Why Dogs Are Not Eating

Use this quiz to identify potential reasons for your dog’s decreased appetite.

Will Your Dog Drink Water?

Your dog may be experiencing nausea, stress, or oral pain if she will drink water but not eat. It’s encouraging if they can keep the water level down. However, if they start vomiting after consuming water, they should be seen by a veterinarian straight away because this could be a sign of severe motion sickness or a blockage in the digestive tract. Even if they are still drinking, they should be evaluated by their veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of their inappetence if they go more than 24 hours without eating.

If your dog hasn’t eaten or drunk in 24 hours or more, take them to the vet straight away so they may be examined, treated for possible dehydration, and the underlying cause of their refusal to eat or drink is determined.

Any condition that makes a dog feel unwell, including renal illness, pancreatitis, intestinal parasites, liver disease, cancer, infection, intestinal obstruction, etc., can make a dog refuse food and water. Dogs cannot go without water for more than a few days, much like humans, thus this should be taken seriously.

Does Your Dog Eat Treats But Not Food?

Your dog may be stocking up on “junk food” instead of their own dog food if they accept snacks or table scraps but decline dinner. However, a medical problem may be to blame for your dog’s decreased appetite if they also exhibit other signs of illness.

For instance, it can be that your dog is just receiving too many calories per day from treats and isn’t hungry for their meal if they are content, active, drinking water, playing, and not experiencing any vomiting or diarrhea. They may also have outwitted you by foreseeing that they would receive delectable chicken and dog treats if they refuse to consume their food.

Your dog may not be feeling well if they are lethargic, experiencing any vomiting or diarrhea, starting to eat but stopping, drooling, or licking their lips. Even when they’re not feeling well, many dogs are more likely to choose treats than their food since they offer bigger incentives. Consider a moment when you were sick but still managed to eat your favorite delicacy and skip the salad bar.

If getting your dog to eat is becoming a regular struggle, it is always wise to be on the safe side and have any potential medical concerns cleared out.

Is Your Dog Not Eating Dry Food?

Does your dog reject dry food yet gobble up canned food as soon as you put it down? This is a typical pet owner complaint that might imply a number of different things.

Your dog can be experiencing tooth or mouth pain. Many pet owners mistakenly assume that if their animal companion is eating, they must not be experiencing mouth pain. Since they must eat, many dogs suffer in silence from oral pain for months or years before having any rotting or infected teeth out.

Many dogs prefer canned food because it is simpler to chew than dry food, yet others may still consume dry food despite having severe oral pain. Your dog should visit your veterinarian for an oral examination if they notice that they no longer want to eat dry food but will accept canned food.

Additionally, because canned food typically has a greater flavor and may be perceived as more of a “prize,” your dog may prefer it than dry food. To get your dog to eat more, try combining canned food with the dry kibble. Then, gradually increase the proportion of dry food until your dog is once again eating dry kibble.

Some dogs flat-out won’t eat kibble and will only consume canned food. While feeding your dog canned food on a long-term basis may have some drawbacks, such as worsening dental problems or an increase in food costs, it may not be an issue. Ask your vet if feeding your dog a diet made entirely of canned foods could be the best choice for them.

Is Your Dog a Senior?

Senior dogs may consume less calories than younger dogs because of this, but significant weight loss or a refusal to eat is abnormal and can signify serious underlying medical concerns.

These may consist of, but are not restricted to:

A dog who is unable to locate or access their food bowl may stop eating for other reasons, such as cognitive deterioration, movement problems, or visual loss. Senior dogs should have a regular feeding schedule, the food bowl should remain in the same location so they always know where to locate it, and they should have a rug or yoga mat to stand on while eating so they don’t slip or have difficulties standing on hard flooring.

Your senior dog should visit the vet for a complete medical examination and any necessary tests to determine the cause of their lack of appetite if they haven’t had anything to eat for more than 24 hours.

Is Your Dog a Puppy?

Puppies of small breeds, in particular, are more likely to have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and should be regularly monitored for signs of weakness or collapse if they are not being fed. They should need immediate care if this occurs.

Some pups might not enjoy larger kibble since it might be challenging for their developing teeth to chew it, particularly if they are only starting to eat solid food. This can be fixed by adding water and allowing it to soak to make it more like porridge, or the kibble can also be combined with canned food.

If your puppy still won’t eat, you should take them to the vet straight away. They should be examined right away if they are also sluggish, throwing up, or experiencing diarrhea.

