Most of the time, you probably don’t have to worry about making sure that your dog eats. The majority of dogs are definitely at their happiest when they are being fed and are more than willing to perform tricks or be super obedient just to get their chops around a tasty treat. Some dogs might be a little pickier than others, but this can usually be managed with the right diet.
If your dog is normally excited about their food and can’t wait to wolf it down, then you will naturally be concerned if suddenly, they don’t have much interest in it at all. A lack of appetite in dogs can be caused by a wide range of different reasons and it’s a good idea to investigate and try and get to the root cause so that you can help your dog feel better.
The good news is that most of the time, appetite loss in dogs is quite temporary and your dog should be back to normal quickly. However, if it persists for more than a day or two, it is worth contacting your vet for some advice. Most dogs lose their appetite after eating something that they shouldn’t, which has given them an upset stomach, but there are several potential reasons, which include:
Just like humans, if your dog is suffering from a bug and feeling sick, they probably won’t feel very enthusiastic about eating a big, tasty meal. If your dog is throwing up and has diarrhoea, there’s a high chance that this might be why they’re not interested in eating right now. Make sure that your dog has access to plenty of water so that they can replace the electrolytes that they are losing and stay hydrated. Put their water bowl close to their bed so that they can easily reach it without too much effort.
Most of the time, a stomach bug or stomach upset caused by eating something dodgy will pass after a day or two. However, if the issue persists for longer, it could be due to something more serious and it is worth talking to your vet about it.
Many of the common symptoms of an upset stomach like vomiting can also be a symptom of pancreatitis, a more serious condition in dogs that is caused by swelling and inflammation of the pancreas, a vital organ that your dog needs in order to absorb the nutrients from his food. You can find out more about the symptoms of pancreatitis and how to help your dog recover from it in this guide from Bella and Duke. Since most cases of pancreatitis in dogs are due to a high-fat diet, changing your dog’s food to Bella and Duke’s balanced, nutritious raw food meals might be worth considering. You can have raw dog food delivered straight to your door, which makes life easier.
If you’ve ever been so stressed out that it has put you off your food, you might be able to empathise with how your dog is feeling. Even laid-back, chilled-out dogs can get stressed out from time to time, especially if they are dealing with a sudden change in their environment or routine. Dogs are definitely creatures of habit and they do not often deal well with change, which is why it’s important to keep your dog’s stress levels low whenever you can to help them deal with changes and the stress that they cause gradually.
If you’ve recently moved home, added another pet to your family or had a new baby, your dog could be stressed out as a result. Dogs that are stressed may be less interested in food, but the good news is that eventually your dog will get hungry and as they begin to calm down and adjust to the situation, they should begin eating again as normal.
If you are worried that your dog is too stressed to eat, you could try and tempt them with some of their favourite treats. Offer your dog lots of encouragement and supportive words and pats so that they know they’re safe. The calmer you are, the more at ease your dog will feel in a new situation.
If your dog has been injured, it might lead to a loss of appetite depending on the type of injury, the level of pain that they are in, and any medication that they have been prescribed as a result. Just like you might not feel like eating right after breaking a bone, it’s unlikely that your dog is going to feel up for a meal if they are in pain and scared.
In some cases, dogs who have been injured and put on bed rest may show signs of depression, especially if they are usually quite active and are not able to continue going for walks and doing the activities that they normally enjoy while they are recovering. Just like in humans, if your dog is depressed at the moment, they might not have much of an appetite either and may spend a lot of time sleeping.
If your dog has suffered an injury and isn’t showing much interest in food during the recovery period, you can help them by encouraging them with tasty, high-value treats. Feeding little and often is a good option since the meal sizes might be less overwhelming for your dog, and hand-feeding gives you a chance to spend some time with your dog while they recover and offer them the support and comfort that only their special human is able to give.
If your dog is getting older, it’s quite normal to see some difference in eating habits, and their appetite might also be affected. Dogs go through a lot of physical changes as they get older and they will often have less energy compared to in their younger days, which results in them not needing as much food as they once did. If your dog is less active these days due to old age, it’s fairly normal for them to eat less food.
Dental problems may also cause some issues in older dogs, who don’t have the strong and healthy teeth that they once did. Nobody would like to eat food using teeth that are giving them trouble, and this could be why your dog is not eating. If you suspect that your dog’s teeth are painful, take him to the vet for a check-up. Feeding soft foods that are easy to chew or meals that your dog can drink like bone broth can help encourage a dog with painful teeth to keep eating well.
When to See a Vet:
In most cases, dogs go off their food due to a stomach upset that will clear up in a day or two. It might be worth calling your vet to get some advice if your dog is showing common symptoms like vomiting or diarrhoea.
If your dog still does not have an appetite after a day or two has passed, the problem might be more serious. It is always worth taking your dog to the vet for a check-up to rule out any more serious health conditions like pancreatitis and get professional tailored advice on what you can do to help your dog eat.
A loss of appetite can be surprising if your dog normally loves his food. Understanding what causes it and what you can do to help will get your dog enjoying their meals again in no time.