Whether you’ve had pet dogs for years or you’ve just adopted your first puppy, it can be very distressing when your dog won’t eat. There are a variety of reasons for loss of appetite in dogs. It is important to determine the cause in order to design the best treatment plan.
The first thing to keep in mind is how you’re judging your dog’s appetite. A decreased appetite in dogs is often a sign of sickness, especially if your dog is exhibiting other symptoms at the same time. Many perfectly healthy dogs eat only 60% to 70% of the amount stated on the packaging.
Because loss of appetite in dogs can indicate illness, it is important to seek veterinary care if you notice changes in your dog’s eating habits. It is especially important to respond promptly to a refusal to eat in dogs that usually eat well.
Even though most dogs can go a couple of days without food with no significant bad effects, it is best to address the problem as early as possible.
Reasons your dog won’t eat
Just like in people, there are a variety of reasons dogs might refuse to eat. These include:
- Illness. If you’re concerned because your dog isn’t eating as much as the guidelines state on the food you purchase, remember that these are only averages. Although a loss of appetite in dogs doesn’t necessarily indicate serious dis usuallyease, prompt veterinary attention is important because it could be a sign of significant illness, including cancer, various systemic infections, pain, liver problems, and kidney failure.
- Dental disease. Your dog may not want to eat because something in its mouth is causing pain. Have them checked for a broken or loose tooth, severe gingivitis and even an oral tumor.
- Recent vaccination. Fortunately, vaccinations are available for many serious and contagious dog diseases. Although these injections have saved the lives of millions of pets during the past 100 years, they do sometimes have adverse effects. The majority of these are minor and brief, including a temporary loss of appetite in dogs.
- Travel and unfamiliar surroundings. If your dog’s appetite was fine until you went on a trip with them or moved to a new location, it could be that your dog won’t eat because of traveling or the unfamiliar surroundings. Some animals may get motion sickness, and others become nervous or uncomfortable in new places.
- Pickiness or behavior issues. Some dogs are just picky, or their refusal to eat may be caused by feeding them in situations where they aren’t comfortable, such as around an aggressive dog or from a bowl at an uncomfortable height. Because a decreased appetite in dogs may end up being caused by illness, never assume your dog is picky without investigating other possibilities first.
What to do when your performg won’t eat
What you can do to help when your dog won’t eat will depend on everything you and your veterinarian determine to be the reason for the problem.
If your dog’s loss of appetite is caused by illness, the vet may recommend a prescription diet to meet your pet’s nutritional needs while the underlying disease has been addressed. Sometimes these diets are not particularly tasty, especially if your dog is used to regular treats or people food. Or use different bowls or plates at various heights to see what your dog prefers. Instead, talk to your veterinarianerinarian about alternatives. In more serious cases, your vet might prescribe appetite-stimulating medications, recommend syringe-feeding a liquid diet, or insert a feeding tube.
If your dog’s decreased appetite is a behavior problem caused by pickiness or perhaps a discomfort with mealtime, rather than the result of a medical condition, there are a variety of actions you can take to encourage your pet to consume.
- Cutting back on treats.
- Feeding your pet on a normal schedule, usually at least twice a day.
- Making mealtime a great time for your pet, such as for example by playing with a toy that dispenses food or rewarding your pet with meals for performing a trick.
- Taking your dog for a walk before mealtime.
- Changing your dog’s feeding situation. In the event that you normally feed your own pet with other animals, try feeding them alone. If your dog is already ill, never starve your pet so that they can force it to eat the prescribed diet. (You may even put a few bits of food on the floor close to the feeding dish.)
- Trying a different sort of food, such as canned food in the event that you normally feed your dog dry food.
- Add a bit of warm water to your dog's kibble to create it more appealing.