Is your dog not eating? As worrying as this may seem, a dog with no appetite is not always a case for the vet. These are often psychological or educational factors that you can eliminate yourself so that your four-legged friend quickly gets in the mood for his food again.
The dog won’t eat: the most important things in a nutshell
- Loss of appetite in dogs often passes quickly and is then no cause for concern.
- A common factor is a stress, but it can also be due to overfeeding or medical issues.
- For older dogs, the food should be slightly warmed, as it then smells better.
- Fixed feeding times and plenty of exercises stimulate the appetite.
- Many dogs will eat in a quiet, undisturbed place rather than a noisy one.
Reason 1: Medical causes for loss of appetite
Loss of appetite is not always a cause for concern
Basically, a few days of lack of appetite are no reason to believe in impending death. Humans and dogs are very similar in that regard. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe the weather, or maybe your four-legged friend just hasn’t exercised enough – some dogs won’t eat, startle their owner, and calm down again after a few days.
Loss of appetite is perfectly normal even if your dog has recently had a vaccination or has had an operation. Both the vaccinations and the after-effects of the anesthesia can lead to a temporary reluctance to eat.
When do I have to take my dog to the doctor?
Your dog is not eating again, even though two days have passed? Then you should see a vet. There are various medical causes that can cause the dog to have trouble eating. This could be, for example, the following:
- problems with your teeth, tongue or gums,
- parasite infestation,
- tumors in the mouth or digestive tract,
- kidney stones or
- autoimmune diseases.
To get a better idea of why your dog isn’t eating, you can do some self-examination. For example, check if he’s lost weight, is calmer than usual, or isn’t doing his business. A bloated or pressure-sensitive abdomen also indicates a medical problem. Finally, poor dental hygiene can result in your dog spurning its food. Therefore, also check the mouth for inflammation or a chipped tooth.
Reason 2: The dog won’t eat because it’s stressed
Many people feel stressed by change. The same goes for dogs – a change in their environment can make them uncomfortable and stop touching their food. Examples of such changes are:
- a new environment, for example by moving,
- Addition to the family through, for example, a baby, a new partner or a second pet, the loss of a loved one
- or sudden noise, for example from a construction site in front of the house.
In this case, try to calm your dog down by maintaining daily structures and giving him lots of attention. But be careful: don’t stay with your dog the whole time while he is supposed to be eating. This can lead to so-called food paranoia. Then the dog won’t eat because he thinks you’re claiming the food for himself and he’s not allowed to go to the bowl. Therefore, always leave the room and make sure that your dog is not disturbed by any family member while it is eating.
Reason 3: The feeding is not age-appropriate
An old dog doesn’t eat as much as a young one
The older dogs get the more their eating behavior changes. This is because they move less and therefore burn less energy. Be sure to adjust the amount of food to your dog’s needs. Important: While small dogs only get old from around ten years of age, large breeds can already be called seniors at the age of six!
It’s also possible that an older dog won’t eat because the food is simply no longer appealing to him. His sense of smell and taste deteriorates over the years. Slightly warming the food or adding warm water may help. This makes it smell stronger, which could encourage the dog to eat.
Young dogs test boundaries
A young dog not eating? This is quite normal, at least when he is between four and seven months old. Because this is the time of the change of teeth, when the puppy may find it difficult to eat ordinary food. You can help him by soaking the food to make it easier to chew.
Between the seventh and eleventh months of life, the dog is in the so-called boorish phase – i.e. in canine puberty. Here, too, food can be rejected. For young dogs, the flailing phase is when they push boundaries, and that extends to food as well. Your task now is to be as consistent as possible. Give your dog a certain amount of time to eat and then remove the bowl, no matter how pitifully he looks at you later. If you give in, your dog will not learn.
Read More: Dog vaccinations
Reason 4: The wrong diet
Do you change the type of food often to give your dog as much variety as possible? Then that could be the problem. Because the dog’s metabolism is actually designed for a uniform diet. Too many different foods can lead to digestive problems, but also to a fussy dog that will not accept familiar varieties at all.
Once the dog has become acquainted with a fresh or even raw feeding method, this can also be an important point. Due to the additional moisture, such feeds have more flavors that stimulate the dog’s appetite. If he then suddenly gets dry food again, it is quite possible that he no longer wants to eat it.
Also, ask your family if someone might be feeding the dog a lot of treats or even table scraps. If he then leaves his food bowl untouched, the reason is actually logical: the dog is not eating because he is already full. Treats and small snacks should therefore only be given as a reward and in the smallest possible quantities.
Encouraging the dog to eat: More tips
If your dog still won’t eat, you can try the following tricks:
- Set strict feeding times and put the bowl away after a certain amount of time, even if the dog hasn’t eaten.
- Challenge your dog physically, for example through dog sports or longer walks. That stimulates the appetite.
- Try a new, quieter feeding spot. A dog does not like to eat in noisy rooms with high visitor frequency.
- Buy a new bowl. It’s possible that the dog doesn’t like the sound of the food in the bowl, or that the plasticizers in the plastic are changing the taste. Ceramic or glass bowls can help.
Why isn’t my dog hungry?
Is your dog not eating? This can have many reasons. Possible is, for example, a choosy attitude due to too many different feeds, heat, stress, or the wrong bowl. However, there may also be a medical cause that needs to be clarified.
How can I encourage the dog to eat?
Dogs will have more appetite if they exercise a lot and come home to a regular feeding schedule with set times. Treats should be avoided as much as possible. Slightly warming or soaking the food can also help.
Why doesn’t the dog eat from its bowl?
Some dogs won’t eat out of their bowl but will eat off the floor or out of their hands. Then try to switch bowls. Maybe your dog is uncomfortable with the sound of metal, or the plastic may change the taste of the food. Ceramics and glass are usually well received.
Why isn’t my dog eating in the morning?
Is the food bowl in the same place all day and the dog won’t eat? That may be because he knows he can eat small amounts throughout the day. After all, the bowl is always there. You can break the dog’s habit by removing the bowl after a certain amount of time.
How many grams of feed per kg does a dog need?
Adult dogs should eat about 2.5 percent of their body weight in food each day. If your dog has been ill in the past or is very active, the requirement can increase by up to five percent.
How often do I have to feed my dog?
It makes sense to feed dogs twice a day, ideally in the morning and in the evening. By dividing the amount of food into two portions, you reduce the risk of stomach torsion.