Help! My Puppy Isn’t Eating as Much as Usual

puppy laying down next to full food bowl

More often than not, dogs are voracious eaters, especially if they are Labradors. They will devour almost anything that is placed in front of them. In contrast to that, sometimes your puppy doesn’t eat as much as usual. In the worst case, he/she refuses to eat altogether.

This is an alarming situation (for both new and experienced owners), but you shouldn’t panic. Observe your dog closely and try to find the underlying reason for his unusual behavior. If the problem persists for 24 hours or there are any accompanying symptoms, take your pup to the vet.

Why My Puppy is Eating Less than Usual?

There’s a wide variety of reasons that may cause a loss of appetite in your canine. Sometimes, it is possible that your dog just isn’t hungry. However, if your dog has a prolonged loss of appetite, it can be a sign of concern. Let’s go over a few causes that might make your puppy eat less.

Illness

This is the most likely reason behind your pet not feeling hungry. Dogs, just like humans, won’t eat if they’re sick. Similarly, if your puppy throws up while eating its food, it’ll have a hard time trusting that food again.

Sometimes, infection or disease is responsible for the loss of appetite. Lack of eating can lead to lethargy, which may accelerate the growth of infection. Many infections cause lethargy because energy is being diverted to the immune response to fight off the infection.

Medication

bottles of medicine on a counter

There is no doubt that modern medicine has given a massive boost to pet health care. However, the side effects of some medicines depreciate the appetite of your pup. These unwanted reactions are usually temporary and will wear off within a day. However, if your puppy is not eating, and is vomiting (or has diarrhea), contact your vet immediately.

Many antibiotics can cause stomach ache in your canine. These effects may be temporary, but they will surely cause your dog to eat less, or not at all. Likewise, chemotherapy and anti-inflammatory drugs are also quite notorious for affecting your pup’s appetite.

Food Preference and Quality

Have you recently changed your dog’s food? This can have a surefire impact on your pup’s eating habits. It is important to change the food gradually so that your pet gets used to the new one. In the beginning, mix your puppy’s old and new food and gradually increase the quantity of the new food. Sudden changes in food can make your dog to not eat at all.

This might be obvious, but many owners overlook this part. The dog food you’re feeding to your canine friend may have gone stale. A general rule of thumb is to buy the amount of food that is roughly equal to the size of your dog. A five-pound bag for a five-pound pup is a good way to start.

Upset Stomach

Dogs like to eat everything they can. Often, they will end up eating something that is not good for them. This leads to an upset stomach that is usually a common reason behind loss of appetite in puppies.

When this happens, the dog will try to get rid of whatever he/she ate. It is also possible that the canine may experience some stomach pains. Some common signs of an upset stomach include diarrhea, vomiting, and eating grass.

How to Make Your Dog Eat Again?

puppy eating from metal food bowl

The first step to revive your puppy’s appetite is to determine the exact problem. However, it is easier said than done and you might need the help of your vet. If possible, you should try to go through the most common problems and rule them out.

Monitor Your Dog’s Behavior

This step is crucial. Any change in your dog’s regular behavior may hint towards a possible problem. You should check how your dog is acting towards meals, and if it is skipping any. Make note of their daily activity and ensure that it lines up with what they typically do throughout the day.

Refusing to eat can be an early sign of issues that will continue to develop as time goes on. Anything unfamiliar should be a cause of concern and it’s advisable to monitor your puppy’s stool and water intake.

Check Surroundings

dog jumping a yard

If an environmental reason is hampering your dog’s appetite, the identifying process can be a little more stressful and time-consuming. What you can do is give your pet attention, be patient, and do not punish your puppy for weird behavior. In some cases, you may need the services of a pet behavior expert or a trainer.

Examine Your Puppy’s Body

A thorough physical examination can give you a rough idea if there’s any problem with your dog. Comb through their fur for any parasitic bugs and press on their belly to check for firmness. If your dog reacts to the presses, he/she could be in pain. Likewise, the belly should be free of hard lumps.

Puppy Not Eating Breakfast

Dog sitting next to full food bowl

Some dogs are finicky eaters. They don’t want to eat anything at all in the morning and try to skip their breakfast. These pups usually require a little bit of activity or stimulation to become hungry.

Some puppies want to burn some energy in the morning before eating. Others prefer snoozing for a few hours before they want food. Whatever the reason, you can try to reduce the portion of dinner, so your dog wakes up hungrier than usual.

Puppy Not Eating Kibble

overhead view of bowl of kibble with dog paws and nose inching towards bowl.

This can be confusing at times because your dog can be a picky eater. Having said that, this is not always the case and the cause could be much severe. Therefore, you must check your pup carefully before deducing any conclusion. A sudden lack of hunger generally means that your puppy is not feeling well.

Similarly, many puppies eat less kibble when they are ‘teething’. Tender gums and loose teeth can make dry food unappealing for many dogs. In these circumstances, it can be a good idea to mix some wet food in your pup’s dry food. Alternatively, you can also moisten dry food with warm water to make it easier to eat.

Changing the brand of kibble can also make your dog eat less than usual. Similarly, some puppies prefer being scatter-fed (scattering food over the floor) instead of eating from a bowl. You need to keep a close eye on your pet to find the underlying cause. Once you have identified the reason, come up with a relevant solution to revive his/her appetite.

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Hi! My name is Heather Hallman. I’m the mother of two beautiful girls and a MAJOR passionate pet parent. I can hardly wait to bring you the BEST resources and information that I've found for our fur-babies.