Are you concerned about your dog’s appetite? Chances are, you are here because you searched for “my dog won’t eat his food.” At Dog Ownership Guide, we believe that happy dogs make happy owners. When dogs don’t eat, it’s usually a sign they aren’t quite as happy as owners would like them to be, so that’s why we did the research to help you with this situation.
Why Won’t Your Dog Eat His Food?
We love caring for our dogs. A major part of that care is feeding. So, when a dog won’t eat his food, it can be quite concerning. The good news is if it’s only been a day, then chances are, he’s just not as hungry. Purina, the national dog food brand, reports dogs won’t starve themselves. However, if your dog won’t eat his food beyond a day, it’s time to consult a veterinarian.
Loss of appetite can indicate a medical issue. Since it’s difficult to know how your dog feels, a decreased appetite is often seen as a symptom of a medical issue. Loss of appetite plus other symptoms emphasizes the need to seek veterinary care.
Illnesses Affecting a Dog’s Appetite
A dog’s appetite can be affected by the following health problems:
Dogs of all ages are susceptible to cancer, so don’t rule this out if you have a puppy.
The infection could be from a recent injury or surgery, but it can also be caused by an unknown reason.
It’s not always possible to identify the source of pain in a dog, especially when it is internal, such as a stomachache.
- Liver Disease
Older dogs should be tested for liver disease if they start to reduce the amount they eat.
- Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is also another medical condition that many older dogs suffer from, but it can be treated.
- Dental Disease
Dental disease can occur over time, especially if proper oral hygiene is not performed. Dogs should have their teeth brushed daily and professional cleaning regularly.
- Dental Problems
Oral pain from a piece of dry food cutting the gum or another cause can make your dog not want to chew anything, leading to a reduced appetite.
The best way to know if your dog is suffering from a medical condition is to consult with a veterinarian who can perform a thorough examination to rule out an underlying cause.
Other Reasons a Dog Won’t Eat His Food
Besides health problems, your dog may not be eating his food for many other common reasons.
- He doesn’t like dry dog food.
- He is scared of the environment, such as in the case of traveling or moving into a new home.
- He’s been riding in a vehicle and has motion sickness.
- He is not fond of a new food.
- He doesn’t like the food bowl.
- The dog food has expired, so it doesn’t taste good.
- He has an upset stomach after eating human food or too many dog treats.
- He is getting older, so his appetite is changing.
- He has recently received one or more vaccinations. A loss of appetite for a pup getting his first vaccines is common.
- He is stressed in some way. An example of a situation that could cause stress is introducing a new pup to the household.
- He’s mourning the death of a fellow pack member or family member.
- A puppy may have lost teeth making it more difficult to eat or suffer from another dental issue, such as pain from emerging adult teeth.
When to Call the Veterinarian
If your dog won’t eat his dog food after a day, call your veterinarian’s office to rule out any underlying cause for the appetite loss. If your dog won’t eat his food and it has been 24 hours, look for the following signs you should seek emergency vet care:
Be prepared to spend a lot of time at the emergency vet’s office. Also, this is a good time to say if you don’t have dog insurance, you may want to consider getting some. The costs of emergency vet care can be extraordinary but dog insurance can cover the costs.
How to Get Your Dog to Eat His Food
In addition to consulting with your vet, it’s a good idea to implement the following tips when your dog won’t eat his food.
- Turn dry food into wet food by soaking it with water.
- Avoid table scraps so he will be hungry for dry kibble.
- Switch dry dog food or wet food to a new food to see if he likes it better.
- Try a different food bowl.
- Check the date on the dog food bag to see if it’s old food.
- Don’t feed human food to your dog or pup.
- Allow your dog to eat grass if he tries to outside. It can relieve an upset stomach.
- If you’ve tried a new bag of treats, it might be giving him an upset stomach so throw them out.
- Add boiled chicken to your pup’s food to make it taste better. Only do this until he starts eating his normal food again.
- Hand feed your puppy small pieces of boiled chicken so he doesn’t go too long between meals. The same goes for older dogs suffering from a loss of appetite.
- Feed your puppy baby food to see if he will eat that until he starts eating his normal food.
- Consider an appetite stimulant. Older dogs may need a medicinal appetite stimulant, especially if they have a medical condition making it difficult to enjoy good food. These stimulants reduce nausea and act as hormones to make your dog hungry.
Always check with your veterinarian before implementing any of the above to ensure it is safe to do so with your dog or puppy.
When Your Dog Won’t Eat on a Regular Basis
Picky eaters often concern pet owners much more because it can be nearly impossible to find a food they like. The lack of appetite can lead to partial anorexia. Symptoms of partial anorexia include:
- Weight loss leads to being underweight for his breed.
- Going days without eating wet or dry food or eating a small amount.
- Only eating certain foods, including baby food, human food, or table scraps.
- Only eats at odd times, which causes him to miss meals.
- No food is good food for him because he’s a picky eater.
Pet owners do not have to worry too much about a picky eater, as long as he gets some food throughout the day. After a thorough examination from a vet to rule out underlying causes, do the best you can to reduce the effects of the partial anorexia your dog is suffering from and it may resolve itself over time.
Dogs who do not eat at all suffer from anorexia and the cause is usually more than just being a picky eater. If your dog won’t eat his food for long periods of time and there has been significant weight loss, communicate that with your vet for recommendations on how to ensure your dog receives the nutrients he needs to remain healthy.
Consider This for Why Your Dog Won’t Eat His Food
Dogs of all ages – puppies to older dogs – are similar to humans. When you don’t feel well, you’ll eat less than when you’re not ill. Dental problems can cause enough pain to make chewing unbearable, so you don’t eat. When you’re nervous, you may not eat either. Certain foods may not taste good to you, so you don’t eat it or only eat a small amount of it if you’re really hungry. And if you go a day or two without eating, you make an appointment with the doctor to find out if there’s any medical issue causing the lack of appetite. Dogs are the same.
The only difference between dogs and humans when it comes to a reduced appetite is that dogs can’t communicate in the way that humans do by telling people what’s wrong. They rely on their pet owners to figure it out with the help of a vet.
Do your dog a favor and take him to the veterinarian if he hasn’t eaten after 24 hours. Usually, after 24 hours, he’s hungry enough to eat just about anything. That’s when you’ll know something serious may be troubling him.
We hope the above information has answered your concern about “my dog won’t eat his food”. For additional information about caring for your dog, download our FREE Dog Ownership Guide.