Dogs are usually good eaters, with some breeds like the Labrador Retriever known for their enthusiastic appetite. If your dog refuses food, it can be very stressful. For some pups, their disinterest in food is because they're hoping for something better than what is in their dinner bowl. These dogs need to learn that their optimism is misplaced and that they really should eat what they're given.
For other pets, they're not eating because they're recuperating from an illness or injury. Some medications can cause a loss of appetite, and nausea from treatments (for example, chemotherapy) can put them right off their meal. If pain from a surgical procedure isn't well managed, it's unlikely a dog will be enthusiastic about their meal. The concern in these circumstances is that the lack of good nutrition can slow down their healing and recovery.
To stimulate their appetite and help them along the road to good health, the FDA has recently approved a new medication appropriately named Entyce®. The active ingredient is a molecule called capromelin that mimics the effects of the hormone ghrelin. This hormone is responsible for appetite and a sensation of hunger. The result of treatment with capromelin is an increase in growth hormone secretion and subsequent improved appetite and weight gain.
Entyce is formulated to be easily given to dogs. Many of us hide tablets in food or treats, but this won't work with a dog that isn't interested in food. The medication is a liquid that's measured out and given by mouth in a syringe so it's quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. One of the most common side effects seen during clinical trials was increased salivation.
At the moment, there are few alternatives to Entyce for stimulating a dog's appetite. Most veterinarians would prescribe mirtazapine, which is an anti-anxiety medication and may result in sedation. Using Entyce would allow pet parents to treat only their dog's inappetance without worrying about any of the other effects of drugs such as mirtazapine.
Entyce will only be available through veterinarians. This is because it's essential that any loss of appetite in a pet be evaluated to work out the underlying cause. It's not appropriate to treat a symptom such as loss of appetite without properly managing the reason a dog isn't interested in food. This could result in conditions such as kidney failure being left untreated with adverse effects on a pet's long-term health. There are some circumstances where the use of Entyce isn't appropriate; for example, dogs with diabetes or those who live in multi-dog households where a pet parent isn't able to monitor their food intake. Veterinarians also need to watch for any adverse effects and report them back to the manufacturer.
For those dogs that suffer from ongoing inappetance, such as the elderly, Entyce can also be useful to stimulate their interest in food. This will have the effect of improving their quality of life with increased energy and better nutrition.
Entyce will be available by prescription in early 2017 and will be a very useful addition to the range of pharmaceuticals that benefit our dogs.