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APPETITE LOSS

Your pet may turn up her nose at her kibble if shes not feeling 100 percent. The trick is to determine whether the appetite loss is temporary and harmless or if it indicates a more serious problem.

Causes
Appetite loss can be a sign of many different illnesses, from a mild gastrointestinal upset to life-threatening conditions such as cancer or kidney failure.

On the other hand, a pet who refuses to eat may not be sick at all. For example, pets often express their resistance to new foods by staging short hunger strikes. Or your four-legged companion may be feeling the heat during the dog days of summer and choose to lay off the chow.

What You Can Do at Home
To figure out whether your dog has truly lost her appetite or simply dislikes what youve offered try making the food more appealing. For example, add a little water or canned food to moisten up a dry food. Or if you feed your pet canned food and it's been refrigerated, warm it slightly in a microwave.

If that doesn't work, offer your fussy friend her favorite tasty treats. Most dogs like chicken- or beef-flavored baby food. If your pet eats with gusto, it probably wasn't her appetite, but check in with your veterinarian. He or she can examine your pet for medical problems and help you reevaluate your pets diet.

When to Call the Veterinarian
Call the doctor immediately if your pet has additional symptoms, including lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea, or if your pet refuses to eat for more than a day.

An early diagnosis is especially important with puppies, who have low energy reserves and need to eat frequently. Puppies can develop low blood sugar if they go for very long without a meal.

What the Veterinarian Will Do
Your veterinarian will weigh your pet to see if she has lost weight. The doctor also will ask you a series of questions and examine your pet carefully to pinpoint the source of the trouble. Depending on what the exam shows, diagnostic tests such as blood tests and X-rays may be necessary.

Literally hundreds of conditions can cause appetite loss, so remember to be patient. It may take your veterinarian some time to make a diagnosis, but once the underlying problem is remedied, your pet's appetite should return. And you can go back to worrying about what you're having for dinner.