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What to Do if Your Dog Won't Eat

What to Do if Your Dog Won't Eat

It can be distressing and concerning when your dog won’t eat, especially since most dogs love to eat. In many cases, dogs may go a couple of days without eating, and there aren’t any further issues. But sometimes, loss of appetite in dogs can be a sign of a deeper issue. 

Learn more about the possible reasons your dog isn’t eating and solutions to help boost his appetite! 

Possible Reasons Your Dog Won’t Eat

There can be many different reasons that your dog isn’t eating. Here are a few likely reasons:

  • Sickness: Similar to people, many dogs don’t feel up to eating when they are sick, especially if they have an upset stomach. Your dog may simply not feel well enough to eat. If you think your dog is sick, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. Loss of appetite can be a sign of serious medical conditions, like cancer, kidney failure, and liver problems. 
  • Changes, Travel, and Emotional Issues: Changes in life can be difficult and stressful on our pups. Traveling, moving, and other big changes in your dog’s life could cause him to lose his appetite. 
  • Mouth or Dental Issues: In some cases, your dog may stop eating because something in his mouth is causing him pain. A broken or loose tooth, oral tumor, or gingivitis can all be painful issues that cause your dog to stop eating. 
  • Medications or Vaccinations: Different medications can cause stomach aches and nauseousness, which can cause your dog to stop eating. If your dog recently started a new medication or treatment, it might just be the issue. Some dogs may temporarily lose their appetite after receiving vaccinations, as well. 
  • Issues with the Food: Your dog may not be eating because he simply doesn’t like the food or the manufacturer recently changed the formula. Another potential issue is that the dog food has gone bad. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the expiration date of the food to make sure it hasn’t expired, gone stale, or rancid. 
  • Owner Is Away: Some dogs don’t eat when their owners are away, such as during work or even when the owner is traveling or on vacation. 
  • Picky Eater: Some dogs are simply picky eaters, especially if they are fed a lot of treats or table scraps. If your dog is refusing to eat his dry kibble, it may be because he is hoping something better will come along. 

Although a dog’s lack of appetite can sometimes resolve on its own, it’s always best to monitor your dog closely and keep an eye on his food intake. The American Kennel Club points out that if your dog is not eating and has diarrhea or is vomiting, you should contact your veterinarian within 8 to 12 hours. 

Tips to Help Encourage Your Dog to Eat

Finding the right solution for your dog’s loss of appetite will depend on the cause. Medical issues and sicknesses may require veterinary care and treatment. If your pet’s loss of appetite isn’t caused by a medical issue, then you can take different steps to help encourage him to eat. Here are a few ideas to help spur your dog’s appetite: 

  • Make the food more appealing by adding low-sodium chicken or beef broth, tuna water, or warm water to the food. You can also add boneless chicken or hamburger to the food for a few days. 
  • Try feeding your dog a different kind of food. If you normally feed your dog dry food, try canned food instead. You can also try mixing dry food and wet food. 
  • Try warming up your dog’s food in the microwave. This can help make it seem more appetizing and release more of the food’s aroma. 
  • Change up your dog’s feeding experience. You can try feeding your dog by hand, using different bowls, or even putting the food at a different height. 
  • Taking your dog on a walk before mealtime can help build his appetite and encourage him to eat. 
  • Having a consistent feeding schedule can help provide predictability and establish a routine so that your dog knows what to expect. 
  • Cut back on treats and people food to ensure your dog is hungry at mealtime. 
  • In severe cases, your vet may prescribe a medication that can help stimulate appetite.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to skip a meal here and there, but if your dog is showing other symptoms or doesn’t eat after a couple of days, it’s best to consult your vet to ensure there isn’t a bigger issue!

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