Being a dog parent is not easy. You need to be there for them not only on their good days but also on the bad ones. You must pay close attention to any change in their appetite just like a mom would do. If your dog is not eating, it is a matter of concern.
A decrease or loss in your pet’s appetite can indicate an underlying medical condition. Anorexia (i.e., the loss of appetite) should especially not be ignored. So, if your dog hasn’t eaten anything for over 24 hours, it might be time to visit a vet.
However, you don’t need to hit the panic buttong right away either. There could be multiple other reasons why your dog is refusing to eat. In this article, let us understand this topic in detail and explore the steps you can take to bring your pawsome pal’s appetite back.
Causes of why your dog is not eating
Before you assume the worst, check if your little friend is being picky. Maybe your pet does not like the food you have served. Moreover, a dog refuses to eat when the bowl is not comfortable enough to eat out of. So, try to feed them their favorite food in their favorite bowl to ensure they are not being picky. Once that’s ruled out, you can consider other reasons why your dog won’t eat.
Some dogs feel nervous in an unfamiliar place. A few even get motion sickness while travelling. So, analyze whether your canine companion’s appetite was normal before you shifted to a new location or took off for a trip.
Vaccination or medication
Certain medications and vaccinations can affect a dog's appetite. Antibiotics can even lead to stomach aches. However, if your dog is not eating due to such a reason, know that it is probably temporary. Your pooch will gradually get their appetite back once the side effects of a medicine/vaccine go away.
Separation stress and anxiety
Your dog refuses to eat when you are not around but devours the entire meal once you are back home? Chances are that they feel anxious when you are gone. If a dog is hyper attached to the owner, they feel stressed when left alone. Dogs with separation anxiety can even go an entire week without eating if their owner is not around. And this could take a toll on their mental and physical health. Hence, as a dog parent, you must learn to ease and treat their separation anxiety.
No one likes to eat with an ulcer or aching tooth. So, it could be possible that your dog refuses to eat due to an undiagnosed dental condition like gingivitis, broken tooth, cavities, etc.
As mentioned above, hyporexia (i.e, a decrease in appetite) or anorexia can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If your situation does not fit any of the above points, you should probably visit a vet. In fact, you can visit a doctor irrespective of it and be sure that your canine companion is healthy. They could even help you with a few tips and tricks to make your dog eat well.
How to identify why your dog doesn’t want to eat?
As a pet owner, it is natural to feel distressed when your dog stops eating. However, you first need to calm down and figure out why your little furbaby doesn't want to eat.
Step 1: Pay attention to your dog’s behavior
As we have already mentioned, it could be possible that your furball does not want to eat that specific food. Hence, you might want to serve something else and understand whether they are being picky. Try to notice any changes in the environment too. Is your home suddenly packed with people because you have friends over? Did you recently shift to a new place? While skipping a meal or two is normal, you might want to rush to the vet if your dog exhibits other issues like puking, lethargy, dehydration, etc.
Note: Check for signs of depression especially if your pooch seems withdrawn or inactive.
Step 2: Check the food quality
Your little best friend might not want to eat because the food smells unpleasant. Hence, you might want to see if it has a foul smell. Moreover, check the packaging to confirm the expiry date.
Step 3: Examine your dog’s body
If your dog is not eating anything, look for changes in their body. Do they have inflamed gums or a moving/broken tooth? Are they injured? Is there a lump or a rash on their skin? Visit your veterinary doctor if you find anything suspicious on their body.
Note: Check the surroundings if you do not see any abnormality on their body. It is especially important if your dog is vomiting or has diarrhoea. Did your dog eat something they should not? If yes, get in touch with your vet.
What to do if your dog is not eating?
If the loss of appetite is due to a medical or dental issue, you must visit a doctor. But what if the reason is behavioral or social? Let us find out.
If the loss of appetite is related to food, don’t worry. There is a solution for almost every food-related loss of appetite. First, identify the problem. If the food is spoiled, check its expiration and buy a new pack. If you have been serving something new, introduce it slowly. Mix it with the ongoing dog food. Reduce the quantity of the current food gradually. Make sure the food is neither too hot nor cold for them. To put it simply, understand the exact problem with the food. Once you know that, you will have the solution.
Note: If you have been feeding the same thing for a prolonged period, your dog is probably bored. So, introduce something new into their diet.
Issues related to environment or behavior
If your dog is not eating due to a change in environment or behavior, you might again want to know the exact reason. For example, if your furball likes eating in the afternoons and nights only, try to follow their schedule. It also means that you should avoid feeding them in the evenings or mornings. If your dog doesn’t eat due to other reasons like moving to a new place, bringing their appetite back can be time consuming. In fact, you might even want to invest time and money in training your dog.
Note: Avoid punishing your dog for not eating anything, especially if the reason is social and medical.