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Why is my dog not eating?-common causes, symptoms& best solutions

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sick dog laying beside his food bowl

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When your furry best friend doesn’t gobble down their food as usual, it can be puzzling and worrying for any pet parent. A sudden loss of appetite or disinterest in food are among the most common reasons dogs are brought to the vet. While it may simply indicate your dog ate something less agreeable out on a walk, a dog not eating may also signify underlying health issues that require attention. In this article “Why is My Dog Not Eating?”, we’ll explore some of the most common causes behind changes in your dog’s appetite and eating behavior.

We’ll also provide tips on determining when not eating warrants a quick call to the vet versus trying other solutions at home first. Key things we’ll cover include assessing whether this is an acute or gradual change, rule outs like dental disease or spoiled food, stressors that could impact appetite, and specific medical conditions like infection or pancreatitis which must be treated by a professional. Along the way, we’ll share actionable steps to help spark up your dog’s appetite again. By understanding the diverse reasons your faithful companion may turn up their nose and specific circumstances requiring urgent care, you can best support your dog’s nutrition and wellbeing long-term.

Why is my dog not eating?-Three main reasons.

1-Health Issues.

One of the most common reasons is that your dog doesn’t feel well. Issues like dental disease, nausea, infection, chronic disease or pain can cause changes in appetite and eating behaviour. For example, if your dog has a sore tooth or gums, they may associate eating with pain.

If your dog is acting lethargic and not eating a health problem will likely cause the issue. Some dogs also lose interest in food as they get older due to age-related conditions. Take your dog to the vet for a thorough exam. The vet can check for any illness and provide supportive care to help your dog eat again.


Stomach Problems Deter Dogs From Eating.

The gastrointestinal system is complex in dogs, just like in people. When dogs experience nausea, bowel irritation or discomfort after eating, it’s not surprising that appetite declines.

Some typical canine stomach troubles that lead to appetite loss include:

  • Gastroenteritis: Inflammation of the GI tract caused by infection, parasites, toxins or dietary indiscretion leads to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. These all reduce interest in food dramatically.

  • Food Allergy or Intolerance – Dogs with allergies to ingredients like chicken, grain and dairy experience post-meal tummy troubles. Food intolerances to things like lactose also make eating uncomfortable.

  • Gastrointestinal Ulcers: Sores or ulcers in the stomach and intestines make eating painful. They can result from everything from excessive NSAID pain reliever use to stressful situations.

  • Bloat: The dangerous condition of gastric dilation causes painful bloat, vomiting and distress. Once resolved, dogs may associate eating with previous discomfort.

Since the stomach and intestines connect closely to appetite control and satiety centres in the brainstem, irritation or inflammation quickly reduces eating desire.

If you notice frequent vomiting, diarrhea, painful abdomen or other signs of gastric distress in your dog and appetite decline, see your vet immediately. Getting any stomach issues promptly treated improves the quality of life dramatically.


Medication Side Effects – A Common Cause of Appetite Loss in Dogs.

When your dog suddenly stops eating, one potential culprit to consider is a recent change in medications or supplements. Just like in people, prescription and over-the-counter drugs for dogs carry the risk of adverse side effects. And a decreased appetite is a common reaction.

Some types of medications that frequently cause appetite issues as a side effect include:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Rimadyl and Meloxicam combat pain and inflammation but can cause gastrointestinal irritation or nausea and severely decrease appetite.

  • Antibiotics: While antibiotics treat dangerous bacterial infections, they can also disrupt the natural balance of the digestive system of flora and fauna, leading to reduced hunger.

  • Steroids/Cortisol Drugs: Steroid therapies like prednisone are powerful for treating allergic reactions, arthritis pain and immune disorders. But they markedly increase thirst and urination while suppressing natural hunger signals.

  • Chemotherapy Medications: Chemotherapy drugs used to combat cancer can drastically alter cell metabolism throughout the body, significantly changing digestion and appetite.

