10 Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Eat

If your dog won’t eat, these 10 reasons will help you determine what your dog is trying to tell you. Pay attention to their eating habits, and consult with the vet to find out if your puppy or an older dog has some health issues.

Dogs can often experience a lot of issues that cannot be determined easily and may need to be taken to the vet. Don’t neglect the signs, as your dog might be just trying to tell you that something is wrong.

Loss of appetite is the most common sign of health issues, but may also be brought about by a change in routine and environment. Don’t panic, but try to figure out the cause and seek professional help.

Whether it is a puppy or an older dog, refusing to eat can be a serious problem. In order to prevent further health issues take your dog to a vet for testing, so that you can check if there are some changes. However, if it turns out it is harmless, then consider some other reasons, and try to figure out what is bothering him.

Before you take your dog for a checkup, let’s go through the 10 most common reasons why a dog won’t eat, which will help you diagnose the problem.

dog wont eat

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1. It is the first sign of illness

When your puppy or a dog is ill or not feeling well, they are prone to becoming passive and sleepy, and they lose their appetite. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are suffering a serious illness, as they might have just hurt themselves while running or playing. Pay attention to their movements and check if they are walking properly.

While it can just be a sign of a minor health issue, loss of appetite can also indicate serious illnesses such as kidney failure, dental disease, strong pain, liver problems and even cancer. So, make sure you take your dog to the vet and do some tests to find out the cause.

2. Your dog had a vaccination recently

Vaccines are highly effective in preventing a wide variety of serious diseases and are strongly recommended. There is some controversy surrounding vaccination, and many people are against it, as they think they can negatively affect their dog and cause various health issues. Such claims are unfounded and have no scientific data backing them.

Your dog had a vaccination recently

The fact is that vaccines prevent contagious and fatal diseases, so if you are a dog owner and you want to keep your little rascal healthy, don’t skip shots and encourage other dog owners to do the same. Here’s more in depth post on puppy vaccination, with printable pdf schedule. Vaccines can have some adverse effects, which aren’t serious, and a common one is loss of appetite. If your dog won’t eat after a day or two after vaccination, you need to take it to the vet for a checkup.

Except for loss of appetite, your dog may get diarrhea and become lethargic. The reason why some dogs have a reaction and some don’t is still open for debate, but most of the research seems to suggest that breed is one of the most significant factors.

For French Bulldog owners: Frenchies Health Issues

3. Unfamiliar surroundings

When you go to a different place, the first day is a bit unusual and you find it difficult to get used to the new environment. Moreover, many of us cannot even sleep well the first night on a different bed.

Dogs are no different than us in this regard, they also feel uncomfortable and cannot get used to a new environment quickly.

When you move to a new home, or just go on a trip, your dog might refuse to eat, become lethargic, and sniff or lick everything around them during the first day. It is a new and unfamiliar territory, and they might become afraid of the new place, which can lead to nervousness.

In order to get your dog to eat, don’t leave them alone and play with them, even if they don’t feel like doing so. Act like you are at home, and the dog will quickly realize that the place is safe and will act normally.

Dog won’t eat alone

Sometimes, dogs refuse to eat when left alone. The basic tactic to get your dog eat is to make them feel safe when they are being alone – try to leave a radio or the TV on. If you are are often busy during the day, you should consider adopting a dog that can be left alone.

4. He’s just a picky eater

Just like people can be picky eaters, so can animals. There might be some food they don’t like and don’t want to eat. This usually happens when they get used to eating one type of food and you just change the brand or even the kind of grains. You may have spoiled your puppy or an older dog, so your furry diva will probably continue refusing the new food. One of the ways to get them used to the new food, is to mix it with the one they like.

dog picky eater

Even if you have changed the brand, don’t immediately assume they are a picky eater, but see if there is some more serious problem, and if there is none, then you can be sure they are picky.

5. They have an upset stomach

Dogs love investigating the environment and eating whatever they find. This may cause some stomach health issues, which can cause them to refuse to eat, but usually makes them drink a lot of water.

They can steal your food, eat some small object, and eat from trash whenever they get a chance. Eating the food you prepared may make them sick, and not because of your cooking, but because there might be some ingredients and foods that don’t suit them.

They might just have a temporary gastrointestinal upset. The same goes for eating from the trash. If they have swallowed a small object, they might not be able to process it, and you should take your dog to the vet immediately.

Moreover, when you take your dog to the park or a public place, they will even eat poop they find, as well as leftovers such as candy or spicy junk food. So, search your yard and home to see if they have vomited somewhere, or had diarrhea.

If there is no blood in the vomit or stool, then you can wait to for them to expel something from their system. On the other hand, if your dog has diarrhea and vomits longer than 24 hours, take them to the vet.

