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Appetite Stimulants for Dogs: 6 Vet-Recommended Picks

Dog eating from food bowl excited to eat
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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

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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

Dog laying next to food bowl not eating

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. 

6 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: Virbac Rebound Recuperation Formula

Virbac Rebound Recuperation Formula for Dogs

If your dog isn’t eating after surgery or after having gastrointestinal problems, the Virbac Rebound Recuperation Formula is designed to help get them feeling back to normal. This over-the-counter appetite stimulant provides vital nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, and prebiotics, and it also encourages your pup to eat and hydrate during recovery. The liquid formula can be used for dogs of all ages, and it can be given with or without food. Just keep in mind that Rebound is meant to be a short-term solution, as it has a shelf life of just a few days after the bottle is opened. 


  • Over-the-counter availability
  • Helps dogs recuperate from surgery or sickness
  • Appropriate for all ages
  • Includes vitamins and minerals, prebiotics, fatty acids, and amino acids
  • Can be given with or without food


  • Short shelf life

Best Prescription Appetite Stimulant for Dogs

Our Pick: Entyce Oral Solution

Entyce Oral Solution for Dogs

If your dog isn’t eating due to a medical condition, your veterinarian may prescribe a product like Entyce. “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,” making them want 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. 


  • Used to treat lack of appetite caused by chronic and acute conditions
  • Liquid formula 
  • Given once daily
  • FDA approved


  • Only available via prescription 
  • Some owners say their dogs don’t like the vanilla flavor
  • Higher price point

Best Gel Formula

Our Pick: Tomlyn Nutri-Cal High Calorie Nutritional Gel for Dogs

Tomlyn NutriCal Tube Dog

You can encourage your dog to eat and make sure they’re getting adequate nutrition with the Tomlyn Nutri-Cal Gel. This high-calorie nutritional gel is formulated with vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids for your dog’s health, and it contains 28 kcal per teaspoon to help promote weight gain. The over-the-counter gel is available for both dogs and puppies, and it has a malt flavor that may encourage your dog to eat when it’s mixed with their regular food. However, the brand notes that the product is intended for “intermittent or supplemental use only” and isn’t a long-term solution for inappetence. 


  • 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 
  • Higher price point

Best for Picky Eaters

Our Pick: Stella & Chewy’s Marie’s Magical Dinner Dust

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Marie's Magical Dinner Dust

Designed with picky eaters in mind, this meal topper is made from freeze-dried raw meat and comes in several protein flavors, including chicken, duck, beef, and bacon. The formula contains 95% meat, organ, and bones, as well as some organic fruits and veggies, and it’s grain- and gluten-free with no binders. All you have to do is mix a little into your dog’s regular food, and the enticing smell and flavor will generally encourage them to eat up. 


  • Over-the-counter availability
  • Multiple protein flavors available
  • Made from responsibly sourced meat
  • Easy to pour
  • Made in the USA


  • Some customers reported that once their dog got used to the product, it was no longer effective

Best Appetite Stimulant Topper

Our Pick: Dr. Becker’s Bites Appetite Flakes

Dr. Becker's Bites Appetite Flakes

You can give your dog a little extra incentive to eat with Dr. Becker’s Bites Appetite Flakes. A great option if your dog has grown bored with their regular kibble, these tasty flakes are made from 100% dried beef and bison liver, and they’re free of grain, gluten, and any filler. All you have to do is sprinkle some onto your dog’s food, and the tasty smell will encourage them to eat. The flakes come in a convenient shake-top 4.5 oz container, and they can be given to cats, as well. 


  • Enticing flavor
  • Suitable for cats and dogs
  • No grains, gluten, or fillers 
  • Shake-top container
  • Made in the USA


  • Large flake size allows pets to pick them out of their food and avoid eating the rest of their meal

Best Freeze-Dried Appetite Stimulant

Our Pick: Raw Paws Boost Pet Food Topper

Raw Paws Boost Flavor & Nutrition Pet Food Topper

Raw Paws Boost is another meal topper that you can use to stimulate your dog’s appetite. This natural appetite stimulant for dogs comes in several flavors, including freeze-dried beef liver, sweet potato, pumpkin, and cheddar cheese, allowing you to select an option that will appeal to your pup. The powder topper is made in the USA, and it comes in a convenient shake-top jar so you can simply sprinkle a bit of the mixture into your dog’s food. Alternatively, the brand says you can mix the powder with water to make a gravy-style food topper. 


  • Multiple flavors available
  • Contains beneficial vitamins and nutrients
  • Convenient shake-top container
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Made in the USA
  • 100% money-back guarantee


  • Some pet owners report that their pets didn’t like the taste
  • Higher price point for the amount of product you receive

Other Ways to Stimulate Your Dog’s Appetite

Happy dog waiting for food

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.”

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