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Cancer And Picky Eater Now


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Guest gordysmom96

My girl was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last January. The tumor was removed in February, however, not all could be excised. Long story short, she's been a pretty good eater until last month when she stopped eating raw AM meal of ground burger (beef, turkey or venison). She LOVED venison of any form, now she won't eat it! She even stopped eating raw chicken necks for dinner.

 

I've been trying many foods and found she wants only turkey ham or turkey lunchmeat with no kibble. (She ate kibble for a few days, but that depended on how it was supplemented). Today, I bought more lunchmeat, which she scarfed down after eating only OMA's turkey heart treats yesterday. I'm stymied. Thinking part of it is the meds she taking have affected her tastebuds, just like people undergoing cancer treatment. (I gave her a Pepcid AC this morning to calm her stomach, hoping it would stimulate an appetite).

 

Currently, her meds are Chlorambucil 2.8 mg (1x daily), 400 mg. Pentoxyfylline for SLO nail condition and 3 fish oil caps 3x/day; 35 mg Deramaxx in the evening; 1 probiotic daily.

 

Last night she was very restless - moving from her bed in our bedroom then downstairs, back upstairs, out to pee in the middle of the night, etc. Needless to say, I'm exhausted today. My thought about the restlessness is lack of appetite but hungry at the same time.

 

Anyone experience this with cancer greys? I should post this on the Health link too. Thanks, Lauri

 

 

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My friend who went through cancer treatments with her girl shared this about feeding during chemo. I can't link the actual file but here it is. I'm sorry, best of luck and healing thoughts for your girl.

 

Feeding a Pet during Chemotherapy: An Owner’s Guide. ALLISON L. MARTIN
School of Psychology • Georgia Institute of Technology • appliedanimalbehavior@gmail.com

 

A little about me: I am a PhD candidate in animal behavior and work with and train animals ranging from dogs to chimpanzees. Before returning to graduate school, I worked in the field of applied behavior analysis treating children with pediatric feeding disorders, including severe food aversions. I am also a doggie-mom to two wonderful dogs, one of whom is currently battling nasal lymphoma. So, I am drawing from all of these experiences as I write this, in the hopes of helping those of you whose beloved companions are undergoing chemotherapy.

 

Eating as a behavior: Eating is a behavior - just like retrieving a ball or barking at the UPS man. Sometimes, especially when our pets are sick, we come to think of it as simply a biological process (which it certainly is) or a medical issue (which it is as well). We forget the behavioral aspect of eating though. As a behavior, it is subject to reinforcement and punishment and other behavioral principles. We eat more when we are around certain stimuli (such as the Thanksgiving table with our family), and we eat less when in other contexts (say, a first date). If you’ve had a recent stomach virus, you probably remember the last thing you ate before it struck…and you probably avoided it for several days or weeks afterward. Our pets are the same way, and this is something to keep in mind during chemotherapy.

 

Food aversion: Whereas learning most things involves many tries or “trials,” food aversion training (or learning to avoid or “dislike” certain foods) can happen very quickly (so called “one-trial learning”). This helps species survive. If you are in the wild and eat a poisonous berry that makes you sick, it is best to avoid those berries in the future. If your pet eats his normal dinner and then experiences nausea or stomach pain from the chemotherapy or from the cancer itself, he may quickly develop an aversion to the taste of his regular dinner. He may also begin to associate his nausea or pain with the bowl he eats from, the room he eats in, etc. So, what should you do?

 

1. Change your pet’s diet. Work with your veterinarian to determine appropriate foods and diets for your pet. If your pet refuses one food, offer a different one.
2. Vary the stimulus properties of the food. This includes things like:
a. Feed your pet in a different dish – use a paper plate or a different bowl. Hand-feeding or having your pet lick items off of a spoon might work as well.
b. Feed your pet in a different room.
c. Change the texture of your pet’s food. Puree their food (even if it is already canned) to a very smooth texture…or go the opposite route and give table-textured foods or hard biscuits.
d. Change the temperature of your pet’s food. Sometimes the smell of warm food will entice your pet. However, if your pet is nauseated, he may prefer cold food.
e. Have someone else feed your pet…or, if desperate, take your pet to a friend’s house to have dinner

