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Thursday, 23 September 2021 - 20:35 | Views - 244

There are a variety of reasons for loss of appetite in dogs. It's important to determine the cause in order to design the best treatment plan.

The first thing to keep in mind is how you’re judging your dog’s appetite. If you’re concerned because your dog isn’t eating as much as the guidelines state on the food you purchase, remember that these are only averages. Many perfectly healthy dogs eat only 60% to 70% of the amount stated on the packaging.

Because loss of appetite in dogs can indicate illness, it is important to seek veterinary care if you notice changes in your dog’s eating habits. It is especially important to respond promptly to a refusal to eat in dogs that usually eat well.

Even though most dogs can go a couple of days without food with no significant bad effects, it is best to address the problem as early as possible.



There can be many reasons why a dog won’t eat, but they generally fall into three major categories:

• Medical

• Behavioral

• Issues with the food itself


The list of possible medical causes for dog anorexia or hyporexia is very long and can include anything that might cause pain, nausea, lethargy, or stress:

• Dental disease

• Oral pain

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Intestinal parasites

• Pancreatitis

• Stomach upset (eating table scraps or something else they shouldn’t have, or a sudden change in food or treats)

• Infection

• Fever

• Cancer

• Liver disease

• Kidney disease

• Inflammatory bowel disease

• Congestive heart failure

• Lung disease

These are only some examples of medical issues that can lead to a loss of appetite in dogs; there are many more possible reasons.


Anxiety, stress, or fear can cause decreased appetite in some dogs, just like it can in people. Keep in mind that what you think is stressful is different from what your dog may see as stressful, and even small things can produce anxiety and cause them to not want to eat.

Changes in a dog’s routine or environment, such as new people or pets in the house, traveling, or loud noises such as construction, storms, or fireworks can trigger anxiety. Even something as simple as changing the time or location of a meal can cause more sensitive dogs to feel stressed, and it may make them less likely to eat.

Intimidation from another pet in the household can also cause a dog to avoid his or her food bowl. Many dogs do not like eating right next to housemates, as there can be intimidation that we, as humans, don’t pick up on. It is recommended that dogs be separated for feedings in order to decrease any resource guarding or intimidation.

Generally, if the issue is related to stress or anxiety, dogs will begin eating again after a day or two, once they have adjusted to the change. Some dogs may need behavioral modification or medical treatment to decrease stress and anxiety if it is frequent.


The issue might be with the food itself—it could be old, expired, stale, or spoiled.

If a dog has been on the same food for a while and has always eaten it well, take a look at the expiration date on the bag or can, and check to make sure that it is stored in an airtight container.

All dog food containers and bags should be sealed, and the food should be thrown out if the expiration date has passed. Open canned food can be sealed with plastic wrap or a lid that’s made to fit dog food cans, and it can be kept in the refrigerator for two to three days.

Many pet parents wonder if their dog may simply be tired of their food if they stop eating it. While some dogs may be picky, a healthy, hungry dog should not stop eating a certain food simply because they’ve eaten it for a while.

Sometimes it takes a few tries to figure out which dog food your dog likes best, but if your dog seems to get tired of food after food, it may be because they are getting too many treats or human food, or they might have a medical condition.

Dogs are smart and quickly learn that if they don’t eat their kibble right away, they might get some tasty treats instead. Rather than jumping right to table scraps or a new food, see if mixing kibble with canned food, or gently heating the canned food is helpful.

Switching foods suddenly often leads to stomach upset (decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea), so it can be very counterproductive. It would be very unusual for a dog to go hungry for several days just because they are picky, so it is important to rule out underlying medical conditions with your veterinarian if this happens




What you can do to help when your dog won’t eat will depend on what you and your veterinarian determine to be the cause of the problem.

If your dog’s loss of appetite is caused by illness, the vet may recommend a prescription diet to meet your pet’s nutritional needs while the underlying disease is being addressed. Sometimes these diets are not particularly tasty, especially if your dog is used to regular treats or people food. If your dog is already ill, never starve your pet in an attempt to force it to eat the prescribed diet. Instead, talk with your veterinarian about alternatives. In more severe cases, your vet may prescribe appetite-stimulating medications, recommend syringe-feeding a liquid diet, or insert a feeding tube.

If your dog’s decreased appetite is a behavior problem caused by pickiness or a discomfort with mealtime, rather than the result of a medical condition, there are a number of things you can do to encourage your pet to eat.

These include:

• Cutting back on treats.

• Feeding your pet on a regular schedule, usually at least twice a day.

• Making mealtime a fun time for your pet, such as by playing with a toy that dispenses food or rewarding your dog with food for doing a trick.

• Taking your dog for a walk before mealtime.

• Changing your dog’s feeding situation. If you normally feed your pet with other animals, try feeding them alone. Or try using different bowls or plates at different heights to see what your dog prefers. (You might even put a few pieces of food on the floor next to the feeding dish.)

• Trying a different kind of food, such as canned food if you normally feed your dog dry food.

• Add a bit of warm water to your dog's kibble to make it more appealing


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