Did You Just Adopt Your Dog Recently?

It may take a dog days or even weeks to get used to their new home. A new member of the family may refuse food for the first few days because anxiety is a common cause of temporary inappetence.

It is crucial to provide them with a calm dining area away from other animals or kids who might disturb them. Give them a day or two to adjust to their new home as long as they are otherwise healthy and energetic and aren’t experiencing vomiting or diarrhea before getting concerned that they aren’t eating.

To rule out any underlying medical concerns, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian if they are lethargic, vomiting or having diarrhea, or if they go more than 48 hours without eating anything.

Did Anything Change in Your Household?

Some dogs could be so sensitive that a change in their surroundings could make them unappetizing. Examples include moving the water and food bowls, adding a new pet or child to the family, having guests over, or even starting construction.

Even though noise phobias aren’t always exclusive to your home, things like thunderstorms and fireworks might also make your dog anxious enough to prevent him from eating.

Could Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

When their pet parent isn’t home, many dogs with separation anxiety won’t eat. Some dogs who suffer from separation anxiety even anticipate having their human companion in the room while they eat and stop when their person leaves.

Although this isn’t usually a symptom of a health issue, it could indicate that your dog has a serious anxiety issue that needs to be treated. The use of soothing pheromone collars or diffusers, such as Adaptil, as well as relaxing chews like Composure or Solliquin, may be therapeutic.

However, you should think about seeking assistance from a board-certified veterinary behaviorist if you are worried that your dog may have significant separation anxiety.

Did You Switch Dog Foods?

Your dog might not feel like eating if you switch their food too rapidly because it may upset their tummy. To prevent stomach distress, it’s crucial to switch foods gradually over a period of 7–10 days. This also enables your dog to gradually adjust to the new diet rather than switching all at once.

Is Your Dog Pregnant or in Heat?

Your dog might not eat much in the early stages of pregnancy. Because her stomach doesn’t have as much area to expand because the puppies are there, your dog may eat less throughout the middle or later stages of her pregnancy. However, she should make up for this by eating smaller portions more frequently.

No matter what stage of pregnancy your dog is in, if she hasn’t eaten in more than 24 hours, you should call your vet straight away to make sure everything is okay.

Additionally, a decreased appetite is common in dogs in heat. She should visit her veterinarian if she goes more than 48 hours without eating, though. She should be examined by her veterinarian right away if she exhibits any of the following symptoms: lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased drinking and urination. These symptoms could be signs of pyometra, an infection of the uterus.

Is Your Dog Diabetic?

If your diabetic dog refuses to eat, it may be a sign that there is a major problem. If your dog isn’t eating when your dog is diagnosed, ask your veterinarian what they advise doing.

Dogs shouldn’t often be administered insulin if they aren’t eating because doing so can result in dangerously low hypoglycemia. If your dog misses one meal, follow your veterinarian’s advice and administer a half dose of insulin; however, if your dog misses another meal, call your veterinarian right away.

The symptoms of hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis, both of which are life-threatening if left untreated, include lethargy, nonresponsiveness, vomiting, and diarrhea in diabetic dogs. If your diabetic dog exhibits any of these symptoms, they should be examined by a veterinarian straight once.

Did Your Dog Just Have Surgery?

After surgery, it’s normal for your dog to miss one or two meals. Along with the potential side effects of going home with certain prescriptions like painkillers and/or antibiotics, sedatives and anesthetics frequently result in nausea and decreased appetite.

Try putting a scoop of canned food or boneless, skinless, boiling chicken on top of your dog’s kibble to entice them to eat. Better still, request a couple cans of a prescription gastrointestinal diet from your veterinarian to give your pet during the first several days following surgery. These foods have a great taste, are simple to digest, and can lessen some of the gastrointestinal discomfort that can follow surgery and anesthesia.

If your dog underwent oral or facial surgery, your vet may advise sticking to canned food for two weeks or more. Additionally, until their recheck appointment, your dog shouldn’t be given hard treats or allowed to chew on hard toys. Contact your veterinarian if your dog won’t eat the recommended canned food in case there are any post-operative issues.

What ought I to do if my dog won’t eat?

  • If your dog isn’t eating and is also vomiting or has diarrhea, see a vet within 8 to 12 hours.
  • If your dog isn’t eating, there are a few other possible causes, such as emotional problems.
  • Although worrying, a dog not eating is a problem that frequently resolves itself, but it’s best to watch carefully.