 

Medications for nausea/appetite: Your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help control nausea or increase appetite in your pet during chemotherapy. These medications can be life savers, and I highly suggest that you discuss having an “emergency kit” of these medications for home use. However, keep the interaction between these medications and food aversion development in mind. If your pet is actively nauseous, giving an appetite stimulant may entice him to try to eat. However, if the food doesn’t stay down or results in further nausea, you may just be “burning” foods that you slaved over to prepare (or spent a fortune on). It can be a tough balance to achieve, because I know that you want to get calories in your pet, but try not to push food on an actively nauseous pet. It will likely only increase food aversion. You may want to stick with the current diet until the nausea is under control and then change diets (and perhaps consider the appetite stimulant at that time to help encourage your pet to try the new foods).

 

Delivering medications: Your cancer patient has likely been prescribed medications that need to be given at home. In addition, you may have herbs or supplements that you and your veterinarian have chosen to balance your pet’s diet or improve his overall health. Medications can be hard enough to give a healthy pet. Add in nausea and loss of appetite, and it can be a real problem. I would talk with your veterinarian about which medications/supplements are absolutely essential on a daily basis. Then, I would make a hierarchy of the importance of the other supplements or medications. On good day, when your pet is eating well, you can go through the whole list. However, on the worst days, it will be good to know which pills may need to be forced down and which you can skip. For medications or supplements that are sprinkled or added directly into food, I would suggest putting them in some sort of a special treat rather than adding them to your pet’s main diet…especially if the medication has a distinct flavor. I use things like almond butter, pureed canned chicken, liverwurst, baby food, etc. That way, if the taste of the supplements “puts him off,” you’ll just have to find a new treat – not a whole new diet. For tablets that you are hiding in Pill Pockets or pieces of cheese or chicken, my suggestion is to give “dummy” treats before and after the tablet. So, a plain piece of cheese or two, then the one containing the tablet, then a quick chaser of a plan piece of cheese again. (This works off of the principle of behavioral momentum, but that isn’t important…).

 

Calories: Weight loss can result in poorer outcomes for pets battling cancer. So, it is important to try your best to keep your pet at a healthy weight. Ask your veterinarian approximately how many calories your pet needs to maintain his weight. Then, keep a log of what your pet eats in a given day. If you are using commercial diets, you will likely have to go to the manufacturer’s website or call the manufacturer to determine calories (they are often not listed on the bag or can). For homemade foods, you can use online calorie counters or look at the packaging. I wouldn’t suggest doing a detailed log each day – you may go insane. However, I would use this as a periodic check to see how close you are to your pet’s caloric goal. It willl help you know if you are falling far short or may reassure you that you are doing better than you think you are (you’d be surprised how quickly some cheese and bacon will get you to your caloric goal).

 

 

Hydration: There may be some days when your pet simply will not eat. I know I panicked the first time that happened, so I won’t tell you not to. It really is a marathon though, so try your best to look at the big picture. If he doesn’t eat today, he will be ok. However, if he isn’t drinking enough, that will become an emergency very quickly…and dehydration will only make your pet feel worse. Talk to your veterinarian about learning how to administer subcutaneous fluids at home. Also have her teach you how to check for dehydration. It was very reassuring to me to be able to give my dog the fluids that he needed, and it often helped his appetite as well.

 

 

Reinforcement: I believe that pets are fairly honest when it comes to eating. Barring an aversion to that food or the fact that they currently aren’t feeling well, they will generally eat most anything edible. I also do not think that pets are manipulative. I wouldn’t worry that, if you give your pet steak, they will “hold out” for steak and refuse to ever eat kibble again. However, you can accidentally reinforce food refusal behavior. If refusing one food results in the immediate presentation of “something better,” why not make a habit of refusing the food in front of you to see what comes next? I got around this by offering several things simultaneously and then providing more of whatever my dog chose. This gives the pet choice (which we all like to have) without setting up a behavior chain of food refusal. In fact, it helps to reinforce his eating behavior. Another thing to keep in mind is how much attention you give your pet when he is refusing food versus when he is eating well. Remember to praise your pet when he is eating well. Don’t make a big fuss over him when he refuses food (as much as you want to). Be matter-of-fact about it and offer something else an hour or so later.

