When your dog goes from scarfing down each meal to barely touching their food, it can be quite concerning. Here, our Rancho Cucamonga vets share some common reasons why your dog won't eat and what you can do if your pup suddenly loses their appetite.
Why Your Dog is Not Eating
Dogs who suddenly lose their appetite or stop eating, we refer to this condition as anorexia. Anorexia in dogs is a different type of issue than anorexia in humans. Doggy anorexia can be either partial or complete. Partial Anorexia is when a dog will only eat certain types of food, but not enough to keep them healthy. If your dog doesn't want to eat at all, you may be looking at complete dog anorexia. Pseudo-anorexia in dogs is another condition in which a dog wants to eat but is unable to due to another ongoing issue.
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 Reasons Why Your Dog Won't Eat
There can be a number of reasons why your dog stops eating, whether entirely or just not as much as they used to. 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/owner can result in a loss of appetite. Inconsistently feeding your dog, or inconsistent sleeping hours could also be a quick and easy solution.
If you are wondering 'Why doesn't my dog want to eat?', 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 May Result in Your Dog Not Eating
Medical conditions that could lead to a dog not eating and can range from minor concerns that could go away on their own, to possibly fatal conditions that need to be taken seriously immediately. You may ask yourself 'When should I worry about my dog not eating?'. Even if you assume your dog's lack of appetite is due to a behavioral/environmental reason or a minor medical condition, do not take the risk of letting your pet go untreated. You should bring them to see a vet if you see any of the following symptoms:
Some of the medical conditions that are known to cause dogs to stop eating 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.
What to Do if Your Dog Won't Eat
If you believe that there may be a medical condition behind your dog's lack of appetite, you should call your vet to schedule an appointment.
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.)
When should I worry about my dog not eating?
If your dog won't eat then you may wonder if there's any point in which you should begin to worry.
While the issue will usually be fairly simple and manageable at home, certain situations may require the attention of a veterinarian.
If your dog won't eat for an extended period of time, or if you are seeing other concerning symptoms then you should get in touch with your vet right away to have your pup examined.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.