Is your dog not eating their food even though it's usually gone in seconds? There are quite a few reasons why a dog may stop eating out of nowhere. Our Best Friends Veterinary Hospital vets discuss some of the most common reasons, as well as how to respond when your dog won't eat.
Why doesn't my dog want to eat?
In dogs, loss of appetite is referred to as inappetence or anorexia. Anorexia in dogs is not a medical condition on the same level as it is in humans. Anorexia in dogs can be partial or complete. A dog with partial anorexia will only eat certain types of food, but not enough to keep them healthy. If your dog refuses to eat anything, he or she may be suffering from dog anorexia. Another condition in which a dog wants to eat but is unable to do so due to another ongoing issue is pseudo-anorexia.
Dogs who are not eating, usually do so because of environmental or behavioral reasons which are typically caused by stressors, or more seriously, an underlying medical condition that could require urgent care and even surgery. We will discuss some of the more common examples of each, and provide information on how your doggy's issues can best be resolved.
Behavioral & Environmental
There are numerous reasons why your dog is no longer eating. Some minor causes can be environmental or behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods of time (this would likely cause the dog to refrain from eating only when left alone). Even the absence of a family member or owner can cause a loss of appetite. Inconsistent feeding or sleeping hours could also be a quick and easy solution.
If your pup has stopped eating, changes in their typical environment could be the issue. You may notice a loss of appetite if your family introduces a new pet to their environment, drastic changes in weather, and other stressors that take your doggy out of their comfort zone.
Medical conditions that can cause a loss of appetite range from minor concerns that may resolve on their own to potentially fatal conditions that must be treated right away. Even if you believe your dog's lack of appetite is due to a behavioral/environmental issue or a minor medical condition, don't put your pet at risk by ignoring it.
Some medical conditions that would lead to your dog's lack of appetite include:
- Upset Stomach
- Oral hygiene issues
- Autoimmune/neurological diseases
- Organ troubles
- Recent Vaccination
If you notice any of these symptoms present in your dog, please contact a veterinarian.
When should I worry about my dog not eating?
If your dog's loss of appetite persists for more than a day or two, it's important to seek veterinary care. If your dog is experiencing other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or lethargy, it's important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
What to Do if Your Dog Won't Eat
If your dog has, or you expect they have a medical condition, contacting a veterinarian is crucial as it will give your pet the best chance at a strong and speedy recovery.
Here are some general tips that could help get your dog's eating habits back on track if their appetite is not a medical condition:
- Be sure that your dog is getting the necessary amount of attention and exercise that they deserve
- Be patient and supportive with your dog and do not force-feed them
- Try to avoid feeding your pet table scraps
- Keep them on a consistent routine that is easy for you to maintain
- Cut back on the number of treats you give your dog
- Mix up the food you give your dog (switch from dry to wet food or vice versa, add dressing or sauce to dry food, etc.)
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.