 

 

Timing: If your pet isn’t eating well, try offering food several times a day. My dog went through a period where he ate best at midnight. He’d wake up to go outside, but then he’d feel like eating. So, that is when we ate. Also, if your pet refuses a food for breakfast, don’t rule it out for dinner. The next meal may be completely different.
A safe place: If you are nauseous, the last thing that you want is people poking food in your face. At some point, I realized that I was traumatizing my dog by following him around shoving food in his face. I decided to give him a “safe place.” He has a cool mat that he loves to lie on. When he was in his spot, I never offered him any food or pilled him. I tried to only offer food when he came in the kitchen, but I found myself breaking that rule on his bad days and would offer him food in other rooms. However, I do think it is important that your pet has a “home base” where he won’t be pilled and food won’t be shoved in his face.

 

 

My own experience: I started out with a balanced (by my veterinarian), healthy, homemade cancer diet. My veterinarian helped me determine the amount my dog would need to put a little weight on him (I kept him slim for agility and general health). Everything went well for a couple weeks, and I was patting myself on the back for being such a good dog owner. Hopefully, you and your pet will stay in this happy place for a long time…some animals take chemotherapy like it is water. My dog did not. The loss of appetite and nausea came after about two weeks and lasted (in varying degrees) for the next 7 months of chemotherapy. At one point, I figured out that I was spending 4 hours a day cooking for and feeding my dog (and, yes, this was in addition to being a full time graduate student and working two part-time jobs). I learned to have a large variety of foods on ready. Although no two days were the same, I’d say that a typical meal would start with some pills hidden in almond butter or pill pockets. Then, I’d put down a plate with 4 – 5 things on it. Typical items might be steak, chicken thighs, pork chops, hot dogs, goat cheese, broccoli, asparagus, cold pasta, canned food, dry food, etc. I’d figure out what he was eating at that meal and then offer more of that item. If he wasn’t eating much of anything, his go-to foods included bacon, goat cheese, and chicken and rice baby food. I probably tried 10 types of baby food before I found one he would eat. Freeze-dried chicken or freeze-dried beef liver were two other go-to foods when nothing else would work. I had one day when all he ate was broccoli and another when all he ate was watermelon and some tortilla chips from Moe’s. His special treat was baby food rice cereal with whole goat milk (that was good for getting calories in him too). While I still tried to prioritize high protein/moderate fat foods and get in as many supplements in as I could, there were many days when I would offer him anything he would eat (that wasn’t toxic or that he wasn’t allergic to). I’d wonder the aisles at the grocery store…Spaghetti O’s? Sure! Spam? Worth a try! The dog that I taught not to beg was suddenly eating French fries beside me on the couch. At our lowest, we were seriously considering placing a feeding tube. In the end though, my dog actually ended up gaining weight throughout his chemotherapy treatment.

 

 

Having a pet with cancer really is an emotional roller coaster. Be kind to yourself. I hope my experiences / recommendations will help you on your ride.
ALM

Old Dogs are the Best Dogs. :heartThank you, campers. Current enrollees:  Punkin. Annie Oooh M. 

Angels: Pal :heart. Segugio. Sorella (TPGIT). LadyBug. Zeke-aroni. MiMi Sizzle Pants. Gracie. Seamie :heart:brokenheart. (Foster)Sweet. Andy. PaddyALVIN!Mayhem. Bosco. Bruno. Dottie B. Trevor Double-Heart. Bea. Cletus, KLTO. Aiden.

:paw Upon reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.

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Guest gordysmom96

@FiveRoooooers,

 

Thank you so much for the info! Allison Martin's narrative is so on point. Trying multiple foods which may vary daily has been my experience, although I haven't gone to the extent she has.

 

This morning, I warmed a grilled turkey burger. Deedee scarfed that down. Next, I cooked white rice with beef broth and added turkey ham. Not interested. She loves turkey ham, but obviously not in that combination. However, perhaps she needs to wait to eat again.

 

Yesterday wasn't a good day for her as she was restless the night before. A Pepcid was given in the AM and that helped her appetite, I think.

