Have a non-emergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford has some tips for reader Doris on helping her dog cope with appetite and arthritis issues.
Doris' question: How can I increase my 13-year-old, 3.2-pound male Chihuahua's appetite? He is on daily Metacam for painful arthritis. [Editor's note: Metacam is a pain-relief medication for animals.] He sleeps on a heating pad on very low. He had all his teeth removed last year due to very bad gum disease. The only thing he seems to like is chicken and he will skip several, twice-daily regular meals.
[Doris notes that her dog's problems seem to have increased since his mother, with whom he had a strong bond, died last year.] Would getting another girl puppy Chihuahua help to keep him company? I have tried to give him more TLC and attention, but still he is a very poor eater.
Heather Oxford, DVM: Although it is possible that your pup is mourning the loss of his mother, a serious medical condition may be causing the decreased appetite. I have seen this many times in practice, and sometimes the signs of illness were present but not recognized due to focused attention on the ailing older pet.