When your dog isn’t eating on a regular basis, it can be very worrying. After all, maintaining a nutritious diet is essential to living a happy life. So what precisely is going on when your dog won’t eat? Discover some well-known as well as some obscure causes of your dog’s lack of appetite.


Your dog is probably not eating for the same reason that sometimes people don’t eat.

Ann Hohenhaus, a staff veterinarian at The Animal Medical Center in New York, claims that they are ill.

When you have a fever, you are not hungry. You want to get comfortable and take a nap. Dogs behave similarly. They frequently suffer a virus, go without food for a few days, and then recover.

Contact your veterinarian within 8 to 12 hours if your dog is not eating and is vomiting, has diarrhea, or both. To whet their appetite in the interim, try the following:

  • Warm up the food for your dog in the microwave.
  • To make the food more appetizing, pour chicken broth, beef broth, clam juice, or tuna water over it.
  • To soften dry food, cover it with warm water.
  • if your dog typically only consumes wet food, switching to dry food, or vice versa.
  • Try hand-feeding; often social eaters just want to be noticed.
  • In severe circumstances, your veterinarian might recommend a drug that might encourage feeding.

Hohenhaus states that it’s an uncommon cause of a dog not eating, despite the fact that many people think tooth disease is to blame. However, she does point out that a tumor in the mouth of the dog can make them stop eating.


Have you recently started your dog on medication? It’s possible that the medication and/or regimen modification is making them queasy.

According to Hohenhaus, a disease’s treatment may cause you to stop eating.

Your stomach may hurt if you take antibiotics. Some medications cause nausea.

Chemotherapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like Rimadyl are further potential offenders, she adds.

Social & Emotional Issues

A major life change, such as relocating, changing professions, or ending a relationship, can have an impact on one’s appetite, and the same is true for dogs.

Hohenhaus has even seen a dog patient who had been rehomed after losing her owner stop eating.

“According to Hohenhaus, she was somewhat on a hunger strike and I believe it was because her life was turned upside down. ” There are two types of individuals. When things in your life are chaotic, you either eat a lot or nothing at all because you are preoccupied with other things. The same, in my opinion, applies to dogs.

Owner Absence

Know that it’s probably not only in your head if it seems like your dog doesn’t eat or drink while you’re away but gobbles down their food when you get home.

Dogs are solitary creatures. Their pack won’t be home while you’re gone. According to Hohenhaus, they are waiting for the pack to arrive before eating.

Time of Day

Some dogs only consume food at certain times of the day. Maybe your dog just loves to eat at noon, or maybe they wait until dusk to finish their bowl.

Whatever their inclinations, most dogs tend to eat at the same time every day. It’s probably nothing to be concerned about if they only eat at certain times of the day.

Food Preferences

It’s also possible that the recent changes to the recipe of your dog’s usual dog food are to blame for their change in eating habits. Hohenhaus advises varying the food your dog eats to avoid this potential problem.

“According to Hohenhaus, if the packaging reads “new and improved,” your dog may not feel the same way about the food. “That indicates that the food has changed, and your dog may not enjoy the new formulation. Hohenhaus advises having a backup plan in case your dog stops like the food if it is recalled, goes off the market, or gets better.

Possibly another explanation for why your dog isn’t eating? The meal is no longer fresh. Examine the bag’s use-by or expiration date, or simply use your nose. Throw out any food that has gone bad or has an odd scent, and get a new bag. As a general rule, buy dog food bags that are around the same size as your dog. Consider purchasing one five-pound bag for your dog, who weighs five pounds.

“According to Hohenhaus, you generally shouldn’t purchase a 50-pound bag of dog food for a five-pound dog because the food will likely be rancid by the time you reach the bottom of the bag. ” You might wish to start over if the dog food doesn’t smell well.

When To Seek Help If Your Dog Isn’t Eating

If your dog stops eating for a few days, then starts again, there may be nothing to worry about. However, if the problem persists and any of the symptoms listed above appear, it may be necessary to consult a doctor.

“If your dog skips a few meals and there are no other symptoms—no vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or accidents—then I’m not that concerned,” adds Hohenhaus.

However, as was already indicated, you should call your vet within 8–12 hours if your dog isn’t eating and is either vomiting, having diarrhea, or both. Hohenhaus expresses concern about changing appetites as well. A trip to the clinic may also be your best option if you detect a significant shift in your dog’s feeding patterns.

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