YIKES! My Diabetic Dog Won’t Eat!

Today we will talk about what to do when our pup won’t eat.  We all know that we need our Diabetic Dog to eat so that they can get their insulin.  There will come a day when your pup doesn’t want to eat.  Now what do you do?  First, you don’t panic.  It may just be a one-time thing.  If it becomes a pattern, then we need to try to get to the bottom of things.

At first, you’ll want to record your observations in your journal. Pay attention to any symptoms that your pup is exhibiting before meals, is he/she licking their lips, wanting to eat grass, seeming uncomfortable?  If so, it’s possible that your pup is feeling nauseous.  Some dogs that are food motivated will likely push through it, eat their meal and be just fine.  If your pup is not food motivated, then you need to try to get to the root of the problem so that you can get consistent food and insulin injections into your pup.

I know that I have mentioned in past posts, that I am all about getting to the root of the problem instead of just treating the symptom.  Also, if there is a natural way as opposed to a chemical way that is my preference.  In previous posts I have talked about Pancreatitis and DKA so you can just click on those and see if your pup is exhibiting any of those symptoms.

If your pup has sounds coming from their belly, you likely won’t get them to eat without taking a couple steps first.  One of my pups (not my diabetic) had bouts of horrible noises that would come from his belly.  They would wake me up at night from a sound sleep, so I can only imagine how uncomfortable he was.  The only way that I could get him to eat was to take him for a short walk and see if the movement would help him feel better.  Depending on how exercise affects your pup, you may need to just make it a very short walk.  Another trick was that we would play hide and go seek through the house and when they found me they would get a treat.  He would refuse the first few, but after a bit he would forget about his stomach and take the treat and from then on, he would eat.

There are lots of “toppers” that you can use to entice your pup to eat.  My “go to” was a sprinkle of Kraft Parmesan cheese on top of his food.  On the rare occasion that the Parmesan cheese failed, I would make gravy of Beechnut baby food and warm water.  I used the Meat and broth flavors (Chicken, Turkey or beef) to dilute and make gravy.  Many have had success with some of the tuna water from a can of tuna packed in water or sardine water from a can of sardines packed in water.  When it comes to encouraging them to eat, the stinkier the topper the better.  We all think that dogs have a heightened sense of taste, really, they have a heightened sense of smell, and they don’t taste as well as we do.

If the morning meal is your challenge, it’s probable that your pup is too empty from no food for 12 hours and they have bile built up in their tummy and it’s making them nauseous.  I gave my boys a little snack right before bed (chicken breast cubes) so that they didn’t get too empty.  Westies are notorious for vomiting bile if they get too empty, so I made sure that it didn’t happen.  You can also try a little bit of unsweetened applesauce right before bed (about 1 tsp for every 15 lbs).  If you give D-Mannose to keep those pesky UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections) away, you could mix that in the apple sauce right before bed.

Now if all the above suggestions don’t work and you feel like you need to give medication, you can give a Pepcid (¼ tablet for under 20 lbs, ½ tablet for 20-60 lbs, 1 tablet for over 60 lbs.) before bed or 30 minutes before breakfast if you have time for that. If you’re not having any luck with any of the protocols mentioned, you can ask your vet for Mirtazapine to stimulate appetite.  Many of them will suggest Entyce. We have seen different results with Entyce in our Facebook group (Canine Diabetes Support and Information), some pups BG (Blood Glucose) goes up on the Entyce and some are not affected at all.  The only way to know is to try it and test before and after to see if it affects your numbers.  I haven’t seen any effect on numbers with the Mirtazapine, but as we all know, every pup is different and the only way to know for sure is to try it and test to see.

If you can’t get your pup to eat, then adjust your dose according to how much they will eat. When adjusting your dose, keep in mind that the first ¼ - ½ of your dose goes to cover basic metabolic function like breathing and heart rate, etc. If your pup doesn’t eat, please don’t give a full dose of insulin, even if your pup is over 200.  Without food to carry the insulin, you can find yourself in trouble in a hurry.  In general, if your pup is over 200 and eats ¾ of their meal, you’d give ¾ of their dose, if they eat ½ of their meal, then you’d give ½ of their dose if they are at or over 200 BG, if they eat ¼ of their meal and their BG is over 200, you’d give ¼ of their normal dose.  Those are the guidelines that we follow in our group, but you may want to talk to your vet about their suggestions in that situation.

I hope that you have some good luck getting your pup to eat.  If you have any tips or tricks that work for you and may help the rest of us, please share in the comments below.

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Until next time….