About Inappetence

Causes of Inappetence

The causes of inappetence are numerous and can be due to physical problems affecting eating. Some dogs may choose not to eat due to an unpalatable diet. Dogs can also develop food aversions.

In addition, if a dog cannot smell due to disease such as an upper respiratory tract infection, they are often unlikely to eat. Systemic disease can also cause inappetence in a multitude of ways. Specifically, chronic illnesses including kidney disease and cancer, as well as nausea, fever, pain, respiratory disease or medications can be involved.

Consequences of Inappetence

When dogs do not eat over a period of time, they experience weight loss and muscle wasting. Owners can be distressed by these effects and often perceive their dog’s quality of life to be poor. Weight loss is an obvious result of a decreased appetite and when nutrition is inadequate, dogs can actually lose disproportionally more muscle as well.

Consequences of a long-term catabolic state may include:1,2,3

  • Decreased survival
  • Decreased musculoskeletal strength
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Decreased immune response
1Ettinger SJ, Feldman EC. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Vol 1. 7th ed. St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier; 2010.
2Lui DT, Brown DC, Silverstein DC. Early nutritional support is associated with decreased length of hospitalization in dogs with septic peritonitis: a retrospective study of 45 cases (2000-2009). J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio). 2012;22(4):453-459.
3Seller CA, Ravalia A. Anaesthetic implications of anorexia nervosa. Anaesthesia. 2003;58(5):437-443.

Appetite Regulation

The regulation of appetite involves the coordination of many signals from the brain (mainly the hypothalamus), peripheral tissues (such as adipose tissue) and endocrine system (such as ghrelin, leptin and insulin).

Ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) binds to specific cell receptors and affects the signaling in the hypothalamus to cause the feeling of hunger which in turn leads to food intake. Ghrelin also impacts energy, homeostasis and metabolism, and is essential for survival.

Appetite Treatment

Decreased appetite can be a symptom from an underlying disease. Historically, with no FDA-approved drugs to stimulate appetite, veterinarians have had limited therapeutic options.

Now, veterinarians have an FDA-approved appetite stimulant in dogs, ENTYCE (capromorelin oral solution). ENTYCE was developed specifically to stimulate appetite and because its mechanism of action mimics ghrelin, it represents a breakthrough in treatment options.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: ENTYCE® (capromorelin oral solution) is for use in dogs only. Do not use in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs. Use with caution in dogs with hepatic dysfunction or renal insufficiency. Adverse reactions in dogs may include diarrhea, vomiting, polydipsia, and hypersalivation. Should not be used in dogs that have a hypersensitivity to capromorelin. Please see the full Prescribing Information for more detail.

Other therapeutics from Aratana

Nocita Logo

NOCITA® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension)

provides post-operative pain relief for cranial cruciate ligament surgery for up to 72 hours.

Now you can be sure dogs are getting the post-surgical pain relief they need even after they leave your clinic.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: NOCITA® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension) is for use in dogs only. Do not use in dogs younger than 5 months of age, dogs used for breeding, or in pregnant or lactating dogs. Do not administer by intravenous or intra-arterial injection. Adverse reactions in dogs may include discharge from incision, incisional inflammation and vomiting. Avoid concurrent use with bupivacaine HCl, lidocaine or other amide local anesthetics. Please see the full Prescribing Information for more detail.