While some dogs and cats are considered “picky eaters,” turning their noses up at all but the tastiest of morsels, others experience inappetence due to underlying medical conditions. It makes sense—you don’t want to eat as much when you’re feeling under the weather, right?
There are a variety of conditions that can affect our pets’ appetites for the worse, or even cause them to stop eating altogether. Chronic pain (think arthritis), kidney disease, liver disease and cancer can all cause anorexia (or decreased appetite) in our pets.
Decreased appetite leads to decreased weight, and for many pets who have chronic medical conditions, it’s a struggle to keep weight on. The negative energy balance that comes with decreased food intake also leaves them feeling drained and even sicker. It can be difficult for owners to see pets shunning their food, especially pets who “live to eat.”
Luckily, there is good news on the horizon. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new veterinary appetite stimulant for use in dogs with decreased appetite due to underlying medical conditions. It’s due to hit the shelves of your veterinarian’s pharmacy in early 2017.
The new drug, called ENTYCE®, mimics a naturally occurring hormone to increase appetite. Ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone,” is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and regulates the appetite by acting on brain cells to increase hunger when our stomach is empty, prompting us (and our four-legged friends) to eat.
By mimicking ghrelin, ENTYCE stimulates the appetite, and studies have shown that the once-a-day drug leads to weight gain as a result. This is huge for pets who seem to be “wasting away” from their lack of appetite. Side effects are rare, but have included vomiting and diarrhea intermittently during treatment.
ENTYCE sounds like it holds great promise for dogs who need some help in the appetite department, and it has been shown to have a wide safety range, so it seems like a no-brainer for chronically ill dogs. But, what about cats? And what about patients who need help now and can’t wait until February 2017, when the drug is slated to be released?
Well, unfortunately for cats, this medication is only currently approved for dogs, though this may change with time. For cats and for pets who need a little encouragement now, try these tasty tips to help with decreased appetite.
It must be stated that if your pet has developed a sudden decreased appetite, she should be seen by a veterinarian ASAP. Going without food can be life threatening within a couple of days for some pets, so don’t wait. But if you’re dealing with chronically decreased appetites in pets with medical conditions, know that help is on the way!