  • Diuretics or Water Pills: Diuretics are used to treat organ failure and edema and promote water loss through increased urination. This dehydration and electrolyte imbalance reduces appetite.

If you suspect prescription side effects are the reason behind your dog’s appetite loss, never abruptly stop medication without veterinary supervision. Instead, contact your vet for ways to manage side effects or transition to alternative drug options better tolerated by your dog.

During changes in medication regimens, entice your dog to eat with tasty add-ins. Monitor for dehydration and weight loss until appetite improves, and follow up regularly with your vet on progress. With some adjustments, appetite and normal eating behaviour often return once your dog’s body adjusts to new medications.

2-Stress or Anxiety.

Sudden changes to your dog’s home or routine can also cause loss of appetite. Things like boarding, adjusting to a new home, adding a new pet or family member, loud noises or conflict with other pets can cause stress. Look for body language that signals anxiety, like lip licking, yawning, trembling or a tucked tail, and try to minimize stressful stimuli.

3-Picky Preferences.

Some healthy dogs suddenly stop eating due to taste preferences or boredom with their food. Add tasty mix-ins like chicken broth, canned food, cheese or eggs to make the kibble more appealing. Or gradually transition your dog to a different type or brand of food. Pay attention to your dog’s food drive. Health issues could still be a factor if they show interest but quickly lose enthusiasm when you add yummy toppers.

If your dog stops eating for more than 24 hours, consult your vet. Refusal to eat for longer than this can lead to dangerous health issues like hepatic lipidosis in dogs. With simple treatment for the underlying cause, dogs will often have a renewed interest in food. Stay vigilant about your dog’s appetite and eating habits so changes can be addressed promptly.


Your Dog Is Tired Of Their Food- why?

It’s easy to get into an autopilot routine when feeding your dog, dishing up the same old kibble daily. But when every meal means blah boring food, even dogs will stop eating with much enthusiasm.

Reasons your dog may be going off their current food include:

  • Boredom: you may be serve your dog nutritionally complete food, but the same dry food daily gets mundane.
  • Flavour Fatigue: When every meal tastes identical, flavour fatigue sets in, making food unappealing.
  • Formula Changes: If the brand or recipe changes ingredients, texture or scent from what your dog is used to, they may reject their dinner.

The good news is renewing your dog’s meal inspiration is simple!

Rotate between 2-3 vet-recommended foods of the same brand every bag or few months to keep their tastes excited. Or add a tablespoon of low-sodium chicken or beef broth, plain yoghurt, canned food, or olive oil to dry kibble and rotate toppers to keep things interesting! A tiny flavour change or enhancement intrigues the same-old dog food.

It’s also smart to transition slowly by mixing new and old food over 5-7 days whenever you swap your dog to a different formula. Take these simple steps to keep your dog eager to dive into their delicious dinner bowls at every mealtime.



Beware of “New and Improved” Dog Food Claims.


“new and improved” on a dog food label doesn’t always translate to better taste for your pup.

Dog food manufacturers constantly reformulate products to keep up with the latest canine nutrition research. When you see “new and improved!” on your usual dog food bag, it may contain healthier ingredients. But your dog cares more about flavour and familiarity.

Even minor tweaks to their formula, texture, shape, or scent mean you’ve switched your dog to a new food. And studies show most dogs prefer not to change foods. Their first instinct is to reject anything different even before tasting it.

Other reasons newly upgraded dog food makes your dog turn up their nose include:

  • Altered flavour profiles from new recipes.
  • Unique new ingredients their system isn’t used to.
  • Changes in the texture of food pieces or consistency.


While marketing claims sound appealing to humans, what counts most to dogs is sticking with something recognizable and delicious! So expect some adjustment time whenever their trusted food gets an upgrade. You can introduce newly improved nutrition with gradual transition techniques without causing appetite issues.


Trying Pro Plan FortiFlora and Lukewarm Water.