6. Routine change

You may get a new job or change your schedule, which makes you change when you are feeding your dog and taking him for a walk. If they have had the same routine for a long period of time, they will tend to stop eating when such a change occurs. The change makes them nervous, especially if you change the time of the walks.

This doesn’t mean you should organize your life according to your dog’s metabolism, but you need to make a change slowly and let them get used to that. Dogs like routine and quickly learn when they are eating, going for a walk, and even staying home alone.

7. You left your dog alone for the first time

Your puppy may refuse to eat, if you leave them alone for the first time. You need to start training them to stay alone without getting depressed or seeking revenge by refusing to eat. There will certainly be a time when they will have to be alone, so try training them from the beginning.

dog-alone-at-home

Leave your puppy for a half an hour, go for a walk and see how they react. Then gradually increase the time you are out of the house. Then leave them for two hours, and after some time, your dog will get used to being alone.

When leaving him for the first time, make sure you put fragile things high up on the shelves, and don’t leave any food where they can reach it. This way you will prevent a huge mess.

8. Older dogs who won’t eat

If you have an older dog, and he suddenly stops eating or only eats small amounts of food, then don’t assume it’s just because they’re old. Usually, as dogs become older, they become weaker and more prone to various health issues, dental problems being the most common.

This makes it hard for them to eat their food, as even light chewing can hurt. Ask your vet about the food your older dog should be consummating and if some additional vitamins should be included in their diet.

9. They are intimidated by another pet

If you’ve had your dog for some time, and then gotten another pet or another dog, they might react to the new member by refusing to eat. They can also be jealous, so you need to show them that nothing has changed and you need to continue playing with them like before.

dog-and-cat

It will take them some time to get used to a new family member, but soon they’ll start playing together and will be best friends.

Another reason might be that the other dog is a quick eater, and he eats everything. Don’t give them food from the same bowl, have a special bowl for each dog. The same applies for water bowl. Some dogs like to eat alone, without another dog or a cat trying to get them to play. If you separate their food, and your dog still refuses to eat, try leaving your dog alone in the room to eat without the other dog bothering them.

10. Constipation

When constipated, dogs tend to suffer abdominal pain, which makes them dehydrated and suppresses their appetite. If they seem lethargic, not playful and are whining, then you might want to ask your vet fort advice on meds that can help them with constipation.

This is the most common reason why your dog doesn’t want to eat, and dealing with dog constipation definitely isn’t easy. Ask your vet everything, even if you think your question is something everyone knows.

Tips and tricks to make your dog eat

If your dog doesn’t have health issues, but is only a picky eater or doesn’t want to eat with other pets or in a new home, then consider some of the following tricks:

  • Cut on the treats – treats can make them able to stay persistent in their mission to refuse food
  • If you have more dogs, put them in separate crates or rooms
  • Don’t constantly change your schedule. If there is a need for a change, then make sure you come up with a new schedule that will be more consistent. Don’t feed your dog at a specific time one day, and then a different time the next day
  • Mix the new food with the food your dog is used to in order to get them to like it. With every next meal decrease the amount of the favorite food and increase the amount of the new food
  • Try hand feeding. This doesn’t apply to puppies, as they might get used to that, and then refuse to eat from a bowl

These are the most common reasons why your dog doesn’t want to eat. Even if you find out that reason your dog isn’t eating is one of the harmless ones, it is better to take him to the vet.

It’s always a good idea to get an expert to confirm that there are no serious health issues involved. If there is no health issue, and your dog still refuses to eat, your vet will probably prescribe some appetite-stimulating medications.

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4 comments

  • Emit Autry
    Emit Autry

    I have a Chihuahua and he’s 3 years old and he drink’s a lot of water but want eat but the Bacon treats so what do I do. Please let me know

  • Alex
    Alex

    I have a golden retriever, she is 8 years old, recently i noticed she wont eat or drink unless i tell her too, im aware she has an ear infection right now, i dont have the money to take care of it or bring her to the vet, she has been whining a lot also im not sure if these issues are because of her ear infection? Please help im so worried

  • Archie
    Archie

    My 5 month old Lab puppy barks angrily when asked to eat. When we repeat eat few times take a bite. What is it trying to say?

  • TT
    TT

    My dog will only eat in 2 places, at work and in our van but NOT at home, which makes for a hungry dog that cries and whines all weekend until we take her for a ride, then she will eat in the van. We have tried for years to figure out why, but can’t! She is a 4 yrs. old Labradoodle, very active, alert and loving. Everyone tell us she will eat when she is hungry, NOT! We went that route and all it did was make us upset.
    Any suggestions? At first we thought it was the food, but like I said, she has the same food at the office and she woofs it down.
    thank you