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Help! My Dog’s Not Eating

Large red hound laying on a white floor with a clear bowl of dog dog food

Reduced appetite (hypoxia) or lack of appetite (anorexia) in dogs can be distressing for pet parents, and it is frequently indicative of an underlying medical problem. Anorexia that lasts more than 24 hours should not be disregarded since it is typically a sign that something else is wrong. 

Here’s some information on why your dog isn’t eating, as well as a questionnaire to help you get to the bottom of the problem and some suggestions on what you can do to assist. 

Why Do Dogs Refuse to Eat?

There are several causes for a dog’s refusal to eat, but they typically fall into three broad categories: 

  • Medical
  • Behavioural
  • Issues with the food itself

Medical

The list of probable medical explanations for canine anorexia or hypoxia is lengthy and can include anything that causes discomfort, nausea, lethargy, lung illness, stress, and thousands of other symptoms. 

These are just a few medical problems that might cause dogs to lose their appetite; there are many more possibilities. 

Illness

Person petting the head of a golden retriever with its eyes shut

The most likely reason your dog does not eat is the main reason why people occasionally don’t eat. You don’t want to eat if you have a fever. You want to sleep and lie down. Dogs are equal. Dogs are identical. Often you get sick, and you don’t eat it for a few days.

However, if your dog isn’t eating and is vomiting, diarrhea, or both, contact your veterinarian within 8-12 hours. In the meanwhile, try the following to whet their appetite: 

  • Microwave your dog’s food to warm it up. 
  • Drizzle it with chicken broth, beef broth, clam juice, or tuna water to make the dish more attractive. 
  • To soften dry food, pour warm water over it. 
  • Feeding dry food to a dog who usually only eats wet food or vice versa. 
  • Hand-feeding may be an option for social eaters who need attention. 
  • In difficult situations, your veterinarian may prescribe a medicine to stimulate feeding. 

Although many people assume that dental illness is the reason for a dog’s inability to eat, this is an uncommon occurrence. However, she mentions that if the dog has a tumor in their mouth, it may cause them to stop eating. 

Behavioral

Anxiety, worry, or fear can all induce a drop in appetite in particular dogs, just as they can in humans. Keep in mind that what you consider unpleasant may not be the same as what your dog considers stressful, and even minor events might induce anxiety and lead them to refuse to eat. 

Changes in a dog’s habit or surroundings, such as new people or dogs in the house, travel, or loud noises like construction, storms, or fireworks, may cause anxiety. Even something as basic as altering the timing or location of a meal might induce stress in more sensitive dogs, making them less inclined to eat. 

A dog may shun their food dish due to intimidation from another pet in the house. Many dogs dislike eating right next to their housemates because there might be intimidation that we, as humans, are oblivious to. It is suggested that dogs be separated during feedings to reduce resource guarding or intimidation. 

Issues With the Food

Collie with head down on wooden flood with a full dog bowl in front of its nose

A dog may shun their food dish due to intimidation from another pet in the house. Many dogs dislike eating right next to their housemates because there might be intimidation that we, as humans, are oblivious to. It is suggested that dogs be separated during feedings to reduce resource guarding or intimidation. 

All dog food containers and bags should be sealed, and if the expiration date has passed, the food should be discarded. Open canned food can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days, wrapped with plastic wrap or a lid designed for dog food cans. 

Many pet owners worry whether their dog is just sick of their food if they stop eating it. Longsome dogs are fussy and healthy; the hungry dog should not quit eating a particular meal just because they have eaten it for a while. 

It may take a few attempts to figure out which dog food your dog prefers, but if your dog appears to become bored with the meal after food, it might be because they are receiving too many treats or human food, or they may have a medical issue. 

Time of Day

Some dogs only eat at certain times of the day. Maybe your dog only eats around midday, or maybe they only complete their dish when the sun goes down. Regardless of your dog’s preferences, feeding at the same time every day is standard practice. If they eat at one time of day, there is probably nothing to worry about. 

Food Preferences

Jack Russell Terrier with paws on white counter with white background

Your dog’s feeding habits may have shifted as a result of a recent change in the recipe of their usual dog food. We suggest that you should not always feed your dog the same kind of food to avoid this potential problem.

If the label on the package states’ new and better,’ that may not be your dog’s assessment of the food. That implies the producer has altered the food, and your dog may dislike the new variety. If the food is retrieved, recalled, or updated and your dog no longer enjoys it, it is a good idea to have an alternative.

Another reason your dog may be refusing to eat? The food has gone off. Check the bag’s use-by or expiration date, or follow your nose. If the food has expired or smells strange, discard it and replace it with a new bag. A decent rule of thumb is to buy dog food in bags that are about the size of your dog. Buy one five-pound bag for your five-pound dog, for example. 

You shouldn’t buy a 50-pound bag of dog food for a five-pound dog since the food will be rotten by the time you reach the bottom of the bag. If the dog food does not smell good, you should start over. 

When Should You Seek Help If Your Dog Isn’t Eating? 

Yellow Labrador blurred in background with a full metal food dish in foreground.

If your dog stops eating but then begins eating a few days later, it may be nothing to worry about. However, if it does not clear up soon and you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to seek expert treatment. 

However, as previously said, if your dog is not eating and is vomiting, has diarrhea, or both, call your veterinarian within 8-12 hours. It also raises worries about an erratic appetite. If you observe a significant shift in your dog’s feeding habits, a trip to the doctor may be in order.

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