Being a dog parent, it is very distressing when your dog isn’t eating. After all, a healthy diet is one of the most essential parts of your dog's life. As a responsible pet parent, you must be concerned about your dog's health. This requires keeping a tight check on their diet, appetite, and eating patterns.
So what exactly is happening when your dog refuses to eat? There are a variety of reasons why a dog doesn’t want to eat. In this post, we will share the reasons for the loss of appetite in dogs and recommend solutions for dogs who refuse to eat.
Common reasons for loss of appetite in dogs
The loss of appetite, also known as anorexia, in dogs is a symptom that can indicate many possible underlying problems. Loss of appetite can be partial or complete.
- Partial loss of appetite: If your dog is only eating some types of food, but not enough to stay healthy.
- Complete loss of appetite: If your dog won’t eat anything at all.
Just like in humans, there are many reasons dogs might refuse to eat. It includes medical problems, behavioral issues, environmental problems, separation anxiety, and issues with the food itself.
A decrease in appetite in dogs is often a sign of illness. The medical conditions that cause a loss of appetite in dogs include:
- Upset stomach and gastroenteritis
- Food poisoning
- Depression or anxiety
- Pain, anywhere in the body
- Problems with teeth, gums, or tongue
- Tumors and cancer
- Autoimmune diseases and neurological diseases
- Fever from recent vaccination
- Infection, either bacterial or viral
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
If dogs get sick, they don’t eat for a couple of days until they get better. However, if loss of appetite is accompanied by fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, speak to your vet immediately.
Your dog is put on medication
Often treatment of a disease can give nausea and make your dog not eat. Certain drugs are upsetting for dogs’ stomachs. The medications and treatments that cause loss of appetite include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Change of environment
Any change in environment and routine, big or small, can affect your dog’s appetite. They can make your dog feel uncomfortable and induce stress in your pup. These changes in the environment include
- Travelling or moving to another place
- Absence of a family member
- Addition of a new pet in the family
- Weather changes
- Change in feeding schedule
- New dog food
- New food bowl
Try introducing snuffle mats or bowls for your dog.
Any mouth, gum, or teeth problems of your dog may cause them to refuse to eat. They might not be eating because something in their mouth is causing pain and not letting them swallow properly. Have them checked for a mouth injury, a broken tooth, gum disease, or even an oral tumor.
Dog Separation Anxiety
Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety may not eat when left home alone. An anxious dog waits for the pack to be there to eat. It is essential to dedicate quality time to your pooch and ensure that their needs are being met.
Diet and food issues
There are some food issues you should consider if your dog is not eating. Your dog may refuse to eat if:
- The food is either too hot or too cold.
- Your dog is bored with the food because they’re eating the same thing every day for months.
- Your dog is a picky eater.
- The food has gone stale.
- There is a recent switch in dog food that tastes or smells differently than the old food.
- You go from home-cooked meals or wet dog food to kibble.
- There is food sensitivity to one or more ingredients.
- You are overfeeding your furry pal.
Pet Parent Tip: When your dog refuses to eat, you should monitor the water intake. Dogs shouldn’t even go a day without drinking water to prevent dehydration. Try using a portable dog water bottle for your furry companion.
Human foods that are safe foods for dogs human
Human foods that are not safe foods for dogs
Unseasoned and raw vegetables
Grapes and raisins
Most of the fruits
Desserts with artificial sweeteners like Xylitol
Macadamia nuts and walnuts
Onion and garlic
Coffee and tea
How to determine the reasons why your dog won't eat
Before going to the solutions, you need to determine the causes of why your dog won’t eat. We have listed five steps to find out why your dog is not eating.
1. Observe your dog’s behavior
The first step is to observe your dog’s behavior. Identify if your dog does not eat anything or is just picky about some types of food. Also, check your dog's stool and urine. Observe other symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, sleeping all day, losing interest in play. If you observe any of these, talk to your vet.
2. Check your dog’s teeth and body
Check your dog's body for parasites, lumps, injuries, sores, rashes, and changes in skin color. Look for signs of infection such as redness or inflammation on the skin, mouth, eyes, and feet. Also, glance inside their mouth and look for broken, loose, or bad teeth or inflamed gums. These reasons might be a cause behind why your dog is not eating.
3. Check for issues with the food
If your dog refuses to eat, make sure there isn’t anything wrong with it. Check the expiry date, color, taste, and smell of their food. There is also the possibility your dog is just fussy and turning its nose up at the food you’re offering them.
4. Check the environment
If your dog has stopped eating, check the houseplants, carpets, pet toys, and any items your dog has access to. Be careful if there are medications or house cleaning items within your dog’s reach. Also, if your dog is not eating, maybe it’s due to a change of place or a new environment.
5. Examine your actions
Examine your actions in the past couple of days. Maybe you have given a lot of treats or table scraps to your dog. Perhaps you bought a new household plant that is poisonous for dogs.
Pet Parent Tip: Take it seriously if it’s been two days or more since your dog ate. Speak to your vet to determine the reasons why your dog won’t eat.
Solutions for loss of appetite in dogs
Solutions when your dog won’t eat will depend on what you and your vet determine to be the cause of the problem.
Solving food-related loss of appetite in dogs
Here are some simple solutions to implement for food-related reasons for a loss of appetite in dogs.
- When introducing a new food, don't be hasty and switch gradually to fresh food.
- Try to get high-quality food for your dog.
- Find out which taste and smell your dog likes and offer those foods.
- When switching food, choose an option with similar nutritional value.
- Mix the new food with home-cooked food and slowly transition or return to home-cooked food if possible.
- Add dressing over kibble and mix it. You may also add a bit of warm water to your dog's kibble to make it more appealing.
- Don't offer spoiled food, and always check the expiration date before giving it to your dog.
- If your dog is sensitive to food ingredients, choose food without the ingredient your dog is sensitive to.
- If your dog is bored with the same food for a longer time, add variety and mix things up every once in a while
- Make sure the food is at the right temperature for your dog
If you are traveling, a travel dog bowl is an easy solution to give food or water to your dog.
Treating environmental and behavioral loss of appetite in dogs
The process can be a little more time-consuming for behavioral and environmental reasons for a loss of appetite in dogs.
Here are some valuable tips for getting your dog to eat regularly:
- Give your dog enough exercise, mental stimulation, and attention. Try to use snuffle mats or bowls to keep your dog active and mentally healthy.
- Don’t tell or punish your dog for not eating. It would be best if you were patient and supportive.
- Cut back on treats and only give them as a reward.
- Take your dog for a walk before mealtime.
- Avoid giving table scraps to your dog.
- Keep trash cans locked and away from your curious fur buddy.
- Keep dangerous items out of the reach of your furry pal.
- Try to use products in your home and yard that are known to be safe for the dog.
- Keep all medicines in cabinets. If you accidentally drop a tablet on the floor, you should look for it immediately.
- Choose pet-safe household plants and flowers for your home and yard.
Loss of appetite should never be ignored, even if your dog’s behavior has not changed. It often signals a serious underlying medical problem and should be examined by a vet. Finding and treating the underlying cause of loss of appetite is the best way to approach this problem.
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