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Why Won't My Dog Eat?

While dogs typically have very healthy appetites, you may find that there are times when your dog doesn't seem to be eating much at all. Today, our Stockton vets talk about some of the reasons why your dog is not eating, and what you should do about it.

Why isn't my dog eating?

As a pet parent, your number one concern is the health of your beloved companion. So when your dog is not feeling well or showing concerning behaviors then you will certainly be worried. So when your dog isn't eating then you will want to figure out why this happening and how you can help them.

Here are some of the common reasons why your dog may not eat:

When your dog feels unwell

One of the most frequent reasons a dog may not eat is when they are feeling unwell. If you are concerned about your dog's appetite then it is ideal to contact your vet to have your dog diagnosed. In the meantime, there are a few tricks you can try to coax your pooch to start eating:

  • If you feed your pup wet food you could try warming it slightly in the microwave.
  • If your dog eats dry food (kibble) you could try pouring some warm water or broth over it to soften it a bit and make it more appetizing.
  • Try feeding your pup some kibble by hand to see if they will eat it.

If your dog is also showing other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, as well as not eating, it's time for a trip to the vet.

What can make my dog feel unwell

Much the way major changes play on our emotions and affect our eating habits so too can change affect your dog's eating habits.

A move to a new house, being re-homed with new people, or the loss of another pet in the house can all lead your dog to lose their appetite. Be patient and kind as your pooch adjusts to their new life circumstances, and speak to your vet if your dog refuses to eat for more than 24 hours.

Separation anxiety

Some dogs struggle with separation anxiety and only feel comfortable enough to eat and play when their family members are home. Remember that dogs are pack animals, wired to hunt and eat together. If a key member of their pack is absent it may lead them to hold off on eating until their pack is all together again.

Your dog just isn't hungry

Dogs aren't hungry at all times and won't be interested in eating when they are still full. Perhaps your dog chows down first thing in the morning and fasts for the rest of the day, or maybe they wait until the sun goes down in the evening before devouring their dinner. Many dogs choose to eat just one big meal a day.

Whatever your pup's favorite mealtime is, as long as they are getting all the nutrition they need at that meal, it's likely not a problem. Your vet will be able to calculate your pup's caloric requirements based on their size, breed, age and lifestyle to provide you with accurate guidelines regarding what and when to feed your pooch.

They dislike their food

Just as with humans, dogs also have specific taste preferences when it comes to their food. There is also the possibility that the formulation for your usual brand of food has changed. While many brands will indicate a change (New & Improved etc) often these changes in the formulation are only reflected in the list of ingredients and the nutritional information.

It can be a good idea to feed your dog a couple of different foods right from day one. That way, if one food's formulation changes in a way that your dog doesn't like, you have an alternative food readily available that you know they will enjoy. At that point, you can begin the process of introducing a new food.

To avoid any gastrointestinal upsets just as bloating, gas or diarrhea, it's best to ask your vet for advice on how to introduce your four-legged friend to a new food.

Should I be concerned about my dog not eating?

That is an excellent question. Because our beloved animal companions are unable to tell us how they are feeling, it is always best to consult your vet whenever your dog is exhibiting behaviors that cause you concern.

When it comes to not eating, if you have tried the tricks above but your dog is still not eating after 24-48 hours a trip to the vet is a good idea, just to rule out anything serious.

If your dog is not eating and is experiencing other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or an uncharacteristic lack of energy, contact your vet right away to schedule an examination for your dog.

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 dog's condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.

If you are worried about your dog and why they aren't eating please do not hesitate to contact our Stockton vets to schedule a visit with our vets.

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