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Why Do Dogs Not Eat? What Should You Do?

why do dogs not eat - post

Are you wondering why do dogs not eat?

I had the same question when my dog stopped eating for a while. I was worried just like you and couldn’t find any reliable information online. 

So, after a lot of research, I have come up with the most common reasons why your dog won’t eat. 

Here’s what you will learn in this article:

  • Reasons Why Your Dog Is Not Eating
    • Your Dog Might Be Sick
    • Your Dog Might Have Dental Disease
    • Weather Might Be Too Hot
    • Due to Recent Vaccination
    • Due to Recent Surgery
    • Change in Surroundings
    • Your Dog Might Have Stress, Anxiety, or Fear
    • The Food Might Have Gone Bad
    • Your Dog Might Be Pregnant or in Heat
    • Your Dog Might Be Just a Picky Eater
  • What Should You Do if Your Dog Is Not Eating?

Keep reading if you want to know why your dog won’t eat and what you should do about it. 

Reasons Why Your Dog Is Not Eating

Like humans, animals also have eating disorders that are way more common than people. For example, there can be a decrease in dogs’ appetite (hyporexia) or complete loss of appetite (anorexia). These conditions can be stressful for pet parents and often indicate an underlying medical condition. 

Here are a few common reasons why your dog is not eating.

Your Dog Might Be Sick

A decreased appetite can sometimes indicate your dog is sick. You should contact your veterinarian if your dog is lethargic, has vomiting or diarrhea, or has not eaten for more than 48 hours.  As there could be a severe medical issue with your dog, such as:

  • Intestinal Parasites
  • Upset Stomach 
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

Your Dog Might Have Dental Disease

Dogs sometimes stop eating food because something in their mouth causes pain. For example, if your dog is eating canned food but has stopped eating dry food, it could have oral pain. However, most dogs prefer canned food because it’s easier to chew in such conditions. 

Check up your dog with a veterinarian for an oral examination. 

Weather Might Be Too Hot

Some dogs eat less when the temperature is too hot. The decrease in appetite is due to a reduction in their activity on hot days. 

A feeding tip would be to let your dog cool down before offering food. This may help the dog eat more. 

Give plenty of cool water to your dog. Also, offer healthy fresh juicy fruits like watermelon to your dog on hot summer days.

Due to Recent Vaccination

Vaccinations are vital for dogs as it prevents severe and contagious dog diseases. Although vaccinations save pets’ lives, they can also have minor and brief side effects. In addition, vaccinations can sometimes cause temporary loss of appetite in dogs. Therefore, it is recommended to contact your vet if your dog hasn’t eaten for more than 48 hours after vaccination. 

Due to Recent Surgery

Some dogs won’t eat properly after surgery, especially if it is dry kibble, due to the medication given for sedation and anesthesia. Therefore, your vet should recommend you a soft diet to feed your dog for a few days before you can provide regular food again to your dog. Then, always remember to switch back to a regular diet gradually.

Change in Surroundings

Some dogs’ appetite will decrease when you’re traveling to unfamiliar places or moved to a new location. It may be your dog won’t eat because they may get motion sickness, become nervous, or get uncomfortable in new places. This is normal behavior, and your dog will adjust to the new surroundings with time. 

Although, if your dog hasn’t eaten for more than two days, contact your vet as there could be something else wrong with the dog. 

Your Dog Might Have Stress, Anxiety, or Fear

Some dogs won’t eat if they have stress, anxiety, or fear. Changes in dogs’ environment, traveling, or loud noises can make dogs anxious. 

Even small changes like changing the time or location of the feed can trigger anxiety in sensitive dogs.

Some dogs also have separation anxiety, meaning they will refuse to eat when their pet parent isn’t home. 

Same as in humans, anxiety is the common cause of temporary inappetence. Give your dog a quiet place to eat, away from other pets or children that may interrupt them.

The Food Might Have Gone Bad

Sometimes there is nothing wrong with the dog but the food itself has gone bad. If your dog suddenly stops eating the food he has been eating for a while, then make sure to check the expiry of the food. If the expiration date has passed, you should throw the food out. Also, make sure that the food is stored in an airtight container, and seal opened canned food with plastic wrap. 

Your Dog Might Be Pregnant or in Heat

If your dog is eating less during pregnancy, it’s because her stomach has less space to expand due to the presence of puppies. Therefore, she might not eat all of her food at once, but she will eat a smaller amount more frequently. Dogs in heat also eat less, which is considered normal.

However, if your dog hasn’t eaten for more than 24 hours during pregnancy, contact your vet immediately. 

Your Dog Might Be Just a Picky Eater

Never assume first your dog is a picky eater without first investigating. If your dog is healthy and the vet doesn’t find any underlying conditions, then it’s more probably that your dog is a picky eater. 

A picky eater dog will refuse to eat dinner but will eat treats and table scraps. And the reason your dog is not eating their actual food is that the dog has outsmarted you, knowing that if they refuse to eat their meal, they’ll eventually get tasty treats or table scraps. 

What Should You Do if Your Dog Is Not Eating?

First of all, if your dog has stopped eating food, you should call or visit your vet. Your vet will be able to determine the actual underlying issue. Then, he will prescribe a diet or medicines according to your dog’s problem. 

Sometimes the prescribed diets are not tasty and don’t starve your already ill dog by forcing him to eat the diet. In such cases, contact your vet for alternatives. For example, he might prescribe some appetite-stimulating medicines or any soft feed that your dog might like. 

In case your dog doesn’t have any underlying issues and is just a picky eater, in such circumstances, you should:

  • Avoid or limit treats.
  • Make meals more irresistible by sparkling the kibble with small boiled chicken pieces.
  • Make meals time fun by giving food in a chewing toy such as a Kong.
  • Take your dog out for a walk before giving a meal.
  • Give meals daily at a specific time, and if your dog won’t eat, then take away the meal and don’t offer anything to eat until the next mealtime – eventually, your dog will recognize that he should eat at that specific time or he won’t get any food. 

Wild dogs and wolves don’t eat always, so don’t worry if your dog fasts for the first day or two. Most healthy dogs will begin to eat whatever they’re offered within a couple of days. 

The Bottom Line

There could be many underlying reasons your dog is not eating, but the common reasons why your dog is not eating might be because he is sick, have medical issues, the weather might be too hot, the dog might be pregnant or in heat, or maybe he is a picky eater.

However, you should talk with your vet if your dog is lethargic, vomiting or has diarrhea, or hasn’t eaten for over two days, as there could be a severe life-threatening issue with your dog.   

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