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Anorexia in dogs: causes, diagnosis and treatment

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Posted on October 18 2018

A dog who does not eat anymore can not be a healthy dog. Canine anorexia is a sign that something is wrong in one's body or mind. The longer it lasts, the more the animal is in danger. It is therefore urgent to have it examined to save it before it is too late.



Dogs are not immune to the troubles that affect us, such as anorexia. Losing the appetite in a sustainable way is not trivial in dogs. This may be due to dysfunction of the central nervous system or a symptom of a serious illness . In either case, the dog must be examined by the veterinarian as soon as possible. The causes of anorexia are many and varied. The treatments proposed are just as dependent, depending on the mechanisms that are at the origin of this evil.

Anorexia due to central nervous system dysfunction

Canine anorexia can be caused by a dysfunction of the central nervous system of the animal. Signals about the feeling of hunger or satiety sent to the brain are skewed, causing the dog to stop feeding . This is called primitive anorexia .

A shock (head trauma, for example), a serious disease directly affecting the brain or a stressful event (moving, hospitalization, disappearance of the master ...) are all factors that can promote a dysfunction of the central nervous system and precipitate the dog in a state anorexia.

The origin of the problem is sometimes to look for behavior or lifestyle . A change in diet can force the animal to refuse the new type of food that is offered. An inadequate diet, such as giving him too much treats , is likely to produce the same effect.

Anorexia following an illness

Anorexia occurring in dogs can, moreover, be a symptom of an underlying disease . Not directly related to dysfunction of the central nervous system, this is called secondary anorexia in this case.

The more or less severe affections which a dog may suffer may, in fact, lead him to stop eating. An animal suffering from kidney failure, suffering from gastroenteritis, having a heart problem or having a diabetes mellitus will inevitably see its diet affected . In some cases, this can actually give rise to a form of anorexia.

When the dog can not feed while he is hungry, if he suffers from oral problems for example (gingivitis, ulcer, tartar accumulation ...) which prevents him from feeding himself, one speaks then of pseudo- anorexia.

Diagnosis and treatment of canine anorexia

To establish a diagnosis, the veterinarian begins by consulting the dog's history , learning about his lifestyle, diet, possible behavioral problems and past illnesses.

Different types of exams are then conducted. It can be palpations, an inspection of the mouth, taking of temperature, analyzes (urine, blood, radiography, ultrasound, endoscopy ...) or all that at the same time. The goal is to identify the cause of anorexia with precision in order to determine the treatment to be applied and the corrective measures to be taken.

If the origin of the disease is strictly medical, the veterinarian will prescribe adequate care. If the causes are behavioral, it will give advice to modify the environment, the food and the feeling of the dog, in particular at the time of the meals: to stop the treats, to modify the frequencies, to make that the animal eats in the calm one and good mood, etc.

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