Anxiety can cause animals to have a reduced appetite or do the opposite and over-eat (much like humans turning to comfort food) or snatch at food offered to them. However, these changes can also be due to many different medical issues, so it is vital to take your pet to the vet to get them checked out if they show any changes to their appetite – or weight loss or gain despite no change in their appetite.
Sometimes owners can think their pet is not eating well, but actually their dog or cat is successfully self-regulating their food intake (in other words, they require less food than an owner thinks they need!). Unless specific feeding advice has been given by the vet, avoid free-feeding pets so that you are able to monitor – and better control – their intake.
Even with a good appetite, weight can also be affected by anxiety – a restless dog or cat who struggles to sleep well and is always on the go will burn more calories, and may struggle to keep weight on.
How can I encourage my pet to eat well?
Speak to your vet about your pet’s poor appetite and discuss diet options with them. Increasing the value of the food by making mealtimes more fun can help reduce anxiety as well as increase motivation to eat.
Cats in particular, can be fed exclusively from activity feeders, either homemade or shop bought. The idea is that the pet has to manipulate the item in some way, to gain access to the food. It’s important to start off with easy access and gradually make the food harder to access (e.g. smaller holes, fewer holes, more manipulation required before food is accessed etc).
Generally speaking, dogs are social eaters and cats are solitary feeders, so if you’ve multiple cats, it’s best to provide them with different feeding stations so they’re not forced to eat near each other – as this can cause them to have a poor appetite as they would rather avoid other cats in the home. Be aware that tension between cats can be extremely subtle and not always obvious to owners – sometimes signs such as poor feeding behaviour are the only clues.
Some dogs will prefer company while they eat, but should never be disturbed while feeding, where others may find the potential competition too stressful. If your dog gulps its food down or seems reluctant to eat, try feeding them somewhere they can be left alone.
Zylkene could help your pet feel more relaxed. There are many signs to look for, so discover more here and see if your pet could benefit from using Zylkene calming supplement.