This past week I had two patients that were being hospitalized long-term. Both of them had a very guarded prognosis and upon taking over their care, they each appeared quite dull. As much as I wanted to be hopeful, things did not look good and I deeply worried about them.
From a medical aspect, both patients were being treated appropriately. Pain control, antibiotics, anti-emetics, etc. were all on board. Each had blood work which showed improvement over their course of hospitalization. So was what the common factor between the two animals? Each one refused to eat.
It is often just assumed that it is normal for sick animals to not want to eat. We often believe it is best to just give them time and that they will eat when they feel better.
This is such an outdated idea and needs to be left in the past. Ill animals often require more nutrition than healthy ones. In order for them to recover they need the caloric intake. This is especially true for cats. Each day without nutrition can truly compromise a patient’s recovery. This is why nutritionists often push for early intervention, whether it be via a nasoesophageal tube, esophagostomy tube, or gastric tube. We may believe these measures are invasive and have the potential for complications, but they are often the best intervention we can provide our anorectic patients.
After placing a nasoesophageal tube in each of my patients, I saw a slow but steady improvement in their recovery. Each animal actually began eating on their own once their strength returned and could subsequently return home! I was amazed at how tube feeding made such a significant impact on the recovery of my patients.
So with this post, I hope I can encourage everyone to consider nutrition as an important aspect of treatment. As well as to step in sooner and implement a nutritional plan.