Dog with IBD won’t eat – here’s what you can do

Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in dogs can include a lack of appetite. IBD causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which can alter the physiological shape of their small or large intestines and stomach. The swelling can cause dogs to become unwilling to eat if they feel uncomfortable. Like people, if a dog has been vomiting or passing diarrhea, food can become unappetizing and the last thing on their mind when they’re not feeling well. Most medication needs to be consumed with food so many owners who are treating their dogs with IBD can find it difficult to properly medicate them while their appetites are at an all-time low. Here are a few ways to make food at appealing as possible for unwell pets to help them start to regain their strength and get them feeling back to normal. 

Make sure food is highly palatable

First and foremost, the food you are offering your dog needs to be tempting. It needs to contain a good source of protein and ideally one that won’t make any symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea worse. If you haven’t already, consider discussing a trial of different foods to try and figure out what food will cause fewer stomach upsets. Some dogs need high fiber, some need just a single source of protein or a hypoallergenic diet. Once you’re sure the ibd food is the right food for your dog, there are a few ways of making it a little more appealing. 

If you’re feeding dry kibble, adding some warm water will help to make the food smell as tempting as possible. The warm soupy water with the kibble might be just what your dog needs to kick their appetite back into gear. One step further would be soaking their food in hot water long enough to mash it into a paste-like substance so your dog can lap it up instead of having to chew it. If you’re struggling with commercial diets and nothing is working, many people have taken to cooking homemade meals to ensure their dogs are having only high-quality ingredients that help get their dogs feeling better, faster. Cooking homemade meals for your dog will enable you to know exactly what is going into it with no extra additives that may make their symptoms worse. When freshly cooked protein is used in homecooked meals, it can reignite your dog’s interest in their mealtimes. 

Little and often

If you’re feeling sick and lethargic, nothing looks worse than a big plate full of food in front of you! Just like when we’re unwell, the sight of food can put some dogs off eating and large portions will be more intimidating than usual. Try breaking down their meals into more frequent, smaller portions to slowly rebuild their confidence. Four or five meals a day are usually recommended, evenly spread, and can gradually be reduced as your dog’s appetite returns to normal. 

Medication from the vets

If you have exhausted every avenue and tried to make meals as tempting and tasty as possible and your dog is still not eating, a trip to the vet is your next best call. It’s a good idea to make sure they are hydrated and well in themselves in other aspects but the vet may also recommend a steroid treatment or other medication to try and stimulate their appetite.