My dog’s medication is making him hungry all of the time. What can I do to curb his appetite?

Original Question: This is less about nutrition than about actual feeding. My dog is on Prednisone probably for the rest of his life. He is always hungry and I keep his weight under control by weighing him periodically. He’s on a special diet that’s mainly home prepared with some special kibble (Hills l/d). I would like to know what would make him feel more satisfied: two good size meals or four smaller ones? He seems to be starving all the time. At 28 ½ lbs he is about 1 ½ lbs above his ideal weight so he shouldn't be starving. - Christa

My dog’s medication is making him hungry all of the time. What can I do to curb his appetite? Mar 5, 2018

Hi Christa,

Thanks for your question. This is one that I may not be able to provide a really useful answer even though on the surface it seems like a simple question.

Undoubtedly, the biggest reason for this strong appetite is the prednisone. One of the side effects of prednisone, as you know, is polyphagia, otherwise known as an increased appetite. If I was your veterinarian, I would look at the underlying disease process causing him to be on prednisone in the first place with the goal of reducing his reliance on it.

My best guess as to why you’re using it is for allergies however you may also be using it for a digestive problem since he’s already on an intestinal diet. With either allergies or gastrointestinal issues, there are always other potential solutions to reduce your reliance on prednisone. First, there are other immunosuppressive drugs that don’t have the side effect of creating hunger. You could speak to your veterinarian about these options. If you’re dealing with a chronic intestinal ailment, you could look at different diet trials, antibiotic treatments, or use a probiotic to reduce your reliance on prednisone. If he’s on it because of allergies, you could try omega-3 fatty acid’s, shampoos, diet trials, other medications, antihistamines and other products to reduce your reliance on prednisone. We have really good resources on our website ‘Antihistamine Medication for Dogs’ and I suggest you take a look our articles ‘Dealing With Your Pet’s Allergies’ and video ‘What You Should Know About Over-the-Counter Antihistamine Use in Dogs & Cats’ if this is the ailment requiring steroid therapy.

In the meantime, there is no clear answer for your question. I would recommend trying different feeding regimes and seeing how Indy responds to them but I don’t necessarily think a particular feeding regime will help because the overwhelming effect of prednisone on the body will far outweigh a management strategy with food.

Thanks for your question. Good luck and I wish you the best.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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