More often than not, there’s no serious cause for concern when a dog refuses to eat and the problem usually gets resolved on its own within one or two days. When should you be worried and take your pet pal to the vet? What can you do to bring back your dog’s healthy appetite?
A change in his diet
If you switched formulas or if the manufacturer made a change in their formula, the change may not appeal to your dog’s palate. If your dog’s usual brand of dog food says “New and improved” the next time you go shopping, this usually means there some changes were made to the old formula, and your dog may not agree that these changes are an “improvement.”
If you do need to change his diet, do it gradually. Mix the new formula with his regular one, and gradually increase the amount of the new one until you can completely stop giving him his old food.
You can also rotate different types of dog formula so Fido does not get used to just one. This will be particularly helpful when one of his preferred brands makes an “improvement” and he decides he does not like it. You can simply just give him one of the other formulas he’s already familiar with.
Your pet is feeling upset
Dogs can get emotional, too, and certain situations that can make you feel upset and not want to eat can affect your pet the same way. He may experience an emotional upset on his own or he may share yours because dogs often sense their human’s emotional state and mirror it.
If you changed houses or moved to a new city, your dog may not eat because of the change in environment. He may feel out of sorts, uncomfortable, or even distressed by the loss of his familiar surroundings.
If you lost your job, went through a breakup, or had a death in the family, your dog may also feel your sadness. Or he may feel a sense of loss himself, especially when the person who’s gone is someone he also loved.
Dogs are social animals and often feel separation anxiety when their human leaves them alone at home. Or if there are other family members but you’re their favorite person, he may also wait until you get home to wolf down his food.
Keeping a regular eating schedule
Your dog may just be following his own eating schedule. He may ignore the food you leave out for him in the morning until it’s noon. Or he may start eating but only finish it in the evening. If your pet pal does this regularly and there are no other symptoms present, there’s no need to worry.
The food is bad
Your dog not wanting to eat his food may mean that it has gone stale because it’s expired or was not stored properly. If Fido smells his food and walks away, or tastes it and then spits it out or regurgitates it, you should smell the food in his bowl and in the bag. If it smells bad, throw it away.
Make sure you store your dog’s food properly; it can also attract ants and may even grow mold. Do not buy too many bags or too big a bag. The maximum size you should buy should be about the same weight as your dog.
Your dog may be sick
Just like you, your dog often loses his appetite when he’s feeling sick. If your furkid has a mild respiratory condition, or a cold, he may just feel like sleeping it off. If he has a runny nose, red eyes, and some wheezing, the loss of appetite is normal. He should start eating again once he feels better, which usually takes 48 hours.
But if there are other symptoms present, such as vomiting and/or diarrhea, observe your dog for the next 8 to 12 hours and then take him to the vet if his condition does not improve. Or you can have him checked out immediately.
A side effect of medication
Some medications can cause nausea or an upset stomach and cause Fido to lose his appetite. Drug treatments that usually cause poor appetite include antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and chemotherapy meds.
What can you do to get your dog to eat?
You can try some of the following tricks to encourage your furry friend to eat:
- Give him warmed-up food - you can microwave his food for a few minutes.
- Make his food more appetizing by mixing in some sodium-free broth, tuna water, or clam juice.
- Soften his food by adding some warm water, or switch his wet food with dry food to get him interested in the new chow.
- Hand-feed your pet; he may just be looking for extra care and attention.
When should you take your dog to the vet?
If your dog starts eating again after one or two days, there may be nothing serious going on. Just make sure he’s still drinking lots of water. If it goes on for more than two days and especially if there are other symptoms present, you should take Fido to the vet. There is most likely an underlying condition that will require immediate and proper treatment.
Likewise, if you notice that your dog’s appetite has been inconsistent for an extended period, you should have him checked by a vet.
Dot Not Eating - Final Thoughts
There is often a simple reason why your dog is not eating, and the situation usually resolves itself on its own. But you should be aware of the possible causes why your pet refuses to eat or has a poor appetite so you can remedy the situation and he can get proper nourishment.
If you notice other concerning symptoms together with the poor appetite, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.