When your dog is picky and turns their nose up at meals, simple tricks like Pro Plan Fortiflora powder and water temperature adjustments could do. Fortiflora contains probiotics and nutrients that support digestive and immune health in dogs. Sprinkling a pinch over food makes eating appealing with its savoury natural flavour and improves nutrient absorption.

Serving kibble softened with a splash of lukewarm water also brings out the food’s aroma and makes chewing easier for picky eaters or dogs with dental issues. Lukewarm instead of cold water helps enhance scents that spark appetite.

These easy, affordable tricks serve your dog food closer to its natural state for maximum appetite draw. The comfort of warm, aromatic food and Fortiflora’s tasty digestion-enhancing properties often overcome reluctance to eat. Consider trying them whenever you need to get your dog hungry for their meals again. Monitoring your pup’s food enjoyment guides you on helpful add-ins.

You can try many tasty add-in options to make your dog’s meals more delicious.

Here are some additional healthy mix-ins to tempt a fussy dog:

  • Unseasoned Boiled Chicken or Beef: Natural meat slivers boost flavour and protein.

  • Cubed Low-Sodium Cheese: A tiny bit of cheese makes kibble more enticing.

  • Sardine Juice: The fish oils provide omega-3s, and the smell appeals to most dogs.

  • Plain Unsweetened Yogurt: A spoonful adds tang and probiotics.

  • Chopped Boiled Eggs: The egg boosts biotin for a healthy coat and skin.

  • Fresh Chopped Veggies – Things like green beans, carrots, and broccoli add crunch.

  • Rice, Pasta or Oatmeal: Cooking some grains with olive oil and mixing a spoonful with kibble adds interest.

  • Bone Broth – Sodium-free chicken or beef bone broth over food enhances taste and aroma.

Rotate novel mix-ins every few days to keep your dog excited for their bowl’s diversity of flavours and textures! Adding just a teaspoon or tablespoon of something unexpected makes ordinary kibble intriguing again.


The Importance of Consistent Mealtimes.

Dogs thrive on routine and consistency when it comes to their digestion. Feeding your dog at the exact times daily helps regulate healthy gastrointestinal function and solidify an eager appetite. When meal scheduling gets disrupted, it can throw your dog’s hunger cues out of whack.

Reasons changing up your dog’s customary mealtimes can lead to reduced appetite.

  • Confusion Around Hunger Signals: Randomly shifting when you serve their meals interrupts your dog’s natural cycles of hunger and satiety over 24 hours. Their body loses touch with when it expects to eat.

  • Metabolic Disruption: A few days of inconsistent meals at odd times can disrupt your dog’s metabolism, digestive enzymes, gastric mobility and other processes vital for a good appetite.

  • Stress and Anxiety: Given their love of consistency, an unpredictable feeding routine causes stress for many dogs. And anxiety is well-known to decrease appetite dramatically.

If changes to your schedule have made your dog’s regular feeding times impossible, try varying them by no more than an hour daily as an absolute maximum. Get your dog onto a predictable meal pattern even if the timing must adjust slightly from what they are used to. Maintaining consistent habitual mealtimes will help keep your dog interested in eating correctly!

why is my dog not eating?



The Dangers of Overfeeding Your Dog.

It’s easy to overfeed your dog without realizing it. Those pleading eyes begging for extras and treats whenever you cook or eat are hard to resist! But all those extra tidbits and snacks add up in calories. So, when their next scheduled meal rolls around, your dog is stuffed and doesn’t feel hungry.

Overindulging your dog with too many treats or table scraps trains them to expect the tastier people’s food. This leads to decreased enthusiasm for their regular kibble and that is may be a reason why your dog is not eating. It also promotes obesity, which carries severe health impacts for your dog. An overweight dog is also lazy and less interested in exercise and play.

Make sure everyone in the home knows the rules about not overfeeding your dog with extras. Track all foods your dog eats daily, including meal portions and snacks. Stick to recommended daily calorie counts for their size and activity level. And resist puppy dog eyes begging for more! With reasonable healthy feeding routines, your dog’s appetite for their regular meals will stay solid and eager.