 

Anyways, I need to take her to her regular vet or oncologist for a quick check up this week as my husband & I leave for vacation (with Deedee) in one week. I'm anxious about transporting her and changing her routine. However, if she begins to labor more when breathing, we'll have to make the decision to let her go. I don't want her existing a minimal life when already her quality of life has lessened.

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Kasey seemed to enjoy the high caloric gastro canned food by Royal Canin. Mind you one day he'd touch it, and the next he wouldn't. The amount of different foods he had during treatment was pretty incredible. I also added Forti-Flora to his food, which something about the smell encourages them to eat, but also tries to put their system back on track (Pro-biotic). It's simply a powder you add to their food. I put a little package on every meal. The unfortunate thing about trying to get things into them they aren't used to often results in upset tummies. So it's hard to figure out which is the worse evil. He also quite enjoyed eating lentils, which was great because he was getting protein and iron to help rebuild his blood cells. Oh, baby food was also a hit.....different varieties, because one day it was pasta, but the next it had to be squash or something. I'm certain though that the picky eating is because of an upset system, they just don't want to ingest anything if they feel like poop. I can't blame them either honestly. Good luck!

Edited by XTRAWLD

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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I experienced the same thing with Henry when he was going through chemo. We used a food topper to enhance the smell and taste of his regular kibble. It's called "bullyflakes" made by Barkworthies. You can get it through Amazon for about $13.

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Sweet Pea loved Stella & Chewy's freeze dried patties. She would eat them either dry or rehydrated, broken up into little bits. When she turned up her nose at her regular food, I ground the dry patties into dust and sprinkled it over the food. Voila! She ate it.

You! Out of the gene pool!

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Guest gordysmom96

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I discovered DeeDee likes scrambled eggs, grilled turkey burger (and maybe beef burger), bbq chicken, which has an enticing odor and taste vs. boiled. She eats small amounts, which is akin to a human feeling ill with cancer. I'll check out the freeze dried food and canned.

 

Does anyone know if it's ok to give a Pepcid everyday? I would assume so.

 

Keep the suggestions coming!

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Pepcid every day, twice a day in my house!

 

Have you ever done Satin Balls? Kasey also thoroughly enjoyed those.

 

  1. Satin Balls Full Recipe.
  2. 10 lbs cheap hamburger (high fat %)
  3. 1 large box Total cereal (about 12 cups cereal)
  4. 1 large box uncooked oatmeal (about 15 cups oats)
  5. 10 raw eggs.
  6. 1 15oz jar wheat germ.
  7. 10 packages Knox unflavored gelatin.
  8. 1 and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.
Edited by XTRAWLD

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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Guest gordysmom96

@XTRAWLD, thanks again for the suggestion. I'll give it a whirl and see what happens.

 

I bought Natural Balance LID canned dog food yesterday and she ate that too. Mixing with scrambled eggs. Thankfully, those have been an appetite stimulator.

 

I'll be sure to give her a Pepcid daily. Thanks.

 

FYI..,,how does one upload a profile pic? I looked throighout the site and cannot find a link. Thanks.

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Info about the profile pic should be on your profile pages.

 

I don't see a pain reliever amongst all her meds other than the Deramax. My first thought with her restlessness is that she's in pain. I don't know much about thyroid cancer specifically, but is it possible the tumor has regrown, or it has metasticised somewhere else in the body?? You might talk with your vet about tramadol or another pain reliever she tolerates.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Guest gordysmom96

@greysmom, She can have 1 Tramadol 50mg 2/x daily prn. I've started giving her one daily. In addition, to the Chlorambucil, Pepcid and probiotic, she gets one half 75 mg Deramaxx in the evening, however, I'm going to ask her oncologist if it's ok to give her the entire pill in the evening as she has some arthritis. Also, 400 mg. Pentoxfylline 3 x/daily and 3 fish oil caps daily for her SLO.

 

A 1 cm suspected lesion was located on one of her lung lobes which the radiologist confirmed. So yes, it's probably the cancer has metastasized. It's difficult emotionally as I don't want her to decline to the point where her quality of life is minimal. If by the cancer has spread to her brain, we'll have to decide when it's her time.

 

Update: I spoke with her oncologist's assistant and evidently, she cannot have baby aspirin with Deramaxx because of potential GI problems. Ugh..........

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