There are a wide range of reasons that your dog may not have an appetite—it could be because they’re getting older, feeling sick, or just tired of their usual kibble. However, it’s concerning when your pet doesn’t want to eat, and if it becomes an ongoing issue, an appetite stimulant for dogs can often help your pup resume their normal mealtime habits.
Best Dog Appetite Stimulants
All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the Great Pet Care editorial team and do not reflect a direct endorsement by the author.
- Best Overall: Entyce Oral Solution
- Best Tablet Appetite Stimulant for Dogs: Mirtazapine Tablets
- Best Liquid Appetite Stimulant for Dogs: Metoclopramide
- Best Non-Prescription: Nutritional Support Powder for Dogs
- Best Gel Formula: Nutri-Cal Oral Gel
- Best for Puppies: Royal Canin Appetite Stimulation Dog Food for Puppies
- Best Tasting: Nutrisentials Lean Treats Nutritional Rewards for Dogs
What Are Appetite Stimulants for Dogs?
There are two main types of appetite stimulants for dogs that you’ll find today: prescription and over-the-counter.
As you might expect, prescription appetite stimulants are generally the most effective option. “Appetite stimulants in dogs work directly in the brain,” says Dr. Katie Pagán, partner doctor at Heart + Paw Fells Point. “They stimulate receptors, specifically the hypothalamus, that help with appetite.” Because these appetite stimulant medications must be prescribed by a veterinarian, they’re often used when underlying medical issues are causing your dog not to eat.
However, there are also over-the-counter dog appetite stimulants that you can try if your pup is just picky about their food. These non-prescription products come in a variety of forms — liquids, nutritional gels, meal toppers, and more — and they often have an enticing smell or taste that encourages your dog to eat. Many also contain vitamins, minerals, and more to ensure your dog is getting appropriate nutrients, even if they’re not eating as much as usual.
Why Your Dog Might Need an Appetite Stimulant
There are a number of medical issues that can cause a decreased appetite in dogs, ranging from infections to more serious conditions like liver or kidney disease, so it’s important to talk to your dog’s veterinarian if a lack of appetite is an ongoing problem. “We usually prescribe appetite stimulants in dogs post surgery or if they have underlying issues, like cancer, where they may not want to eat,” explains Dr. Pagán.
However, an occasional lack of appetite may simply be due to an upset stomach, old age, or emotional distress. For example, it’s common for dogs not to eat as usual when they’re boarded, as they’re stressed to be in a new environment without their owners. Some dogs also simply get tired of eating the same food every day and lose their appetite for it.
7 Best Appetite Stimulants for Dogs
If you’re looking for a dog appetite stimulant to encourage your pup to eat, these are some of the most popular products you may want to try.
Best Overall Appetite Stimulant for Dogs
Our Pick: Entyce Oral Solution
If your dog isn’t eating due to a medical condition, your veterinarian may prescribe a product like Entyce (capromorelin oral solution). “The only FDA-approved appetite stimulant is Entyce,” says Dr. Pagán. “It is my personal favorite.” The liquid formula is given to your dog once a day via their mouth, and it mimics your dog’s natural “hunger hormone,” encouraging them to eat. Entyce for dogs comes in 10 ml, 15 ml, or 30 ml bottles, and while it is quite expensive, most pet parents report that it greatly improves their dog’s appetite.
- Prescription medication
- Used to treat lack of appetite caused by chronic and acute conditions
- Easy-to-administer liquid formula
- Comes with dosing syringe
- Give once daily
- FDA approved
- Some dogs may not like the vanilla flavor
- Pricey, but effective
Best Tablet Appetite Stimulant for Dogs
Our Pick: Mirtazapine Tablets
If your dog isn’t eating due to an illness, such as kidney, liver, or stomach disease, your veterinarian may prescribe Mirtazapine to help rekindle their appetite. Mirtazapine is generally used as an antidepressant, but can be used to treat unwanted weight loss, as well. It works by blocking signals from the intestine and stomach to the brain, helping reduce nausea and increase your pet’s appetite.
In addition to tablets, Mirtazapine also comes in compounded options, including capsules and mini-melt tablets designed to disintegrate quickly so your pup won’t even have a chance to spit them out. While not FDA-approved for use in dogs, veterinarians commonly prescribe mirtazapine off-label for their canine clients.
Because the medication can cause low blood pressure, it’s not typically recommended for dogs diagnosed with cardiac or cerebrovascular disease.
- Prescription medication
- Helps to prevent nausea and improve appetite
- Used for dogs suffering weight loss due to illness
- Available in tablet form
- Also available in compounded formulations, including mini-melt tablets and capsules
Things to Consider
- Can cause drowsiness and hypotension
- May not be suitable for cats with cardiac or cerebrovascular disease
Best Liquid Appetite Stimulant for Dogs
Our Pick: Metoclopramide
Metoclopramide delivers a dual solution to help combat loss of appetite in dogs due to nausea or illness. This convenient liquid medication works on two fronts: It works in the brain to control the sensation of nausea and it works in the gut to soothe and improve stomach contractions, promoting easier digestion.
Metoclopramide is available in both liquid and tablet format. Because it works by penetrating the brain-blood barrier, it is not recommended for use in dogs prone to seizures.
