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Pet Eating Problems: Why Won't My Dog Eat?

Has your dog turned their nose up at their food for no reason? In this article, our Carlsbad vets share some reasons why your dog may not be eating and what you can do to help them.

My Dog Won't Eat

If your dog has decided not to eat you are bound to be concerned. There are several common reasons why dogs will refuse to eat. Here are just a few:

Your Dog Feels Unwell

Much like humans, when dogs aren't feeling well they will often stop eating. If your dog is not eating it's always best to contact your vet for advice. In the meantime, there are a few tricks you can try to coax your pooch to start eating:

  • If you feed your pup wet food you could try warming it slightly in the microwave.
  • If your dog eats dry food (kibble) you could try pouring some warm water or broth over it to soften it a bit and make it more appetizing.
  • Try feeding your pup some kibble by hand to see if they will eat it.

If your dog is also showing other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, as well as not eating, it's time for a trip to the vet.

Your Pup Is Feeling Blue

Much the way major changes play on our emotions and affect our eating habits, so too can changes affect your dog's eating habits.

A move to a new house, being re-homed with new people, or the loss of another pet in the house can all lead your dog to lose their appetite. Be patient and kind as your pooch adjusts to their new life circumstances, and speak to your vet if your dog refuses to eat for more than 24 hours.

Your Dog Is Missing You (or Another Key Family Member)

Some dogs will only eat if they know that their primary caregiver (or a particular favorite family member) is safe and sound at home with them. Remember that dogs are pack animals, wired to hunt and eat together. If a key member of their pack is absent it may lead them to hold off on eating until their pack is all together again.

It's Not Your Dog's Preferred Time to Eat

It's not unusual for our canine companions to have a preference for when they eat. Perhaps your dog chows down first thing in the morning and fasts for the rest of the day, or maybe they wait until the sun goes down in the evening before devouring their dinner. Many dogs choose to eat just one big meal a day.

Whatever your pup's favorite mealtime is, as long as they are getting all the nutrition they need at that meal, it's likely not a problem. Your vet will be able to calculate your pup's caloric requirements based on their size, breed, age, and lifestyle to provide you with accurate guidelines regarding what and when to feed your pooch.

Your Animal Companion Isn't Keen on Their Food

You may be surprised to learn that even if you always buy the same dog food for your pup, the formulation could change. While many brands will indicate a change (New & Improved etc.), these changes in the formulation are often only reflected in the list of ingredients and the nutritional information.

It can be a good idea to feed your dog a couple of different foods right from day one. That way, if one food's formulation changes in a way that your dog doesn't like, you have an alternative food readily available that you know they will enjoy. At that point, you can begin the process of introducing a new food.

To avoid any gastrointestinal upsets just as bloating, gas, or diarrhea, it's best to ask your vet for advice on how to introduce your four-legged friend to a new food.

When to Be Concerned

That is an excellent question. Because our beloved animal companions are unable to tell us how they are feeling, it is always best to consult your vet whenever your dog is exhibiting behaviors that cause you concern.

When it comes to not eating, if you have tried the tricks above but your dog is still not eating after 24-48 hours a trip to the vet is a good idea, just to rule out anything serious.

If your dog is not eating and is experiencing other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or an uncharacteristic lack of energy, don't hesitate. Carlsbad Animal Hospital is available 7 days a week to exam your canine companion and get them the medical care they need.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your dog's condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Are you concerned about your dog's lack of appetite? Contact our Carlsbad vets to have your pup examined and cared for.

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Carlsbad Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinary team would love to get to know you and your pet. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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