Whether you have always had dogs, or you are just getting used to your first puppy, you are no doubt vigilant about how often, and how much, your canine friend is eating. When your dog appears to have no appetite, you are naturally going to worry, and wonder why he or she is not eating. So, you need to find out what is causing the loss of appetite in order to figure out what, if anything, to do about it.
I do want to caution you, though, that much of the time, what might seem to be a lack of appetite in a dog is really no such thing. I know dog owners who have gone into a total panic because their dog wasn’t eating the amount given as the serving size on their dog food bag. The thing is, those serving sizes are just guidelines. A dog may eat more, or quite a bit less, and still be perfectly healthy.
Reasons Why Your Dog is Not Eating
If your dog isn’t eating as much as you think he should, don’t worry too much right away. You probably go through periods yourself where you don’t feel much like eating, and yet you are not ill. It can be the same with your dog – it could be that he’s not eating for no reason other than that he’s just not hungry. Most dogs can go a couple of days without food before there are any consequences.
If your dog has completely lost interest in food, though, you do have cause to be concerned. A dog that has no interest in food has anorexia – don’t confuse this with anorexia nervosa, the eating disorder that humans develop. In your dog’s case, anorexia simply means a complete loss of appetite. Because a dog that has no appetite at all could very well be ill, you should get in touch with your vet, especially if your dog is typically the sort that has a very healthy appetite.
Now, let’s talk in detail about the possible reasons that your dog has stopped eating.
If your dog has no appetite, it could be a sign of illness, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms. Complete loss of appetite could be due to a serious infection, kidney failure, liver disease, or dental issues.
2. Change in Routine
If your dog was eating normally until you moved to a new home, or perhaps took him on a trip, it could be that he is feeling nervous. Some dogs do not adapt overly well to change, and in that case, could very well end up with a suppressed appetite.
Dog owners today are very fortunate to be living in a time when vaccinations can protect their pets from diseases that, in the past, were almost invariably fatal. Sometimes, though, there can be temporary side effects from vaccinations. One such side effect can be a loss of appetite. So, if your dog has been recently vaccinated, and seems to have lost interest in food, you can expect that things will be back to normal in a day or two.
Some dogs are fussy about their food. Perhaps they don’t like the location where you have placed their dish, or the bowl height is not to their liking. Usually, if you have a naturally picky dog, you will identify the problem soon enough. A dog who is not habitually picky is not likely to suddenly become so, though. If your dog suddenly seems to be fussy about his food, illness is a possibility.
What Can You Do?
Your course of action is going to depend on what you and the vet are able to determine. If your dog is not eating because of illness, the vet may suggest a special diet that will meet your pet’s dietary requirements while the condition is being treated. Often, these foods are not very pleasing to dogs, and they can take a lot of getting used to. So, if your dog is already unwell, don’t try to force it to eat the special food. Talk with your vet to find out if maybe you could mix the special food in with something more appetizing. Your vet might also prescribe an appetite stimulant, or have you use a syringe to feed your dog a liquid diet. In extreme cases, the vet may insert a feeding tube.
If the reason for the loss of appetite is pickiness or stress due to a change in routine, though, there are other things you can try.
1. Cut Back on Treats
Your dog is no different than you are when it comes to over-indulging in snacks, and it can be very easy to lose track of how many treats you are offering – it is so hard to resist those big, brown eyes! It could be that your dog isn’t hungry at mealtime because he’s already full of treats.
2. Feed on a Schedule
This will not necessarily improve your dog’s appetite, but at least you will be able to tell how much food is being consumed. Then you can make a more accurate determination as to whether there is a problem.
3. Take a Walk
If you go for a walk before mealtime, your dog is more likely to come back hungry and ready for a good meal.
4. Change the Situation
If you usually feed your dog with other pets, feed him alone. Use a different bowl, or exchange the bowl for a plate. Eventually, you’ll find out what feeding situations your dog prefers.
5. Change the Food
There are two schools of thought on how dogs feel about their food. Some experts claim that dogs are perfectly happy eating the same thing day after day. Others point out that humans don’t like to sit down to the same meal over and over, and theorize that dogs may also get bored with their food.
Trying a different food couldn’t hurt. If you usually feed dry food, for instance, offer some canned food from time to time – not every day, of course, since dogs typically do better on a dry diet. CANIDAE offers a great-tasting chicken and rice formula in their Life Stages Canned Dog Food for Puppies, Adults & Seniors.The regular price is $38.85 for a 12-pack of cans, but right now, Amazon is offering it for just $22.14, and even better, it is eligible for Prime shipping. I think it’s a great way to switch up your dog’s diet!
Often, loss of appetite in your dog doesn’t mean much other than that the dog is temporarily not hungry. Unless your dog’s refusal to eat is due to illness or another problem, don’t worry about it. If you suspect illness, though, see your vet without delay.