My dog won’t eat from their bowl but will eat from my hand.


It’s frustrating when your dog refuses to eat from their bowl but will gladly accept food from your hand. Here are some potential reasons and tips for this behaviour:

Attention Seeking.


Dogs quickly learn that not eating from their bowl requires extra attention and hand-feeding. Ensure not to give them attention or hand-fed meals when they exhibit this behaviour.

Stress.


Changes to their environment, routine, or household members can cause stress that puts them off their food. Try feeding them in a quiet, private spot to see if it helps.

Dirty Bowl.


Dogs are very smell sensitive. Wash food bowls thoroughly after each meal, as built-up food odours can turn them off from eating. Use stainless steel bowls, as plastic absorbs odour over time.

Bowl Location.


If your dog’s bowl is near their water or in a high-traffic area, they may feel too distracted to eat. Please place it in a quiet, low-activity spot instead.

Health Issues.


Dental disease, mouth pain, nausea, and other health issues could make eating from bowls uncomfortable. Check with your vet to rule out medical causes.

With patience and not giving in to hand-feeding, your dog should learn to eat from their bowl again. If the behaviour persists, talk to your veterinarian or a trainer.

When should I worry about my dog not eating?


If your dog is refusing to eat and has any of the following symptoms, we recommend immediate vet care.


Some guidance on signs it’s time for an urgent vet visit:

  • Completely stops eating for more than 24 hours.

  • Attempts to eat but vomits up all food immediately.

  • Appears extremely lazy, weak, or unable to stand.

  • Has blood in vomit or stools.

  • Cries or whines when attempting to swallow.

  • Starts showing neurological issues like tilting their head or walking as if dizzy.

  • If you suspect your dog ate something toxic.

  • If your dog ate something that may be stuck internally.

  • Sudden weight loss.

  • Skin tenting as dehydration sets in.

  • Loss of interest in treats and favourite activities.

  • If your dog is a puppy or toy breed. Because puppies are so small, they have low reserve of blood sugar and can experience seizures, if they don’t eat.

  • If your dog is a senior dog.

  • if your dog is underweight dog.


Any red-flag symptoms require urgent vet examination to diagnose and treat underlying severe conditions. They can indicate blockages, bleeding, bloat, pancreatitis, kidney disorders, poisoning and more life-threatening issues.

Catching conditions early maximizes positive outcomes. Tracking daily food intake helps determine appropriate urgency levels for seeking veterinary appetite evaluations.

FAQ:

Should I force-feed a dog that won't eat?

No, it would help if you did not force-feed a dog that refuses to eat. While it’s understandably worrying when your dog loses their appetite, force-feeding carries risks and should be avoided in most cases.
Here’s why:

Choking Hazard: Forcibly prying open their mouth and rapidly placing food at the back of their throat puts them at risk of aspiration pneumonia or choking. This can be fatal.

Stress & Discomfort: It’s stressful for a sick dog and can worsen any nausea. This reinforces negative associations with feeding time.

Underlying Issue: Not eating is typically a symptom of an underlying health problem. Force-feeding masks the loss of appetite rather than addressing root causes.

Nutritional Needs: You can’t meet complete nutritional requirements with quick force bolus feeding. They need steady, measured diets to restore health.

Vomiting & Diarrhea: Many dogs will promptly vomit or get diarrhea after force-feeding, exacerbating dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

So instead, gently encourage food intake with tasty foods. Use praise and pets for any minor licks and bites. If appetite does not improve within 12-24 hours or the dog looks pretty ill, take them to the vet for diagnosis and supportive care options. Withholding food for a short time is okay; let their hunger build naturally and reassess as directed by your vet.

Why is my dog's stomach gurgling, and they won't eat?

