When your dog shows no interest towards food, it is concerning. Especially considering dogs love to eat! As a pet parent, several questions may come to mind. Is my dog sick? Bummed? Is he waiting for something better? When dogs refuse to eat, it could be a sign on a serious illness that needs attention.
Common Reasons Why Dogs Stop Eating
1.) Your dog has an illness
Often times, dogs will not eat because they feel sick or they are in pain. Potential causes for this include intestinal parasites, allergic reactions to certain food, or a systemic disease such as cancer. It is also possible it could be a virus. If your dog is exhibiting symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, it may make it more difficult to spark an appetite. There are long term or chronic diseases that may also play a role.
Below are a list of potential diseases that may cause a decreased appetite in your dog.
- Dental disease (Periodontal disease)
- Intestinal parasites
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
2.) Side effects from medications
Has your dog recently been put on medication? Drugs or medications such as antibiotics, dewormers or steroids have the potential to upset the stomach and decrease appetite. In addition, long term medications or treatments such as chemotherapy is known to cause nausea and stomach discomfort. Consider consulting with your veterinarian about alternative medicine if your dog is suffering side effects that discourage eating.
3.) Your dog is anxious
When there is a major life change in the family such as moving, your dog will be affected for some time following the event. Sometimes following the death of an owner, dogs will go on somewhat of a hunger strike. Dogs are emotional creatures and will stop eating at times if they are upset or anxious.
4.) Food preferences
If your dog shows interest in certain foods, and not others it is most likely not a cause for concern. It simply means that they may be a picky eater, or even spoiled. This tends to happen to dogs that have been feed a wide variety of foods, have been feed table foods or have not had a consistent diet.
Puppies are known to be picky eaters. If you notice your puppy is not eating, it usually is not an underlying issue. Commonly, puppies need some time to fully adjust to life and experiment with food.
If dogs grow accustomed to being fed a diet with human treats and table scraps, it is common that they will not be interested in their kibbel in hopes that something better will come along.
Why is my dog not eating? Questionnaire
Apart from the common reasons why dogs stop eating, there are several other potential causes for this. Use the questionnaire below to determine if any of this applies to your dog.
Is your dog a senior?
As dogs age, it is common that they may slow down and have a decreased appetite. However, it is important to still enforce a regular feeding schedule to ensure optimal health and longevity. Senior dogs are also more susceptible to diseases such as Periodontal disease, liver disease, arthritis and cancer which causes a decreased appetite. It is important to prioritize senior dog care to help your dog live out their life happily.
Is your dog a puppy?
If you have a puppy and they refuse to eat, it is commonly due to intestinal parasites. Most puppies are born with them as they are considered congenital. Parasitic infections may cause bloating, vomiting and diarrhea. It is also possible that an object has been consumed by the puppy that has caused intestinal obstruction such as a shoelace, or part of a toy. Surgeries in younger dogs to remove foreign objects are more common than in older dogs.
Puppies that are younger than 6 months of age need to be eating more frequently than older dogs. In the event that your puppy has not eaten within the past 12-14 hours, you should pay a visit to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Is your dog not eating, but drinking water?
If your dog is refusing to eat, but still drinking water, it is a good sign. However, if they are not keeping the water down and vomiting, it may be an indication of an underlying condition.Things that can make a dog feel ill such as Periodontitis, kidney or liver disease may cause a dog to not want to drink water or eat. Similar to humans, dogs cannot go days without water. Especially if they have underlying diseases that leave their bodies more susceptible to dehydration and hunger.
Could it be separation anxiety?
Dogs are pack animals and prefer to eat in the presence of others. Many dogs won’t eat without their pet parent being around and will resume eating upon return of owner. While this is not directly a health concern, it may lead to problems in the future. If you know your dogs has separation anxiety, you should consider treatments such as CBD, calming chews, or toys.
Have you recently switched dog foods?
If you want to switch your dog food, it is important to slowly implement the new food for 7-14 days. Commonly, if a new dog food is introduced quickly it can lead to nausea and vomiting. This reaction may cause your dog to not want to eat. When deciding which dog food you want to choose, it is important to consider the ingredients and what stage of life your dog is in. Investing in a quality dog food that supports health and longevity will also be tastier for your dog.
What to do if your dog wont eat
If your dog exhibits symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy in addition to refusing food, consult with your veterinarian for testing and to discuss potential causes. However, if your dog is not showing symptoms other than not eating, here are a few things you can do to help:
- Add chicken broth, preferably no sodium, to food. Allow it to soak for a few minutes to soften kibble. You may also add water.
- Consider mixing in canned dog food into kibble.
- Adding foods such as boiled chicken, rice and carrots will most likely increase your pups appetite. Plus, it is more nutritious and satiating for your dog.
In addition to making the food more appealing, it is important to consider habits which may influence your dog’s behavior…
- Cut back on treats. Some dogs will get used to being fed treats too frequently that they become unmotivated to eat their regular food. Keep treats to a minimum.
- Feed your dog on a schedule. This will help your dog grow accustomed to receiving meals around the same time of the day and will look forward to it.
- Change the position and height of your dog bowl. If you have a senior dog, this is especially important to ensure that your dog is eating comfortably.