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Dog Anorexia

Dog Anorexia

When a dog refuses to eat or eats only a portion of what he needs or what he usually eats every day, this will produce a deficiency in the dog's body.

Most people do not realise that the term Anorexia is used to describe the condition when a dog refuses to eat.

Many dog owners take their dog's eating for granted until their dog actually stops eating. A dog's eating habits are normally controlled by hunger, appetite, and the satisfaction of these two. This control may be adversely affected by emotions, sensations, or the taste of the food.

Disturbance of the dog's natural eating behavior can also be caused by mechanical interruption. Broken jaws, a fish hook in the tongue or a rubber ball stuck in the throat are typical examples of mechanical anorexia.

You may believe, as many dog owners do, that it is normal for all dogs to miss the odd meal and that a missed meal is nothing to be concerned about. However, a healthy dog is always hungry at meal time, just as a healthy person is. So whenever your dog refuses to eat, it is a signal to you that your dog is likely to be unwell. If your dog refuses two meals in a row, you can be certain that there is something wrong, either with your dog or with his food. Missing one meal will not usually be cause for concern - after all, you yourself probably miss the odd meal when you're feeling offcolor, and a good night's sleep may be all that's required. Even missing two meals may not be a signal of a sinister illness in your dog. But once you get past two meals and your dog is still not eating, you need to start becoming worried.

Obviously, a dog will gradually lose weight once he stops eating. A 20 lb Bull Terrier will lose 0.4 pound (six and one-half ounces) each day he refuses to eat. This weight loss occurs because the dog is breaking down and using up his own body. Since there are no nutrients coming in, a dog with anorexia must literally burn itself up in order to obtain the energy and nutrients needed for his essential life functions. When extra demands from disease are piled on those suffering from anorexia, the burn-up is even faster. That Bull Terrier cannot afford to lose lb of his body weight every day for very long!

Included within the weight lost will be fats, carbohydrates and protein. The most important loss to a dog is protein. By the end of only two days of anorexia, that 20 lb Bull Terrier will already have lost about 3% of his total body protein. This becomes increasingly important if one considers that protein is essential not only for normal metabolism but for wound healing, tissue repair and combating infections. Actions to replace the intake of anorectic dogs should be implemented immediately. Unwillingness or failure to overcome the deficiencies of calories and nutrients created by anorexia can mean the difference between recovery and death during an illness.

The same diet the dog was eating before anorexia is suitable, as long as the cause of the anorexia does not make it unsuitable. Because dogs become inactive with anorexia, their calorie need is somewhat less than for most dogs. If they have a fever, however, this rapidly increases their caloric requirements.

Dogs with anorexia may need to be force-fed either by spoon feeding or by intragastric intubation. This type of diet should be fed only long enough to get a dog back to eating satisfactorily on his own and should never become a substitute for actually determining the cause of the anorexia or for overcoming that cause.

So the message here is - if you dog misses a meal, don't panic, but keep an eye on him. Your dog is feeling off color at the very least. If your dog misses a second meal, look for other signs of illness, and if anything seems worrying, consult your vet. And if your dog misses a third meal, you should probably take him to the vet even without any other specific signs of illness. Your dog does not stop eating for no reason, and he needs your help in getting him well again. It's your responsibility to consult your vet.

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