount of millets too (ground to powder)
18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
I've heard tomatoes should not be fed to dogs.. What kind of tomato sauce are you suggesting, doc?
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

Tomato that is ripe is safe - green tomato not - I use a drop of tomato ketchup - it has a LOT of savory seasonings that enhance flavors.

It sounds like you are doing things right.

You can also try some over the counter antacids to reduce gastritis such as Pepcid (Famotidine) at 10mg twice a day to see if that reduced the rumbling stomach noises too.

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
I've never tried ketchup. This is the first time I'm hearing about giving it to dogs. But I guess it's worth a try.
Well, these are not my first dogs that I own. I had a lab who was 15yrs when I had to put him down last year due to health reasons and I also had a cocker spaniel who was 6yrs old when she passed away 2 yrs ago (natural death). I was also a dog boarder, coz I'm passionate about them. But these 2 leave me clueless sometimes! You wouldn't be wrong if you said I'm comparing my labs' appetite to theirs. People have told me that before, but 1 meal a day..ummm I don't think I'm asking for too much.
18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
I try not to give antacids or too much or too frequent of any tablets for that matter. I usually stick to half a spoon of glucose powder. But the matter is I don't want it to get to a state where they puke or stay hungry for long durations. I just want them to eat normal. That's all
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

LOL.  A lot of dogs prefer a single meal per day - and Ive had to get rather creative trying to get dogs eating - so a small bit of lots of high flavor ingredients such a Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, and even ketchup can be a successful flavor enhancer.  It’s really just enough to stimulate the sensitive nose of dogs to at least TRY their food and get back to finding their meals interesting.

Making sure there’s no medical reason for the appetite issues is important.  And German Shepherds are pretty famous for having very sensitive digestion.  It can be rather frustrating!

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Ive had to get rather creative trying to get dogs eating - hahahah I totally get you there!
Would you recommend switching over to raw meat(or boiled meat) diet, Dr. Erin? If yes, how much meat can I feed them?
18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
I'm a vegetarian by birth and choice but I'm learning about non-veg food thanks to my fussies, so honestly, it does disgust me to get anything other than chicken. Took me quite a few months to be okay with chicken meat in the house
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

You are already feeding a meat based diet - so changing to a raw isn’t going to be much different - some dogs like raw, but many are a bit offended when given a bowl of it.  Meat alone does not have all the nutrition needed to remain healthy - there are great books and websites dedicated to help people try to calculate the percentages of meat/bone/organ/veg… its a rather complicated math problem getting it balanced.

Oh then you will be horrified at making raw balanced diet if you are vegetarian

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Lol. True about the horrified part, but I'm willing to give it a try (if they take to it, it's worth the sacrifice)
These guys like raw but they end up with loosies even with just 1 piece of raw chicken. No problem if I boil the chicken though. You're certainly right about them having a weak digestive system!
18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Well, I'm going to try your tip about the ketchup and cinnamon see how it works *fingers crossed* If not, then I guess I'm just going to have to live with it the way it has been for the past few years. Lol
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

When switching to raw I usually hear people starting with one raw chicken wing.  To acclimate the dogs to the raw - but you may very well get some spectacular diarrhea… I’d honestly stay with prepared diet or home cooked.

18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

Parmesan cheese sprinkles are really helpful too…

18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

I will be wishing you lots of success…. I feel your pain - I lived with a really picky skinny dog for 15 years…. He made me get REALLY CREATIVE!

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18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Awww.. he's cute!! Can't imagine him being picky! Well, I just tried adding a bit of ketchup to their food now. They are at their bowls and eating..not voraciously, but yeah atleast eating. So that's a relief. Last 2 questions, I promise..hahaha. Is it safe to mix a bit of ketchup or cinnamon everyday though? and can I give any kind of cheese or specifically only Parmesan cheese?
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

I promise they will get tired of all of it- you might have to rotate.   Use one thing til it stops working (also scrambled egg, yogurt (no artificial sweeteners)

I swear he was the pickiest eater I ever met.

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Yogurt they love!!! It's a good pro-biotic too so I give that sometimes when I hear the tummy rumble. But they don't food that's got yogurt mixed in it. I literally just want to bang my head to the wall somedays. Hahah
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

Keep fighting the good fight!  Sounds like you’re doing everything right!

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Could you clarify about the cheese though and is it okay to mix a lil ketchup to their meal everyday? (Though it didn't exactly work now)
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

You can mix a bit of whatever is working in as needed.    The powdered Kraft Parmesan cheese is what I use here - not sure if available in India… its a powdered cheese with loads of flavor and aroma.    A tiny spoonful on food is deli

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18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

Delicious.

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
I shall check for that on Amazon. But thank you again so much for listening to me and trying to help Dr. Erin! I really appreciate the suggestions and the quick responses :)
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin

It’s a pleasure.  Enjoy your weekend!!!  Hope I gave you some things to try.

Also soft boiled egg - nice and runny - will coat food.

18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Somehow, they like to eat individual items but just not when it's mixed in their food. Like yogurt by itself is great, when mixed with food, not so much. Same with Egg (boiled, scrambled..doesn't matter) great taste by itself, but when mixed with food, they pick out the places which have the egg and leave the rest of the food untouched. Royal canin, a handful is great as an evening snack but not as a meal. I can go on and on till the weekend gets over. Lol
18 Sep 2021
Customer reply
18 Sep 2021
Well, anyway, you have an amazing weekend too Dr. Erin and thanks again for all your help :)
18 Sep 2021
Dog Specialist's response
18 Sep 2021
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin
It’s a pleasure.
Dr. Erin
Dr. Erin
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18 Sep 2021
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