Nutrition for Pets While Going Through Chemo

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Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM

Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM

If a pet has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy as part of the treatment, it is vital to keep the pet as healthy as possible by feeding him/her nutritious food. However, since chemotherapy can result in nausea and a loss of appetite, the pet may simply have little or no desire to eat. In addition, if the pet did eat and then got sick from eating, he/she may actually develop an aversion to food, or at least certain types of foods. What follows are some tips to help a pet get the nutrition he/she needs to remain as healthy as possible. Also, there are herbal formulas that can help pets avoid potential side effects of chemotherapy.

Talk to a Vet. The first thing to do is to speak with a veterinarian regarding what foods will help maintain the pet in the best possible health. Highly nutritious foods with a lot of flavor will help encourage a pet to eat. In addition, the vet may prescribe anti-nausea medication or medication to help increase the pet’s appetite.

Don’t Try to Encourage a Pet to Eat that Has Active Nausea. While it is essential a pet eats, and eats nutritious foods, it’s important not to force or encourage a pet to eat when he/she has active nausea. Not only will the pet get little value from eating only to throw up his/her meal, but it will only increase his/her aversion to food, making it more difficult to encourage the pet to eat once the nausea fades. Wait until the nausea passes before trying to coax a pet into eating.

Make Changes to Encourage a Pet to Eat. Several changes may have to be made to encourage a pet to eat and maintain his/her health. Here are some steps that can be taken.

  •  If a pet refuses one item of food, offer something different. Depending on how the pet is mHT1A9Afeeling, different foods will tempt his/her appetite at different times.
  •  Try offering the pet food at different times, in different rooms of the house (from where he/she ate and got sick), as well as offering food in different ways, such as on a paper plate, on a spoon, by hand, etc. Small changes may help a pet overcome some of his/her avoidance issues.
  •  Serve the pet food in a different form. If a pet won’t eat solid food, try pureeing it so it is smooth and silky, or if he/ she is refusing to eat soft food, find a harder version of the same food to encourage eating. Try changing the pet’s food temperature. There may be times when the smell of warm food will encourage a pet’s appetite and other times when cold food will be more appealing.

Working closely with a vet, giving the pet plenty of loving attention and doing everything possible to encourage the pet to eat while going through chemotherapy will help ensure the pet remains as healthy as possible.

Please check back with us in the next issue of Natural Awakenings of Long Island to learn about using Eastern and Western medicine to treat pets.

Source: Michel Selmer, DVM, of Advanced Animal Care Center, located at 260 Evergreen Ave., South Huntington. For more information, call 631-FOR-PETS (631-367-7387) or visit


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