Anorexia in our sick and, or, older patients is a frequent finding.
These canine and feline patients refuse to eat due to their illness. Among the factors affecting the appetite of these patients are nausea and pain, either chronic or acute.
The lack of appetite has serious negative effects on these dogs and cats, and often affects negatively the human members of the family, as they watch their pets, that always had such good appetite, suddenly refuse to eat.
I often hear from these loving owners that if only their pet would start eating again it will impact them as pet owners so positively, and of course will help their pets.
Besides the importance of an accurate diagnosis, treatment and prognosis, these pets need good in home care. Yes, I do believe, that most pets do better at home than in the hospital settings, and I do believe this applies to us people too. Of course if hospitalization is needed it should be done, but it should be done for the shortest period possible.
In home care is essential as part of the healing, or keeping a good quality of life. Offering different types of food as to entice them eat as often as possible. Bringing the food and water to them if they are to weak or tired to go to the food. Showing love and affection and communicating with them and petting, them often reassures them.
Of course, some conditions can not be helped, but even terminal illness can be handled with dignity and as much as possible pain free and nausea free.
In my practice we use newer generation appetite stimulants and anti nausea agents that often improve greatly the quality of life of these patients. Also judicious use of pain medications is part of the treatment.
In summary: anorexia in sick and, or, elder patients is a problem that needs to be addressed with urgency as a means to improve the quality of life and the outcome of illness of these canine and feline patients.
Dr. Ehud Sela
Gentle Vet Animal Hospital,