Dogs usually love to eat and they seem hungry all the time, so it is natural for dog parents to get worried when they see their dog not eating their food.
There are lots of possible reasons why a dog is not eating.
It may be due to the hot weather, the occasional stress that the dog may have, or he may simply not like the food he is eating, especially if he is a fussy eater.
If your dog stops eating for a couple of days, but is otherwise active and alert, there is probably nothing to worry about.
Dogs are absolutely fine to go without food for one or two days.
Sometimes, when a dog is feeling a bit under the weather, he will instinctively stop eating to give the digestive system a rest. But dog loss of appetite can also be a symptom of some more serious underlying health problems.
Let’s take a look at some possible causes of appetite loss in dogs.
Possible Health Problems That Cause A Dog Not Eating
Here are some possible health problems that can result in a dog not eating:
Mouth or Throat Problems
Problems in the mouth (such as peridontal problems, tooth abscesses, mouth tumors), or problems in the throat (such as pharyngitis) may result in a dog not eating because of pain.
Sometimes, a dog stops eating because there is a foreign object stuck in the mouth or esophagus.
If your dog is suddenly not eating, the first time to do is to check inside his mouth. Check for any signs of dental problems, growths, or foreign objects caught in the mouth, tongue, gums, between the teeth, or in the throat.
Problems with the digestive system that result in diarrhea and vomiting (e.g. colitis, gastritis) can also cause a dog not eating.
If your dog has diarrhea and stops eating, let him. In fact, it is a good idea to fast the dog for 24 hours even if he wants to eat! Just make sure that he has sufficient water intake to prevent dehydration.
Canine stomach ulcers can also bring about appetite loss in dogs.
The classic symptom of stomach ulcers in dogs is chronic vomiting, even with an empty stomach. There may be blood in the vomit and the dog is usually lethargic and weak.
Another problem in the digestive system that may cause appetite loss in dogs is fecal impaction, which is a mass of hard stool that has got stuck in the rectum and colon.
Other signs associated with this problem include constipation despite forceful straining, lethargy, bloating, and vomiting.
Temporary appetite loss caused by infections is actually a good thing because the body can spend more energy for disease fighting instead of to food digestion.
Of course, if your dog has a fever and is not eating for over 48 hours, you should take him to the vet for treatment.
Arthritis or Joint Pain
Arthritis causes pain and discomfort to a dog, and this can result in dog appetite loss as well.
Other symptoms associated with arthritis include lameness and stiffness, and swelling of the joints.
Other Possible Causes of Dog Not Eating
Besides physical health problems, there are other possible causes of appetite loss in dogs, such as:
Just like people, dogs lose their appetite when they become older due to lower metabolism and a lack of exercise. Also, sometimes older dogs may not want to eat due to aches and pains in their bodies.
A dog may stop eating when he experiences stress (boarding at a kennel, moving to a new house, etc.). If you suspect stress is the cause of your dog not eating, spend more quality time with him. Take him out for long walks and play his favorite games at the park.
Too Many Treats
If your dog is not eating but is otherwise healthy, make sure that you or other family members have not been giving him too many treats. Remember that treats should make up no more than 10 percent of a dog’s total calorie intake.
If you suspect that your dog has been eating too many treats, try to cut back and see if his appetite for food returns.
If your dog suddenly shows no interest in his food, take a look at the food you are feeding him. Smell it. Has it gone rancid? Foods that are high in fat can go rancid faster. Kibbles that have been left out for a while or if they are not stored in an air-tight container can also go rancid after a while.
Also, does the dog food contain high-quality animal protein sources (such as chicken meat, beef, and organ meat, such as liver), or does it mainly contain grain and other plant proteins? Dogs prefer foods that are higher in fat, and those that contain animal protein sources.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Not Eating?
For temporary dog appetite loss (and if the dog is active and alert), you may want to try some of the following to coax him to eat:
Warming the Food
Dogs love to eat foods with strong smells. Warming your dog’s food can bring out the aroma and may wake up his appetite.
Spicing Up the Food
Another way to add more aroma and flavor to your dog’s food is to add spices to his food. Dogs usually like the tastes of dried herbs. Nutritious herbs such as parsley, alfalfa, dill, and fennel can be sprinkled on your dog’s food to entice him to eat.
Changing the Food
Sometimes a dog may just be tired of eating the same food day in and day out! If your dog is not eating, try adding something new to his food. For example, try adding some boiled vegetables to his dry food.
Cutting Down On Snacks
As mentioned above, too many treats may cause a dog to lose appetite (or interest) in his “regular” food. Restricting the number of snacks or withholding snacks altogether for a while may make him eat more eagerly at mealtime.
Regular exercise can help burn calories and stimulate appetite. Make it a regular daily routine to exercise your dog for at least 30 minutes (preferably more). This may help bring back his appetite.
Changing the Feeding Bowls
If you have an older dog, consider getting him elevated feeding bowls. This makes it easier for him to eat and drink especially if he is suffering from arthritic aches and pains.