- Prescription medication
- Used to treat inappetence and weight loss, due to a variety of conditions
- Available in easy-to-administer liquid, as well as tablets
- Also available under the brand name Reglan
- Some dogs may not like the flavor
- Constipation is a side effect, though it is rare
Best Non-Prescription Appetite Stimulant for Dogs
Our Pick: Nutritional Support Powder for Dogs
Not all cases of inappetence are linked to illness. Some dogs may exhibit signs of poor appetite just because they’re not excited about what’s on the menu. If you’d rather not switch your dog from their regular diet, Nutritional Support Powder for Dogs could be the perfect solution for your picky eater.
This veterinarian-formulated powder is made with dried liver and salmon, so it has the taste dogs love. Plus, it contains a nutrient-dense blend of powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids to help promote your pup’s overall wellness and energy level.
It’s designed to be added to any commercial dog food diet. So simply sprinkle it over your dog’s food, and the enticing flavor will generally encourage them to eat up.
- Available without a prescription
- Contains real liver and fish protein
- Easy to add to any meal
- Daily dose: 1 tsp for dogs under 50 lbs, 2 tsp for dogs 50-100 lbs, 1 tbsp for dogs over 100 lbs
- May not appeal to dogs with illness-related inappetence
Best Gel Formula Appetite Stimulant for Dogs
Our Pick: Nutri-Cal Oral Gel
You can encourage your dog to eat and make sure they’re getting adequate nutrition with Nutri-Cal Gel from Vetoquinol. This high-calorie, highly palatable nutritional gel is formulated with vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids for your dog’s health. The over-the-counter gel is available for both dogs and puppies, and it has a malt flavor designed to encourage your dog to eat. You can add the tasty gel to your dog’s food or, if they show no interest in their food bowl, you can simply apply the gel to your pup’s nose or paws so they can lick it off. Note, however, that the product is intended for “intermittent or supplemental use only” and isn’t a long-term solution for poor appetite.
- Over-the-counter availability
- Veterinarian formulated
- Includes vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids
- High in calories to support weight gain
- Appealing malt flavor
- Not intended for long-term use
Best Appetite Stimulant for Puppies
If an adult dog misses a meal, it’s not likely to impact their health much, if at all. However, growing puppies require consistent, nutritious meals to stay healthy because they don’t yet have fat reserves that can sustain them if they miss a meal. So if your pup suddenly stages a hunger strike, it’s important to get them to the vet to rule out any underlying health reasons. If your vet gives them a clean bill of health, a puppy food formula that’s designed to encourage your pup’s appetite can help get them back on track. This irresistible option from Royal Canin provides all the nutrition active puppies need to thrive, delivered in a tantalizing wet food formula that combines a meaty loaf in rich sauce — the perfect remedy to pique your pup’s appetite.
- Veterinarian formulated
- No prescription required
- Formulated to stimulate your pup’s appetite
- Made with highly-digestible animal proteins that are easy on your pup’s stomach
- Provides the essential calories, vitamins, and minerals to support puppy energy needs
- Meets AAFCO nutrient profile standards for growth, including growth of large size dog
- Can be mixed with kibble or fed as a complete meal
- Higher price point
- Designed for small dogs up to 22 lbs
Best Tasting Appetite Stimulant for Dogs
Though these irresistible treats are designed to provide extra motivation during training, that motivation could also apply when it comes to enticing dogs with low appetites to eat! They’re made with real chicken and chicken liver to tempt those canine taste buds. Plus, they’re low in fat and packed with wholesome ingredients, vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Tuck one or two into your dog’s food bowl to re-engage their interest in mealtime.
- Available exclusively from your veterinarian
- Made with real chicken and chicken liver
- Designed to motivate and engage your dog
- 2.7 kcals/treat
- Though low in fat and calories, these treats can add up fast, so feed them in moderation
Other Ways to Stimulate Your Dog’s Appetite
There are a number of other ways to stimulate your dog’s appetite, especially if they’re just bored with their regular kibble. “You can try stimulating your dog’s appetite by offering different types of foods,” recommends Dr. Pagán. “Microwaving wet food can work well or even adding a scoop or two of meat-flavored baby food to your dog’s food. Different smells or strong food smells can entice them to eat on their own.”
If you do microwave your pet’s food, check the food’s temperature before feeding to reduce the risk of burns. And if you add baby food, avoid any foods containing onion or garlic, which can be toxic to dogs.
You may also want to try cutting back on treats and scraps. A dog that is eating a diet high in treats may not eat much dog food for nutrition, because they’re getting plenty of calories from other sources. Additionally, frequent treats and table scraps can turn your dog into a picky eater, making them less likely to eat their own food.
Finally, increasing the amount of exercise your dog gets each day can ensure they’re hungry at meal time.
Appetite Stimulants for Dogs: Tips and Precautions
If your dog hasn’t been eating as usual, you’ll want to take them to the vet to confirm that there’s no larger medical condition at play. “Always consult with your veterinarian first before giving your dog an appetite stimulant,” recommends Dr. Pagán. They’ll be able to provide a prescription appetite stimulant as needed or recommend an over-the-counter option to try, as well as guidance on how to use the product effectively.
When giving your dog an appetite stimulant, it’s important to keep an eye on their well-being to ensure the supplement doesn’t cause any additional problems or gastrointestinal distress. “Appetite stimulants are typically prescribed to sick dogs, so owners must be mindful of that,” she says. “Pet parents should be watching at home for any vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or anorexia.”