Most of the time you can rely on your dog to get excited about his food. Perhaps you even have to stop him from trying to eat something that he shouldn’t. But even the most food-loving dogs can sometimes lose their appetite for a variety of reasons.
The good news is that dogs can stay healthy and active even if they don’t eat for a couple of days, as long as they stay hydrated. So, if your dog has only lost her appetite temporarily but is now happily wolfing down her meals once again, there’s probably little to worry about.
However, if your dog has suddenly developed a loss of appetite and energy for more than a couple of days and is losing weight, it’s best to visit your vet as this is more likely to be caused by an underlying health problem. So, what exactly causes appetite loss in dogs?
1. Digestive Problems
Problems like vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, and inflammatory bowel disease can cause a dog to go off eating for a while. Just like when humans feel sick, if your dog has a stomach bug or has eaten something dodgy causing them to vomit, they might not feel like having another meal for a while. If this is the case with your dog, it’s important to let them take it at their own pace.
If you want to help settle your dog’s stomach, you might try to encourage them to eat something plain like boiled chicken and rice, but fasting can be good for your dog in this situation as long as he is drinking. If this happens often, a visit to the vet is essential to figure out any underlying digestive issues your dog might be suffering from.
Dogs are certainly creatures of habit and they do like knowing what’s going to happen next. Once your dog has gotten into a daily routine that they are used to, changes to this can make her stressed out.
If something has changed in your dog’s living environment, for example, if a family member has moved out of the home, you’ve renovated your home, moved home to somewhere else or introduced a new baby into the family, it’s normal for your dog to feel a little stressed while he adjusts to the changes.
It’s quite normal for some dogs to go off their food if they are stressed out, and they will likely start eating again after a short while. The best thing that you can do to help your dog is to make the transition as smooth as possible for them and make sure that they are getting plenty of love and attention.
3. Respiratory Diseases
In some cases, dogs might suffer from a loss of appetite because they are suffering from an upper respiratory disease. Some examples of this condition include kennel cough or asthma. This could cause a dog to be unable to smell the food when it’s put out for them, which can lead to not eating.
If you suspect that your dog might be suffering from an upper respiratory disease, it’s best to take them to the vet as soon as possible to diagnose and treat the problem. You might also find it helpful to warm your dog’s food up to make it easier for them to smell, or add strong-smelling bone broth to their meal.
Fever is a common symptom of infectious diseases, which can lead to your dog losing her appetite. In this case, fasting is often good for the dog as it allows their body to use more energy for fighting the infection rather than digesting food.
If you suspect that your dog is fighting off infection with a fever, it’s important to make sure that he stays hydrated. If your dog doesn’t want to drink water, you might be able to tempt them to get more fluids by offering them bone broth or unsalted chicken soup for dogs.
5. Change in Diet
If you have noticed your dog not eating and have recently changed their diet, it may be down to this change in routine. Some dogs benefit from a straight swap when moving onto a new diet such as a raw food diet, while others will do better with a gradual switch.
If you have completely changed your dog’s food over to a different type and he does not want to touch it, it may be a better idea to switch back to the original food and instead gradually introduce the new food over a period of a few weeks to give your dog time to adjust.
Bella & Duke offer this guide to help when your dog is not eating that you might find useful. Along with a menu of tasty raw food meals for your dog, Bella & Duke offer handy advice to help you encourage a fussy dog to eat new foods.
6. Dental Problems
Your dog might not be eating because it hurts their teeth and mouth when they do so. This is more common in older dogs as just like humans, dogs’ teeth may often deteriorate as they age. If you suspect that your dog is struggling to eat due to dental problems, visit your vet who can advise you on the best steps to take. You may also want to include softer foods in your dog’s diet that are easier for them to chew.
7. Too Much Food
Sometimes, the problem isn’t a health condition or stress but simply because your dog is already full. Not all dogs want to wolf down every morsel of their meal and some will only eat as much as they need to.
If your dog tends to eat every time you offer them a meal but is not clearing their plate, chances are that you could be feeding too much. This can be easily done, especially as your dog gets older – many pet parents continue feeding the same amount of food even though their dog’s energy levels are naturally decreasing and leading to a reduced appetite.
8. Veterinary Treatment
If your dog has recently been to the vet for treatment or surgery, they might not always have the biggest of appetites when they return home. Of course, this will vary between dogs and some might be hungrier than ever, but if your dog isn’t interested in his dinner after having veterinary treatment or being under general anaesthetic, there is usually nothing to worry about.
Speak to your vet before taking your dog home to find out more about when you are safely able to feed them after the treatment or surgery, and what to expect in terms of any changes to their appetite or eating habits as they recover. Vaccinations and annual boosters are also known to make some dogs a little more lethargic and less interested in food than normal for a couple of days.
Most dogs love their food, so it’s not unsurprising if you are concerned when your dog doesn’t seem interested in eating. However, the good news is that it’s not always a huge cause for concern if your dog loses their appetite for a short amount of time. However, if your dog is displaying any other symptoms, unusual behaviours or has not eaten for more than two days, it’s time to visit your vet.