Dogs are stereotypically thought of as avid eaters. Because of this, it's understandable that pet owners might become worried when their pooch starts eating less or refuses to eat altogether. Here, our Hermitage vets explain some of the common reasons why your dog may stop eating and what you can do to help.
It can be a worrying thing to realize that your dog isn't eating! Many of our canine companions love to eat and so when we see them picking away at their meals without interest, or refusing to eat at all, most dog parents will be thrown for a bit of a loop.
There are a whole host of possible reasons why your dog isn't eating and here, our Hermitage veterinary teams explains a few and when you should start to think about bringing your canine companion into see us.
Common Causes of Dogs Refusing To Eat
One of the most common reasons why dogs may stop eating for a while is that they are feeling unwell! Just like when you catch a cold or develop a fever and all you want to do is lay around and nap, our dogs will often feel a bit nauseous and avoid eating in favor of sleeping and recovering.
It isn't only a serious illness that can cause your dog to stop eating too. Most often, you dog is just feeling a little under the weather, avoids eating or a day or two, and returns to their regular routine once they kick their bug and start feeling better!
Medications or Vaccines
There is a whole range of medications that your dog may be prescribed to help prevent disease, manage ongoing conditions or beat the illness. And, depending on the strength of the medication, some of them may make your dog feel a little under the weather. If your dog has recently started taking a new medication shortly before you notice that they have stopped eating, that is a probable cause. Keep an eye on them, and your dog should be back to their old eating habits once they get used to the new meds.
Likewise, many vaccinations come with some mild side effects that may include the feeling of nauseousness. If your dog has stopped eating right after receiving a vaccination or booster shot, they are probably feeling a little under the weather as their immune system responds and their appetite should return within a day or two.
This is, admittedly, a pretty wide umbrella. However, there are a few different kinds of changes in food that might trigger a bout of temporary fasting in your dog.
A Change in Food Recipe
If your pet hasn't changed their diet recently, check the packaging of the latest bag of food that you bought for them. If you notice a "new and improved recipe" stamp, your dog just may not like the way their tried-and-true food tastes anymore now that the manufacturers have switched up the ingredients.
A Break From Routine
Have you fed your dog anything unusual recently? If they've eaten one too many treats or have gorged themselves on something outside of their normal dietary routine like a raw bone, their stomach many be reacting to the rich-er than normal food in the same way out human bodies do. When we eat too much rich food, even the thought of eating makes us feel queasy. Our dogs are the same!
A Change in Diet
If you have recently switched your dog's food, they may be resistant to the change and are expressing it by refusing to eat. Your pup should start eating again soon, and you can always take steps to make their first meal more appetizing too.
Significant Life Changes
Dogs thrive on routine and if their routine is broken, they may become nervous, anxious or even depressed. All of these emotions in dogs can cause them to stop eating for a little while until they start feeling a bit better. This can be caused by changes in your routine, traveling to a new place with your pooch or the loss of another pet that was living in your home.
What To Do To Help Your Dog Eat
When your dog isn't eating, there are a few things that pet owners can do to help make their pet's meals more appetizing or to stimulate their desire to eat. These can include:
- Adding warm water to kibble in order to make it a bit easier to eat.
- Switching from dry food to wet food or vice-versa.
- Adding engagement to your dog's meal with food puzzles or asking for tricks before they have their food.
- Adding appetizing smelling and tasting liquids to your dog's food like chicken broth, clam juice or tuna water.
- Warm up your dog's food in the microwave.
If the source of your dog's fasting is pickiness or preference, these may help them dig in to their meal with gusto!
When To Bring Your Dog To The Vet
This is all well and good, but when should you start worrying about the health of your dog when they aren't eating?
If you don't notice any other abnormal behavior or symptoms from your pup besides refusing to eat or losing their appetite, you can safely wait up to 48 hours after they have stopped eating to bring them into your vet. This will give milder causes of their behavior time to be resolved on their own. If your dog is still refusing to eat after 48 hours have passed, you should consider bringing them in to visit your veterinarian for a checkup and diagnosis.
If your dog is vomiting, has diarrhea, is coughing or is acting distressed repeatedly while refusing not to eat, keep a close eye on them. If their symptoms don't dissipate within 8 to 12 hours, contact a veterinarian right away. It may be that your dog is experiencing a health issue that requires medical diagnosis and attention.