Anorexia in Animals: A Guide for Pet Owners

As pet owners, we take great pride in providing our animals with the best quality care and love possible. We go to great lengths to ensure our pets have the best veterinary team, nutrition, and exercise routine because we care so much about our pet’s needs and wants, and we recognize that our advocacy is the only way our animals can get them fulfilled. You work so hard to give your animals everything, and it can feel really frustrating when they are showing signs of sickness.  Part of animal health care is understanding that health conditions are affected by factors outside our control, but that does not mean the problem cannot be resolved. These external factors can even disrupt nutrition-related care, like the feeding routine you have down to a science, or your animal’s appetite. For this blog, we will focus on anorexia in animals to give you a better understanding of how your pet operates and how you can help them fight their eating disorder. 

If you have noticed a change in your animal’s eating habits, contact a trusted veterinary professional immediately. Give our experienced staff a call at (307) 347-2781, or come by our clinic directly, as long as you take action ASAP! 


As mentioned, there are a wide range of reasons why your pet might be struggling to eat, which complicates the treatment process. The first step to treat anorexia is to find the underlying cause. Typically, an animal’s reason for anorexia falls within one of these categories: 

  • Underlying health conditions 
  • External factors 
  • Food itself 

Let’s discuss each of the aforementioned categories to get a better understanding of what your animal may be experiencing. 

Underlying Health Conditions 

The phrase “underlying health conditions” can sound intimidating, but between the three categories, this one is the easiest to pinpoint, and often the easiest to treat. These underlying conditions affect your animal’s ability to eat, whether it be due to the pain, discomfort, or change in brain chemistry. The most common conditions that affect an animal’s appetite range from dental disease, to cancer, to inability to smell. Let’s briefly discuss the most common of these conditions. 

  • Dental Disease
  • Diabetes
  • GI Blockages
  • Cancer
  • Kidney Disease
  • Inflammation Ulcers
  • Internal Parasites
  • Inability to Smell

External Factors 

If there is not an underlying health concern, the first thing you should consider is if your animal has experienced any external stress or anything that would cause them stress. Often, changes will cause our animals undue stress and they can have a very physical manifestation of said stress and anxiety. The most common examples of external stress are: changes in routine, frequent boarding, travel, medication side effects, pregnancy, quick temperature changes, and other animals. 

Sometimes, animals will show you how stressed they are by refusing to eat. If your animal is struggling to eat, limit the amount of stress that comes into their life as their anxiety might be the only thing preventing your pet from eating. 

Food Itself

If your animal is physically capable of eating and is not experiencing external stress, they may not like the food they are given. There are a few things that may be keeping your pet away, including: smell, taste, and texture. While it may be an inconvenience, giving your animal the food they need is crucial to being an excellent pet-owner. If you are unsure of what steps to take, we recommend working with a trusted professional to develop a plan of action. 

No matter the cause, there is a possible solution. Get in contact with a professional today if you are worried your pet is experiencing anorexia. Call our Cloud Peak Clinic at (307) 347-2781, or come by our clinic in person to give your animal the care they need. 

Symptoms and Signs

Anorexia in animals is characterized by a refusal to eat, or a significant decrease in appetite. This is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as 

  • Weight loss 
  • Lethargy
  • Self-isolation
  • Dehydration
  • Refusal to treats
  • Eating less
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to eat (including chewing, swallowing, etc)

Of course, there are outliers, but if you keep these symptoms in mind, you might be able to identify anorexia in your animal before the vet needs to explicitly diagnose. Determining your pet is struggling early on is very conducive to finding a successful solution before the illness develops any further. 


The key to successfully treating anorexia in animals is to address the underlying cause of the condition. It’s important to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible if you notice a loss of appetite, as early intervention can improve the chances of a full recovery. The vet may conduct various tests, such as blood work or imaging, to determine the cause of the anorexia. Depending on the cause, treatments can include medications, dietary changes, dental procedures, or surgery. Owners may also need to adjust their pets’ feeding schedules or provide them with more appealing foods. Additionally, providing a stress-free and comfortable environment can help reduce anxiety and promote a return to normal eating habits.

Prevention Steps

While it’s not always possible to prevent anorexia in animals, there are steps that pet owners can take to reduce the risk. We recommend visiting the vet regularly to stay on top of any anorexia symptoms or signs. Regular vet check-ups can help identify health issues early on and allow for prompt treatment. At home, you should provide a healthy and balanced diet that incorporates hydration. Additionally, owners can help reduce their pets’ stress levels by providing plenty of toys and activities, establishing consistent routines, and creating a comfortable living environment; anything to reduce stress.

The Right Team

Anorexia in animals can be a concerning condition for pet owners, but with the right care and attention, most pets can make a full recovery. By being aware of the symptoms and signs of anorexia, pet owners can take prompt action to address the underlying cause and prevent further complications. Remember, preventing anorexia in the first place involves regular vet check-ups, a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding stressful situations, and providing plenty of activities and a comfortable living environment for your pet. With proper veterinary care, preventive measures, and prompt treatment, your pet will stay happy and healthy for years to come.

If you have any questions or concerns, ask our Cloud Peak Clinic team! We have seen quite a few anorexia cases, and we want to help your animal if they are experiencing anorexia symptoms. Give us a call at (307) 347-2781, or check out the rest of our website for more information. If you are experiencing an emergency, come by our office immediately!



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