There are a few possible reasons why a dog’s stomach may be gurgling, and they do not want to eat:

Gastroenteritis: An inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite. Common causes include food intolerance, parasites, viruses, bacteria, and stress.

Bloat: When the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. A bloated abdomen is extremely painful and makes a dog not want to eat. It is an emergency needing veterinary care.

Intestinal Obstruction: Something blocking the intestines, like a foreign object, tumor or feces, can be very painful and cause vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – Chronic intestinal inflammation interfering with digestion and nutrient absorption. Dogs have ongoing gastro symptoms.

Food Allergies or Sensitivity: Stomach upset after eating may make them relate food to discomfort. Over time, this causes poor appetite.

If the stomach upset persists for more than 1-2 days, lethargy or other concerning symptoms develop, take your dog to the vet. Diagnostic tests can determine if an underlying health issue needs treatment to get their appetite back to normal.

What do you feed a pregnant dog that won't feed?

Here are some tips for getting a pregnant dog that refuses to eat to start eating again:

Switch up her food: Try different proteins, wet food mixed with dry food, or heating the food to bring out the aroma. Making the meals more enticing may promote appetite.

Supplement with bone broth: Providing bone broth between meals helps provide gentle nutrition and hydration.

Use “hunger promoters” – A little bit of honey, maple syrup, or broth poured over her food can make it more desirable.

Exercise first, then feed. If nausea is an issue, a short walk before meals can help empty her stomach first.

Provide small, frequent meals. Constantly keeping something appealing in front of her may get her snacking versus infrequent big meals.

Treat any nausea or gastrointestinal issues. Your vet can provide anti-nausea or gut motility medications if she’s not eating due to sickness or discomfort.

If she goes longer than 12-24 hours without eating at all, seek veterinary care right away for supplemental fluids and nutrition and to rule out complications like pregnancy toxemia, which can be very dangerous. Aim for consistent daily caloric intake, especially in late gestation when puppy demands dramatically rise.

Why is my new dog not eat?

There are several possible reasons why a new dog may not be eating:

Stress: It’s pervasive for dogs to experience a decreased appetite when they first arrive at a new home. All the new sights, sounds, smells and routines are stressful, and their desire can take a few days to return to normal.

Change of food: If you change the dog’s food brand quickly without transitioning slowly over 5-7 days, the abrupt change may be refusing to eat the new food. Gradually mix increasing amounts of fresh food in.

Underlying illness: Particularly if the dog is showing other signs of illness like lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea, there may be an underlying medical issue causing poor appetite. A vet examination is needed.

Picky eating: Some dogs are more selective eaters than others. Try different food toppings, wet food mixes, heating the food or extra exercise to stimulate hunger.

As long as the dog is drinking water and not showing concerning symptoms, the appetite may rebound in a couple of days after the initial adjustment period. Limit treats and avoid force-feeding. A vet visit is recommended if poor appetite persists beyond two days or if the dog seems ill. Consistency, patience and scheduling set mealtimes can help establish an eating routine for a new dog.

Why is my puppy not eating?

Here are some of the most common reasons why puppies may not be eating:

Stress or Changes: It’s common for puppies to go off their food for a day or two if there’s been a change in environment, like a new home, a move, or changes in the household. The stress can temporarily suppress appetite.

Infection or Illness: If your puppy refuses food or seems shallow energy and lethargic, there may be an underlying medical issue like a viral infection, gastroenteritis, parasites, distemper or something else. Loss of appetite in combination with other symptoms warrants a vet visit.

Teething Discomfort: As those new teeth come in, it can cause general mouth pain and reluctance to chew hard kibble. Offering softer foods may help during this period.

Overfeeding Treats: Too many tiny training treats throughout the day can ruin your pup’s mealtime appetite. Space treats out appropriately.

Transitioning Foods – When slowly switching your pup from one brand to another, they may turn their nose up initially at the new food until they adjust to the flavour.

If your puppy misses more than one or two regularly scheduled meals without explanation or continues to refuse food for 12 hours or more, seek veterinary attention right away since young pups can dehydrate faster than adult dogs. Refusal to eat is usually indicative of a larger health issue brewing.

Why won't my dog eat his food but will eat treats?

There are a few potential reasons why a dog may eat treats but not their regular dog food:

Appetite Loss: An illness, medication side effects, stress, depression, etc., can suppress meal appetite, but they may still take treats out of habit.

Boredom: Eating the same food every day can become mundane. Treats are more exciting, encouraging picky behaviours. Adding mix-ins or wet food to their kibble can make it more enticing.

Dental Pain: If your dog has a sore tooth or mouth, chewing kibble may be uncomfortable, while chewing soft treats is less painful. Have their mouth examined.

Upset Stomach: Sometimes mild vomiting, diarrhea or nausea makes a dog not want to eat their regular food, though they may take treats spread throughout the day. Ensure proper food digestion.

Preference: Your dog may have decided they like treats better than their main food brand or flavour. Slowly transitioning to a food they show more interest in helps.

Ensure your dog’s refusal to eat their full meals does not progress to complete appetite loss lasting over 12 hours. If so, consult your vet to check for underlying illness. Consistently feeding only treats instead of complete dog food can lead to nutritional deficiencies over time.

My dog won't eat or drink; what should I do?

If your dog refuses to eat or drink for an extended period, it should be considered a medical emergency. Here are some recommendations on what to do:

Contact your veterinarian immediately. Not eating or drinking for as little as 24 hours can cause life-threatening dehydration or metabolic issues. Your vet needs to examine them and address the underlying cause.

Check if they are vomiting, having diarrhea, excessive drooling, or symptoms suggesting illness, pain, obstruction or poisoning. Share the details with your vet. Bloodwork may be recommended.

Look inside the mouth for stuck items, wounds, red gums, or dental issues, making chewing painful. Your vet can rule out oral health problems.

Offer water frequently in small amounts in comfortable, lickable containers. Use droppers, gravy broths or wet food to hydrate non-drinking pets.

After 12 hours without eating or 4-6 hours not drinking, rush your dog to emergency vet services, as IV fluids may be needed to restore hydration, nutrition and electrolyte balance. Waiting risks kidney failure.

Do not force food down at home; collect any vomit and stool samples for analysis. Catch issues early before your dog’s health deteriorates rapidly from anorexia or dehydration compounding on itself. Call your vet with concerns.

What are the home remedies for sick dogs not eating?

Feed bland, easy-to-digest foods like boiled chicken, rice, and scrambled eggs. This may entice them to eat. Make sure the food is cut up into small pieces.

Try warming up the food to bring out the aroma and make it more appealing.

You can also try feeding by hand or adding a little low-sodium broth, bone broth, or plain yoghurt to their food to add flavour and extra nutrition.

If they still don’t eat, try offering minor licks of meat baby food or low-sodium chicken broth from a spoon.

Stay hydrated – provide extra water in a bowl near them. You can also add some water to their canned food. Giving subcutaneous fluids under the skin can help if they don’t drink.

Offer frequent but smaller meals rather than one or two large meals a day.

Try ginger, mint, fennel or chamomile teas to help settle an upset stomach. Please give a few tablespoons by mouth or add it to their food.

Slip prebiotics and probiotics into their food to support gut health and appetite.

Consider natural over-the-counter stomach remedies from the pet store (check with your vet first).

Ensure they are comfortable – soft bedding, peaceful area, gentle petting. This can help them feel less stressed.

If they continue refusing food for more than a day or have ongoing vomiting/diarrhea, get veterinary guidance, as not eating can lead to dangerous hepatic lipidosis in dogs. Monitoring and addressing the underlying cause is essential.

 

Picture of MiM

MiM

I decided to create this blog because I wanted to share the joys of being a dog owner with others, as well as provide valuable insights on how best to take care of our beloved four-legged friends.

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